Coming Clean with Your Customers, Part II

We blogged last week about KSV advisor Jeffrey Hollender and his recent comments on insuring the value of your brand through transparency. People are using social media to discuss your brand, and it’s possible to seize the momentum in that discussion by candidly and openly engaging with customers and influencers in that space. Vermont business leaders met with KSV execs last week to brainstorm ways in which businesses can use social media in the era of heightened corporate social responsibility. Their conclusions have particular relevance for utilities.

In the ongoing quest to build trust and overcome fears around smart systems, utilities might consider using social media to listen to consumer concerns and allow them to air grievances and fears, as well as offer suggestions and solutions.

The risk? You lose control when you “crowd source”.

The reward? You just might move beyond the superficial transparency of social media into real engagement with consumers.

Rules to keep in mind when treading this ground:

1.     Accept that you’re giving up ownership of an issue when you offer it up to public debate.

2.     Respect your audience by asking for input on meaningful issues – ones that matter to them and you.

3.     Listen. Acknowledge. Explore. Don’t jump to discredit or correct.

4.     Commit to closing the loop. Acknowledge the input you’ve received, give feedback, and share your conclusions and next steps.