Recommended Reading

… Since Subscribing to his Blog (How Long Ago?) Because He’s a Hometown Boy.

Trust Agents, Chris Brogan and Julien Smith, B&N north of Wilmington, Delaware

Trust Agents by Chris Brogan and Julien Smith. North of Wilmington, Delaware. Imagine that!

1. He’s not from my beloved Boston after all. He makes his home nearby, but Chris is a native Mainer. (Yes, I really was reading initially because I miss familiar voices from “home”!)

2. He’s a devoted dad.

3. If you read long enough, you’ll discover that he can be introspective, sentimental, or even cranky. He’s quietly confident, and delightfully unafraid to be himself.

MCE LESSON: Your customers may like you for just the reasons you’d hope. Or for silly, sublime, or strange reasons all their own. Give ‘em a story to hang onto—then keep ‘em hooked by being great at what you do.

4. Though he’s billed as a social media expert, he’ll wander far and wide to define that term. He knows that being a writer in this brave new world is a very long-term proposition, and he’s great at chunking out his message one tiny lesson at a time.

5. He’s not shy about taking positions.

6. He’s not shy about saying “I don’t know.”

7. Chris writes as if he’s talking directly to me. Or to you. You’ll always feel like you’re alone in the room with him—or you won’t get him at all. He doesn’t take it personally.

MCE LESSON: Generic messages don’t hook customers. Look that Ideal Customer right in the eye and only talk to him or her. Alienating some people means you’re doing it right.

8. He’s way too busy. I’m dizzy just hearing about all the pies he’s got fingers in. Go ahead and do a search for “Chris Brogan.” Whoo-ee.

MCE LESSON: You can’t win if you don’t play. Chris is in the game to win, so he’s always playing.

9. He’s generous to a fault, and loves to promote folks who might least expect it.

10. My mother worries about people getting “too big for their britches.” Chris must have a special humility gene, because there’s no way that’s ever going to happen. He’s good people.

MCE LESSON: I don’t have to say this to you, right? No matter what a genius you are (and I know! you are!), no success worth having was ever achieved without two things: help and luck. Keep that in mind. You’ll always be willing to bring other good people along for the ride, and you’ll discover your own humility gene.

So, if you’re not already reading his blog daily, get on over to chrisbrogan.com, of course.

Wondering what inspired this rave? I took the picture above, a day or two ago in my local Barnes & Noble. Well, first I just smiled at the shelf like a dummy, then I took the picture.

A guy standing a few feet away asked why I was taking a picture of a bookshelf.

“I know the author,” I said.

“Yeah?”

“Well, not know him, know him, but… virtually. We bump into each other. He deserves this success. He really does.”

The guy walked over and looked at the shelf.  “Chris Brogan? I know him, too.”

Congrats, Chris. I guess everybody knows you, but I’m going to say I knew you when.

Virtually.   :)

Let’s do something different today.

Please give a shout out to someone you’ve known since “when” on the Internet—someone you think we should all be reading. DO include a link if you like (and if that sends you to moderation, as links sometimes do, I promise to fish you out as soon as I can).

What lessons have you learned from your knew-them-when author?

 

Grow and be well,

Kelly Erickson

Get someone else to blow your horn and the sound will carry twice as far.
—Will Rogers

Getting to the Bottom of the Flap About Free and Your Small Business

Nine dollars and forty cents! This is an outrage! If I were you, I wouldn’t pay it!
—Groucho Marx as Otis B. Driftwood in A Night at the Opera, to his dinner date after sticking her with the check

Dear readers and friends, crowd around. Having you join our luncheon once again, leaves me foot loose and fancy free. Groucho Marx would have a keen interest in Chris Anderson’s new book, Free. He was such a notorious penny-pincher that Dorothy Parker’s friend George Kaufman couldn’t resist writing lines like this one into his parts. I have a keen interest in the book, too, so much that I ran out the minute my bookstore called me to pay, yes, pay, for the privilege of being one of the first to read the book. Then I waited and watched as the controversy began to swirl.

