Should All Customers Be Treated Equally?

Photo cred: saxarocks

I had an poor experience with a printing service recently.  After speaking to their customer service, I was still very unhappy.

Nutshell: They said there was nothing that they could do, and if I wanted to cancel my order, I’d have to pay a cancellation fee.

Being very frustrated, I tweeted a complaint about my poor experience with the company (not something I’m necessarily proud of, but that’s for another post).

After doing so, I was contacted on twitter by someone who asked me to email them.

So I did… and they went above and beyond to provide the best possible customer service they realistically could.  They were very respectful, explained the situation, and offered to waive the cancellation fee.  They even offered a discount on my next order.

Now how could you go from not being able to do anything, and even punishing me with a fee, to giving me everything I asked for and more?!

Many “experts” advise companies to approach every community differently based on their needs.  I’m going to go ahead and say that when it comes to customer service, treat every community and customer equally, regardless of their influence.

What do you make of this?  Should companies provide better service for some communities over others?

Take it further…if a customer is a brand evangelist of yours, should you provide them with more benefits?  I’ve always thought it a good idea to take care of your most loyal customers, but is it worth the risk of alienating your average customer?

DEBATE: Don’t Hire a Social Media Intern


If you’re relying on an intern to lead your social media strategy, you’re crazy.  I don’t care how small your business is.  You’re better off not doing it at all than bringing in an intern to handle your social media presence.  Here’s why:

1. Internships are short term. Building a presence online takes time.  You have to build relationships, slowly but effectively.  Your intern cannot build a social media presence, in the 3 months that they’re with your company.

2. Interns don’t identify with your brand. They view it as a stepping stone.  You want the person that’s representing you online to be passionate about your brand.

3. Interns won’t be available beyond 9-5. Have a crisis? Don’t count on calling your intern at 9pm and having them jump online to handle the social media backlash.  With your social media presence in the hands of your intern, your brand will only be present from 9-5.

4. Interns aren’t as accountable. If a full-time employee makes a big mistake online, they have to worry about losing their job.  Losing an internship? Not as big of a deal.

The debate is open.  Should companies hire social media interns?  What if they’re not responsible for the entire social media presence, but they’re managed by a full time social media manager.  Good idea then?  What responsibilities should you give them?

Mentor Monday: The Wrong Way to Mentorship

Photo cred: Miles Tsang
Photo cred: Miles Tsang

Having a mentor is a privilege.  It should not be taken advantage of.

If you want to build a healthy mentorship, here are some things you SHOULDN’T do:

1. Do not approach someone to be your mentor with a one sided agenda.

Some mentors may not expect anything in return for their advice but that’s not something you should assume.  Some of the best mentorships are ones where the mentee helps out their mentor as an assistant, or helping hand of sorts. Take Sarah Merion and Lewis Howes as a perfect example of a mutually beneficial mentorship.

2. Do not set unreasonable expectations.

Your mentor has a job and their own life.  You can’t always rely on them to be there to help you at the drop of a hat.  They’re a great resource but do not become reliant on them.  Learn to walk on your own two legs.

3. Do not ask your mentor to do work for you.

This should go without saying.  Your mentor can provide support, answers and lessons.  They cannot do your work for you.

4. Do not contact your mentor only when you need help.

One of the toughest things about maintaining a healthy mentorship is staying in touch on a regular basis.  It can become an issue when the only time you reach out to your mentor is when you need something.  While asking for advice or help might be the main interaction you have with your mentor, you should try to communicate on a personal level as well.  Have an occasional friendly chat, or to tie in to number 2, ask how you can help them once in a while.

5. Do not force it. A mentorship has to be the right fit.  You may want someone to be your mentor, but if it’s not meant to be, it’s not going to work.  Find a professional that you can relate to on a professional, and personal level.

View all mentor monday posts.

Are you Afraid of Competition?

Photo cred: Stuart Barr
Photo cred: Stuart Barr

You may not know it, but I am a very competitive person…always have been. Between my parents always pushing me to be better, and playing every sport I could, the competitive spirit became instilled in me.

Competition is a good thing as long as you keep it within reason and you keep it respectful.

Many place a lot of focus on collaboration. Consistently help others and it will pay off in the long run.

This positive mentality is a great one but are we afraid to challenge each other? Afraid to challenge ourselves?

When someone launches a new product, do you just say “wow what a great job!” or do you think about how it could be done better? While the former will make the person feel better, the latter will contribute to the growth of the the idea.

Of course, like everything else, you have to find that middle ground. You don’t want to be overly competitive and you don’t want to put too much focus on collaboration.

You can collaborate, communicate and be respectful while being competitive.

I think we all have the competitive aspect in us. Some just refuse to admit it. When you see someone accomplish goals that are similar to goals you’ve set for yourself, you probably get a little jealous. You probably want to enjoy the same accomplishments. You probably feel competitive.

Embrace your competitive side. Competition provides motivation. It pushes you to become better. It pushes others to become better.

…and if someone gives you a hard time for being respectfully competitive, they don’t want you to succeed.

NEW: The u30pro Digest


#u30pro is a weekly twitter chat (Thursdays at 7pm est) started by Lauren Fernandez and David Spinks that covers topics and issues facing young professionals.

We started the chat at the end of August.  It’s been truly amazing so far and hearing how much everyone enjoys the chats really makes us love hosting them that much more.

We love the idea that young professionals can
have a place to discuss issues that they’re facing, and that we can bring in more experienced professionals to shed some light from the other end of the spectrum.

We’d like to continue to build out the chat and grow the community that is forming around it.  So we decided to launch the u30pro digest!

Once you subscribe, every week we’ll send out a digest of the best blog posts from young professionals in the #u30pro community.  We will also feature a U30 Pro.  You can sign up using the form below.

To subscribe CLICK here.

This is very much a work in progress as we are looking to make u30pro as valuable as possible.  We will continue to build out the chat, this weekly digest, and stay tuned for more updates!

If you’d like to submit blogs to be considered for inclusion in the weekly digest, you can comment here, email it to u30pro [at] gmail [dot] com or DM it on twitter to @u30pro.

The Long Tail Approach to Blog Outreach

Photo cred: Rob!
Photo cred: Rob!

The Long Tail is a concept that is used for a number of business practices.  In sales, wikipedia defines it as “selling small volumes of hard-to-find items to many customers, instead of only selling large volumes of a reduced number of popular items.”

When you have to reach out to bloggers, your first thought might be to search for the top bloggers in the category, and reach out to the “A-list”, hoping to hit it big.

The problem with this method is that so many others think the same thing.  This means that the bloggers you’re reaching out to have been contacted by countless others looking for the same thing and you get lost in the noise.

Instead of reaching out to a few of the “A-listers”, try reaching out to more bloggers that aren’t considered the top of their class, but have still built up a strong community of readers.  Look for the bloggers that will have the time to read your email, and write a post about your cause or message.

  1. You’ll get more content written about you.
  2. The content might be of better quality, as they’ll have more time to commit.
  3. If enough “B-list” bloggers write about you, an “A-lister” may find out about you anyway.
  4. A smaller blog might have a much tighter community, with more trust… which translates to more trust in your brand since they’re writing about you.
  5. You’ll be able to target niche audiences.

That’s not to say you should completely ignore any mainstream publications/”A-list” bloggers however it certainly shouldn’t be your only focus.

Hat tip to Arik Hanson for inspiring this post.