A few days ago I pointed to Elizabeth ‘s thread at Reddit where she engaged with the public in a way that everyone who manages customer support, PR, or marketing ought to learn from.
Today, Amanda Palmer posted about her current Kickstarter project, which has raised $855,000 with eight days yet to run. Her goal was $100,000…except in her post she responds with complete frankness (she’s AFP, after all) about what her real expectations were. The post is both an explanation and a demonstration of how musicians and theandir audiences can love and support each other.
A user who goes by the name Loyal2nes (NES = Nintendo gaming platform) had a problem: the game Civilization 4 kept crashing. So s/he posted about it on the game maker’s customer support site. Two days later, a customer support agent, Alexis L, replied that the problem is that Loyal2nes’s device only has 4096mb of RAM, whereas it needs at least 2 gigabytes. Unfortunately, Alexis did not understand that 4096 megabytes is the same as 4 gigabytes. Ooops.
Loyal2nes posted a screencapture of the exchange under a sarcastic headline, and opened up a thread about it at Reddit, where it climbed to the front page.
And the top-voted comment among the 460+ comments is from the Reddit user dahanese. Here’s her response:
Hey Loyal -
I’m Elizabeth Tobey and I’m the head of customer service – first off, I want to apologize because that’s a pretty embarrassing mistake. Secondly, I want to let you know I’m reopening your ticket and escalating it up. Chances are, I won’t get a response from the team who can help test out tonight and we’ll have a bit more back and forth in the coming days to try and troubleshoot the issue, but I promise I won’t tell you 4096MB is under spec and close your ticket.
Let me know if you have more questions now (although we can use the Support system and not reddit if you want!)
It doesn’t end there, though. Elizabeth stays with the thread as it expands and diverges. She’s frank, funny, and, as the thread continues, makes it clear that she’s not an interloper at Reddit. In fact, she’s been a Redditor (participant) for a while, participating in the threads that interest her. Often those threads are about gaming, but she also comments on ther serendipitous topics that make Reddit so much fun.
So, what’s so right about how Elizabeth handled this?
Her reply was frank, helpful, non-defensive, and understood the customer’s point of view
She identified herself by name and position
She exhibited a genuine interest in the overall thread, not simply in patching up a problem
She was speaking for 2K but very clearly also as herself and in her own voice
She spoke in a way that did not just serve her employer but, more importantly, served the conversation
She was already a member of the community — an enabler for the rest of this list
The only thing that could have made this a better example of how customer support and public relations is changing would be if Elizabeth were not the head of Customer Support but was an empowered customer support rep. But all the other main themes are there. Clear as day.
Tagged with: cluetrain
• customer support
Date: May 23rd, 2012 dw
An indie movie launching in September is holding a contest to find four songs for four scenes that need musical backing.
The movie is We Made This Movie from Rob Burnett and Jon Beckerman (creators of the TV show Ed; Rob is the Late Night with David Letterman producer). Because of the theme of the movie, they had the trailer produced by a high school student.
(Disclosure: I am an informal (= unpaid) marketing advisor to the project. I am also a Rob Burnett fanboy.)
Tagged with: movies
Date: April 29th, 2012 dw
Valdis Krebs has posted a map of books that Amazon says people who bought 2b2k also bought, and then the web of books that are one degree away from those books.
It’s interesting to parse as you try to discern what the shared interests are. And I’m surprised that Amazon hasn’t picked up on it as a way to sell more books, and that publishers haven’t picked up on it to understand their market better.
In any case, thanks, Valdis!
Brian Millar has a brief article in FastCompany about his company’s strategy of consulting “extreme customers” to get insight into existing products and ideas for new ones. He writes, “You can learn a lot about mobile phones by talking to a power user. You can learn even more by talking to somebody who’s deliberately never bought one.” And
We recently worked with some Brazilian transsexuals on hair-removal products, looking at ways of making the process less painful. I can assure you, we had their full attention. Some are still sending us ideas.
It’s a great illustration of the fact that innovation tends to come from the intersection of orthogonal streets.
I’ve got a post at the Harvard Business Review site about what I’m calling (not too seriously) The Gettysburg Principles. The point is that you can keep your customers buying from you if your business is of your customers, by your customers, and for your customers. “Of” means that your business is made up of people like your customers. “By” means that your customers are contributing to the creation of your product. “For” your customers means you put them first. These three terms give a handy way of analyzing why customers stick with some businesses even if they have to pay a bit more or make some other adjustments.