In case you’re wondering, you may hold a lovely hardcover copy of the book in your hand, or—you guessed it—you may read Free for free on the web. Because the book’s left me in quite a state I’m not going to provide you a link for either, but I know you’ll find the way that’s best for you. My two-sentence review: I love/hate the book and its premise, I found Chris Anderson occasionally rambling and obtuse, and I kept waiting for him to say something fresh instead of mashing up what I felt were ideas that have been around for a long time. You’ll do equal amounts of head-nodding, head-scratching, and yelling your head off.

It’s a sensitive word for bloggers, and for companies who are hoping to shift part of their business online: Free.

Free authorship, ironically, is not what I do for a living, though almost all of you might be forgiven for thinking it is. Don’t get me wrong, I love and adore this work, but if y’all wanted to pay me for my time, I reckon I’d have to start directly attributing at least one new client to this blog every day, for about six months.

Feel free to assist.   ;)

The reality is that if you write a blog in support of your business it’s no different for you. We do this in support of our businesses—and if you’re a zealot like me, maybe you have a crazy need to spread the word about your field, too. We trade subscriber numbers and comment counts and PageRank Stumbles and Tweets and mentions from the big bloggers for dollars. Not exactly willingly, but hey, doesn’t information want to be free? So we give information away, demonstrating our expertise in snippets every week, banking on becoming thought-leaders—because until Chris Anderson wrote this book, you thought that was how you were finally gonna feed your family with all the work you do online.

I almost titled this The Doomsday Post. We see newspapers and magazines floundering. Free is kicking their butts, supposedly. Or maybe they aren’t what we want, and they’re as done as last year’s Crocs. We hear major advertisers say they can’t make a thin dime off the web, and little guys saying the ads they allow to ugly their sites are a step below worthless. We wonder how much business we’ll ever drive with the relentless promotion-monster that is a blog constantly demanding feedings. Talk about pain points!

And just when you thought the 50–75% failure rate of bricks-and-mortars was too frightening for you to start a business offline, most estimates indicate that a whopping 90% of online businesses fail.

9 in 10, people.

Even when you are giving so much away to entice your visitors to fall head over heels in need with you. If Free doesn’t make you a sensation, what’s left, you ask?

No wonder Free strikes fear in the hearts of everybody but Chris Anderson, who says Free can work for you, prob’ly, maybe, and Seth Godin, who says it is what it is.

So the time has come for MCE to share what some other folks are thinking about free, the price, Free, the book, and free, your friend and one of your biggest competitors.

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!

Malcolm Gladwell, who I think the world of, took Chris Anderson to task and we were off and running. His book review at The New Yorker, Priced to Sell, is a wonderfully well-reasoned indictment and a great place to start. Many of you, my well-travelled readers, may already have seen it. For me it doesn’t get to the heart of our small business worries, so off on some less-obvious tangents I go.

Tim Berry takes on that sticky problem of whether it’s free, or the changing times, or management stubbornness causing the newspapers to gasp for their last breaths in Who Should Decide What News Matters at Planning, Startups, Stories. Just re-title it “Who should decide whether your business matters” and I think you’ll see why I like this post. Last year’s Crocs, indeed.

Trusting relationships in business—can they save you? It depends. Charles Green reminds us that sometimes payments themselves can backfire, then goes on to a neat discussion of trust in Markets, Relationships, and Trust at Trust Matters. When it comes to trust, small business will always have an edge that pricing wars can’t erase.

This delightful post by Steve Sammartino at Start Up Blog captures many of my own thoughts about the book and the concept: Free Is Not a Business Model. Rather wish I’d read it before leaving a comment at The Ad Contrarian when Bob Hoffman wrote Not So “Free” After All, saying essentially the same thing: I could have just linked to Steve’s smart writing. Well, now I have.

Maybe the question is Free vs. Freely Distributed? Mark Cuban at blog maverick seems to think so, but it doesn’t work for me. The comments, however, are worth the price of the blog post.

How does Free resolve with studies like this one? 80% of Recession Shoppers Want Companies with a “Human Face” at MarketingCharts.com. This is in line with my own experience and it’s well worth remembering, dear readers, entrepreneurs, and small business owners, that the closer we get to free, the fewer human faces we’ll see. So if it’s true we have an insatiable, irrational desire for free, we’re going to have to accept that we’ll be making some big sacrifices in the name of that desire.

