March 28, 2009

Earth Hour: Real Social Media

It was born in Sydney, Australia two years ago. Just over two million businesses and homes shut off the lights for an hour. Last year: the worldwide initiative reached over fifty million.


Today over a billion people will turn off their lights for an hour as part of a global vote to save our home – Earth.

Whenever we hear naysayers quip we can’t do it, think of today. Whenever we have to endure negative comments that cite the lack of the human collective to join hands and accomplish the impossible, think of today.

Earth Hour is social media and the medium is Earth.

From two million to over a billion in just two years. That is the power of the human spirit. That is you and that is me.

At the core of social media is our hierarchy of needs. It has absolutely nothing to do with a particular website or profile design. It has everything to do with the connection of human beings and our need to belong.

What are you doing for Earth Hour?


Website

Twitter

Flickr

MySpace

Bebo

Facebook

StumbleUpon





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March 27, 2009

Have You LinkedIn?

"The ability for individuals to build a personal brand
has never been more important."
Mitch Joel

One of the fastest growing sites this year is LinkedIn. If you’re not familiar, this is a business social networking space. Unlike Twitter, you can post your resume and tell as much of your professional story as you want. Unlike Facebook, this is a bit more serious and doesn’t have as many plug-ins and apps.

It’s no surprise that LinkedIn has grown so much lately in lieu of what is going on.

"Your mileage may vary. I will do it my way, as most folks who connect with me eventually come calling to reach someone else that Iʼve added, and I feel good every time I can be helpful."
Chris Brogan

Like Facebook, LinkedIn features thousands of groups which you can join or you can start your own. This is a way to find similar thinking people in similar industries all over the world. It can give you a way to interact with people you would have never met otherwise.

Potential clients, employers and colleagues can educate themselves on you. Clients may want to know how you portray yourself before they let you do their marketing. Someone looking to hire you may want to see what kind of network you have developed or see if there is information you haven’t shared with them.

"Have a strong signal and rise above the noise."
Liz Strauss

One caution, if you have several profiles it is easy for potential employers to access information on you from your other profiles as well. So the pictures of Frank doing a belly flop in the lake at the cottage last summer may not put you in a good light. Then again, they might depending on the client or employer!

Lately, there has been chatter about advertising on LinkedIn and various other social networking platforms. Well it's simple, they need to make money or they will go out of business.

"In the future, social networks will be like air. They will be anywhere and everywhere we need and want them to be."
Charlene Li

Quality online spaces will not survive without cash flow. The venture capitalists need to see ROI eventually. But it is dicey business when the backbone of these spaces is built on community for the purpose of community. These digital spaces are companies. Those involved want to see a profit. Their challenge is to avoid temptation to exploit the users, our challenge it to be aware of that possibility.

"Why people choose to visit online social sites: Who likes me? Is everything okay? How can I become more popular? What's new? I'm bored, let's make some noise."
Seth Godin

We have hopefully learned our lesson from the dot-com bust that it's not enough to have shiny offices and a cool logo. And if you have LinkedIn, here's hoping it has become a valuable tool for you.

Thoughts?

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photo credit: ere.net
disclosure: linkedin is not a client

March 26, 2009

Spam Scam Scram

There are more emails sent and received every day, than there are humans walking the earth.

We are officially overwhelmed by email, advertising, marketing, voice mail and gadgets. The chatter is deafening and the chances of being heard are getting tougher every day. And social media is the new petri dish for advertisers and marketers.

The attention span of hummingbirds

During one of our long phone chats about how we would change the radio industry for the better, my good friend Sean Demery asked, "What is the lottery jackpot in Toronto this week?" I said, "$10 Million". He quipped back, "And you think you are going to cut through with free concert tickets?" That was 10 years ago.

Those were the days, my friend...

If you have ever seen footage of an NHL game from the 60’s, you will notice how bare the arena looks. There are no ads on the boards, the stairs are clear of logos, it’s pure and clean. But as soon as one advertising agency, one PR expert, one savvy marketing person realized that there were ways to exploit any flat surface, that all changed.

Watch a European hockey game now and you can't see the ice or the players for all the advertising. It's gotten just a tad ridiculous. Then again, it seems to be working for NASCAR.

Shut it off..

If you decided that for just one day you were going to avoid all advertising, public relations or marketing messages, your only choice would be to sit still in a dark room with the lights off. And try not to hear thousands of those messages in your head whilst sitting in said dark room. When you emerge, someone will be hoping to catch your attention.

