Staring out across the frozen tundra that is Martelle in January, I began to apply layers of clothing to my frame, as protection against the bitterness. This, like many of my missives, is a complete exaggeration, it is actually around 25 degrees and not bitter at all. (Now, back to the story) Fearing certain death, or worse, disappointment, I took a pull of diet dew and was about to leave, when suddenly, much to my surprise, the familiar bong of an arriving email caught my attention.
In a previous episode, I had ranted at length about my order from The Taunton Press taking so long to arrive. I awaited 8 DVDs and 2 books on woodworking. My patience had been tested and each day of disappointment brought me to the edge of woe. It had been 4 days since I had blogged about my pain and mental anguish, and I was already getting on my high horse and mentally firing up my poison keyboard. The email made me dismount. Just to be clear, though I do live in rural Iowa, in a very small town, 280 people (as pointed out by a reader), I don’t actually have a horse. It is a metaphorical horse. Her name is Ginger.
So I got off Ginger, metaphorically speaking and opened the email. I was stunned, shocked, dismayed, and several other adjectives, which I can’t remember right now, but I knew they were there too.
The shock was so pervasive, that I didn’t even notice I had finished my diet dew. When finally the cloud of confusion lifted, I thought about the age we live in. Information is everywhere. We can spend our entire lives, twenty-four hours a day, reading and searching the web, and never fully grasp all that is there. It is for this reason that Twitter has thrived. It allows us to, with the help of others, find the good stuff. It has created a voice, a collective non-borg like voice, which helps us to see our world through the collective’s eyes, and take in its wonderment in ways never before imagined.
In the not too distant past, a grievance would be suffered in silence, or if really unbearable, a letter would be written. This might help to heal the wound, but the bitterness and anger would never really subside. We have all read about customer service and how if we do something well, our customers will tell 2 -3 people, but if we do something poorly, they will tell 5- 9. Today I realized that is outdated. The blog piece ‘Gnashing Teeth’ has, to date, been read 289 times. I have effectively told 32.1 times the number of people, which the old model would have predicted. And I had only been blogging for 2 weeks. Think about a disgruntled Tweeterer with 1 million followers, they truly have a booming voice in the cyber world.
But this sword cuts both ways, for as we can complain, so we too can praise. The email was from Patricia A. Williamson, the Vice President of Fulfillment. She was wonderful. She had tried to get in touch with me yesterday, by leaving a message on my phone. I had yesterday off, and spent the day fiddling around with some hard maple. I hadn’t noticed her message. When I read her incredibly kind and thoughtful email, I was turned from a grumpy goose into a giddy gander. (Ok, there wasn’t really any sort of gender change, but in order to stay with today’s alliteration them, I took some poetic license.) She had read my blog. I had thrown my voice out into the digital abyss, and my cries of frustration found their ways to Patricia. And she took action! My package is due to arrive sometime today. Patricia could have given the task of contacting me to an underlying. She could have stopped after leaving the message. She could have done nothing at all. What she did was to save me a trip across the thriving metropolis of Martelle, completely change my opinion of The Taunton Press, and give me a great idea for a blog.
Customer service matters. Business is a balancing act. In today’s environment the scales can be tilted in your favor or not. If you handle customer service correctly, you will have a flock of happy customers. And if you don’t, you will have an angry pack of blog eating your face off. (Note: That last bit was only funny if you have read ‘Gnashing Teeth’, and then only just barely.)
-- Brian Meeks, http://extremelyaverage.com