Don’t ignore social voices, Knight Frank #LostMyGiggle

It’s always very interesting seeing how the mixture of empowered social communication, Twitter and a hashtag can totally disrupt traditional communication and command and control behaviours.

We’ve seen this during the past week in two specific examples – the negative hashtag hijacking experience for British Gas (#AskBG), and the positive organization/consumer enlightenment experience for the Bank of England (#AskBoE).

As Shel and I discussed in this week’s FIR podcast, a Twitter hashtag that’s at the centre of a communication activity can be a double-edged sword.

So it’s with great interest that I’ve been following developments on Twitter (and elsewhere on the social web, especially Facebook) over the past few days with #LostMyGiggle, #knightfrank and #ruralvoice.

The first hashtag is central to a developing story involving my friend Heather Gorringe, owner of Wiggly Wigglers, a mail-order gardening supply business in Herefordshire; and Knight Frank, the London-based estate agency firm with offices worldwide.

The latter two hashtags play supporting, amplifying (hijacking, even) roles.

The heart of the matter involves a disagreement between Wiggly Wigglers and Knight Frank over professional advice by the latter to the former concerning a planned property purchase.

While I can’t comment on the details of the issue itself, I can comment on the communication and what’s happening online as a one-sided conversation is building that’s extremely critical of Knight Frank.

One sided? Yes, because the object of all of the criticism is absent from the conversation in the primary place it’s happening.

And absent from its own hashtag, clearly ignoring this conversation that’s extending there as well.

Just reading the tweets timeline over the past week and more tagged with #LostMyGiggle shows the number of voices expressing concern and outrage at the unprofessional way in which they believe Knight Frank has behaved in this matter is growing by the day.

The total number of tweets (1,254) so far may be small but the reach (2,202,698) is what counts more – look at the number of tweets and retweets and the indicator of network sizes of those tweeters – as Heather posted today.

Facebook is also part of the big picture. Heather noted that Knight Frank deleted a post on its Facebook timeline that she had commented on.

As I write these words, that post hasn’t been undeleted by Knight Frank. Luckily for posterity, Heather took a screenshot before the post disappeared.

While I can also see all of this from Knight Frank’s probable perspective – it’s an issue that has potential legal, ethical and professional implications so no public discourse about anything – I can also see where staying mum isn’t necessarily the best course of action.

Some people may think this is all totally irrelevant and has no importance whatsoever. After all, what difference can a small business in rural Herefordshire, along with its vocal social community, make against a global corporation like Knight Frank?

That’s the wrong question, in my view. The TweetReach metrics Heather posted today give us a clue of what really matters here as the small number of critical voices on social networking sites continue to be critical, grow in strength and get amplified as more people discover or stumble across their posts.

Knight Frank should see all this as an alarm bell, a warning shot across the bows of reputation where they will be judged in how they address these online criticisms.

Ignorance is failure.

Neville Hobson

Social Strategist, Communicator, Writer, and Podcaster with a curiosity for tech and how people use it. Believer in an Internet for everyone. Early adopter (and leaver) and experimenter with social media. Occasional test pilot of shiny new objects. Avid tea drinker.

  1. John

    Neville – a post that I read with interest for obvious reasons.

    As a business we try and use social media with as progressive an approach as possible and I hope that the majority of KF Twitter feeds, and other pages show this. However, where we are yet to be able to extend this approach is discussing customer service issues openly online.

    There are several reasons behind this, but of paramount importance is the need to retain the privacy of the seller who we represent. This is a contractual obligation and one we uphold with the utmost seriousness. To freely discuss online any complaints that involve a property we are selling would be in breach of this agreement.

    This is why the Gorringe’s complaints are being conducted privately. In the last seven days, they have had correspondence with our office head in Hereford, Senior Partner, and Regional Chairman. On Monday, they will meet with the Head of our Country Division, the Regional Chair and our Head of Compliance for a face-to-face meeting to air their concerns.

    This is the only way in which we can deal with such complaints – in a private manner, which protects the interests of our client, the seller of the property.

