Come on, we all know that you hear stuff like, “value every customer”, “a single customer can have an impact beyond that single sale” or “1,000 true fans can sustain you”. But in the real world that’s bullshit right? You want to be the one to tell your boss that you spent the last 8 hours cultivating a single sale? You want to be the person to tell your boss that 1,000 customers can sustain his 401K, medical plan and bonus structure?
The real question is how do you fake it? Can you make it appear that you care about your customers? When they start complaining about some silly minor issue, you’re suppose to stop what your doing and coddle them. Is that really where we’re at now? My dried out chicken breast gives me some sort of right to chat with some underpaid social media intern who apologizes for a store he’s probably never heard of and asks if I’d like a dollar off coupon. It’s pathetic really.
Am I going to “connect” with my local plumber on Facebook? Maybe I should become a fan of the children’s resale shop in the next town over. Oh, wait, I know, I’ll start following Ashton Kutcher on Twitter so I’ll know all the trendy places in Los Angeles (even though I live in North Carolina).
Where would the world be if people cared about each other in a real way? Could we have giant corporations that employ thousands of people and treat them like human machines? Hell no! We couldn’t have companies like General Motors, AT&T and Microsoft if we had to value customer feedback and bend to the will of the mob. Those companies are there to make a profit for their shareholders, not to listen to you whine about “bad design”, “spotty coverage” or “monopolistic tendencies”.
There’s people saying that the current wave of social media tools are fundamentally changing the way business is being done. You may have noticed those changes because your mortgage is going down, cars are getting cheaper, your cable company called and is now delivering all channels in HD for free and cell phone plans top out at $14.99/month (unlimited).
Now you may be able to pull out one small example of a business “doing it right”, but please don’t drag that ComcastCares horse out of the barn again. How old is that one? And have you talked to people who use Comcast? They still hate their cable company.
If you got this far reading this post, you should probably leave a comment so we can “engage”, but that’s a lot of work and bother, so you’ll probably just click away – because as micro-consumption digivores, we only make an effort when it’s really no effort at all.
Photo by: Barry Adams
Well said! Does one-to-one social media scale? And at what cost? Will be interesting to see that one play out…
Re: bending to the will of the mob – I love to hate the people that tweet about their crappy travel experience and expect the airline to respond. Best of all – people that tweet about their crappy travel experience and wonder aloud why more airlines aren’t like Southwest.
Also – “listening to the customer” is a slippery slope when it comes to product/service design. Most day-to-day customers can only visualize iterative, marginal improvements – which is fine, of course. Marginal improvements are helpful and often quite easy. However, businesses focused on marginally improving themselves miss out on the big picture need to constantly re-invent themselves. The music industry comes to mind…
And yes – I recognize the irony of that last bit vis a vis the phone call I hope to have with you next week. 🙂
Jay Dolan says
Phil, did you mean to send this to me as a guest post?
Brian McDonald says
So does all the whining just mean that whomever whines the loudest gets free swag? Or does whinesourcing lead to awareness of what sucks about your company’s product and/or services? Is social media just one big megaphone that allows us to bitch from our comfy seats versus dragging our lazy butts down to corporate HQ and protesting outside their door?
I wonder what Abbie Hoffman would think of all this?
Karl Sakas says
Phil: Thanks for sharing the bingo card. For a moment, I thought Jay had hacked your blog.
Brian: There’s a lot to be said for whinesourcing…when you’re one of just a few doing it. Before I was active on Twitter, it took five months of letters and phone calls to Midas to get them to reimburse me for an auto part that had failed under their five-year warranty. In my last letter, I noted that I’d registered @MidasFails and MidasFails.com. They mailed me a check.
Jay Cuthrell says
I had to fill out two things to /speak/ to you…
But it’s not because of a dried out chicken breast. 🙂
What do you imagine the friction for feedback is in social vectors? How off the map of satisfaction does a customer have to be to interact this way?
If I spend 8 hours making a sale and that sale is a huge client worth $$$$$, then yes, my boss will love me. If I spend 8 hours a day responding to a single Tweet, I should be fired. The point is you can’t generalize this stuff.
I might actually follow my plumber on Twitter if he gives me tips on taking care of the little stuff (small clogs) that is not worth his time to come and do himself (education). Or if he Tweets about all the weird stuff he encounters during the day (entertainment).
If I’m a loyal customer and I reTweet a plumb Tweet of value, that might get the attention of 10 people in my feed. That’s how 1:1 marketing works – it ripples. The advice for getting one follower at a time is for newbies, not for veterans. But they’re not the ones listening to that advice – they already get it.
Looks like something I’d see on the anti-social media blog! Joking aside, it does raise a good question of whether it’s all worth it. However “social media” is here to stay and it would be strange if a company did not participate at all.
Joshua S. Sweeney says
I knew Jay and Phil were the same person… I just had no way to prove it until now. You’re slipping, buddy!
Though I can’t speak for everyone regarding individual sales (and I know I’ve have several that have been a direct result from social media), my company’s true benefit from social media goes way beyond pushing individual sales. To anyone gauging ROI solely on sales in social media, I say “yer doin it wrong.”
I think most people understand they cannot be coddled by a company with thousands of customers, and the people that demand such attention probably can’t be pleased anyway. Just because a company doesn’t spend all its waking hours on every customer with a skinned knee, it doesn’t mean they don’t care. Even if they don’t care personally, the monetary benefit makes them do it anyways!