Many voices, one message

There are three elements needed to ensure business is transparent. NAOMI SIMSON

Naomi Simson

By Naomi Simson

The workplace is different now, media surrounds us – people no longer trust advertising as a reliable source of information.

This is a new age of transparency because:

  1. “Generation-Y” have grown up in a media world where people who choose a public life have no privacy. Who magazine, New Weekly, even Dolly magazine are totally obsessed with what “famous” people are doing, wearing and experiencing. With social networking – MySpace, Twitter and Facebook – Gen-Y get to be “famous”.
  2. “Generation-Why” questions why they do what they do, their purpose in life, they want to have fulfilling and meaningful lives. The point is that Generation-Why could fall in any age group.
  3. Media has changed and will continue to change dramatically. Media is now self serve and anyone with a computer and an internet connection can be a publisher.

These three things mean a lot to business. User groups were once the domain of technology companies, this is no longer the case. Every business now has user groups and forums. If someone has a great customer experience they can easily become an advocate – posting messages on blogs, forums or chat rooms.

The same of course being for bad customer experiences and this is where it gets really hard… because sometimes stuff happens within a business – that is just out of the ordinary. And not planned.

I witnessed a conversation between a friend of mine, who works for a major bank, in a senior role, and a customer – who had visited one of the banks branches the day before – and said “I had a bad experience….”

The response was priceless. The banker responded: “We have around 30,000 staff and on any given day each will have 10 customer transactions – that makes 300,000 times we could potentially have a ‘bad hair day’. It is not our intention to give bad service, we work hard at getting it right – but sometimes we don’t – sorry, but thank you for bringing it to my attention and I will look out to ensure that it is an isolated incident in that one branch.”

I remember my days at Ansett Airlines – when at any social gathering or business event I was considered fair game for people to tell me about their last airline experience. One classic was when one person told me that the mixed nuts “was really only peanuts with one cashew”. There was little that I could do to impact the customer experience.

The point is that there was the intention to do something about it. Our customers do have a voice – now more than ever in the online world. At RedBalloon Days we have sent more than 360,000 “How was it for you?” surveys to our customers after they have been on their experience. Everyone is read – by a wonderful RedBallooner, Georgia.

This gives us a chance to be on the front foot, to action anything with our supply community if need be. But to be totally transparent is to allow ourselves to be in the public domain with such things.

Which is why we have gone one step further to use social networks and media as a place for people to talk about RedBalloon. We have: RedBalloon Flickr page, RedBalloon YouTube videos, and now even a RedBalloon Facebook page.

Our intention being to give our customers a voice. It is scary but exciting. But as Chief Experience Officer I’d rather know what is going on – and encourage public discussion – than have conversations go on “online” that I have no idea about.

We enter a new age in customer advocacy. Embrace it, roll with it or miss out on harnessing the most powerful voice of all.

(PS feel free to leave a comment on any of our pages).


Naomi Simson is the founder and CEO (Chief Experiences Officer) of RedBalloon Days, Naomi is passionate about pleasure! Backed by enthusiasm, energy and drive and recently named one of Australia’s best bosses (Australia’s Marketing Employer of Choice), the Entrepreneurs Organisation (Sydney Chapter) President 2007 – 2008 and mother of two, Naomi also inspires others as a regular speaker, writes a blog and has recently completed her first book .

To read more Naomi Simson blogs, click here .



Naomi Wallis writes: Interesting article regarding stimulating public discussion about your business. One question I do have is that by essentially trying to control all of the conversation about your company do you still retain objectivity? Do you believe in moderating those forums or discussion groups?

Naomi replies: We have to get used to the idea that there is no control. People understand that stuff happens in business and sometimes things go wrong. It is more what we do to fix it that makes the difference.



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