    And this is why we will not respond directly to any claims or allegations via social. When I saw Heather Gorringe’s first tweet on this matter, nearly three weeks ago now, I replied within 30 mins to ask how we could assist and gave an email address for further correspondence. But we cannot, for the reason that I outline above begin a debate around the allegations that have been made against us via Twitter, Facebook or any other form of SM.

    I am keen to discuss our use of social media – on this blog or elsewhere. In fact, I have been invited to and would love to attend the Gorringe’s own social media event in Hereford as their expertise is obvious. But this does not extend to discussing a private matter which involves other parties.

    @jwknightfrank

    • Neville Hobson

      Thanks for your comment, John, I appreciate your joining this conversation as a voice of Knight Frank.

      I understand your point of view. Indeed, if I were wearing the Knight Frank hat, I’m sure I would view things in a similar way, ie, the issue at hand regards a relationship between three parties that is to do with a private matter. As you say, that private matter wouldn’t be for open, public discussion.

      Where I think you might have been able to be part of the conversation over the past few weeks is surrounding the eruption of criticism across the social web, notably on Twitter and Facebook. Acknowledging those voices, recognising their passion, would have stood you in good stead, in my opinion. Stating clearly what you’ve said in your comment here would have helped a lot, I think, defusing much of the anger. And deleting the Facebook post – not a good idea :)

      What happens now, I wonder? Will voices be stilled in light of your comment? Frankly, I doubt it.

      Now that you’ve joined the conversation, I hope you can stay for the duration.

      • John Williams

        Happy to reply to you, Neville, and the elements of the Gorringe’s posts (below), which I am able to. But do you mind me clogging up your blog? Do you want to start a new post?

      • John Williams

        First up – Neville, I can only concur re: being part of the conversation. But, there is an established and considered way of dealing with complaints, particularly when a transaction is still live. It is worth bearing in mind that our approach to social media is a relatively new initiative therefore it has taken a little time to assure the necessary people that responding on social media will not jeopardise this process. As I am sure you are more than aware, social media evolution is a slow moving process.

        And in regards to deleting a Facebook page – this is something which I personally wrestle with. But, our policy is not to discuss the facts of a complaint publicly and I cannot alter this for the reasons I outlined previously – in essence, other people’s lives and business are involved. Furthermore that Facebook page was in fact an invitation to participate in an online survey on issues affecting people living in rural areas i.e. broadband connectivity, planning law and so on. It was not, in my view, an appropriate place to post details of a private matter that is part of an ongoing investigative process, especially as we were unable to reply. Hence, the decision to remove it until the complaint was resolved. Where I was wrong in this instance was my failure to post the reason for removing the blog. And I apologise to Heather – and the other commenters – for this. I think this is a good lesson to anybody using FB to invite comment – that said comment may not be delivered in the way you were expecting!

        Now in regard to Heather and Philip’s comments – of which there are quite a few elements I cannot comment on until Monday’s meeting is out of the way.
        Heather is right to state that we do not respond to complaints though social media – but I hope she can appreciate the spirit in which I reply; I am trying to give her some of the response that she – and her campaign – has asked for. It is a case of #horsebolted I know, but I am doing my best to create a new approach to social media and it is a work in progress!

        I cannot address her issues re: the complaint itself apart from saying that she will have the chance to address these points with some of the most senior representatives of our business on Monday.

        I apologise for suggesting that it was in fact the Gorringe’s social media event in Hereford – either way, I would love to attend any future event to discuss their approach as they have achieved the two things of a good social campaign, namely, a strong brand association and momentum. I have watched with great interest! (I could not attend yesterday I might add as I have a young family and charging off to Hereford requires a bit of notice).

        The last bit of Heather’s response is in regards to our responsiveness on SM. As per my previous post, I responded to Heather’s initial Tweet within 30 minutes and since then we have been undertaking the formal complaints procedure during which I am unable to discuss the issue nor indeed is anyone from KF other than people corresponding directly with the Gorringes. I meant in no way to disrespect anyone who has contributed to the campaign but my hands were tied in this matter and I did email Heather personally to explain our position nearly two weeks ago now.

