As reported at the end of last week, staff from DSGi group, which runs Dixons and PC World, have set up a Facebook group which includes several posts slagging off customers.
The DSGi employees' Facebook group, which has 3,000 members, is marked as unofficial, but it will still cause plenty of embarrassment to the company, and won't go down too well with any customers whoh happen to read it.
Though many of the posts and discussions are perfectly reasonable, some of the topics on the group have titles such as 'arsehole customers', 'really stupid customers', and so on. There are more examples on this post from Bitterwallet.
I'm sure Currys and PC World get their fair share of awkward customers, but these kind of comments should be aired in private, not in a public forum where customers can read them.
There are now a few comments from customers unhappy about the content on the site, such as this example:
Well Guys I am a customer, or was until i browsed this. Last year i spent over 5k with your shops but you wont be seeing another penny now. I hope many other people will view this as well and see just what you think of your customers.
The group was clearly not intended for customers, and it does try to explain that the views expressed are not connected to DSGi Group, but I'm not convinced that customers will see it like that.
The group has been going for a while, since 2007, and DSGi management were apparently aware of its existence. Perhaps before the recent publicity, it was tolerated, but now the retailer is trying to distance itself from the group and promising to investigate any 'alleged abuse of customers'.
It's a tricky problem for DSGi to deal with, and not a unique one, as Tesco and Primark have both had similar Facebook issues. It's also a problem that other companies are likely to face in future, so what is the best way to handle it?
Will Critchlow from Distilled thinks that DSGi shouldn't panic, and instead look at dealing with the underlying issues by talking to staff about social media. He points to Sun Microsystem's sensible guidelines on employees' social media use as an example of how to handle this problem.
As similar online PR issues from the likes of Domino's and Belkin have shown, companies need to develop some best practice staff use of social media.
There is little DSGi can do to stop former staff from setting up and commenting about the company online, but it can at least ensure that there are clear guidelines and policies in place for employees' use of social media.
What do you think about the issue? Should DSGi have attempted to deal with the issue earlier? Does it have social media guidelines in place? How should it handle the problem now it has been given such publicity? Let me know below...