My sentimental favorite this week is a post by Jonathan Fields, who writes so eloquently Why I Hope the Free Brigade Got It Wrong. In all that I’ve been absorbing, since I read this little book with the big buzz attached to it, this is the one that really digs in to how you and I are looking at it. Jonathan doesn’t have all the answers. But he’s got all the questions just right, and when Seth asks “who cares,” he answers that one perfectly: I care. Spoken like you’ve got skin in the game, Jonathan. Don’t we all.

By the way, if you want to read something fresh about free, almost two years on you still can’t do better than this by Dan Ariely and colleagues: Zero as a Special Price: The True Value of Free Products (pdf). And if all this talk of free has you jonesin’ to spend a little cash, I heartily recommend the recently revised Predictably Irrational, also by Dan Ariely. The book is all Wow from word one to the end. And yes, that’s an amazon affiliate link… click that link right back there to buy it and some day I might be able to grab a Lindt truffle with the change.    :)

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:

The Fundamental Things Apply…

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

Focus on Big Questions: The Answers Don’t Change Easily

If I had to live my life again, I’d make the same mistakes, only sooner.
—Tallulah Bankhead

Dear readers and friends, crowd around. Having you join our luncheon once again is an unmistakable pleasure. The fundamental qualities about Ms. Bankhead, she knew, did not change over time. The fundamentals of building your business don’t change over time, either. 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!

If you are here reading, dear reader, you are not an average person. As readers of blogs we forget, sometimes, that plenty of folks are not as Internet-savvy as we are. So the big question is just how much has the Internet changed the way the average person lives? My favorite pollsters at Pew Internet bring you Daily Internet Activities, 2000–2009. Take note when you glance over it: the chart doesn’t even bother to show past 60%.

A little fun and games with your big questions? At Fast Company, Joel Rubinson says the rules of branding have changed, in The New Rules of Brand Competition. He led me on to the fascinating game at brand tags, where their definition of a brand, however a company may try to influence it, is the same as it ever was—“… a brand exists entirely in people’s heads. Therefore, a brand is whatever they say it is.” I agree completely.

How can you convince executives to buy from you if you haven’t laid the proper foundation? The more things change, the more they stay the same. Check out the Fundamentals of BtoB Marketing—Then and Now from Tim Berry at Planning, Startups, Stories for a fun reminder.

“Does creativity make a difference?” One big question that’s a lot harder to argue over after you’ve seen this video brilliantly make the case: Ebay Wicked Sick BMX, aka The Wicked Sick Project – by the creative team at George Patterson Y&R. Hat tip to Nigel Corbett for pointing this one out.

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:

Laugh! Cry! Real-Life Stories of Customer Experience

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

100% B.S.-free!

This will contain some josh and some news value.
—Harold Ross (in writing the 1924 prospectus for The New Yorker, which he founded)

Dear readers and friends, crowd around. Having you join our luncheon once again makes this a value-added treat. Harold Ross, loyal friend of the Algonquin Round Table, was a great fan of a fine story, and this week we’ve got stories he’d love, told in many fine ways to entertain, inform, and surprise you. 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!

A Web of Stories by Jon Swanson at Small Biz Survival starts us off today. “We know the web is a collection of links. But that’s just the technical definition. It’s actually a collection of people doing business the way it’s always been done, when it’s done well.” Well worth repeating: we’re the same folks as we are offline. Or if you like, the more things change, the more they do stay the same. A charming story that will get you thinking and leave you with a smile.

Yes, it can be hard to accept. We all could use a little professional help from our colleagues once in a while. “The good news was … when I started out as a marketing manager, I was given a lot of rope. The bad news was … I immediately went out and almost hanged myself.” Brad Shorr tells a story where he could have used some help in Don’t Let Testimonials Dictate Your Marketing Strategy at Word Sell, Inc.

Can this quickie get you through your long summer days without bourbon? Brands I Love: Knob Creek tells the world “Thanks for Nothing” by Dave Knox at Hard Knox Life. Knob Creek tells a story that resonates powerfully, in very few words—and makes a little Kentucky lemonade out of the lemons they were handed, too. Thank goodness my bottle’s half-full.

