Message From WOMMA: Open, Honest Communication

by Marianne Richmond on June 25, 2006

As I waited for Debbie Weil’s session on Great Corporate Blogs to begin on Day 2 at WOMMA I ran into Joel Nathanson from Wells Fargo who I had met the day before. Joel articulated the message that was being delivered to corporations: Open and honest communication; and trust your customers. I agree.

The statement, "The customer is in charge" is repeated over and over again in presentations at WOMMA and Supernova, on blogs, on blog taglines and is a generally accepted mantra for social media. And of course the customer is in charge. The customer has always been in charge. Remember the oft repeated instruction, " The customer is always right" ? (It is attributed to H. Gordon Selfridge who founded Selfridge’s Department Stores in the UK who according to Brand Fusion died insane and penniless.)

Well, those customers have always been in charge and have always been right because ultimately, it is their choice to do business with you. If they chose not to, they have expressed that they are in charge. If they tell others and word of mouth spreads, they have demonstrated that they are in charge, a little faster. Today, with technology, the word spreads very, very fast about who is in charge. The Church of the Consumer’s recent post about The 5 Steps About How a Story Spreads says it all!

Technology, is of course what has made all the difference in the "customer is in charge" equation. As Paul Rand noted at WOMMA businesses have "nowhere to run. nowhere to hide" because the days of businesses being able to market a bad product or service over time before the word got out are over…the word gets out instantaneously now.

So, what is the solutions? As Joel Nathanson from Wells Fargo said as Wells Fargo practices, Open and honest communication. Trust your customer.

The foundation is of course, the product and the service. Provide customers with great products and great service that are what you say they are; communicate openly and honestly with your customers and then you can trust that you will be rewarded by the person in charge, your customer. As Seth Godin said at the WOMMA Advertising Conference, begin with a remarkable product and then ignite the power of word of mouth.

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