Anyway, there’s more over at HBR…
Tagged with: business
Date: March 28th, 2012 dw
Julianne Chatelain investigates why Rich Berlew’s Kickstarter project became one of the top ten of all time, and the #1 in the creative category. She provides a concise, insightful look at why user experience counts for a lot, even when you’re supposedly just making a business proposal: give me $57,750 and I’ll reprint one of my “Order of the Stick” web-comic compilations. Berlew received $400,000 in the first 12 days.
Tagged with: kickstarter
Date: February 6th, 2012 dw
It used to be that on my birthday I’d get untouched-by-humans birthday wishes from my dentist’s firm and perhaps a local car company and real estate agent. Now I get them from sites I once age-verified for (gaming sites, not porn, fellas), a Prius forum, a diabetes forum, and — one level of abstraction up — from Xing itself.
If these groups are going to issue pro forma birthday wishes, I think they ought to be required to hire someone who has to sit there and actually think warmly about each person before pressing the “send” button.
And then, as a special birthday present, keep your stupid marketing messages to yourself.
Tagged with: birthday
Date: November 8th, 2011 dw
With Douglas Rushkoff I’m keynoting a Ketchum event called “Respect the Internet” [more here] tomorrow. The subtitle of the day is “Is marketing ruining the Net?” Sounds like it should be fun. (It’s being webcast, starting at 10am.)
I have a 20-30 min slot in which I’m planning on saying something like the following:
Yes, markets are conversations, as Doc once said. That shifts power from vendors to customers. It also turns markets as demographic abstractions into real social entities. But markets are conversations now because they are networked, and thus are taking on the properties of networks: evanescent, light-weight group formation, and, most of all connected via shared interests. For example, the people on the Web right now talking about which bike to buy constitute a networked market of bike purchasers. The bad news for traditional businesses is that hierarchical businesses (i.e., businesses) do not fit well architecturally on the Net. E.g., who gets to talk for the business, for businesses do not actually have mouths?
I then plan on talking about two properties of networks being expressed by markets now.
1. The fact that the Net is composed of interests has exposed what we always knew: there is usually a lack of alignment between markets and businesses. Markets talk about bikes because they have the usual range of interests in bikes: to be green, to save money, to get exercise, to recapture one’s youth, etc. But bike companies as businesses are interested in having us pay them money. Same objects of discussion (bikes) but very different interests. Businesses have tried to rationalize their lack of alignment by talking about “authenticity,” a term that I think does not apply very meaningfully to companies. Nor do I think that Michael Porter’s “shared value” idea addresses the real misalignment of interests.
2. Networks tend toward transparency. I will quickly mention four types of relevant transparency: of self (you are who you say you are), of sources, of humanity (you and your products are fallible), and of interests. (I may drop this section. I think the line of thought would be clearer if I do.)
Finally, I want to ask why the Net is such a weird and different medium. Answer: The Internet is not a medium. We are the medium. Because the Net is interest based, messages (memes, links, poems, whatever) move through us: I send you that link because I think you’ll like it, and I have something invested in your liking it when I pass it along. We are literally the medium.
So, that’s why marketers should respect the Internet. The Internet is ours. No, we don’t own Verizon’s wires. But that’s not the Internet. The Net is its open protocol and the social products and life it has engendered. So, mess with the Net with intrusive marketing and you are messing with us. We won’t like it.
That’s roughly it.
(By the way, I rarely mention where I’m talking because I’m a little shy, in weird ways. I’m thinking I ought to bite the bullet and just blurt out my scheduled talks. Why? Marketing! E.g., would you like to know that this morning I keynoted the Canadian Research Knowledge Network meeting outside of Ottawa, and that on Monday I gave the John Seely Brown lecture at the University of Michigan School of Information? Or is it just boastful noise, which is how it sounds to me?)
Tagged with: cluetrain
Date: October 5th, 2011 dw
Amazon’s pitch for its new Silk Browser describes a client-server architecture from the 1980s applied to the Net. In 1995, when I was VP Marketing at Open Text (1995-6), I tried to get the company to describe the architecture of its Web-based collaborative tools as Client-Surfer.
I’ve been waiting 16 years to re-introduce that pun. Is now the time?
Tagged with: amazon
• amazon silk
• client server
• open text
Date: September 28th, 2011 dw
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