Looking through my Google alerts for this week, I came across several posts touting the amazing conversations you and I want to have with our brands. I’m not going to name names, but let’s just say I was surprised at some big bloggers who’ve been drinking the Kool-Aid this week. (Some dear friends and readers may not be quite as surprised as I.) Sad, really, because that pie-in-the-sky story isn’t relevant to your small business or mine, nor to the lives we really lead. Then thank goodness, Olivier Blanchard came along and saved the day with his practical wisdom. I should have gone to The Brand Builder Blog first! Read, and watch the utterly no-nonsense video, at Defining Social Media ROI once and for all. Return on investment!! Ah, yes. I remember it well.

You know I scour the Internet for witty takes on Customer Experience, y’all. That’s what the Round Table should be about—it’s Saturday, we’ve got our martinis in hand, and we want a laugh if there’s one out there! Boy, Randy Saunders really delivered this week, with his posting of Dave Carroll’s video “United Breaks Guitars.” Watch it at Frustrated Passenger Sings Out about United Airlines Experience at The Perfect Customer Experience, and just try not to laugh out loud. A rant, a super laugh, and a huge lesson. Social media hasn’t changed everything, we all know that—but oh ho ho, it has brought some changes.

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:

What’s Short, Sweet, Sparkly, and Ruby?

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

Your very own wishes for your business (and your 4th of July?)

I can’t bring myself to say, ‘Well, I guess I’ll be toddling along.’ It isn’t that I can’t toddle. It’s just that I can’t guess I’ll toddle.
—Robert Benchley

Dear readers and friends, crowd around. Having you join the Maximum Customer Experience Round Table today, as the weather heats up and the excuses mount up, really touches me. Thank you.

I know you’ve got to be toddling along, so I won’t send you away to read for more than a moment.

Always, Seth Godin grabs my mind, but sometimes, he grabs my heart. “If you have no wish, how can it possibly come true?” Please read the short, very sweet Ruby Slippers at Seth’s Blog, because this is the one the will leave you scratching ideas on notepads for the rest of the weekend.

Yes. I’ve got my wish, Seth, thanks. But if I say it out loud will it come true? I hope so…

Let freedom ring all around the globe. And if you can read this, never forget how lucky you are. I get all cheesy and personally reflective on Independence Day. Freedom is so much more than most of us realize.

This happens to be my favorite Sheryl Crow song, and she’s clearly wearing her Birthplace of the Nation pants. I couldn’t resist!

I’ll be hanging with Sheryl tonight in Philadelphia, y’all. Wave if you’re there, I’ll be looking.

Wherever you are today—as they say around here, have a good one.

A joyous 4th to you!

Thanks, as always, for the pleasure of your company and your commentary. Go grill yourself a juicy burger, and let’s do lunch again soon.

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:

6 Most Incredible Bloggers Who You’re Missing Out On

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

Skip This Post at Your Business’ Peril

Seeing ourselves as others see us would probably confirm our worst suspicions about them.
—Franklin P. Adams

Dear readers and friends, crowd around. Seeing you at our luncheon once again makes this a real treat. This week’s a bit different from my usual Round Table themes. I’d like to shine the spotlight on a few friends who I can say without any exaggeration, should be reaching the entire civilized world with their wit and wisdom. (I have no doubt this will confirm their worst suspicions about me!) I’ve linked to them before, and folks, it’ll happen again, just as long as they continue to amaze me each week with insights that make me say Thank Goodness for the Interwebs.

I don’t know what I did before I discovered these six authors, consistently churning out aha! moments for you and I to revel in, and I hope you’ll feel the same. Enjoy getting to know them. I’ve linked to some truly inspirational posts—please leave them a comment and then subscribe to each so their incredibly fresh insights can help you take your business to the next level, and come on back to share your thoughts around the Maximum Customer Experience Round Table!

George Tannenbaum writes on the future of advertising, the decline of the English language, and oh, so many other frivolities at AdAged. (I’m trying not to gush too much. Go subscribe, and you can gush over him, too.) With his keen eye for the absurd and the outrageous, he’ll often have you hopping mad, intensely thoughtful, and laughing out loud—all within the same post. Mrs. Parker would have loved to have him and his slicing wit at her own Round Table. Ah, I wish there were more Georges in the world.

