If It Ain’t Broke…

Courtesy AdAge.com – Twitter is raising a massive $100 million round of funding from seven sources, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Twitter, which has already raised $55 million, has become a valuable resource for brands, both big, national ones and local ones, and can act as both a broadcast and a listening tool.
View the full article at: http://adage.com/digital/article?article_id=139265

My response (in apropos tweet format) is twofold:

What should Twitter do with $100M? http://bit.ly/F6MMX Don’t fix what ain’t broke!

Twitter is a word-of-mouth communications tool & is fine as-is. You know who needs $100M? Poor/starving/sick people. NOT TWITTER.

I realize that they are a business, and will need constant revenue. Let’s look at the basics.
First, on their website, they say, “Twitter has many appealing opportunities for generating revenue but we are holding off on implementation for now because we don’t want to distract ourselves from the more important work at hand which is to create a compelling service and great user experience for millions of people around the world. While our business model is in a research phase, we spend more money than we make.”

Compelling service? Yes, Twitter can be habit-forming. This is why celebs are tweeting about nothing (SOMETIMES IN ALL CAPS), pseudo-celebs are tweeting for stardom, marketing folk & social media gurus are tweeting about tweeting, and bored teens are tweeting horribly misspelled past lunch experiences. This is why iPhones and Blackberries mention Twitter in their 30 second ad spot. This is why businesses are creating Twitter accounts, this is why spammers are getting banned as fast as they appear, and this is why everyone thinks life is described 140 characters at a time.

This ties in with Marketing, which is pretty straightforward at the moment: Twitter (along with the various monikers of it) is a near-household name. People mock it, enjoy it, hate it, love it, but the popularity has skyrocketed.

Great customer experience? It’s a simple yet powerful platform for many types of people, so overall, yes. Except for when the Fail Whale appears.

Server/bandwith/hosting costs? Okay, that will need to be paid for. The service is currently not ad-supported, so perhaps small ads built into the web browsers could be something new, which might cover their cost on that if they cap it at 10 advertisers a year (for example). These would be prime/coveted positions, and also manage to be unobtrusive.

Employee pay? They have a small crew that seems to be productive and happy. Location, perks, benefits all seem to be good. It’s about what you’d expect from a small company, except that they have almost entirely changed the world of communication as we know it. (Hit up http://twitter.com/jobs for more info.) These guys came from Google, Blogger, Xanga, CNET, AOL, Samsung, Sony Ericsson, and more, so you know they know what’s up – and expect/deserve to be compensated accordingly.

Looking past all that, Twitter is a small business with a huge current-event megaphone, and they’re doing well, so they do need revenue to keep going. That, I understand.

But $100 million? What are they planning on doing? I honestly hope it doesn’t involve trying to fix what isn’t broken. As much as all the social media folks, marketing directors, Google Gurus and trendy people want the extra bells and whistles, do we, the Normal People, the ones who helped make it what it is, really need all that?

Just leave it alone, Twitter. It’s fine. (Except maybe you could build a little habitat for the fail whale to hang out in, because he really doesn’t need to show up quite so often.)

Question (Almost) Everything

In case you weren’t sure, the customer is always right.

The problem with that statement is that they are NOT always right, so in a world of customer service, the goal is to gently lead them towards being less wrong.

My least favorite question these days, in all honesty, is “Why is that?” No matter how it’s phrased, and almost regardless of the inflection, it allows the customer to question authority. Very rarely will a customer ask that with innocence, and 98% of the time it will put both parties on the defensive.

On infrequent occasion, a customer will be bantering along with me about some aspect of booking a room (usually for a party), and they’ll ask to do something outside our guidelines. Perhaps they’d like to have their party in our courtyard or out on the lawn. We have our reasons for only hosting parties indoors (it’s got a lot to do with being a city-owned property), but they will innocently ask: “Oh, why is that?”

It’s that tiny “oh” portion of the statement, said along with the flow of conversation, that makes things less venomous and less irritating. It’s more of an errant hair in the eye than a grain of sand. This statement can be brushed away quickly without scarring the conversation. These people genuinely want to know why we don’t do something, instead of wanting to know why we can’t make an ALLOWANCE for something.

Still, I’d rather them ask the question in a sincerely nice tone of voice (no hidden agendas, please), and then have them accept my answers, which are for the most part gladly given. I do truly enjoy helping people when they are willing to accept help. These aren’t made-up answers to get a sale; there is no commission in it for me. Technically I’m not even a salesperson.

It makes you wonder if these same folks question everyone in the same way. Why can’t they have a double dose of their regular prescription at the same price? Why can’t their auto insurance be free for six months instead of three months? Why can’t they apply the seasonal sale price to something that’s not on sale? Why can’t they just pay their rent retroactively instead of proactively?

You asked, we answered.

I do try to be patient with everyone though, because that’s how you build solid relationships – you never know what connections can come in handy down the road. No matter how frustrating someone’s accent is or how many times they ask the same question, if you’re nice, there’s a better chance of them being A) nice to you and B) getting some sweet referrals.

Unfortunately there’s always option C – they turn into a complete beast, but we try not to think about that. Have a nice day!


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