IGA retailers live with some new anxieties about the world of constant communication. I've written before about the challenges of creating guidelines and structure around social media. Luckily we now have a real world example of a company showing how to deal with disaster in this brand new world.
And it's an example that IGA operators should know about because it was all caused by an associate who tweeted without thinking. That's something that can happen anywhere.
The incident occurred during last week's presidential debate. No matter how you feel about the candidates, you know that it's folly to insult anyone publicly. Yet an employee for Kitchen Aid appliances did just that and while using a Twitter link to the company. Rather than hide, Kitchen Aid took quick action that's a lesson to everyone.
First, they deleted the offensive message. Then Kitchen Aid apologized, making certain to do so on Twitter so the same people who saw the message would see the mea culpa.
When the incident drew the attention of some media sites, Kitchen Aid stood up and took the heat, explained what happened and provided the details on its website. No cover up and, no surprise, the story went away. Contrast that with companies who seem to dribble out bad news hour by hour. (You can read the entire story here.)
It's important for even a one-store IGA operator to pay attention to news like this. In today's interconnected world, every associate and every shopper has a megaphone to the world about you and your store. It's why you need to be progressive in approaching social media to make it a tool for you, not a weapon to hurt you.
You can get loads of information about social media from the Coca-Cola Retailing Research Council of North America study on the topic. (Find "Untangling the Social Web" at www.ccrrc.org.) The study will help you find the keys to this new world, and more parts of the study will be coming in January to help you build your own plans.
You can't wait though. Just ask Kitchen Aid.