Andy Nulman, author of this year’s most stunning book for your business, Pow! Right Between the Eyes! from the long-running and equally inspiring blog of the same name, where he gives away insights that could easily fill a dozen books with Pow! I’m happy to say I’ve been reading his blog since before he became a fancy book-author (when he was only a fancy blog-author), and I plan to keep reading until he does fill a dozen more.

Charlie Pabst says he writes Ignite Living to give you tips for simple, productive, and happy living, but I have to tell you, it’s the flame he knows how to light with his words that keeps me glued to my inbox, wishing he’d grace us with another post just as soon as his fingers can fly back to the keyboard. He never fails to ignite my thoughts, my imagination, or my actions.

Mark Stevens is, I believe, the only blogger who’s ever made me cry. Oh, I’ve sniffled at a few posts here and there around blog-o-land, and many thanks if you’re one of the folks who’s made me reach for a tissue, but at the Unconventional Thinking blog (from the author of one of my all-time favorite books, Your Marketing S**ks), one day you’re reading between the lines, taking notes on ways to dig deeper for your business’ growth; the next day, you’re reexamining your whole. darn. life. And maybe just once, crying your doggone eyes out for a million happy and sad reasons. That’s just how Mark writes. He’s an unstoppable thought-powerhouse.

Vicki Flaugher writes SmartWomanGuides from the unique perspective of empowering female entrepreneurs at what she calls the “magic age,” when we’re ready to do what we love instead of what we’re supposed to do. Hang on, gents, because when I’m reading there I frequently forget she’s aiming at women. You’ll love her. Vicki is full of good, solid business advice from the trenches—and because she is aiming at emerging entrepreneurs, she’s always got ideas that require only your dedication, not your thinly-stretched wallet.

David Sherwin: designer, Art Director, and chief-zen-thought-leader at ChangeOrder, is one of those rare folks deep inside an industry who can see it from the outside at the same time—which is what makes ChangeOrder such a delight to read. His great empathy for fellow designers might help you to understand why the job they do is so doggone hard. His empathy for his clients—and for their customers (that’s all of us)—is what separates this from any other design blog.

Full disclosure: I happen to know that each and every one of these folks is a truly nice person. As well as being a bunch of geniuses. Thought I should let you know.

Back so soon from subscribing? Well, in case you don’t feel I’ve engaged in enough fawning (with not a drop of hyperbole, mind you), I’m off to Princeton, New Jersey tonight to be enraptured by Tony Levin (he of King Crimson fame, one incredible band I hope you didn’t miss out on back in your spirited youth) and his wildly inventive new group the Stick Men. I leave you with taste of Stick Men from a few nights ago, thanks to yankeeG in downstate New York (the vid’s a bit spotty but the song, Relentless, is heaven):

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:

To Grow Your Business You’ve Got to Get Closer. Closer…

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

 

P.S. (It’s my blog and I can go off-topic if I want to.) Was the show any good? Oh, yes. I’m still smiling. I can’t resist putting up a sketch I did, to give you a taste…

Tony Levin, Stick Men, Princeton, NJ

Tony Levin in ecstasy.

Know Thy Customer, and You Shall Know Better Paydays

And there was that poor sucker Flaubert rolling around on his floor for three days looking for the right word.
— Dorothy Parker

Dear readers and friends, crowd around. Having you join our luncheon once again makes this doubly special. Like Flaubert, I have been known to roll around on my floor for days, looking for the exact word that will draw you, dear reader, into the conversation. Unlike Flaubert, I can bring in the help of blog authors from around the globe, every week. And so I have! 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!

Do telecoms know much about the role of trust in Customer Experience? Who does? Read Trust Me—Loyalty Marketing Isn’t Hard at Hipkin’s Hip Shots. James Hipkin says keep it clear if you want to keep your customers—confusion kills trust.

“15% of the audience in a Broadway shows only attends one show in their lifetime.” But that’s not where the smart money goes, says Rebecca Goldstein in her thoughtful short piece, The Ego vs. Smart Marketer at The 150 Project.

