Finally, a terrific execution to go with the theory of open business. I stumbled across the Bigha site from a link on Social Customer Manifesto. Bigha is a small company in Oregon that makes recumbent bikes and lasers (ok, strange combo but it seems to work.) Check out their site when you get a chance.
First, the blog. They've had some negative press this month about their laser and have been completely transparent about it on the blog. This is a wonderful case study to demonstrate the power of blogging to address issues head-on and maintain relationships with customers. There isn't a permalink for this entry, so I'll repost it in full:
Bigha in the news, unfortunately
Well, it's been an interesting week, to say the least. Monday (our New Year's holiday, as it turns out) the New York Times published an article saying we sold the laser involved in the New Jersey incident. That's where it started. Since then, we've done dozens of newspaper and radio interivews, and we even appeared on Fox News' "Your World with Neil Cavuto".
I'm really shocked about the magnitude of this story. Here we are one day, a small company in Corvallis, OR (on a holiday!) manufacturing and selling outdoor recreation equipment, then the next day we're asked to be experts on everything from terrorism to the Patriot Act.
Most reporters have been really nice, and some have not. All have probably hyped this story to be more than it's worth (to be fair, I guess that's their job).
Here's an example from an article in the New Jersey Record:
"The beam shoots from the pointer at 186,000 miles per second."
OK, that would be the speed of light. We say 186,000 miles per second on our website, as an attempt to provide an honest, intellectual discussion of how far the beam will travel. In the context of The Record's article, it is used to make the Jasper sound like a mighty death ray. But the truth is, even the light from a candle travels 186,000 miles per second!
"The Jasper pointer... can be fitted with a tripod and a scope to aim at moving objects, according to Bigha's Web site..."
No, we do not say that anywhere on our site. The Jasper does not come ready-to-mount on a tripod or a scope. Nor does Bigha sell any accessories that allow you to track moving objects.
The point here isn't to complain about media coverage or to say we've been misquoted. I think the coverage has been quite fair, and, honestly, great for business. This weblog is intended to give our small corporation the opportunity to communicate with people on a more personal level. When we appear in the media, the words we use to express our position may be used to express positions we do not intend to.
If you find yourself confused by this situation, please contact us directly via email or phone. We'll do our best to clear things up.
Next I wanted to highlight Bigha's Meet Us page, which includes candid photos, introductions and email addresses for every employee. Here's the one for John, the president:
Hi, I'm John. I help define products and make sure what we produce offers quality, simplicity and fun.
But mostly I'm here to ensure your satisfaction.
The Internet makes it possible to offer specialty products directly to consumers with efficiencies not possible through a dealer network. Better yet, communication through the net is person to person rather than corporation to customer.
That's why we want you to think of us not as a company, but as a collection of people dedicated to building great products for you. We love to hear from you, whether question, complaint or compliment.
Feel free to ask me anything — but I'm best suited for questions about the concepts behind the bike and its intended benefits. I'm also the person to talk to if we've made you unhappy in any way. Your satisfaction is our success, so please let me know if we ever let you down.
Every single employee's introduction invites customers to contact them for a specific question. Even Lee in manufacturing: "I'm probably not the best person to contact with specific questions (except maybe something about assembly of the Bigha's fender), but if you email me I'll do my best to get you an answer."
The site also includes owner stories by people who own the Bigha bike and have written in to the company. Photos of the customers are included.
This is corporate transparency at its finest. People do business with people, not with companies... and after you visit the Bigha site, you feel like you know the entire Bigha community (employees and customers).