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Why the consumer-business relationship has changed forever, and what it means for all of us

This is probably the most important video Gary Vaynerchuk has ever made, and coming from a self-professed GaryVee fanboy like me, that’s saying something! ;)

Gary’s brilliant book Thank You Economy nailed this trend back when he wrote it in late 2010/early 2011, but this video crystalizes how important customer service will be in 2012 and beyond thanks to Social Media. Watch:

The Thank You Economy vs. The F-You Economy

I recently got a letter from Ameriprise Auto & Home Insurance that, to my understanding, essentially said my wife and I that we were no longer good for business, and that if we had to file another claim the company was going to dump us.

Of course, the only reason we were even notified, the company explained in the letter, was that state law requires them to tell a customer about something like this ahead of time.

So I’m a lame (insurance) duck. One more claim, and goodbye. Over the past year we’d had a couple of small auto claims and a personal property (wedding ring repair) claim, and I guess enough was enough for Ameriprise.

What irks me is that after years of faithfully pumping our hard-earned money into that company’s coffers and never missing a payment, I am reminded that loyalty means nothing when I actually have to use the auto/home insurance I’m paying for.

All those flowery marketing materials they send us are crap.

So why do companies like Ameriprise Auto & Home Insurance keep pretending? Why do they insult their customers like this?

And why do health insurance companies continue to waste millions on billboards and feel-good commercials and marketing campaigns when the reality is you’re only a “good” customer for them if you never need to use their product?

The dissonance here bothers me. In a Thank You Economy, I want to feel valued/important as a customer. I want to feel like the company I give my business to has my back. That they (to quote this guy) actually give a crap about me.

What I don’t want is a “Dear John” Letter that says, “We’ll be happy to keep taking your money every month, but if you actually need us in a pinch, we’re going to dump you as fast as possible.”

That’s what I call operating in The F-You Economy.

I get that insurance companies don’t make a profit if customers are constantly filing expensive claims. Fine. But do us all a favor. Market yourselves honestly. Tell customers the truth up front about how this deal will work.

To do otherwise is to insult us, deceive us and construct a false relationship. I’m no expert, but to me that doesn’t sound like a sound way to run your business.

How to deal with angry Facebook fans – what I learned (painfully) during the biggest nursing strike in U.S. history

Social Media Examiner recently put up an extremely helpful post filled with great tips and real-life examples on how to deal successfully with angry Facebook fans.

It was so good I e-mailed it to all my current bosses. It also reminded me of a painful lesson I learned during the summer of 2010.

The biggest nursing strike in U.S. history – an emotional, months-long affair with more drama than an episode of “Friday Night Lights” – had ended stunningly and suddenly with an 11th hour, last-minute agreement that many viewed as highly controversial.

I’d spent the entire campaign building our Social Media presence to the point where even the mainstream media would go to our Facebook page first for breaking news and reaction, and yet at our most critical moment I was told I had to go dark.

The decision was made in the vortex of what had become a stress tsunami for our organization, trying to keep up with what had become an international news story. In times of great pressure and stress, I think people tend to revert to what’s familiar. What was (and is) familiar for many Labor Unions (and other organizations, for that matter) is to close the ranks, put on a united front and try to control the flow of information.

The only problem was that by the summer of 2010 this was no longer possible due to Social Media. Those options simply didn’t exist anymore.

But we hunkered down and went silent on Facebook anyway. We didn’t respond to critical comments or cries for a detailed explanation of why nurse leaders did what they did in accepting the agreement. You can imagine what happened next.

The results were a disaster. Our fans lit us up on Facebook, and they had every right to. We’d spent months listening to and engaging them. And then, all of a sudden, we went silent when they needed our voice the most.

Looking back, even if I couldn’t have gone into great detail explaining why things ended the way they did, some type of response would have been better than nothing. At least acknowledging our critics and their concerns, explaining as best I could why I couldn’t get into the nitty-gritty details on a public forum like a Facebook fan page, and then giving our fans some options/advice on how to find our more information off-line.

Certainly that’s what I’m going to do the next time around.

Have you ever had a similar experience? Any other advice/tips/strategy you’d suggest?

Shock and Awe: Why this type of customer service is going to be the norm sooner rather than later

Gary Vaynerchuk nails it yet again by citing another recent example of The Thank You Economy in action. I love how he compares what we are seeing now in this example with Morton’s to the concept of Free Shipping in the late 1990s vs. 2011.


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