You know I like to talk up the benefits of reaching out to your Ideal Customers for their thoughts on your product or service. Here’s a great example of the power of reaching out: Wanna Get Better? Just Ask How by Todd Schnick at The Intrepid Group blog.

This Just In: The $40,000 Coupon; Direct Mail on the Cheap by Susan Abbott at Customer Experience Crossroads. The coupon got my attention, too, but hang around for Susan’s truly “direct” mail story, from the streets of Toronto…

… where something wonderful is obviously in the air! Edder wrote about the Best Thing EV-er at I Don’t Care for Your Tone, it crossed the ocean to be discovered by Alex, blissfully curing your Someday Syndrome from sunny España, and I am so glad this story made its way back over the pond to me—because, yeah, it’s just about the best thing ev-er. Customer Experience like this is what makes a few of the Big Boys stand out, year after year, come hell or… no water.  :)

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:

Two Kinds of Confounded Expectations

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

No One Ever Makes a Plan That Says, “Let’s Tick People Off,” But It Still Happens

There are two kinds of people in the world, those who believe there are two kinds of people in the world and those who don’t.
—Robert Benchley

Dear readers and friends, crowd around. Having you join our luncheon once again makes this doubly special. If Benchley’s Law of Distinction, quoted above, says anything profound to me, it’s that there are two kinds of people in the world—those with a sharp eye for the Customer Experiences that confound us, every day, and those who can enjoy reading those sharp observations! I’ve invited new friends and old to share their delights and their disappointments 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!

You know what to expect from folks at the top of the companies you deal with, don’t you? Sure, you’ve got a picture in your head right now. In Knuckleheads and Geniuses Bob Hoffman, The Ad Contrarian, says executives confound those expectations—and if you’re dying to know whether you have what it takes to be The Big Cheese, he’ll tell you the only two qualities you must have to get to the corner office.

Let’s move from the top of the food chain to the guy who pays her salary, the Customer: Chris Brogan’s Be There for Your Customers is a powerful reminder that even Big Boys who usually hit all the right notes have to keep an eye on every aspect of the Customer Experience. Looks like this time, Apple’s a bit sour.

Andy Sernovitz shares a similar rant, BtoB vs BtoC: Don’t gouge me at work and expect me to buy at home at Damn! I Wish I’d Thought of That. It’s a very duh! reminder that I hope you don’t need for your business!

“I expected them to disappoint me. Before you give your troops the ‘exceed their expectations’ speech—why not figure out exactly what that means so you can not only give them the speech but also give them the road map on how to get it done.” A remarkable story of exceeding expectations in a very unlikely spot: What are they expecting? from Drew McLellan at Drew’s Marketing Minute.

Real Time NBA Playoff Scores Are Back at The Toad Stool by Alan Wolk. To truly deliver delight, why not meet an expectation that’s way… way out of left field? (Or perhaps I should say, left of center court?)

Apple Daycare by Max Lenderman at Experience the Message. I am a busy lady and a picky blog reader. Max’s blog is the first I’ve added to my subscriptions in forever, which probably tells you how much I love what he’s writing. This post about contrasting expectations for two companies (Apple gets their groove on here) is simple, pithy, and has an aha! kick to it. I know you’ll love his blog, too!

Also from my new fascination, Experience the Message, this charming video: My Favorite Experiential Spot. Fair warning, if you’re a parent it might induce a nostalgic sniffle. Not what I expected from a diaper company at all.

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:

Terrible Things We Do to Our Customers and Colleagues

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

Will Customer Experience Ever Be the Same?

This wasn’t just plain terrible, this was fancy terrible. This was terrible with raisins in it.
—Dorothy Parker

Dear readers and friends, crowd around. Having you join our luncheon once again makes this a terrible thrill! When Mrs. Parker hated something, thank goodness she let her friends know with her usual passion. Today at the Round Table we’re serving up dishes that would have set her wit on fire. I’ve invited new friends and old to share their fresh perspective. 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!

If you haven’t heard about Marks & Spencer’s big mistake, I commend you on staying out of the madding crowd that’s been pounding their chests in rage for the past… way too long. Well, they’re finally ready make a clean breast of it and it’s about time, because I need to nip this penchant for punning in the bud. May this excellent writeup be one of the last: Making Sure Your Brands Don’t Boob by CK at Marketing Profs Daily Fix. At last, they’re supporting the customers’ needs.

