Petro-Canada has launched a new initiative to educate customers on gas prices. It's called "Pump Talk" and one of its key pieces is a series of videos that have been posted on YouTube and on Petro's website. You can read the press release detailing the initiative and the inspiration behind it.
Disclosure: I used to be employed by Petro-Canada and I worked on this project before I left.
Ok, here's what I like about Pump Talk ...
- It's a big step for an organization like Petro and to come out swinging on a topic that engenders incredible frustration and anger from people takes guts. Good for Petro-Canada and especially Jon Hamilton, the driving force behind it. He and I had some great conversations about putting these videos on YouTube, and he was enthusiatic and supportive. YouTube was the best mechanism that PC could offer at the time to allow people to comment and to blog about the videos.
- The videos are actually real PC employees and the content was taken from enquiries that PC had received via their customer service network as well as anecdotal questions/comments from employees.
Here's what I wish were different about Pump Talk ....
- The videos are still way too corporate. Having been inside the organization, I know that this is a huge step. But, my expectation as a member of the public would be for the videos to be a little more kicky, a little more edgy.
- The mechanism for feedback from the public is kludgy. People can post comments on YouTube; they are currently unmoderated. There is a feedback form on the PC site; right now it is only a one-way form. The intention is to post feedback on the site (good & bad), but it doesn't give the immediate gratification to customers the way a blog would. At the time, PC wasn't ready to blog, but that kind of mechanism would have been ideal.
The official press release went out today to the usual media suspects and a couple of bloggers were sent previews. I'm anxious to see what kind of commentary this initiative generates. I know that Jon and cohorts are anxious to get feedback. It will also be interesting to see how PC will be able to engage in dialogue with customers. If people start blogging will PC respond in comments?
This is one of the areas where I think it gets scary for an organization ... the perception that engaging in online conversations is incredibly time-consuming with little payoff. And that certainly is a possibility. On the other hand, transparent and genuine dialogue can go a long way towards building positive customer relationships. It will be interesting to see what happens!!