Department Of First-World Problems

clivelab

Thursday, 10:37pm
San Francisco, CA
If you want it, here it is, come and get it…” (Badfinger)

Howdy…

Quick post today — I’m hosting my awesome Platinum Mastermind early tomorrow, and have a little prep work left to do.

However, I thought you might enjoy sampling the kind of posts I’m getting global recognition for… on Facebook. So I ripped a recent one from the site, and put it here for your delight and consumption.

Social media confuses most marketers — many refuse to even engage with Twitter or Facebook (or any of the myriad other options online to share silly secrets and post photos you’ll regret later). But I was an early adopter, and eagerly so — I had one of the very first marketing blogs (which you’re enjoying here), one of the first biz-oriented podcasts on iTunes (and if you haven’t listened to the latest free podcasts I’ve been hosting, go to the Psych Insights For Modern Marketers site now and indulge: www.pi4mm.com)…

… and I’ve been breaking every “rule” on Facebook ever since it hit the mainstream. I use FB to have fun, sometimes… but also to share insight, advice, lessons and some of the more obscure (and funny) war stories I’ve gathered in my 30 year career. (I currently have 5,000 “friends” — the limit — plus another couple of thousand “followers”… and I expect them all to show up at my wake and cause trouble. I’ve made them promise, in fact.)

To get the full flavor of what’s up — including the very long comment threads that you are invited to join — you’ll need to pop over to my Facebook page (www.facebook.com/john.carlton).

However, here’s a nice little taste:

Dept. Of First World Problems: Wow. Does ANY big biz in the country have even semi-decent customer service anymore? Is there a seminar somewhere national chains attend to learn how to frustrate customers online or on the phone?

Macy’s furniture store. Simple question with no possible answer to be found on their website, or in their byzantine robot phone maze… and no way to reach a living rep. PLUS, they want me to key in my social security number — not the last four digits, mind you, but the whole thing.

Eventually, I did reach a live person… who promptly disconnected me. Scared off by my question (which was “where do you recommend I go to get a chair purchased at your store repaired?” — admittedly, a VERY scary question).

Yeah, yeah, I know what you cynical dudes are gonna say — there’s no privacy left, we should all have such easy problems…

And let me shut you up right now: I post about biz and marketing here most of the time. (Well, when I’m not having fun, anyway.) Somewhere along the line, in the rush to automate and fire human beings, much has been lost. A decade ago, I left Gateway (where I’d bought multiple PCs) when their customer service collapsed, and went to Dell for several years… until they very publicly decided to cut back on their customer service.

Sent me into the loving arms of Apple… where, sure, you occasionally get some snark, but they do rock when it comes to support.

Business owners and entrepreneurs pay me a buttload of cash for consultations… and frequently, their most urgent problems involve some mysterious desertion by customers. Which often leads to the kind of super-simple solutions they do NOT wanna hear: Hire more people who know how to deal with people.

The DIY ethic is great — I did it myself for many years, loved it. However, just hiring a part-time assistant revolutionized my productivity… AND made customers fall in love with the biz. Diane (who’s been with me for 13 years now) handles complaints personally, adds a very friendly touch to every communication she has with people, and — very important — knows how to solve nearly every problem that comes across her desk. Including saying “I don’t know — let me find out and get right back to you”, which can transform a potentially angry situation into a good experience for the customer. (The other great line she’s used: “That sounds like a genuine problem, and let’s see how we can make it right for you.”)

No amount of advanced technology will ever replace the power of good human interaction in your biz. The natural impulse of failing businesses often is to get stingier, drift into more unethical behavior (like lying to prospects), and make the customer experience a nightmare of inaction and avoidance. The smiles are phony, the info is deceptive, and the pretense of being a “full service” store becomes a total sham.

We have a once-favorite pizza joint nearby sinking fast. A small dose of competition sent them into a death spiral… and every decision they make seems like it was scripted by that “How To Fail With Customers” seminar that Macy’s sends its staff to. Flat sodas, mushy undercooked food, lost orders, dirty silverware.

There is a time in certain business’s lives where the end is hovering. At that point, it might just be best to fold up the tent and move on. Limping along with an attitude and commitment level guaranteed to fail isn’t an answer — it’s denial masquerading as “trying”.

The best entrepreneurs often fail at certain projects. I always caution biz owners to be clear on their goals, and constantly question their assumptions about where they are, and where they’re going. Success can be fleeting, and fad-fueled success (like Candy Crush and Pet Rocks) can be flukes never to be repeated.

It’s a process, without guarantees, that cries out for reality checks. However, the lessons you take from your losses and your wins are what will give your NEXT project a better chance.

The fundamentals, like customer service, get ignored too often. Don’t be short-sighted about your biz.

Okay, I gotta call Macy’s back… or maybe search for furniture repair joints (cuz I maybe learned my lesson about Macy’s “commitment to excellence”…).

Next: Can’t wait to call AT&T later, and enjoy their robotic idiocy, too…

I was gonna post some of the action in the comments, but there over 38 of them (at last count)… so just hop over and see what mayhem went on there yourself.

As you can see, I’m not abusing the opportunity to reach folks so easily on social media. There is method to my madness, and my “reach” to new audiences (and ability to refresh my marketing lists) has exploded. (My Twitter account is up around 17,000 followers, too.)

This style of social media — avoiding what everyone else does, and just laying out good, funny, interesting rants that get passed around by your “friends” — isn’t being taught by any guru out there. I have no interest in creating a “product” about it, either — if you want to see how I do it, just follow me… and try some of the techniques yourself.

Hey, I’m inviting you to join in. I’m maxed out on “friends” (the maroons at Facebook limit non-fanpage accounts to 5,000), but you can “follow” just as easily, and get most of the same privileges. It’s www.facebook.com/john.carlton.

C’mon in, the water’s fine…

Stay frosty,

John

P.S. One last thing. I almost forgot — be sure to sign up on this blog, in the upper right hand corner… to get your bitchin’ new “Grizzled Pro Report”…

… which just happens to be a collection of my BEST Facebook posts over the past few years. All in one dazzling digital presentation.

You also will be notified when new blog posts appear. So, you know, you aren’t left out in the cold, while lesser colleagues are enjoying all the fun over here.

Sign up now, while you’re thinking about it. Use your best, every-day email address. Your report will be zoomed to you over the Internets immediately…

One Response to Department Of First-World Problems

  1. Jeremy says:

    Making small efforts to show that you care go a long way. Customer service is king, always will be!

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