The great thing about social media is its ability to expose things that hitherto could maintain a semblance of integrity. This "stone of David," as it were, brings equilibrium to the voice of consumer in its sometimes-battle with the voice of producer. Take, for example, a customer service incident I had last month with a computer retailer who will remain unnamed (unless you look closely below and click the image to see the original Tweet)).
The product I received was defective, and really the only suitable response was to issue a refund or exchange. Instead, this company chose to drag along a series of excuses and accusations until, well, enough was enough. Note to retailers, if you're going to play hardball, make sure all your facts are in order before issuing them to print. These things don't go away.
Social stories propagate more of themselves. In response to this experience and my Twitter, Yelp! and LinkedIn activity, I received a call-out from across the pond in the UK. Similar story-poor customer service, and a lack of willingness to take corrective action to change it. The good news, I suppose, is that it's not merely an American phenomena J)
This poor girl. The summary is this:
- Requested not to have mobile phone insurance
- They gave it to her anyway
- She found it a few months in, asked for a refund
- Instead got, "You need to show us proof."
The impact, however is where the rubber meets the road--lost revenue. Turns out she manages an entire staff's mobile provider selection, as well. Ouch!:
Social's power is not only to provide the much-needed megaphone to the little guy, but to expose those being deceitful, as well. The now-famous story of @Shirls hoodwinking an entire tech community is one that comes to mind (if you haven't read it prior, brace yourself now). Ever watch "Who the Bleep Did I Marry" on Investigation ID? Absolutely fascinating. What I'm concerned about is if/when they'll run out of material from people no longer trying to get away with this stuff for fear of "social wrath."
On a more personal level, I recently had someone leveraging my press credentials to go around to the industry's most touted conferences to collect bags of t-shirts and other swag. This can work for a few conferences until people start to figure out that you haven't written a thing about them, and don't see your name anywhere on the web. At that point, it dries up. So, while better ethics aren't necessarily a product of our more socially connected world, accountability is quickly becoming one.
Note to wanna-be tech writers (don't try this at home), it doesn't work to get caught impersonating a journalist, then offer to write articles for the publication after you've been nabbed.
True story, Barbara Scott tried it.
Power to the social people!