Online Transparency is Credibility

I was first introduced to the dynamics of company Facebook pages back in 2011 while working for a bottled water company named Crystal Rock. I was randomly searching for my co-workers online when I found they were all following the company page. Upon viewing the page I noticed many lovely costumer compliments as well as irate complaints. There were even terrible customer posts signing out individual customer service representatives they were unhappy with. I noticed under many of the compliments and under each complaint, the Crystal Rock administrator gave a very thorough and professional response. Many times the administrator would describe the solution/corrective actions they planned to take to ensure the complaint was handled there on the page.

My initial reaction to this was “Why would the company keep this visible?”, I imagined it must be incredibly bad for business. When I got to work the next day I asked out communications specialist and she told me this was promoting credibility through transparency. The fact that Crystal Rock had complaints and left them visible for the world to see after publishing their plan to correct the issue made them in a sense human and that they cared about customers. If they had left the comments unanswered the page would have appeared poorly maintained, but the responses showed no shame, no pretense, and that Crystal Rock always wanted to do right by their customers and each customer voice mattered.

This concept has been taken a step farther when encountering companies who do the opposite. There are many Instagram companies who provide awful customer service, and when customers complain on their pages the comments are deleted and the customers are blocked. These customers often resort to resources like Yelp and other review forums to publicize these instances. Before I purchase anything off Instagram (or any online company) I study the reviews thoroughly. Sites such as AliExpress that have public complaints that resolve the issues are more likely to get my business, however companies that have customer complaints about being blocked and deleted for expressing their dissatisfaction will NEVER get my business. This is nothing I have ever thought twice about, but when I heard it from the Crystal Rock communications specialist it clicked.

In my opinion, companies can promote credibility and transparency with customer blogs and feedback. Both positive and negative helps. Consumers aren’t always expecting perfection and are often forgiving if they feel companies actually care. Company pages as described are definitely ways to promote business.

Posted on September 23, 2014, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. I agree that deleting negative comments instantly escalates an already bad situation. I remembered this happening recently but couldn’t remember which company.

    When I started searching online, I found this article that defines three acceptable times to remove comments: 1) when users violate community guidelines, 2) when users use obscene language, and 3) when users are threatening.

    http://www.mediaemerging.com/2012/02/02/deleting-negative-facebook-comments/

  2. Peahleah,

    I definitely agree with your thought process on choosing which companies to do business with. I am instantly on guard when I read reviews on a product or company that only has good or great reviews. When booking a trip to Mexico a few years ago, I went on Priceline and Orbitz to compare the different options. I narrowed my choices down to five different hotels. I then went on Trip Advisor and began to read reviews. After 100 reviews, I realized I wasn’t getting anywhere. I narrowed my search to only include bad reviews. After reading through 20 or so reviews, I began to see a pattern or a lack of a pattern. On 3 of the 5 hotels, the same problems kept coming up such as dirty rooms, sewage smells, or very poor service. The other two hotels had one off issues that weren’t repeated regarding sickness, or a problem with a single employee, or the french cuisine wasn’t five star as advertised. Seeing the problems with the hotels let me figure out if I could live with them, assuming they are true, or whether I couldn’t. Needless to say, we didn’t stay at the sewage hotel.

  3. The transparency that your company used is impressive. Just reading about their dedication to address negative feedback makes me think, “I want their water!”

    And Brian, I do the same type of research online. If there is not any negative feedback, I’m not interested. The most helpful reviews for me are the ones that say the positive aspects and admit some negative ones. Take, for example, ModCloth (yes, I’ve used them as an example already). Their customer reviews are great. Not only can the consumer write what they think, but they also rate things on a scale, like if the item runs small or large, short or long, etc. This helps quantify responses and get a general idea if an item is a good fit for you.

    http://www.modcloth.com/shop/shoes-flats/stroke-of-genus-flat-in-white

  4. I think we are definitely seeing a shift in the way that business is conducted. Corporate transparency is the key to success in this Age of Accountability. The Internet and the ability for social media to spread messages like wildfire is actually making companies think before they act and respond to negativity to address it head on because they are not able to sweep it all under the rug as easily anymore.

  5. Natasha, thanks for sharing this realization with us. Can you tell me/link to the exact reading that led to this reaction? Don’t forget the blogging advice to assume an outside audience. In fact, if you wanted to link out to all the companies you mention, that’d let your readers see what you mean.

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