Community and Experience

We all come from our own little planets. That’s why we’re all different. That’s what makes life interesting.
—Robert E. Sherwood

Dear readers and friends, crowd around. Having you join our luncheon once again is what makes this a round table discussion. I admit, even after The Death of Everything But ME Online, and the rollicking conversation we had here Tuesday—I’m still thinking about community and the planets we all come from.

As we do spend more and more time online, is it pie-in-the-sky to think we can, or we should, engage each other meaningfully in the 2.0 world? Can a few dashed-off words be substitutes for deeper discussions that took a bit of time out of our virtual days, in the not-too-distant past, and created a richer online experience?

If I engage you (or hope to), human-to-human, have you become too cynical to believe I’m sincere? Is the shortchanging of conversation encouraging that cynicism?

In talking to a “2.0 friend” last night on the phone, we were wondering how much has changed—we are able to spread ideas and beauty so far in our www, and how we’ll interact is definitely evolving right now—but for me, the ideas and the discussions are the same as ever. Funny, I think he was a little surprised that I’m real. But I’m sure he wouldn’t have liked it if I were surprised that he’s real. Only my ability to reach out to you, right where you are, has changed. In the 1.0 world I was still a designer, an artist, a businesswoman, (an obvious post-hippie throwback), and a writer. Once I was quite fond of hosting dinner parties to meet great new people and stir up the fantastic exchanges I aim for here at MCE with your help.

Now, we belly up for virtual martinis at the Round Table, but man, the guest list is always stunning. Thanks for being here.

My point is (oh, yes, I have a point), there aren’t two worlds. You, my dear reader, have chosen to spend part of your time here, online. 2.0 is same as it ever was. With a screen. “Community” isn’t a dirty marketing invention to rope you in—though some companies can abuse the idea, for sure, and some companies (like yours!) are as sincere as I am. When I see the explosion of distractions and the implosion of attention spans online, I worry that we’re losing something critical, and making a foothold for cynical isolation. Being an active part of the online world, and not a passive receiver, is still a worthwhile pursuit—on a personal level, professionally, and yes, for creating a great Experience for your customers.

I’ve invited new friends and old to share their fresh perspectives today. I hope you’ll enjoy getting to know them—leave them a comment, and come on back to share your thoughts around the Maximum Customer Experience Round Table!

Post-hippie optimism alert: “Researchers put a cute-looking cardboard robot on the streets of New York. It could only go forward but it had a note asking people to help it to its destination. It got there quickly with the help of 43 people. They asked for nothing in return.” Want proof that there aren’t two worlds? Head on over to Tim Berry’s (oft-linked) Planning, Startups, Stories to read and watch The Web as Random Acts of Kindness.

Chris Brogan, too, had a chance to talk with a friend he knows through his blog this week. In Feeling the Community, Chris explores the nature of the communities we’re most comfortable with online. Be sure to check out the comments, which carry the discussion even further.

In Do Blog Readers Buy? James Chartrand of Men With Pens took a look at community from a different perspective. My takeaway: focus as you try to build a community. It is okay to want to gain something from your efforts, at the same time as you want to give something away.

Need some examples of companies that have successfully created online communities to inspire you and give you ideas? Try (the inauspiciously titled) Five Companies That Fix Their Story To Inspire Service, by Valeria Maltoni (of Conversation Agent) at Fast Company, and Validating Customers on Twitter, by Steve Finikiotis at TouchPoints. How can you create Maximum Customer Experience online? “Unlike a lot of companies whose message is ‘Gee, look how cool we are,’  Zappos’ message is ‘Wow! Look how cool our customers are.’” Yep. That ought to do it.

Last—ripped from Steve’s comment section, this video which I promise has nothing whatsoever to do with MCE, and everything to do with thanking you. You’re awesome, but don’t take my word for it. The award-winning short film Validation from Kurt Kuenne, at YouTube.

Thanks, as always, for the pleasure of your company and your commentary. Let’s do lunch again soon.

Love ‘em? Hate ‘em? Learn something fantastic as you clicked around? Think I missed the best one of the week? Have your say in the comments—you know you want to!


Grow and be well,

Kelly Erickson

If you’re going to write, don’t pretend to write down. It’s going to be the best you can do, and it’s the fact that it’s the best you can do that kills you.
—Dorothy Parker


Last time, Mrs. Erickson and the Vision Circle (that’s you) entertained:

Top-Secret Ways To Deliver Delight!

Craving dessert? Click here to see all the posts in the Round Table series, along with other great recommended reading from MCE!