We just got through one of the most contentious elections ever. Wikileaks’ hacking of various federal and political party officials played no small part in that turmoil. What does this have to do with car dealers?
- Nothing on the internet or in emails is really, truly private. Do you think your emails are private? System administrators and others can access them. Hackers can access them. Generally they go to others who may not view them that way or who may have others access them. There is never anything that is private in emails.
- Emails are seldom destroyed. If you followed the election news closely, you know there were efforts to destroy emails, Bleachbit computers, destroy Blackberrys with hammers, and break hard drives. However, the FBI resurrected many emails, even if it meant finding them on the backup of a computer used by the disgraced husband of a presidential candidate’s aide. Your messages reside in your hard drive even after you think you have deleted them. They are in the cloud if you use a backup service. The folks to whom you send emails have them on their hard drives and in their clouds to be accessed by others.
- If you will not state it publicly, don’t put it in an email. This is a lesson we learned in elementary school in a different context. At some point, your teacher probably told you don’t write something in anger. Write the letter and you put it in your drawer for another day. Emails are no different. Only send it if you would be willing to repeat it publicly.
So what should you do about these lessons as a dealer?
- Train your personnel. Remind them of these lessons. Remind them that all communications through your system are to remain professional because all communications can be retrieved or can be accessed.
- Regularly review communications through your system. Are they professional?
- Make sure your personnel know you will be checking, and remind them often. Your electronic communications policy should advise your employees that all communications through your system will be reviewed regularly by management, and your system should regularly generate a message to all users that communications through your system are subject to review.
- Discipline offending employees if you find a message that is improper. Just like any other policy, an electronic communications policy is not effective if you do not enforce it. If an offending message comes to your attention, discuss it with the employee, remind them of the policy, and let them know that future violations will be more severely punished.
- Be especially careful about offensive or harassing emails and take immediate action. Cyber bullying and cyber stalking are increasing problems. Make sure that offensive messages are not being delivered on your system. Make sure harassment and other improper behavior towards employees are not taking place through your system.