If that wasn’t bad enough (I can’t say titillating… oh, jeez, I just did), this one will knock you flat. Mars Candy Sends Women Seeking New ‘Fling’ to Porn Site. Oops! from B.L. Ochman at whatsnextblog. My favorite line, as essential for your small business as for Mars: “The Internet is not for practice, guys! It’s for all the marbles. Use your head, or lose the game.”

Were Marks or Mars looking for pointers, they’d do well to take their cues from Rich Gallagher, writing What to Say to a Porcupine at The Parature Blog. He’s got smooth advice for service when you’re delivering bad news.

“It’s called the ‘halo effect.’ It’s a cognitive bias we all have toward what we decide from the start…. The problem is that one we decide, we support our instant diagnosis by interpreting information in favor of our bias. We even work toward proving the premise.” I’m aware of it, I work hard against it, but oof! I know it still happens to me. Read Got a Halo or Horns? First Minutes Last from Liz Strauss at Successful Blog.

When you’ve decided that Internet writers are not real writers, don’t talk to Karen Swim. She’s heard it before, and she’s dying to take apart that tired old bias. “I had just been called a moronic hack who spends time on inane platforms talking to a motely bunch of idiots.” Fear not, she has her response ready. March of the Illiterati in E Flat at Words for Hire. DON’T miss the comments on this one; they really expand on the theme.

Okay, this one isn’t a terrible thing. But it is terribly odd, unless perhaps… If This Doesn’t Get Your Goat, Nothing Will at AdPulp. Come back and tell me honestly, does this enhance the Customer Experience even if you are a New Zealander?

Finally my video pick, the utterly, terribly funny Enlightened Stupid Marketer from Kevin Nalts on YouTube. Via Pharma Marketing Blog.

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:

The Contrarian Edition

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

From Every Corner of the Globe, the Views Will Surprise You!

Drawing on my fine command of the English language, I said nothing.
—Robert Benchley

Dear readers and friends, crowd around. Like Mrs. Parker’s great friend Robert Benchley, it’s my job today to say little, to let the work of some fine new friends and old stimulate conversation and mesmerize us, by looking at things from some very unexpected perspectives. 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!

“In the year 2003, I went to a presentation in Australia… Five days later, I was $10,000 poorer.” Read the enraging, engaging, uplifting story of why getting ripped off can be a good thing: The Role of Get Quick Merchants from Sean D’Souza at Psychotactics.

Is referral business a big part of your growth strategy? Ours, too, but there’s a secret about referrals that doesn’t get mentioned often enough. “Although there is a small contingent of clients who love to give referrals, most clients HATE to give referrals.” Paul McCord tells us the dark reasons why, and how to deal with it, in The Four Pillars of a Successful Referral, Part 1 at Sales and Sales Management Blog.

Glenn Ross takes on social media in Is Email Dead? Wherein I Disagree With Michael Maoz at Customer Service Experience at AllBusiness. It seems we’re all thinking about the evolution of the Internet these days, and I really like how he lays Twitter in its evolutionary place in defense of email. Who knows where it will all shake out, but Glenn says we’ll still need our email for a while.

A Little Bit of Wisdom is a little bit raw, dear reader, but oh, For the Love of Buns, I still recommend the read. Sam’s rant hit a nerve with me. “It’s this kind of lateral thinking test that I think sorts the men from the boys in a retail environment—is the place set up for the customer or the convenience of the staff?” Worth a laugh, and it’ll make you think, too.

Quick hit of the day: Tom Fishburne’s Share of Wallet at The Management Cartoonist. The post is good but the toon says it all. (Hint: We all want to be in the bottom right of our customer’s wallets. It can be done!)

The ultimate contrarian needs your help: Seth Godin, who looks at the world like no one else, is looking for a shout-out from you for a brand-new edition of The Purple Cow. Want to contribute a story? I’m getting this to you pretty late—the deadline’s tonight at midnight—but he’s only taking entries under 200 words, so hey, you’ve got plenty of time! Sit back and finish that martini before you get started!

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:

Aha! Moments, Haha! Moments, and Naked

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