‘We the people’ have an issue with customer communication


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‘We the people’ have an issue with customer communication

  1. 1. ‘WE THE PEOPLE’ HAVE AN ISSUE WITH CUSTOMER COMMUNICATION “We the People” is an online petition website set up to allow citizens to get responses on popular issues. However, it has largely been exploited to serve as both a humor device and a form of popular protest. For instance, it has been used to petition for the creation of a “Death Star” and even to propose secession. Clearly, these types of issues were not the intended purpose of the site, causing the site to raise itsthreshold from 5,000 petitions to 100,000 petitions. While many maycondemn the site for bending to these unintended uses and making it moredifficult for others to use the site according to the original purpose, there aresome valuable lessons to be learned here about customer service.One thing that the White House has done well in light of the more frivoloususes of the site has been to counter with humor. The “Death Star” petitionwas answered with a response which was chock full of Star Wars references.By responding in this way, The White House was able to get in on the joke(rather than being the target) and also humanized itself. Businesses oftentake themselves too seriously in customer communication settings. Whilemaintaining professionalism is always key, it doesn’t hurt to be a little sillyand joke around to let people know that, yes, you are a group of people andnot a mindless machine.The White House has also been good about responding to even highlynegative petitions on the site with regularity. Although there is norequirement to answer a question at any specific time even once the petitionthreshold is reached, the decision to address inflammatory comments showsstrength and confidence. As a business, it is important to remember thateven negative responses on customer-facing channels can be positive if youcan address them and get a conversation going. Often, if your responses arewell reasoned and effective, you can even recruit other customers who will
  2. 2. defend you, serving as brand advocates and lending credibility to yourbusiness. Staying silent, which might be the safest choice in some damagecontrol scenarios, gives all the power to your attackers.It is dangerous to create divisions between “us” and “them” in yourcommunication channels. By establishing an open dialogue, you willmaintain the respect of your client base. In that sense, “We The People” maybe making some missteps by raising their petition requirements to greaterand greater heights, showing a lack of confidence in their transparencychannels. Still, the fact that such a channel exists with White House officialsis a great idea, and businesses should consider taking some lessonsregarding direct communication, and mitigating unintended consequences,from this oft-inaccessible government entity.Reference Link: http://journyx.com/node/2096