Honesty is the Best Policy

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By Guest Blogger EJ Widun

For those of you who follow Lead in the Moment, you know that we not only love servant leadership but incredible customer experiences. At times, we will share the good and bad of these experiences. In this case, it is a story of how honesty created raving fans for a local business and additional revenue.

This summer I decided to focus on my health. You can consider it a delayed New Year’s Resolution. In my youth, I was an avid bike rider but I had not ridden a bike in fifteen years. This summer I decided it was time to bike again.

Obviously, my bike was old. I was not sure if it would be worth getting it fixed or buying a new bike. I loaded my old bike into the car and drove to a local bike shop. I wheeled in the bike and waited for my turn. As I waited, I walked through the store looking at the shiny new bikes. When my turn came up, I said to the gentleman, I wanted to get my bike looked at. I don’t know if it is worth fixing or getting a new bike. He said, this bike (he never used the word old) is a great bike and just needs a tune up. You cannot get a bike like this anymore. I can get this bike ready in a day and you will save a lot of money because the new bikes are far more expensive.

I was totally shocked that he would not try to sell the new bike. When I picked up my “old” bike, it looked fantastic. After the pick-up, I took in my wife’s bike and my daughter’s bike for a tune-up. I also bought my son his first bike from this store. One interaction of pure honesty, created a lasting relationship and a raving fan.

Keeping You Honest?

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Remember the childhood story Pinocchio – the puppet whose nose grew every time he told a lie?  Does your organization believe that you can hide things from the public when we are all living in the social media fishbowl?  You may think you can get away with not sharing the truth, but social media can literally show your nose growing to the world!

Today, social media requires us to be honest with our actions and words.  If you knew that someone had the same exact access to information that you did, would you be more concerned with ensuring the information you provided was accurate?  I am often surprised with the lack of discretion some people use when posting all of the intimate details of their lives online.  I am more surprised when prominent people try to lie about something stupid they did.  If you send an email, a Tweet, share a You Tube or Vine video, post on Facebook or Google+, it is too late – whatever ridiculous thing you did will be out there for the world to see forever.  At that point, telling a lie just isn’t going to work!  We need to remember that practically everyone on the planet is carrying around a smart phone, and in an instant your mistake could be fodder for the evening news, so if you are going to fail, be epic and own it!

Social media has created a transparency of knowledge, which can be very useful if an organization chooses to use it to their advantage.  No one is thrilled with negative publicity splashed across the Internet.  However, if you beat the naysayers to the punch and take a preemptive strike, you can control how this information is shared with the public, ensuring the truth comes directly from you.  This can also create a sense of trust between an organization and consumer.  By nature, we have been taught not to trust the “big bad corporations” due to our past experiences.  When organizations reveal themselves through the various social media channels, it is far easier to establish trust with the public.  Consider this scenario, your organization sends out a mass email to millions, and oh no – there is something obscene in it!  How would your organization handle this?  Do you blame someone else and try to hide, praying that it will go away quickly and quietly?  Or, do you expose your mistake to every media outlet that exists and make sure that everyone knows that yes, you did mess up, but you are sincerely sorry.  Which organization is a consumer going to trust?

People see social media as a way to connect with their customers, to “keep it real.”  Are you keeping it real by staying honest, or are you a social media Pinocchio?