        Neville, in regard to whether we should send Heather our social media policy I ask your advice about this. We have an extensive social media policy which outlines our approach to different platforms and staff usage thereof. But this is aimed specifically at KF staff and it is not a paper which we would distribute freely – should we have an externally-facing document that outlines how we will communicate via social media?

        • Neville Hobson

          John, thanks for your comments. I’m sure Heather and Phil Gorringe will welcome your transparency. I’d like to add a further thanks for being open and showing a human face for Knight Frank.

          Let me respond specifically to your final question, regarding Knight Frank’s social media policy. In my opinion, openness, transparency and honesty are excellent policies to bring to bear in this situation. My advice would be to make known publicly precisely what your firm’s approach is to engaging with anyone on the social web. In other words, make public what your policy is for social media. It will aid everyone’s understanding about what you can and wish to do in these public communication channels. Once everyone knows the ground rules, as it were, it will make things a lot easier.

          It might also help Knight Frank employees in that they will see what you’re saying publicly. Everything, then, is open and transparent – a very good place to be, in my opinion.

          You can get some great ideas about what others do from a terrific resource of social media policies and guidelines that have been published publicly by organizations big and small, companies and the public sector, non-profits, and more, in many countries, in this collection by Chris Boudreaux – http://socialmediagovernance.com/policies.php

          See also Rachel Miller’s list of 300 social media policies – http://www.allthingsic.com/smpolicy/ – and her commentary about use and best practices.

          • John Williams

            Useful, Neville, thanks. I will address the issue of being clear on what we can or cannot discuss via social. But it doesn’t help us in regards to complaints – where as I keep boring on – we cannot discuss as other parties are involved etc. Is there a resource for further case studies on this?

            • Neville Hobson

              John, I’m sure there are case studies on what policies others have followed concerning addressing complaints, and their experiences from that. None specific come readily to mind, however.

              I don’t think there’s a “blanket experience” that anyone can simply apply to their situation, a sort of template approach to this. Many factors have weight, not the least of which being org culture, behaviours, the specific nature of a complaint, privacy and confidentiality, legal issues, etc.

              So this would be part of what you might communicate publicly in a social media policy – how you handle complaints and whether or not you can (or are willing to) discuss anything publicly.

              Still, perhaps others have opinions on this so other voices are more than welcome to weight in with those opinions.

          • Heather Gorringe

            The first thing I did before engaging in any social media with Knight Frank was ask for their Corporate Social Responsibility Policy – none forthcoming and then I went onto Rachel Miller’s like of 300 social media policies (obviously theirs is not available). I then asked for their social media policy direct – as usual (until today) there was absolutely no reply – is that because of client confidentiality? I don’t think so….

        • Heather Gorringe

          With reference to the above comment from John Williams Knight Frank… “It is worth bearing in mind that our approach to social media is a relatively new initiative therefore it has taken a little time to assure the necessary people that responding on social media will not jeopardise this process. As I am sure you are more than aware, social media evolution is a slow moving process.”

          Ahem… we are the David here in the David and Goliath Battle – In my view pleading ignorance is not relevant…
          Knight Frank’s employs around 12500 people – Wiggly Wigglers 10
          Knight Frank Offices 330 – Wiggly Wigglers – 1 office and 2 portacabins which we will lose on 31st Dec 2013.
          Knight Frank InHouse PR Team – at least 12 I believe – Wiggly Wigglers None (unless you count me)
          Knight Frank Social Media Policy N/A – Wiggly Wigglers Social Media Policy – available on request to anyone
          Knight Frank Values – N/A – Wiggly Wigglers Values – available on request to anyone.

          Knight Frank are amazingly in my view Number One consistently on the Zoopla’s leaderboard for UK Estate Agents in Social Media as scored by Klout.

