The danger here is saying something like this: “I work for X and take exception to your comment about our product. The
truth is our product works exactly as specified in the instructions and if you’re having that problem, it might be user error.”
To your employee this might sound like a reasonable response. One problem with that is if the customer learns the product was actually defective, he or she may
document the story and your response, then use it as an example of how arrogant and uncaring your company is.
When television, radio, magazines, and newspapers were the main way an organization talked to the world, it was easy to restrict who could comment on your behalf. The lines of authority were clear. It’s now more complicated because every employee has the ability to see a
comment made about the organization and to respond in an instant to millions of people.
You must make it clear to your staff which employees are allowed to speak on behalf of the organization, and the rest are not. You must also make it clear to people how to represent themselves if they enter a conversation.
The options include telling people they work for the organization and what their title is, or they can state that this is a personal opinion and not provide the organization they work for. Both of these may be more appropriate than speaking as
if they’re speaking for the company. You must make sure that your people understand there’s a concept of authority around what they say publicly on behalf of the organization.