It's a simple idea. Hand your employee the keys and allow them to share their knowledge on the internet.

Your customers will get better and more consistent support materials that they can access without waiting on you, and it’s there for anyone to forward in response to email inquiries.

Your prospects will get better answers to their questions because you’ve answered them proactively, and shown that you aren’t hiding the answers behind a “sales call”. Again, you’ll have better and more up to date documented answers to send in email replies to prospects.

When confronted with the idea, I hear pushback from some business owners and managers. They rationalize against the idea by saying something like, “What if they decide to post something ugly? We can’t have that. This probably isn’t for us, because our industry is different. We can’t just have any old person posting what they ate for lunch on our website; or worse, if they got mad at us and decided to post something unfavorable and we got into a PR nightmare. We should let the competition make this mistake.”

This kind of mentality is blind to a few things.

First, I often see really smart people revert back to thinking all content on the internet is about what people had for lunch.

While, there you can find lunch content on Google, that doesn’t make your business any less of a candidate for creating helpful content based on your employee’s tribal knowledge.

Secondly, the idea that your employee is going to “go postal” and decide to post hateful or unfavorable content on your website is kind of silly for a couple of reasons.

  1. They can post this kind of content anyway; with or without you. A disgruntled employee doesn't need your website as a stage for their rants. If they are mad at management, they are likely to go post on Glassdoor or a social media site you have no control over.
  2. They don't need to post anything, anywhere to have their unfavorable judgement or actions show up on the Internet and hurt your brand. Case in point:
FORT WORTH, Texas - A popular restaurant chain is taking action after two customers in Fort Worth say their lunch included racial slurs.

I saw the following post on the Fort Worth, TX SubReddit community (a sort of local social bulletin board)

The headline from the news story in Los Angeles, CA was “Ft. Worth Sonic customers shocked over ‘racist receipts’”.

Here’s a little lesson in restaurant operations. When you sit at a table, or pull into a car space at Sonic, there is usually a table number or car number associated with your location. But when order at a crowded bar or you come to the interior patio area at Sonic on foot and press the button, the employees try to give you some kind of visual identifier and enter that into a field on the ticket in the POS system.

This is where it went wrong for a local Sonic franchisee. An employee used this space and entered offensive language like a racial slur and used generalizations around ethnicity as the identifiers. These fields also showed up on these customer receipts.

It sounds to me like could have been a few things likely going on that might have caused this.

  1. The franchisee hired the wrong person. The employee may have just been a bad apple who did not care about how he made people feel. You can't show everyone the way.
  2. The franchisee might have not given proper training. The employee might have genuinely thought at first that he was the only one seeing the slur, and could have been ignorant of the receipt bearing the label. The employee might also have not been given a process for how to use the labels and where to source the identifiers from. Perhaps there couple be a shared order that all employees use to make it easy to remember. E.g. Color/material of hat/shirt & pant style.

However you want to look at it, it is job of management to ensure continued success for their employees. This may not have been the right person for the job in the first place or it might have been a training issue.

One thing that is clear though, is that this employee had no access to the company website; but was still able to make a PR problem for not only the franchisee, but the parent company at Sonic.

You can not manage to the exception any longer.

You have to expect that folks are going to use common sense. If you can’t do that, then you have the wrong people.

My suggestion is that you open the floodgates and shine a light on your employees and their expertise.

Let them share the tribal knowledge that would otherwise go undocumented and you can increase employee retention and build a better and more productive workforce that do not spend as much time reinventing the wheel in Microsoft Outlook with similar replies to the same questions.

Centralize knowledge with the power of employee generated content.

Your employees, customers, and prospects will be empowered to have a much better experience.

Don’t let fear get in the way.