          As for John Williams, he is no social media newbie. I think he has been in his position of Head of PR and Social Media at Knight Frank since early 2012 and it says on his linked in profile that his expertise is:

          • Communications experience: Crisis management, issues’ management, media launches and events, message development and media training. I have worked closely with media planning teams, advertising, digital advertising and research departments

          • Digital: Developed social media policies, content strategies and web presence for blue chip brands. Pioneered the use of blogging and micro-blogging to target niches audiences in the property sector and utilised social media channels to amplify above the line marketing campaigns. Unique experience of social media and online news in the property sector having developed Knight Frank’s approach to social media, which has been widely heralded by industry commentators and led to the firm as being consistently nominated as the #1 agent across social media.

          Knight Frank can’t have it all ways – Number 1 agent across social media with an expert in crisis management who aren’t quite sure what to do when a small business in Herefordshire puts a post up on Facebook that is truthful and honest…

          Mmmmmmm…. What do you think? #LostMyGiggle

          @wiggled

          • John Williams

            Hi Heather – is this a question for me? I am not entirely sure of your meaning. Zoopla have used Klout to nominate us as being the most influential agent on social media. Klout works as a measurement of interactions, re-tweets, shares etc. Is that what you are referring to?

            In regards to responding to you – I did respond to your tweet within half an hour of your posting it – and have emailed subsequently to explain why we wouldn’t be discussing the complaint via social media. But given that it was a private issue, I couldn’t respond to your Facebook post publicly. As I wrote earlier, I should have explained why I was removing the post though.

            • Heather Gorringe

              Thanks for this – if I failed to make myself clear I am sorry. I repeat “Knight Frank can’t have it all ways – Number 1 agent across social media with an expert in crisis management who aren’t quite sure what to do when a small business in Herefordshire puts a post up on Facebook that is truthful and honest… ”

              Number 2

              “The last bit of Heather’s response is in regards to our responsiveness on SM. As per my previous post, I responded to Heather’s initial Tweet within 30 minutes and since then we have been undertaking the formal complaints procedure during which I am unable to discuss the issue nor indeed is anyone from KF other than people corresponding directly with the Gorringes. I meant in no way to disrespect anyone who has contributed to the campaign but my hands were tied in this matter and I did email Heather personally to explain our position nearly two weeks ago now.”

              You instigated your own “formal complaints” procedure – we did not. We told you we would use all appropriate mediums to communicate on just as everyone else does in 2013… KF then refused to reply. Interestingly it would seem you are still in your “formal complaints” procedure but now seem well able to reply to most of the things that we and lots of other #ruralvoice s contacted you about on FB and Twitter for the past 6 days. Why the turnaround I wonder.

        • Heather Gorringe

          John. As you and Knight Frank have educated me greatly on the term defamatory – which I have checked and rechecked to see if I have done something wrong. Anyway as you already know the Truth is an absolute defense to defamation so I believe we are OK on that one.
          Anyway, my point is – you have briefed against us (a client) to all your offices. In your new transparency and open and honest period could I ask please to know what it said, if now on reflection you think it was in any way fair.
          Secondly, just yesterday two reporters contacted my to write a story about the social media campaign #LostMyGiggle. Their stories were on the campaign – they had no particular interest in the original problems, – and yet you wrote confidential letters to them which made them withdraw their articles. Could I please see a copy of these letters as I am concerned that you may have written defamatory comments about me and my company in them. Thanking you very much.

          • John Williams

            I don’t want this to simply turn into a series of back and forths, but I can answer that I definitely haven’t “briefed against us (a client) to all your offices.” We simply couldn’t respond – from any account – to a complaint that involved other parties via social media. And one thing I certainly haven’t done is write “confidential letters” to anyone to withdraw their story. These letters don’t exist, so I have nothing I can send you.

            • Heather Gorringe

              I understand you would rather this didn’t turn into a series of back and forths – known in most social media circles as a “conversation”. But I am afraid that Knight Frank telling customers what is what just doesn’t work too well when it isn’t quite the whole story. Either all the people in your company (except the chap in Colorado who tweet a Mongolian Welcome to me) are ignorant of messages and ignore all tweets to them, OR I suggest you contacted them all to direct them not to converse with us about any topic – whether or not it was directly related to the initial problems. Bearing in mind we are (were) a Knight Frank client – how is that not briefing against a client?

