I used to work in a drop-in center where the occasional fight would break out.Â One dude would say something negative to another dude, who would counter with a comment and a heated exchange was under way.Â If it got heated enough, fists would fly and the fight was on.
Those days remind me of situations on social media.Â Someone says an off comment, someone else reacts to that comment, and we have ourselves a good âol fashion fist fight thatâs public for everyone.Â It happens with people, businesses, and yes even between brands/organizations and their consumers.
When I was at the drop-in center for these situations, one of the first thing we would do is remove the audience.Â Get the people not involved in the altercation out of the room so that they wouldnât get hurt, but also so they wouldnât choose sides and get involved.Â This (mostly) de-escalated the people who were in the fight because they no longer had to posture and defend their reputation because no one was watching.Â They could afford to be a bit more vulnerable in the situation.
This is also what brands do when they are trying to de-escalate a potential problem.Â They take it off-line, or at very least out of the public eye.Â If you look at many brands twitter feeds (for example) youâll see a sleuth of tweets to their customers to DM them or asking the customer to follow them so that the brand can DM the customer.Â They are taking the conflict out of the public eye to attempt to deal with the issue, keep the customer satisfied, and show that they are listening to their complaints with hopes of making it a good interaction.
Donât get me wrong, I think that itâs great that brands do this.Â I think itâs great that they are beginning to listen to their customers and starting to address the issues where their customers are.Â Kudos on them, they are starting to get what it means to be humanized.Â They can always do better, but thatâs not really what this is about.Â This is about taking conflict public.
Taking Conflict Public
Sure, itâs probably not a good idea all of the time.Â Especially if the specific issue is extremely personal to the customer or the situation is very unique, but there can be some crazy awesome benefits to dealing with conflict in the public eye.Â Take this quote for example that I pulled from Erika Napoletanoâs (Red Head Writing) book The Power of Unpopular (See our short review of the book here):
âWhen you make your communications with the haters public and conduct yourself in a professional manner, people see that.Â Sure, there are plenty of things that you can deal with offline, and rightfully so, but something thatâs worked well for us is being as open and honest as possible.Â Odds are that other people are going to have the same question or concern, so if we can show weâre not afraid to get asked and answer, thatâs one of the best brand decisions we can make.â [Ariel Scott of GoodBelly]
Ariel hit the nail on the head.Â People like transparency.Â They like to feel heard.Â They like to see businesses being open and honest, which means they are not afraid to own up to their mistakes, apologize, or take a stand in what they believe to be true.
Here are 5 advantages of dealing with conflict in the public eye, in no particular order:
- Shows your customers that you are listening
- Shows transparency
- Builds rapport with people that read your responses
- Builds trust
- Keeps brands accountable
How about you? Do you agree? Disagree? What would you add to this list or take off the list?