WHAT WE LEARNED THIS WEEK: Don’t bother censoring social media

Last week, Westpac drew the criticism of several mortgage holders when it decided to raise interest rates even though the RBA kept the official cash rate on hold.

But what put the bank in even more hot water was the fact it started censoring messages put on its own Facebook page. A number of these posts were attacking the company for the decision, saying it was wrong and they didn’t need to do so given the company’s large profits.

Some of these posts were removed – which no doubt exacerbated the story beyond the initial rate hike.

If you operate a popular Facebook page, it’s imperative you give your customers a place for discussion and criticism. If not, then where can they go? Facebook is designed as an open medium – you need to allow your customers to have their say.

Having guidelines, such as not allowing swearing, are perfectly fine. But if you’re censoring opinions, then you need to have a second look at your social media policy.

Culture must last longer than an executive

Tim Cook has a lot of pressure on him. The man has taken up the role of chief executive of the most valuable technology company in the world, and has millions of customers and analysts watching him to see whether he can maintain Steve Jobs’ legacy.

During his first major speech as chief executive this week, Tim Cook made it clear that not only would he maintain the culture at Apple but that he would do his best to keep it going as long as possible.

The culture of your business cannot change on a whim. If an executive changes, the vision of your company needs to stay on the same path if you’ve been experiencing success for a long time.

Don’t mess up a winning strategy and change for the hell of it. Stay on track, even if the executive team changes around.

Get on top of the R&D applications

Did you know you may be eligible for R&D grants, and you may not even know it?

The new R&D provisions allow more businesses to apply if they are earning less than $20 million a year, and as an expert warned SmartCompany this week, too many SMEs are unaware they can apply for a grant – and deadlines are looming.

Even if you’re a technology company, there’s a chance you could be eligible for some serious funding.

Get on top of your R&D activities and make sure you apply for the grant. If you’re eligible, there’s no reason not to.

Online retail on the ACCC agenda

ACCC chairman Rod Sims unveiled the competition regulator’s “hit list” for this year – and online retail is placed squarely in its sights.

If you’re operating an online retailing business, then you should take heart, as the ACCC is going to be looking into how bricks and mortar outlets are actually hindering the expansion of online retailing.

But you should also be aware, as this will increase scrutiny for the sector and potentially expose some wrongdoing. So you need to get your affairs in order – don’t get caught out.

Keep on top of your freight

James Packer made another investment this week in the online space, this time injecting $5 million into a Brisbane-based company that allows users to track parcels that have been purchased online.

This comes just as Australia Post is struggling to deal with the huge amount of work that comes along with managing an economy that is not more built on parcels than it is on stamps.

Consumers want this type of activity. If you don’t have the option to allow your customers to track their parcels, then you really should. Investigate how you can keep the customer informed as much as possible, which will reduce the number of frantic calls you receive asking where packages are.

It may cost some extra money, but it’ll give you a better reputation and cut down the time you spend answering calls. Track your parcels, give your customer that information, and you’ll end up much more efficient for it.

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