              Secondly, I did not say that you sent correspondence to withdraw the story, I said you sent correspondence to The Hereford Times and BusinessZone which resulted in them withdrawing their stories. I believe there could be defamatory comments within these letters/emails – please can I see them.

              • Heather Gorringe

                Please can I see the email which asked all your offices not to reply to any #LostMyGiggle campaign posts or anyone that asked you perfectly reasonable questions about social media. #ruralvoice Thanks

              • Heather Gorringe

                No need to answer the above, I have the wrong end of the stick with regard to correspondence to the press – it was verbal. My apologies. Please answer the question about briefing against a client internally.

        • Heather Gorringe

          Thank you for the two apologies in the post above. Appreciated. By the way just for the record we were entered into “the formal complaints” procedure without consultation and without clear direction of what that meant. It turned out that it meant the regional manager “investigated” the complaint internally without contacting us in anyway at all. The complaint “investigation took a week, and then the complaint was resolved by finding that “the complaint was not upheld” It was rather like going to a court of law and being found guilty without actually speaking when in actual fact you were the victim all the time….

    • Heather Gorringe

      Thank you for the reply – especially as KF explained that they do not respond to complaints through social media. I believe this blog to be social media so thanks for changing your minds. Firstly to put a few facts straight, we have not heard from the office head in Hereford in the last seven days. We have heard from the Senior Partner, Regional Chairman. This was to say that he had “investigated our complaint” – despite never speaking to us or contacting us at all. He explained that he did not uphold it and told us KF deals with complaints through the proper channels rather than social media. He then sent us to the Ombudsman service. Throughout this whole procedure had we in any way been treated respectfully in private, – then we should not have taken the time to use Social Media to make it public.

      “The Gorringes own social media event in Hereford” Gosh – I wish! The Gorringes don’t have their own Social Media event in Hereford, – and whilst you would have been welcome to attend you would have needed to pay £5 on the door to Herefordshire Media Network (of which we are not members). I was asked to speak at this event long before #lostmygiggle As it was, the facts speak for themselves in terms of feedback, and I was able to share with the audience the fact that KF had been successful in quashing 2 articles, but that this blog post had survived (so far)… By the way – you were invited and you would have loved to attend… so how come we never met at the dooooo???

      KF’s Facebook post asked for comments on Rural Concerns and I did just that. I do have one huge rural concern. KF could have dealt with it in a transparent manner, politely explaining what you have put above, – and asking me to take down the post whilst you were dealing with issues. Instead of that it was clear that as a corporation you asked for views and when they didn’t suit you – you deleted the whole post. Had I not had a screenshot of it – that would have been the end of the matter.

      I think ignoring tweets and facebook posts is bad form, but you have gone to extremes. It seems to me that none of the tweets or requests are relevant to client confidentiality. You have ignored all requests – related or not (until now) including asking to see your Corporate Social Responsibility paper and your Social Media Policy. Apologies – there was one reply from Knight Frank Colorado and that was a welcome (in Mongolian). You have also ignored every other tweet from every other person that has been following the #lostmygiggle thread, and in my opinion that shows a complete lack of respect.

      The only reason that we have a meeting on Monday is because of the #lostmygiggle campaign (thank you everyone so far for your help) I hold out absolutely no hope whatsoever that our issues will be in any way addressed as so far they have been well and truly ignored, but you never know… We have been told it is with the regional chairman and the head of Best Practice (have you got a best practice department? I cant find it on the website?) The person who is coming to represent Best Practise takes up a new post on 1st November I understand – Head of Operations and Risk – we will be asking which position she is actually representing on the day to be confirmed.

