The Three Realities You Can’t Control

Digital technologies have revolutionized how quickly we obtain information. As technology continues to transform how we communicate information – good or bad – the truth is, there are three realities we just can’t control.

In the past month, a handful of incidents between U.S. airline personnel and their customers have taken ‘front-stage” on social media outlets, quickly gaining national and global attention. In each case, customers are seen/heard, via the ever-present camera (aka mobile phone), engaging in verbal and/or physical conflict with those providing to them a product or service. One incident, involving the forceful ejection of a passenger from both his seat and flight, resulted in an immediate decrease in the company’s stock price by 6.4% or $1.4 billion in market capitalization.

These incidents serve as potent reminders of the fragile nature of the company/customer relationship. In today’s digitally-connected society, one unhappy customer or one poor product or service experience can be immediately communicated to a connected web of billions of individuals across the globe. Every company invests and spends in building customer and brand loyalty. If calculated globally, the expense and effort is huge. Yet, one slip-up, one unfortunate interaction, or one product or service shortfall can quickly negate the relationship, loyalty and goodwill investment.

One year ago, I attended the F4SS Quality Performance Leadership Summit in New Jersey. I was asked to open the session, speaking on a topic that I felt would be most impactful to our future businesses. I asked the attendees to ponder on three realities … realities that none of us could control: the unstoppable proliferation of digital data; the e-connected society; and the ever-shrinking world. In this discussion, I highlighted that digital capability is cheap and easily accessible by everyone; over one-half of the global population of 7.5 billion humans are e-connected; and consequently news travels to every corner of the globe at light-speed.

Perception and reality are interchangeable – a perception is someone’s reality. In our e-connected society, perceptions are created quickly; often in response to snippets of opinion, data and details. Complicating the equation is the lack of rule or regulation to ensure the integrity of social media postings. Consequently, slant, opinion, or bias may often shadow fact and accuracy.

Take a pause and think about this. Is this not a recipe for potential disaster to your business? What might result if you forget to cherish that fragile customer relationship? What loyalty or goodwill damage might occur through one poor customer experience? Do you screen your decisions through the “social media” filter? I have highlighted recent airline industry examples above. However, surfing the internet finds any number of global incidents that can serve as common reminders of how three uncontrollable realities could be your recipe for disaster.

About the Author:

Bill Sellers is Senior Director, Source Quality North America at Johnson & Johnson Consumer Group of Companies.

Lauren Wilson