Bose Corporation is one of the great American success stories. MIT Professor Amar Bose founded the company in 1964, and 45 years later still runs the privately held company with a reported $4B in sales. As a well-known brand name, the company is very interested in protecting its brand and its reputation in the marketplace. Based upon a recent experience with Bose by a friend of mine, the company is also actively listening to their constituents on today’s popular social media networks. But the experience points out how good intentions can be subverted by improper execution of the people, process, and technology aspects of being a social business.
My friend Josh Baer is a serial entrepreneur, tech junkie, and aficionado of the social media channels. He enjoys the latest gadgets and technologies, from the fitbit to the Tesla. He’s also an angel investor in some 20 companies, and enjoys helping people with their startup ideas. Between his tweets, blogs, and public profiles, it’s really not hard to get to know his interests.
Recently Josh decided to sell two older pairs of Bose headphones. After they were listed on Facebook, he sent out a few tweets to generate interest in the headphones. The Twitter exchange:
Josh: is loving my first Hanukkah present from @amybaer, the new Bose QC-15 headphones.
Jotto: didn’t you just sell a pair?
Josh: That was @amybaer’s pair.
Jotto: I thought you might be trying to pull a fast one on us.
Josh: I’ve actually got a side business moving hot Bose headphones…
Not long after the listing and the tweets, Josh sold one of the headphones for $165. And that’s when the call came from Bose security.
The fact that Bose cares about maintaining the integrity of their brand, and is monitoring the public social media channels puts the company in an elite group of companies that are keeping up with current technologies and consumer trends. So they’ve taken the first step, but that may not be enough.
Josh didn’t record the phone conversation, but wishes he did. The person on the phone identified themselves as the buyer of the headphones, and said that they were from Bose security. According to Josh, he was treated like a criminal. Why is he selling the headphones? Where did he buy them? Does he have the original receipt? Can he provide it to them?
He tried to reassure the Bose security representative that he wasn’t trafficking in stolen goods, and attempted to get him to see the humor in the situation, but was firm in his response that he has no burden of proof to Bose.
The reason I wanted to write about this here on the Collaboratory is because it’s a great example of how enterprises must focus on all three pillars in order to be successful.
Technology itself rarely solves business problems. Searching Twitter for keywords like “stolen” or “hot” and “Bose” produces a factoid and not much else.
The process appears pretty flawed. If the Bose representative had used a better process for investigating this issue, they could have saved $165 at the start, plus hundreds more in people’s time, overhead, and customer goodwill. A better process might take a more holistic view of the issue, looking at Josh’s bio, background, and the entire Twitter exchange between Josh and his friend. Given that context, a rational person would probably have moved on to the next case.
The people part of this equation is just as important. If you’re not familiar with the tools, not willing to do a little homework, and not very friendly when speaking with influential customers who are sneezers and routinely spend money on your newest and highest margin products, then maybe you’re in the wrong seat on the bus. When doing behavioral interviewing, are you looking for collaborative behavior, people who inherently share, and have emotional intelligence?
We’re happy to work with you as your business becomes more socially calibrated.