      There we are then, to be clear we have never put a direct customer complaint to Knight Frank using Social Media, but we have indeed complained about the way KF treat their clients on social media. KF did say they didn’t respond to Social Media but now they do… progress, but how much… for how long?? #lostmygiggle

      • Philip Gorringe

        I totally concur with Heather’s comments above. I would like to reiterate the fact that we have not tried to address private concerns with KF online. However, Knight Frank’s conduct in response (or lack of it) to online comments demonstrates our concern with the industry codes of conduct and how they are implemented in relation to small rural businesses.
        As Knight Frank now appear willing to engage via social media, it will be interesting to take part in the ensuing dialogue.
        I don’t think I will hold my breath……
        @farmrphil

        • Heather Gorringe

          I should add – we are (or were) a Knight Frank client ourselves. We had used Knight Frank several times over the years and we had actually engaged a Knight Frank partner for advice on our original concerns over our purchase right back in July/Aug. We believe that ignoring us, – and briefing against us inhouse (unless ALL Knight Frank employees ignore every tweet/comment etc) is just not cricket in any way at all.

    • Heather Gorringe

      Selective Responses.
      If Knight Frank are going to engage in Social Media they should be aware that it is important to respond to all the questions that you can. Obviously they have made much of “client confidentiality” but how is this question a problem, and if it’s not please can you answer it John, as it was in a previous post:

      We have been told we are to meet the Regional Chairman and the “Head of Best Practice” on Monday. Have you got a best practise department please? I can’t find it on your website. If so how many people are in it approximately please?

      • John Wiliams

        Sorry, I didn’t reply to this bit initially. You are meeting Vicky Moss, who is Head of Best Practice. She works as part of the Operations Dept. I am not sure – off the top of my head – how many people are in it, but I will try and find out. But I am sure that Vicky can you tell you on Monday as she will be attending the meeting with David Peters, our Head of Country, and our Regional Chairman. I know on Twitter, you asked whether I was going to attend, but I am afraid I have existing meetings in London, which I have to go to.

        • Heather Gorringe

          Thank you for this. I read this in KF’s press release about Vicky Moss “Knight Frank has made the following promotions to partner in its Business Services division: Daniel Atkinson, Information Technology; Rachel Dipper, Residential Marketing; Bronya Heaver, International PR; Vicky Moss, Operations and Risk.” She takes up this position I believe on 1st Nov, so unless you tell me different I shall take your confirmation above to mean that she is representing her Best Practise role rather than Risk etc.

  2. Stuart Bruce (@stuartbruce)

    Great post Neville and even better comment thread. Great to see Knight Frank commenting. It’s not hard to understand why Knight Frank won’t and indeed can’t respond publicly on social media and the 30 minute first response is great. However, it would have been far better if it had explained this straight away and a publicly available social media policy would have helped. In my experience of working with clients in regulated and challenging sectors you find that most people are very understanding of why they can’t do more things socially, but only if you explain why properly.

    • Neville Hobson

      Thanks Stuart. I think Knight Frank,in the person of John Williams, would agree with your sentiment, ie, much better to have explained about not commenting on social media in the first place. Having a publicly-published social media policy makes that task a lot easier when you can point to that public information.

      As you say, people tend to be more understanding about non-engagement when they know why.

    • John Williams

      V.helpful. In this instance, I did reply – via email – to explain to Heather why I couldn’t post via social in regards to the claim. But, as you suggest, to all other tweeters etc. they did not see this response so our failure to reply was inexplicable.

      What I will do – if I get official sanction – is to draft our own engagement protocol, post on our site, and link to it from our Twitter profile.

      As with all things social media, a lesson learnt!

      • Heather Gorringe

        Thanks for this. I have a few points to make but the first one in in reply to John’s post above which says “I did reply – via email – to explain to Heather why I couldn’t post via social in regards to the claim. ”

        The first mention of the tweet came direct from the Hereford Office – have a look for yourself but I didn’t find it respectful or helpful, especially bearing in mind the actual facts of the situation…

        “We are not subject to the Property Ombudsman Code of Conduct (although we do not accept that even if we had been, we would have been in breach). Accordingly, the allegation which you have placed on Twitter about breach of conduct and ethics is untrue and defamatory, and should be removed with immediate effect.”

