Over the next few weeks, I will be recapping some of The Best Of – The Channel CEO Episodes from 2022!
Back in April, I sat down with Ian McChord of Zorus, Andy Anderson of DataStream Insurance, and Damien Stevens of Servocity to talk about dealing with controversy in the channel and how we handle it as CEOs.
Click the link below to watch the full interview:
I think many of us know that platforms like Reddit and Facebook can be some of the most relentless when it comes to stirring up controversy, especially when it comes to topics like channel vendor mergers and acquisitions.
And I think many of us aren’t sure whether it’s a good idea to jump into the conversations happening there.
“I think,” Ian said, “that if you’re running an organization within the channel, you do need to be a part of these mediums [like Facebook and Reddit] and just have these conversations. And if it gets negative, you know, you don’t interact or escalate.”
Unfortunately, users with negative opinions tend to be some of the loudest in these spaces, and they can garner a lot of attention.
People engage around the topics they’re really passionate about. Some do take the bait and pile on negative experiences—not necessarily with your company but the industry in general.
Across all of us on the call, though, a unified belief in the best way for channel vendors to handle online controversy seemed to ring true…
Be open and honest with your users.
And, as Damien pointed out during our call, the best thing you can do is be transparent and honest with your customers.
Telling customers hard truths about your product—may be features or services you don’t offer yet—can certainly be uncomfortable.
But it’s these conversations that set the foundation for a more open and durable business relationship.
Companies that survive difficult controversies or negative PR online generally do so by admitting to their missteps up front and keeping their customers in the loop as they work to correct the issues or shortcomings.
Covering up controversy or feeding into negative opinions online is never a good idea.
At best, it makes you look too controlling of public opinion and could lead prospects to never trust anything good they read about you.
At worst, it can create lifelong haters of your brand.
Almost inevitably, though, someone will always take issue with something your company is doing. That’s just the nature of our hyper-connected world.
In a way, this is a good thing (though it may not feel like it in the moment).
These people are passionate about the technology they’re using. Whether they’re voicing positive or negative opinions, they care… A LOT.
And, as much as you may want to, you don’t need to quash all negative talk around your brand right off the bat.
Instead, you can view these conversations as opportunities to learn what’s upsetting prospects and customers and what you can do to improve their experiences.
As Ian pointed out during the call, these social media forums and platforms can be valuable resources for honest feedback that shed new light on what will make your product successful.
And there’s nothing wrong with wanting to engage in these conversations… but you cannot show up as anyone other than your genuine self.
More and more, tech CEOs are becoming the face and lead personalities associated with corporate brands.
If you come across as fake or like you’re trying to push all discussion of your product to only focus on the positives, it can look bad for the whole company.
Instead, hold yourself to a standard that is both honest and realistic.
To paraphrase what Andy said in our discussion, be a role model for your team.
Not just when you’re visible to others online but in your 1:1s, on company retreats, and at industry events.
People believe in consistency, and if you consistently put your customers first, that goes a long way.
When dealing with conflict as a CEO, just remember that you are also the Personality-in-Chief, and respect for your user’s opinions—positive and negative—is important.
Of course, we talked about a lot more during that call than what I’ve captured just now. If you didn’t get a chance to watch the Livestream but want to listen to the full conversation, check out the video above.
And if you’re a channel CEO, let me know if you want to be interviewed next!
Let’s do this.
And don’t forget to check out my recent posts to add my upcoming Channel CEO livestreams to your calendar!