You will not be able to treat your customers badly.
You will not have time to hide.
You will not have time to cover up the mess.
This is a word of warning to business owners… watch out! Your customers could attack at any moment. Their razor sharp fangs, amazing strength and thick bones tear through concrete like floss through goat cheese…
Okay, they’re not that bad. They may not physically attack or devour the flesh of the innocent, but you still need to be vigilant about your treatment of your customers.
Why? Well (every other great reason aside), the Internet has given a voice to consumers. One website in particular, The Consumerist, is constantly championing consumers’ rights. The site’s stories routinely make it to the top of various social networks including one of my favorites DIGG, allowing the biggest (and smallest) of mistakes to instantly have a world-wide audience of millions.
Truthfully, I am just reiterating something I recently heard at the Future of Web Apps conference in Miami. The crazy Gary Vaynerchuk got up and discussed how he was able to – almost overnight – create a hit web show and star on Ellen Degeneres and Conan O’Brien, by being a larger-than-life Internet personality discussing wine. But, he said the key to doing business in this changed landscape this new Internet world of instant purchase, instant pleasure, instant piss-off is BEING ON, BEING AVAILBLE, AND CONCEDING EVERY POINT 24 HOURS A DAY 7 DAYS A WEEK.
If for example you have a social community or a web app you are building or facilitating you must be in there, in the trenches, loving, adding, and moderating the conversation all the time. Additionally, if you have a conventional business be prepared in the same way, answer emails at all times of the night, make sure to return phone calls, be honest, be up front, because there is no more hiding. Although I agree in part, the truth is that Social networks, user-generated (and voted on) content, business ratings websites, forums, all allow both the good and bad to spread like wild-fire.
And there is no better example of this than the recent Creative debacle. The story goes: Creative – a soundcard manufacturer – has yet to release drivers for Vista (preventing those with Vista & Creative soundcards from utilizing their cards). A programmer created his own driver, started distributing it, but was confronted by key Creative personnel on their forum and threatened with legal action. So madness has ensued. Users of the forum threw the story at DIGG (democratized-user-voted news) and overnight it’s had millions of visitors. As if the scolding comments on the story and in the forum weren’t enough, the story has prompted disgruntled customers to create a website
So the point is as a consumer know you have a voice and understand how powerful it is. And, if you are a business be careful and treat your customers right!
(by the way Gary I sent you a message in Facebook and you never responded )