        This was in reply to my tweet asking if anyone else had had issues in terms of codes of conduct and ethics with reference to Knight Frank.

        Here was the email from John Williams which was also inaccurate: “Furthermore, by claiming on Twitter (and on email) that we have breached the RICS regulations, you are making defamatory claims that we dispute to be correct. Whether it is on social media or any other form of media, we will not respond publicly to any libellous comment. I do appreciate your view that social media allows everyone to have a voice but, in my opinion, this does not allow you to repeatedly make claims that are incorrect and purport them to be fact. ”

        To which I replied “I have done nothing wrong on twitter, I have told the truth. I am really interested in your comments about “repeatedly making claims” as once again this is not the case.”

        In my opinion in no way does this explain why no tweets or facebook posts were replied to – they were not directly about the problems we are enduring. It does not explain why no rural voices were answered and it does not explain why Knight Frank briefed all of its offices to ignore every tweet and post with regard to #lostmygiggle

        No matter how this matter is marketed by Knight Frank now the fact remains that we have been treated very very poorly for weeks and weeks and I suspect there are many other similar cases. The reason that we are here having this discussion at all is down to the power of social media and the nerve of Neville to print this blog. Thx

        • John Williams

          This is the first Tweet I sent yout, Heather:

          Knight Frank?@knightfrank2 Oct
          @wiggled Good morning – best to email me at sociamedia@knightfrank.com and I can reply accordingly. OK?

          I am reluctant to start posting private correspondence, but my next contact with you explained that we adhere to the RICS Code of Conduct and the Ombudsman Services: Property. That is right, isnt it?

          • Philip Gorringe

            It is interesting to hear Knight Frank repeatedly try to use client confidentiality to defend their actions. Obviously our original problem with KF falls under this obligation.
            However, KF’s behaviour after that has been in our view questionable. The way they have ( or have not) responded to us, both by private letter and via social media do not fit with their own statements of corporate responsibility and do not fit with the RICS code requiring fair, ethical treatment of all parties and the requirement for all parties to be treated in a respectful manner.
            The removal of the Facebook post and the failure to replace it demonstrates this and represents a separate issue not covered by client confidentiality. These codes also require a policy of truthfulness and transparency. The apparent lack of transparency causes doubt about the truthfulness.
            Whilst I fully expect KF to continue to try to link all this to the confidential part of our story, I believe that they have created new, separate issues as a result of their behaviour.
            I suspect that they know this as they have commenced communicating prior to our meeting Monday.
            I welcome their new attitude but they will have to go some way yet to convince me that they really respect their industry codes of practise in relation to their treatment of clients, customers etc.

            • John Williams

              Philip – as I have stated above, I fully intend to act on the idea of an external-facing social media policy over and above our current approach. I think the ideas that you, Neville, and Stuart have suggested are all helpful. As Heather has mentioned, social media is a conversation, and the idea of stating ‘rules of engagement’ is something I will consider.

              I would like to think that in answering all of these questions on this blog, I have gone some way to being more transparent in regards to our social media approach and the reasoning behind it.

              Monday’s meeting with David, Atty and Vicky is the forum in which to discuss the Code, and our approach to it.

              • Philip Gorringe

                John
                As I stated above, I welcome your change in stance and I am very grateful to all those contributors who have brought it about.
                However, our meeting on Monday and KF’s actions thereafter will I feel demonstrate a genuine wish to right any wrongs or KF paying lip service to the code of conduct in order to restore the status quo.
                There has been much comment for years surrounding the inadequacies of Property law in England and having read the codes, these were designed, in part, to bolster customer confidence despite some of these inadequacies.
                Hopefully, we are about to find out how successful they are of have been at achieving this.
                I certainly think your more transparent comments on this blog help but what is done is done and has I feel revealed some entrenched attitudes within your organisation.

