About

I write about digital strategies and communications — and their intersection with culture, politics, journalism and social activism.

Tuesday
Nov162010

Blocking Social Networks at Work - A Dying Practice?

 

(Once again I've enriched a post with a Rob Cottingham cartoon since no one captures the social web zeitgeist better. I don't think he'll mind.)

I hope the title of this post is true. But based on my experience with some organizations over the past six months there are fewer offering this "benefit" than I thought would be the case given where we are in the social web's six or seven year history.

The resistance is still coming from senior management teams and human resource departments (a) concerned about the impact on productivity (b) afraid that organizational intellectual property will be compromised.

Others can desconstruct the problems with these quarrels. Instead, let me suggest five arguments in favour of making Rob's cartoon redundant:

  1. The signal sent by blocking Facebook, other social networks and micro-blogging platforms like Twitter is that you think your employees are children . . . if not idiots. That feeling is likely to be a greater draw down on productivity than a few minutes checking a social network feed.
  2. With smart phones and mobile apps employees can simply duck their hands below their desks and check Facebook and Twitter anyway.
  3. As Rob says in a post accompanying the cartoon above blocking these platforms may mean missing an opportunity for "companies and organizations (to create platforms - my addition) for productive, collaborative work."
  4. The social web isn't going away. Many businesses are trying to find a way to make it relevant for them. By shutting off desktop access to the social web you are slamming the door on creative business scenarios or better customer service strategies.
  5. You will delay learning what kind of specialized content might make users of the social web pay attention to your products and services, because your employees won't help you find out.

Senior managers can be stubborn, especially when backed by IT departments mumbling about non-business driven server overload. So don't bet these ideas will tip the scales among the hold outs . . . though it's worth a try.  

Sunday
Nov142010

Cort Theater N.Y. *Fail*

Good customer service is not that tough. Last night the Cort Theater in New York replaced Laura Linney with her understudy in the lead role of the drama Time Stands Still. Linney plays the role of the central character Sarah Goodwin, so this was no minor irritant, especially for someone from out of town who is unlikely to be back to New York soon.

But there was no explanation from the theater; no apology; no refund; no note in the Playbill explaining that Linney was indisposed, ill, exhausted . . . whatever.

Simply stupid customer 'service'. Why would you not provide some reason to theatergoers for this significant change in the "product"?

I enjoyed the play (especially Christina Ricci making her Broadway debut as Mandy) very much and the Linney understudy was perfectly adequate. But it took some time to shake the feeling of being ripped-off. It would have been so easy for the production company to make the evening satisfying by offering some justification for the replacement.

In most circumstances, that's really all most customers ask . . . reasoning, apology and under some conditions recompense.