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Can you make a big company be nice?

angry jack-o-lanternAt my Social Media Week talk a few weeks ago, I declared that Community Managers (or really, Chief Happiness Officers) should be the 3rd employee at a company, because it’s “hard to change an organization after it’s set in its ways”.

I got a lot of (rightly deserved) flak for this from people who work at consultancies or enterprise companies: “So we can't make a difference?” I honestly didn’t have an answer. I live in startup land, and I am a little scared of the seemingly immovable values of big companies.

We’re all susceptible to getting frustrated with customers, but if your environment encourages this behavior, it becomes second nature. The longer a company goes on swapping stories daily about “idiot” customers, the harder it will be to start seeing them as human beings. And, as I pointed out in my presentation, we need to make sure our whole company is focused on making customers happy.

So, as much as I hate to say it, I have to ask: is it even possible to change a company once it’s set in it’s “customers are idiots” mindset? I want to hear from you. Tell me I’m wrong. Tell me I’m jaded. Show me how you’re doing this.

Photo courtesy of Martin Burns