    • Heather Gorringe

      From my experience the last week of Knight Frank’s Social Media efforts reflect perfectly their attitude to customer care and complaints. There is no need to separate them in my view. Knight Frank’s culture is seriously scarey from my experience. In my whole time in business I have never sobbed so much having been treated so appallingly. Even post the “situation” which we mustn’t discuss until after Monday Knight Frank concentrated on trying to use the law to shut us up… They even “investigated a complaint” by speaking to the two people involved in their company, and failing to even contact us for the other side of the story. Really unbelievable in this day and age me thinks.

      Their social media has been a perfect reflection of this attitude in the last week, and if it does actually change because of #lostmygiggle then that would be great, but without a serious overall in terms of ethics, respect, communication and service they will find that this transparency keeps John Williams very busy in his position for many many years. I look forward to Monday’s meeting to hear about the changes in company culture and social media that is due at least in part to #lostmygiggle

      • Chris Norton

        Heather, I am really sorry to hear about the problems you have had and after just buying a house myself I can relate to the things you highlight. I think they need to open up and have a full and frank discussion with you and if needed apologise properly although I imagine that won’t help the heartache you have suffered. If you need any help with anything feel free to drop me a line.

        • Simon Sanders

          Might be worth talking to some tradiotnal media too, if you are not doing so. e.g. I Note that Tanya Powley and Lucy Warwick-Ching at the FT wrote about KNight Frank just last weekend, in the Weekend edition of the paper. In fact Knight Frank were sole beneficiaries of a full-page cover story – with accompanying lovely graphic – in the paper’s ‘House & Home’ section. The feature called ‘Where to Live’ was entirely based on Knight Friank research and intended to guide the wealthy as to which locations around the world are best to reside. Am sure, if not these particular journso, there will be others who are also keeping up with the ‘world of Knight Frank’ and they would be interested to hear about this issue, somewhat closer to home. Indeed, a more pertinent follow-up article might well be, not so much, where to live, but who to buy through!

          • Heather Gorringe

            Thanks Simon – 1 online journo contacted me and 1 traditional journalist contacted me. Knight Frank followed this contact on twitter and then sent them something (KF will not admit this but I know it to be true) that immediately stopped them publishing. I suspect it mentioned defamation and the law – that’s what they did with us – until #LostMyGiggle gained its 2.5 million impressions and its 225k people reached (and that’s not counting facebook and this blog of course…)

  3. Nigel Maud

    I’ve been following this from the start and read all the responses from KF. I may be a little naive on social media but understand there are time when you cannot comment for confidential reasons, which has been stated. But if this is the case, when removing the comment, say why its removed, that you would deal with Heather direct etc… In ignoring that, 2m people have seen the comments in a week and a massive corporate business is now on the back foot !!!! In my view that could have been negated on day one !!!

    • Heather Gorringe

      Totally Agree Nigel – but of course the confidential bit is not the real reason at all in my opinion. If it was how come KF are happy to comment now? I think they just didn’t like it (it gave no details away) and they thought they would delete it and that would be the end of the matter. Thank goodness I thought to take a screenshot. As it is they are still using the confidentiality clause to fail to answer normal questions that are nothing to do with their “client” who in my view is all part of it as he is a Fellow of the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors himself….

      • John Williams

        Hi Heather – is this what you want me to comment on? I thought we had established that I will comment on social media response but cannot comment on the complaint itself? To reiterate – the complaints process is confidential as it concerns businesses and persons other than your own, including our client. So we cannot comment publicly about that. As you know, I have tried to answer as many of the other questions as I can with the above parameters in mind. The meeting you have on Monday with our head of department and regional chair are to discuss the complaint itself.

        The Facebook post which you and Nigel mentioned also refers directly to the complaint – so I cannot comment on it as it is a confidential process. I have also apologised for not explaining why it was taken down – in future I will ensure that an explanation is always given.

        • Heather Gorringe

          No comment needed. I look forward to the meeting to discuss the complaint that you can’t discuss, -after the period that you failed to discuss anything at all, – which you have now changed to discussing the fact that you can’t discuss some things -and that you won’t discuss other things, – whether or not they are directly related to the incident, which you can’t discuss because of a formal complaint which you instigated yourselves.

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