For those of you that work with the public we have to assume that every customer has a smartphone on them and as we have learned recently, customers will use them to protect themselves, to shame people or companies into giving them what they feel they deserve or even to use in threat of legal action. Given recent events I think it is important to be proactive of our new social media world and ensure employees have tools to rely on when faced with these types of situations. Customers will not hesitate to use social media to get attention. A true example I witnessed, a couple who had just checked into a hotel room actually created a brand new twitter account just to post pics of issues in their room with hashtags directed at the company, they never picked up the phone or followed “standard lines of communication” to get assistance, they just lobbed a twitter grenade at the hotel and waited… sure enough they got a ton of attention after that.
Here are four tools I think every HR team should have in their tool box to create stronger social media awareness.
Legislation - The laws and rules will be different depending on your region. Most local legislation states that to photograph or film a person requires that persons consent, and to continue to photograph and film without consent can lead to law enforcement becoming involved. When photographing or filming a group of people en masse does not require individual consent. It is important to know the local laws of your land and educate your employees on them and how to communicate them to customers when in these situations.
Procedures - The strongest buildings stand the test of time because of a solid foundation, procedures are the foundation that will proactively prevent heated use of social media as a means to complain. JetBlue is a great example of a company with common sense and balanced procedures that helped them weather their own recent drama after removing a whole family from a flight to Vegas. In the United Airlines incident where the passenger was dragged off the aircraft, bloodied by law enforcement, there lacked clear protocol that could have helped prevent or reduce the social media backlash they received. For JetBlue, anytime the decision is made to deplane a guest, and after several attempts at polite request to disembark, their procedure is to deplane the entire aircraft, this is fantastic out of the box thinking as it removes all the “tinder” to the potential fire and with all guests leaving the aircraft what is the remaining guest to do? All of this is handled with grace and polite communication. JetBlue has clearly thought about any possible guest friction their policies could create and it is clearly working for them when you view social media feedback on them, versus other airlines.
Training - Solid user friendly procedures without training is a waste of time, for everyone. Educating employees on corporate social media policy is important and should not only happen once in a classroom. Use innovative techniques such as in the minute training during team or tool box meetings. Use of e-learning and sharing recent examples from actual social media will help to keep the topic front of mind. As technology continues to evolve training on social media awareness should be an ongoing event. Training should not be just for those working in guest facing positions, supervisors, managers and back of house employees should also be included.
Awareness - It is impossible for anyone to memorise every single policy and procedure, we also know that training has retention of up to 10%. How do we ensure our employees will be prepared if a guest suddenly shoves a camera phone in the face? Keep the conversation going! Discuss social media awareness in team meetings, one-on-ones, ensure that your front line supervisors are acting as coaches to ensure the established procedures are being followed and that they are working and use a tactical approach to assist and mentor any employee that could be at risk of a social media tear down.
Is social media and the use of smartphones by customers something that is on your radar? do you have procedures and training to prepare your employees should they be faced with a situation like United Airlines or JetBlue? If not we may see your company thrust into social media firestorm one day…