Is Your Brand being Reactive or Proactive?

I typically deal with conflict after it’s happened. A family breaks up, someone else got your promotion, you just gave a performance review and it didn’t go well. This is when people come to’s a reaction. It’s after-the-fact, it happens after you have went through an event that caused you some pain, hurt, discomfort….it is a reaction.  This doesn't just happen with individuals, but also with organizations.

So what do these reactions mean for your brand, your company, your organization? Imagine you could turn that potentially conflictual situation into a positive experience? Imagine you took a proactive approach and helped those that experienced difficulty with your company before a dispute or conflict happened? What would that look like?

As I’m sure many of you are aware, I spend quite a bit of time online...especially here. Social Media has potentially changed the way that we can interact with our clients and customers. It has potentially changed the way that we can approach conflict and potential disputes. It has potentiallygiven us a way to find out what our customers are saying about us.


I say potentially because there are certainly companies that still don’t get it. They still don’t get it that they can talk with their customers. They still don’t get what conflict is and how they can react or address the concerns (both online and in-person). They still don’t get what it means to LISTEN to their clients and customers (For a prime example take a look at Scott Stratten’s post on his Unmarketing site).

They aren’t all this clueless though...I’ve been watching WestJet’sinteractions on Twitter lately and I’m impressed. They listen...they interact, the dig for more information. Here’s a great example:


What happened here?? Oh that's right...they caring about their customer's experience.  So what did they do right?

1.  They listened: They met the customer where he was at and approached him where he felt comfortable enough to air his complaints.    They heard their customer and apologized for dropping the ball on the luggage.

2. They Dug Deeper: They were listening enough to realize that this happened to this guy at check-in and wanted to know how the rest of his flight was.  They wanted more information, they welcomed more information, they wanted to know how they did as a service from start to finish.  Even though they got a response that showed that they needed improvement, they took it in stride and again owned their mistake.

3.  They took it offline:  Well...maybe not offline, but out of the public eye.  They addressed his concerns and moved it to a forum where they could get his feedback.  Complaints, disputes, conflicts are typically better hashed out without input from millions of other people, so address their concerns publicly (depending on the situation) so that people know that you have heard them.  So that the PUBLIC knows that they've been heard, then move that conversation to a private chat, somewhere you can drown out the noise and focus on understanding the problem.

So what? You're saying...they do this for everyone that complains! Really? These guys are good...take a look at this:

Not only do they use the language of the customer (like top notch, good pick up) but they make sure that what they say can be followed up with.  They aren't promising you kittens and ponies for your complainants, they are giving you something that they can guarantee. Something that's within their grasp.

Kudos to you WestJet, a job well done and keep up the good work! What brands do you see that deal with conflict well??? Leave me a comment and let me know!

(This post was originally posted at Absolution Mediation)

Views: 167

Comment by Jeff Thompson on February 4, 2012 at 9:15am

Great post- its nice to see companies respond like this.  I have tweeted similarly about @Qantas .... with no response!


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