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I was flipping through a copy of Fast Company when I saw another one of those quotes. You know the kind I mean, where the CEO talks about how treating the employees right ensures that they treat the customers right. Some of them are just saying what people want to hear, but this particular quote was from David Pickens, the president of the highly successful Olive Garden chain of restaurants. Pickens summed it up nicely with, “It’s very difficult for the experience of the guests to exceed the experience of the staff.”
You’ve probably seen lots of service companies talk the same way. Home Depot swears that their employee stock program is a big part of what helps their employees care about their company rather than the company.
So what does this have to do with the Internet? Plenty. You might not realize it, but social media is turning every company into a service company. Think about it.
You’re never going to have a blogging department. You’re going to have employees that blog on top of their day job. Maybe it’s that engineer in product development talking about the new technology coming along. Or that veteran sales guy who has forgotten more customer problems and solutions than most people will ever know. That’s who you want writing your blog posts. How do you get them to write things that make the company look good? Treating them well seems like the least you can do.
You’re never going to have a Twitter team, either. Or a message board department. If you expect your customer service team to check to see what complaints are popping up online, you might need to treat them nicely.
Of course, you don’t have to treat anyone nicely. You can just order them to hop to—get on those message boards and monitor those tweets and write those blogs. Then you can sit back and see what happens. But it might not be pretty. Forced social media looks forced. Instead, allow your happy and enthusiastic employees to let their attitudes shine through.