Social Media: Break Glass In Case Of Emergency!

September 3, 2009

A Facebook group with 4,200 members is complaining that your product ‘sucks’.

And Twitter streams start echoing that complaint.

And to top it off, major media outlets such as the Washington Post start using those Facebook and twitter complaints to collect information for for news releases about the issue.

The thing is- all of these are not coming from your direct customer, but indirectly from your customers customer!

I think that this would classify as a B2B vendors greatest nightmare.

Bob Evans, at points out that A Maryland school district with 22 high schools and a $4.1 million investment in an IT system from Canadian based supplier, Harris Computer Systems, had 8,000 students napping in gymnasiums because the software would not correctly generate the students class schedules.

At this point there has been no clarification of what the root cause of the issue is;

Is it a software failure?

An implementation failure?

But in the end, the reason does not matter!

The wide open world we call Social Media is amplifying and echoing a very negative view of the product. The Information Week article points out that a representative of Harris stated that they are assisting the school board in any way possible, but is that enough?

A look at the Harris Web Site does not reveal a blog or other method documenting how they are working to assist their customer in rectifying what is an embarrassing issue.

The transparency and immediacy of Social Media puts many organizations into the difficult position where their internal Public Relations teams are not fast enough, not relevant enough, and not transparent enough to attempt to undo the damage being done.

What makes this more difficult in the B2B space, is that our response must walk the fine line between transparency and blame.

I do believe there is a lesson here for other Canadian business in the B2B space, if this type of event happens to you;

Are you ready?

Do you have a transparent reaction planned?

If you don’t, you might just want to think about that.

Two notes about the above post, the above content was also posted to IT In Canada

And Second, Tim Walker at Hoovers challenged us to do our own posts utilizing the same Creative Commons image by Sherman Tan, challenge met!

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Photo Credit Sherman Tan via flickr


One Response to “Social Media: Break Glass In Case Of Emergency!”

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