One of the things I often work with my corporate direct sales clients on is issues management, and I constantly stress how important it is to have a monitoring and escalation procedures strategy in place. When something goes horribly wrong, and it starts to spread in social media, how do you deal with it?
One company that is currently dealing with just such an issue is HP. It deals with their facial recognition software. An African-American made a YouTube video with his Caucasian colleague demonstrating that while the software and associated camera picked up and followed the Caucasian, as soon as the African-American entered the camera’s range, it stopped working. The heading of the video is “HP Computers are Racist,” and you can view it here:
If you can’t see the video, click here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t4DT3tQqgRM
While this could obviously turn into a public relations nightmare for any company, HP is obviously prepared for just such a scenario, and responded quickly. I’d like to point out what HP is doing right, as it serves as an example that companies in our industry can follow.
- The corporate blog provides the official corporate response. You can read it here: http://thenextbench.com/t5/Voodoo-Blog/Customer-Feedback-is-Important-to-Us/ba-p/51351. It’s important to have one place that anyone who hears about the issue (including journalists) can go to find out what the company position is. A blog is a great place to do that.
- Notice that HP did not try to hide the video. There is a link right to the video from the blog post. They are acknowledging the issue and assuring the public that they are taking it seriously. When things go wrong, it’s critical to be as honest and forthright as possible, to protect against an even greater backlash later.
- HP employees are actively working Twitter on this issue. Now HP does have employees who are very active in the social web communities anyway, but they are actively responding to people who ask about the issue, pointing them to the official corporate response. For example, @AngelaAtHP wrote as one of her statuses: “HI @flip_books @arturogoga @myvocal We’re taking this seriously. And we’re addressing it. Thx : http://ow.ly/Oi1k “
I’m SURE that on the backend, HP has escalation procedures in place that state who and how they will deal with issues such as these. In social media there is NO time to waste, as issues can spread very quickly. It is essential to have a strategy in place so the company demonstrates it is aware, on top of issues, and doing what it can to protect the consumer.
What strategies does your company have in place if things go wrong?