It’s a Small World

Depending on your interest in the computers and technology, you may or may not know about Robert Scoble.  Scoble writes a blog called Scobleizer about the world of technology.  What makes Scobleizer interesting is that while it’s a blog on a variety of topics, Scoble is an employee of Microsoft.  That wasn’t always the case.  He had built up quite a following before Gates and Company came calling to offer him a job.

While he’s on the Microsoft payroll, Scoble’s blog isn’t censored by them and he’s sometimes (often?) critical of them.  I mention Robert today because he’s going through a rough time personally.  His mom is in the hospital, near death.  He’s writing about this on his blog and has received hundreds of comments from his readers, offering support.

What a different world we live in today!  Can you imagine the newspaper business writer, even today, taking a break from his normal business coverage to share his personal thoughts on the passing of a family member?  Even if he did, he wouldn’t have immediate feedback from hundreds of people.  It’s a sign of the times that in the twenty-first century, people communicate instantly across state and even national boundaries on any topic.

How does this affect our business?  I can remember, not so long ago, that the worst thing an angry customer could do was to cause a scene in the store on a busy Saturday afternoon.  If someone was unhappy, we’d try to calm them down, to get the situation under control, not just to pacify that customer but to avoid raising doubt in the minds of the other customers.

Another thing that was always a concern was the threat to call the Better Business Bureau, the Attorney General, or the local TV station.  Ninety-nine times out of a hundred these were idle threats, but we still hated to hear them.  If they followed through on their threat, we were looking at a hassle at best and bad publicity and lost sales at worst.

But today, every unhappy customer has the potential of telling his or her story to hundreds, maybe even thousands of people through instant messaging, chat rooms, forums, blogs and web sites.  Where the angry customer of the twentieth century could cause us inconvenience and possibly a few lost sales, her twenty-first century equivalent could put us out of business.

There are no boundaries any more.  With modern translation software, language isn’t even a barrier to communications.  That’s why it’s more important than ever to not just satisfy our customers, but to delight them.  Satisfaction isn’t enough.  Nothing less than customer loyalty will do. 

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