retail news in context, analysis with attitude

In Syracuse, the Post-Standard has a fascinating story about a Twitter encounter that has not gone well for Price Chopper. Here’s how the paper reports the contretemps:

“Social media became social distortion for the supermarket chain Price Chopper after a representative of Price Chopper’s customer service department got into a personal tweeting dispute with a Syracuse-area customer ... The dispute erupted after the customer posted a tweet on Price Chopper’s Twitter page that criticized the supermarket chain. A Price Chopper employee reacted by contacting the customer’s employer and requesting he be disciplined.”

Price Chopper has said that the employee reacted without authority to do so, has apologizes for the actions, and has said that it will do what is necessary “to repair the trust that has been compromised by this associate.”

Part of the reason the dispute has gotten more play than might be expected is that the customer who complained and then became the subject of the employee’s wrath “is a friend of Anthony J. Rotolo, assistant professor of practice and social media strategist at Syracuse University’s School of Information Studies, who has been blogging about the incident and promises to use it as a “teaching moment.”
KC's View:
The thing about technologies like Twitter is that they make it more possible than ever for a) people to make bad decisions, and b) for those decisions to become very public. Is this a downside? Sure. Does that mean that companies should reject such technologies from being part of their overall communications efforts? Of course not.

The thing about transparency is that it reveals the good and the bad. You have to roll with these kinds of moments, and not rely on outside professors to use them as teaching moments. You have to educate people within the company about how important each one is in representing the organization. That’s a cultural imperative.

That’s life. We all have to deal with it.