Thursday, August 18, 2011

A lesson for Health and Pharma - Blowing Your Mind beats CYA

Thanks to @MissDestructo for bringing this to my attention. This is a great story about Mind Blowing Customer Service that came about as a result of a joke Tweet sent out by Peter Shankman 
Yes, Peter Shankman has a ton of followers.
Yes, He is a regular customer at Morton's.

But even with all that this was a marvelous stunt pulled off by Morton's Steakhouse. 

So what on earth could this mean for Pharma and HealthCare? Yes - Pharma and Health Care are heavily regulated industries. We are currently seeing the Pharma deathwatch on Facebook because Facebook, once again changed their terms of service and opened up comments on all facebook pages. This meant that cautious Pharma operations are busily deciding if they want to plow on, or withdraw from Facebook. They are fearful of the implications of disclosure, balance and other federal regulations.

I don't profess to be an expert on the impacting pharma regulations and so I have resisted on commenting on the various posts that have surfaced in the past few days. Some examples of the discussion are:

Pharma reaction to facebook changes foregrounds three tiers of Social Media


However, The Morton's story just convinces me that Health Care and Pharma need to move from the CYA mindset and work out how they can actually engage with their members, customers, partners and communities in a way that talks to the essence of their brand and their brand aspirations.

If companies start thinking about how they can contribute to the communities in which they operate they will earn the respect and loyalty they deserve. At the same time I think in the long term this will change the dialogue with entities such as State and Federal Regulators. As long as companies are more concerned about CYA there will be suspicion about motives and intent. If companies build a solid track record of excellent customer service, community support and open and honest dialogue they will earn the support of the community and the benefit of the doubt when it comes to regulatory action.

There are some exemplary organizations that have been un-phased by the Facebook changes. Johnson and Johnson continue to engage with their fans. Kaiser Permanente actively engages in Social Media on many different levels - but the bottom line is that they "walk the talk" about engagement and strive to thrive by example. If only more companies in Health and Pharma would follow these examples social media and the industry would be in a better place.

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