Friday August 9, 2013

Who Represents the Company?

Do you represent the company you work for? If you're the CEO, you probably agree that you do. What about a vice president? CTO? Customer support staff? Surely these roles do.

What about a first-line manager? An engineer? An accountant? A receptionist?

Precedent has shown that if you make it clear that you work for a company, you represent that company when you talk about it in public. Precedent has been, at times, frighteningly clear on the subject.

What it means to represent the company

What does it mean to represent the company? At minimum, I think, it means that you act professionally when you come in contact with customers (or potential customers). You don't publicly disrespect the company and you don't disrespect the customer. Whether or not you add a disclaimer, "I don't speak for my company", to your social media feed, there will be times when you are speaking as a company representative.

In particular, if you work for Facebook, Twitter, Google, Pinterest, or any other company in the social media space, and you have publicly stated in your Facebook (Twitter, Google, Pinterest...) feed that you work for said company, you represent that company in that medium, whether you like it or not.

If a user of your company's product contacts you with a question, your response will be a reflection on your company, whether you like it or not.

Case in point

I have recently been attempting to get support from a large, well-known company. I have gone through the proper channels. I have clicked "Help" and "Send a problem report" more times than I can count. I have been trying for several weeks now. I have received no response. None. Zero. Zip.

So, I tried a different route. I contacted someone who regularly posts in that company's forum and who has made it clear, on multiple occasions, that he works for the company. I said I needed help. I asked if he could put me in touch with someone who could help me.

His response? My message was "off-putting". After a brief conversation, in which I became increasingly unhappy (and he became increasingly less helpful), he "blocked" all further contact from me with one, final, rude, response.

I expected to be told that he, personally, was unable to help. I expected to be told that he would ask around, file a bug report, pass my question to someone else.

I expected to deal with a professional person, in a professional manner. That's not what I got.

Take away lesson

The company in question doesn't care. They don't care enough to respond to customer "help" requests. Their employees don't care enough to turn a poor customer experience into a good one. In fact, some of their employees obviously don't care if they turn a poor customer experience into a worse one.

Why should this bad experience with one individual color my perspective of the company? Because, like it or not, that individual represents the company. His interaction with me represents the company's interaction with me.

Not every company is like this. I've recently had some very good customer experiences with other companies. Companies with actual Help Ticket systems in place. Companies with support staff who respond to help tickets. Representatives who ensured my questions were answered.

I used to work for a large well-known company that occasionally had frustrated customers. Many times, employees would be contacted by friends, family, friends of friends, and chance acquaintances looking for some way to resolve their problems. Many times, I saw those employees reach out to others within the company to say "this person needs help".

Those employees represented their company. They represented it professionally and well, both internally and externally. In contrast, the person I dealt with yesterday also represents his company. He, however, represents it unprofessionally and poorly.

How do you represent your company?

Who Represents the Company? ( in category Random Thoughts , World of Work ) - posted at Fri, 09 Aug, 11:09 Pacific | «e»

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