Life Below 14th Street

Hi there...

So this is a story about a guy in NYC. Some parts of the story are amazing, some hilarious, others confusing, some interesting, but always honest. Like any good story it has a lot of characters. It usually involves a lot of different passions. That means this story involves you as much as it does me.

Welcome to life below 14th street.

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Till Death Do Us Part…

Have you ever wondered why people make such a big deal of marriage?  I mean, regardless of your political or religious view points on it, it’s something everyone really seems to take seriously, and I think I know why.

Marriage is one of the last things in a world that requires and is, at its’ core, 100% about commitment.  Everyone can find joy in this; it’s mostly why I think people love a good wedding.  They like the idea of two people saying, “till death do us part”.  That’s a big deal nowadays. It’s rare for anyone to say, “till death do us part” for anything.  

This notion of marriage has made me think about how companies interact with customers. They seem to only want the “good” moments, but as soon as a customer/client experiences a problem, the business is nowhere to be found.  Or if they are, they are more of a passive husband who occasionally smiles and nods, but all the while his eyes are fixed on the football game.  He’s present, but not engaged.  

Here are some thoughts:

Deciding To Engage In Social Media Is Making A Commitment

I’ve had a few recent interactions with businesses (who shall remain nameless).  One is an internet service provider, and the other a bike lock company.  Both of these companies actively engage in social media.  They have Twitter accounts, blogs, & FB pages, all to help them feel “connected” to their client.  They love posting cool things their business is up to, or things customers praise them about in regards to their product or service.  Let me say this though, social media is not just to showcase the good.  Social media gives you the chance to build community, and community isn’t always pretty. For a business, social media should exists to give you the opportunity to engage your customer… in every respect.

When you stand at the “altar”, making the commitment to social media, you are saying, “for better or for worse, through great service and bad service”.  

Deciding To Engage In Social Media Is Committing To Communication 

This is the oldest trick in the book, but it’s also the most simple.  Don’t be afraid to talk to your customers.  Not every customer is an angry person.  People just want to know “what went wrong”; they want to know why the product or service didn’t work.  They aren’t demanding much more than just for someone to give them an answer.  The worse thing you can do is to be silent.  Hear that, business? Don’t be scared to communicate. Communicating helps, it lets the customer know that you are engaged.  You get angry customers when you don’t communicate, not necessarily when your product or service fails.  In a world where everyone is interconnected through their media platforms, you can’t afford to have a vocal enemy.  Sweeping their comments and cries for help under the rug will only come back to bite you.  

Just Because It Starts Rocky It Doesn’t Mean It Needs To End Rocky

There is a light at the end of the tunnel, business.  Just because you as a business may have started off by dropping the ball, saying the wrong thing, or saying nothing at all, doesn’t mean you’re doomed.  It’s never too late to do the right thing (usually).  You have to understand, business, that people aren’t dumb anymore; the world now presents so many options that it should behoove you to do what it takes (within reason) to really build good “customer evangelists”. 

side note: a customer evangelist is a customer who from their love of a particular product or service takes it upon themselves to share the “good news” about the brand they’ve discovered.  There can also be a bad customer evangelist.  

My interaction with the internet company never changed, and to this day, I still complain about them to my friends and I guarantee you no one is signing up for their services.  The bike lock company took this last point to heart.  They saw that, even though they started off rough (because with any marriage it takes work), they didn’t have to finish that way. Now they still have a customer, one who is even more passionate about their product. Why?  Because they decided to engage in the conversation.  

ps….the internet company is Clear Wireless ;-)