Our minds on media.

Musings on the effects of media on cognition.

Attention Corporate Overlords: Your Idiots Are Coming Home to Roost

This article over at Scatterbox (dutifully maintained by Steven Silvers) really caught my ire. Apparently two moronic employees at Domino’s utilized 21st century technology to illustrate to the world what total disregard they have for the customers of Domino’s, sticking ingredients in their noses and spitting in sandwiches, all on video tape and all on Youtube. Of course, this caused no end of trouble for Domino’s and got the suits asking themselves, “Oh crap! What do we do when our employees can use social media tools to cluster bomb our brand?” The normal reaction is likely to put a corporate policy into zzzzz… Sorry, ever since getting out of the rat race, I can’t finish sentences with “corporate policy” in them any more. And it doesn’t matter, because what they’re going to do is precisely the wrong thing to do.

Maybe part of the problem is that monolithic US corporations choose to keep large amounts of profit for their executives and choose to pay monkey pay to their counter jockies rather than see those people as a major interface with the public and invest in them. Service jobs in the US are some of the only jobs that aren’t going to get outsourced and yet they’re the butt of the joke of entire movies. When was the last time you went to a fast food restaurant and thought, “What nice service.” And yet when all you sell is a pretty crappy pizza, maybe you should consider for a moment whether good service is an important element of your business model. You know when the last time was that I did think, “What nice service.” Apple. And nearly every time I’ve dealt with them. Not only do I think an Apple store employee (well-trained, carefully picked, paid decently with benefits) would know better than to pull a stunt like this, I don’t think they would want to. I know several people that work for Apple and they would never jeopardize jobs they genuinely like. Of course, Apple’s not a great example, since they’re doing so poorly of late. Even then, their success couldn’t have anything to do with their customer service.

I would put money on what Domino’s knee-jerk reaction to this event will be, asking “How do we use technology to become the big brother of our employees, whom we clearly cannot trust?” That’s great, pay them squat, and then oppress them so that they love you so much more. Consider how well that’s worked out for Wal-mart. How many resources will they now have to waste just trying to get their employees to like them again? Companies are going to have to become aware that their brands are increasingly vulnerable to brand sabotage by employee access to wildly loud new communication mediums, and that the best medicine will be to make employees happy. And in case these dolts in suits forgot their management 101 theory, happy employees will make a better product and/or service for you. If you don’t want idiots like the above working for you, pay decent wages and give good employees incentive to hang around.

Instead, suits like Sharon Allen, chairman of the board of Deloitte, says things like this: “While policies are important, you have to create a solid values-based culture… that encourages employees to make good decisions about how they act inside the company and externally.” I couldn’t synthesize my concurrence more! Ugh. I’m beginning to think that MBA stands for Masters in Bogus Antispeak. I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again. In plain English: treat your employees with dignity. This is basic, basic stuff that corporations have been able to neglect for a long time because without unions, service employees haven’t really had an opportunity to fight back. The playing field is leveling though and if Domino’s is afraid of what their employees do on accident, just wait and see what happens when their craptastic attitude toward employees actually ticks off a media savvy one.

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