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Monthly Archives: December 2008

When I was a kid, my parents would sometimes say “Do as I say, not as I do”.  As a child, I did not really fully understand what they meant by that, I just thought it was one of the many things they would say to me when I was doing something that they did not like (conversely, it was usually something that I liked).  Now that I am a parent, I have found myself on occasion, saying this exact same thing to my children (Okay, if not saying it, definitely thinking it).

So then, if we are defined by our actions, then why would we not lead by example? Is it fair of us to tell our children to behave a certain way if we, ourselves, cannot do the same?  How can we expect our children to grow up to be responsible citizens of society if we are not setting a good example?  In a world where we get sound bites here, two second video clips there, we are forced to make quick first impression judgments of people and things.  Those first impressions are usually lasting impressions and if all someone has to go on for you is an action that was less than desirable, how are they supposed to think of you?

I, for one, want to be defined by good and just actions.  I want to do what is right, not just for me, but for everyone around me.  I want to strive to be a better person, a better spouse, a better parent, a better friend.  My actions (and to a degree my words) shape who I am and how the world sees me.  Do I want to be painted in a bad light?  The simple answer is no, but there are times I am sure in which a bad shadow may be cast upon me, and I am to blame for that.  After all, it would have been my actions that caused it.

I cannot change the past; what is, is.  I do possess the power (as does everyone else) to change the future, to do just and right things so that when someone thinks of you and how you are defined, you know that your actions have defined you in the light that you want.  It is something that we can all work on, strive for something better.

There is no better time than the present to get started.

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And you will feed him for a day.  Teach a man to fish and you will feed him for a lifetime.  It is an interesting and very true statement.  If someone knows how to do something and does it correctly, they will be content for a lifetime (or some long duration of time).  I think the same sort of analogy could be drawn in terms of customer service and community interaction.

How many times has this happened to you.  You had a question or concern about a particular product or service (whether it be a tangible product or an online product) and you did what most consumers do, you sent an e-mail or placed a call.  If you placed a call, chances are you got someone on the other end of the line, but I am guessing that you may have walked away with a bit of a bad taste in your mouth.  If you sent an e-mail, at best you received a canned response back that may or may not have addressed your concern.  Why is it that when your audience and community can make or break your success, do so many companies treat customer service / community engagement as an afterthought?

Of course, there are companies out there that go above and beyond the call of duty as it pertains to customer service / community engagement, but they are certainly the exceptions and not the norms.  There is a company that does come to mind that handles both very well, that is Zappos.com.  I have purchased several pairs of shoes from them, and their customer service is top notch.  They have been lauded as the poster child for good customer service and they are now even offering consulting services to other companies on how to properly run your customer service / community engagement.

One of the things we do here at Mixx is to be very engaged with your community members.  From following our Twitter stream and responding back to users to personally addressing concerns they have via e-mail, phone, etc.  Bottom line is that we take the time to engage with our community.  Each time someone has a question or a concern is an opportunity for you to better sell your product to them, to keep them happy, to keep them engaged.  Answer their question and treat them the way that you would wanted to be treated, and you have a happy customer.  A happy customer that will most likely tell 100 friends and family members how wonderful your company and product are.  Treat him / her poorly, he  she is most likely to tell 1000 + people how awful you are and to never use your product or service.

The opportunity is there every time a customer reaches out to you, what you do with that opportunity is up to you.

Because Mommy and Daddy are mad.  I do not know about you, but I remember this song from my childhood, but I am not sure I ever “really” believed it, at least not while I still believed in Santa Clause.  I mean, Santa sees you when you are sleeping, he knows when you are awake.  He knows if you’ve been bad or good, so why does it matter if mommy or daddy are mad?

Of course once I was old enough to know better about Santa, perhaps I did start caring about Mom and Dad being mad (or maybe not).  Why was it always about what I was getting or not getting based on my behavior?  Is that what Christmas is supposed to be about?  Should I not have been more concerned with giving than receiving?  It should not have always been about me.  Or is it supposed to be about the mass commercialization that our society has placed on the holiday?  I mean come on, putting up Christmas decorations before Thanksgiving, or even worse, selling Christmas trees and lights right after Halloween?  For crying out loud, that is almost a full two months before the big day.

Every year it seems like I see more and more Christmas related ads, commercials, etc. earlier and earlier.  Why is this happening?  Has the holiday just become another marketing opportunity for the capitalist machine?  Christmas has many meanings to many people, from celebrating the birth of Jesus (even though historical facts point to his birth not being anywhere near December 25th, we can thank the Pagan winter solstice celebration for this day), to a time to give to the less fortunate, to a time to spend with loved ones.  Whatever the meaning, it seems to me that it is getting lost somewhat in the commercialization of the holiday.  Is it too much to ask to tone things back a bit?  Is it too much to ask that we care a little more about giving than receiving?

I want the old days back, I want to bring back the Christmas of yesteryear, or at least the one that I have locked away in my memory.  Although, that means I will have to go back to worrying about Mommy and Daddy being made or even worse, Santa will be watching my every move.  There is a strong to quite strong chance that I am much more naughty (as in not being nice) than nice in my older years 🙂

There once was a guy who ran a web site in his spare time (after all, he was a college student who had far more important things to do, like consume alcohol).  He decided that the time had come to get rid of the web site, so he did what any entrepreneur would do, he tried to sell it.  He did not wind up selling it, but parlayed it into an internship with a company.  I worked at that company.

He packed his bags and headed south for the summer, it would be a great adventure.  He showed up for his first day, went to orientation.  As luck would have it, he was to work on a project that I was in charge of.  I picked him up from orientation.  We talked.  And we talked some more and so began the dance of a new friendship, asking questions, figuring out one another.  We worked and we worked some more.  Spent everyday working together.  We became friendlier, opening up more and more everyday, giving a glimpse into our personal lives and what made us tick.  We would go to lunch together and chat.  Chat about anything and everything, from politics to religion.  He was an interesting and intriguing person, his life was like an onion, exposing more and more after each layer.  I had so much to learn.

Before we knew it, the summer had almost come to an end.  We had become close, I felt as if I had not only gained a friend, but something inside of me made me feel like I had a “surrogate” brother.  Decisions were to be made.  Go back to school or stay on.  Something unexpected happened.  That changed everything.  The ensuing weeks were a whirlwind to say the least.  He went back home, then back to school.  I thought about him often.  Was he OK?  Would he make it through.  We kept in touch, albeit from a distance.

A few months later he was headed back down to Northern Virginia to take another job for another company.  I worked for that company.  It was old times once again.  Something was different, he was different.  Not different in a bad way, just different.  He had matured, how one his age could be so composed and mature was beyond me.  He had lived a full live in his short 21 years.  I had so much to learn.

It was if we had picked up where we left off.  He shared views and opinions and facts that I was not aware of, he challenged the way that I looked at things.  I wanted to be better.  I wanted to expand my horizons.  I wanted to learn more.  Things change.  People move on.  It was time for him to make a change, he got a job and moved west.  It was for the best, he needed to do this.  It was his calling.  As a friend, I wanted nothing more than the best for him.  Selfishly, I wanted him to stay.  I had so much more to learn.

The moral of the story is this:  open your eyes to that which you cannot see.  Experience that which others experience.  You will be amazed at what you can learn.  Life is not a box, but it sometimes can be.  Get outside of it once in awhile, you will be astounded at what you might find.  I found different views.  I found different opinions.  I was challenged.  I learned.  Most of all, I found a friend.

Thank you.