August 25; Every CEO Needs a Truth Squad MANAGEMENT BY THE BOOK: 365 Daily Bible Verse & One-Minute Management Lessons For The Busy Faithful
Chapter Eight: Communication; 25 August
The Lord detests lying lips,
but he delights in men who are truthful.
|Every CEO Needs a Truth Squad|
“I hope you have a strong personal relationship with your customers and the media — because now is not the time to start…”
My company’s medical device products were suspected in making patients sick. There was a rumor of a death. An “adverse event” is the medical euphemism. We didn’t know the details but there was enough evidence to recall the offending lot number.
Independent experts were ‘speculating’—let’s not call it lying—in the trade press and it was not positive for us. (These were the consultants that I did not hire because they were too expensive. Now I was paying an even hirer price.) (Hint: always be nice to vendors you don’t hire…)
“Public Relations is a planned process to influence public opinion through sound character and proper performance based on mutually beneficial two-way communication.” CHEHOU Oussoumanou quoting Dennis Wilcox, et. al.
Management in a word is ‘relationship’ and is more than bossing the individual contributors in your chain of command. It is controlling events inside and outside the organization. The first part of our PR definition is ‘plan.’ This communication is not random—it is a component of the management process.
When my product did not work as advertised, customers could forgive the company quicker, if the decision makers trusted the character of the device representatives even if the product performance was in question. The key influencers have confidence in the representation of the supplier.
The Public Relations relationship works only when, as in any human relationship, there is a healthy, vigorous two-way communication. The PR professional does more than the promotion; more than pushing out press releases or mass advertising. She also works to get information from the market.
Listening to the customer is technically easier than in generations past. In the pre-internet days, a company might get a complaint card or call if there was non-performance. Usually the customer bad word-of-mouthed about the product to friends and abandoned the merchandise. Sales and market share could be lost for weeks before a company could determine why.
Complaining now is instantaneous. This is a good thing even if anonymous: it is feedback that is critical to two-way communication. If (when) Your Business Professor screws up, I will be notified by an Alert Student within minutes.
Not so long ago, my incompetence could go undocumented for years. Businesses must welcome each of the social media sites including, as of this writing, Twitter and Facebook, as part of that necessary two-way communication. It is easier for the customer to contact the company and complain. Indeed, Your Business Professor encourages my customers (students) to comment on www.RateMyProfessors.com; which is the Yelp! for academia.
My medical device company was able to collect the questionable lot numbers. But that was the easy part. My concern was that the customer would allow us to replace product that was pulled with a different lot number.
Customers did not ask for their money back and allowed the lot swap. Some might say we were lucky. Perhaps. But we were blessed with a sound, on-going public relations strategy.
The old joke goes,
Question: How can you tell if a salesman is lying?
Answer: His lips are moving.
The insult will not apply when communicators abide by Proverbs 12:22, The Lord detests lying lips, but he delights in men who are truthful.