Sunday, January 30, 2011

Go Away

I know Blogger isn't hip.

But I know I'm not, either, so we work together well.

I have no complaints here. Oh, it would be nice, for instance, to be able to post PDFs here, rather than having to do things the clunky way and post them at first. But for the blogging things I do, Blogger works just fine.

See, it works.

Rarely have I experienced glitches with this platform. Oh, the occasional hiccup, but nothing chronic. I see a lot less trouble here than with other services such as Twitter -- though I rarely see the Fail Whale there any more, either.

Blogger works when I need it to. So I can pretty much ignore it. And it's free, which makes it even better.

Then there are the folks over at Tumblr. That's one of the hip blogging platforms. At least I think it is. I'm so unhip I'm not sure what's hip any more, not that I really knew what was hip in the first place. I am connected with, which we're trying to make hip, but that's been a little difficult as of late, since part of the site has pretty much been broken since late October. We are working on a fix. We are also working on a shoestring budget. And so far, no complaints. Not having a huge audience of users helps in that department.

But what could we do with $40 million in venture capital funding, like the folks at Tumblr have? Light years' worth of awesomeness, I'm sure.

Not at Tumblr, though. Apparently, they've been having much more serious trouble with their platform than we've been having, and their CEO's answer to that is to tell the complainers to go away.

That hardly seems productive.

Yeah, dealing with whiners isn't fun. But you know what? If I had that much VC at my disposal and was running a site approaching 200 million hits a day, I'd be doing something about fixing things, and I wouldn't be telling customers to go away. I'd have my guys working around the clock until the problems were fixed. If my guys needed help, I'd bring in more help. I wouldn't be telling customers to go away.

Clay Shirky points out that people are turning more and more to social media to get companies to fix mediocre and outright bad service. Witness sites like The Consumerist, for just one example, where people are banding together to get things fixed. For a social media company, then to ignore its own users who are banding together to try to get that selfsame company to fix things just doesn't bode well.

If I had a brick-and-mortar business tell me to go away if I went in to complain about poor service, I would go away. And given that I've got a big mouth, I'd tell a lot of people that I am going away, and why. Maybe there are those who don't see problems at said business, or have a higher tolerance for poor service, or simply choose not to react to the poor level of service they're getting. That's fine. We see that in cable companies, cell phone companies, any kind of company you care to mention. But to actively tell your customers to leave? Wow.

So the answer is this: Be up front with your customers. Listen to them. Work harder at fixing what's bugging them. Maybe you don't fix everything, but if enough people call or write you about something that's bugging them, you fix it. Fix the big problems by paying attention to the small ones, per 37 Signals. And never tell your customers to go away.

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