We are consuming (and often discarding) content and messages everywhere, all the time. Annual online advertising in estimated at $24 Billion in the U.S. and $1.6 Billion in Canada. In comparison, Obama & Co. bailed out AIG to the tune of $185 Billion. So, digital revenue streams have a way to go. Sadly, so does the clutter.

Spam vs. Conversation

If you work in marketing, advertising or public relations you have clients that want you to help them make more money. But how often are you interrupted by messages you didn’t ask for or calls from people you don’t know or flip up, pop up, drop down, auto email blasts, dancing avatars or skyscraper ads in your day?

We laugh whenever we get the Nigerian bank email or someone claims that it’s ‘no money down’, 'guaranteed' or 'a sure thing'. With the National No-Call List in effect for Canada and the U.S., telemarketers have had to look at other avenues for revenue growth.

Advertising on Twitter? Shock horror!

When I used to talk on the radio, I really had no idea who was actually listening. It’s the same with this post or any messages we send to each other. There are some great ideas and deals for us all to enjoy. Equally, there is no shortage of people who are happy to spam, scam and scram. Why do they do that? Enough people say yes to make it worth their while.

How do you cut through the noise and get your message to its intended receiver without it appearing like spam or an interruption?

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photo credit: newsday.com

March 24, 2009

Media Hacks: A Must Listen

I was trying to catch up blogs and podcasts – which is an endless battle – but one of my new favorite spots to visit is Media Hacks.

New thinking on new media from more mouths.

This is a initiative that has been formed by Mitch Joel, Christopher Penn, Hugh McGuire, Chris Brogan, Julien Smith and CC Chapman. Whenever the group gets together on the phone or in person (whist eating large sandwiches) it usually features three to six of the contributors. They add guests as well.

The Hacks discuss marketing, advertising, media, publishing, digital, entertainment, content and social networking. They talk about the real world. They talk about human behavior. And they make you feel included in the conversation.

Real Issues. Real Solutions.

Media Hacks is not another group of talking heads discussing their lofty lives on top of the digital media space. It is six bright people working hard to improve the landscape, to reflect what is going on in the conversation and offer solutions. They don't always agree, they love to make fun of each other and Julien is usually good for an f-bomb or two.

Each podcast is free for download and runs 40-50 minutes. As Christopher Penn mentions, our time is precious. Well, this is well spent.

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March 23, 2009

ROI: Manage Your Expectations

What Really Is: Return On Investment?

Traditional channels are grappling with both the economic landscape and the countless new tools available. The ones having the most difficulty are those working in industries predicated on inaccurate mass marketing metrics.

A billboard may have given some in the past the impression of success. Or at least gave them the ability to sleep soundly at night.

It's Not Enough Anymore

I worked in the radio industry for many years and depending on the market, each radio station would be rated two to four times each year. During those ratings periods, stations would clamor to yell and scream the loudest in order to get noticed enough to be written down in a ratings diary by less than 1% of the population. Then the ratings company would ‘average’ audience numbers for each market. It's even more anitquated than that, but I won't bore you with the details.

I worked at The Edge in Toronto which targets Males 18-34. Less than ten thousand people would receive ratings diaries and decipher radio tuning habits for five million. That's a sample of .002%.

It's akin to me asking you to decide what everyone will eat at a particular restaurant for an entire year. Once you accommodate vegetarians, allergies, those who don't like spicy food or any cultural biases, your only logical choice is lettuce. Boring, unseasoned, lettuce. Yummy, huh?

Think of that the next time you wonder if the station has more than ten songs or why they keep saying their name. Neither is true, but perception is reality.

More Of The Same

If you ran a music label and wanted the next Coldplay, the chances of you signing an act that is a bit out of the norm are nil. There is too much risk in that; there is no road map or guarantee. Imagine a marketing company suggesting to a client that traditional channels are not their only option? How often do you think the client will pick the ‘sleep at night’ option?

Traditional Mass Media Is Not Dead
Online Is Not The Gold Rush


Radio, television, newspaper, and outdoor advertising options remain alive and will work if used properly. What is essential to ROI is managing expectations. However, one billboard or a few dozen radio commercials will not set you up for endless success. I lost count of the number of clients that would say to me “radio doesn’t work” after a one-week campaign. At that point, you may as well take your spouse on a vacation – at least you’d have some memories and pictures to add to your Flickr account.

A four-piece reggae classical punk band, a spicy Italian meal, a company embracing Twitter, or an adventurous radio station can all work but only when mainstream guesstimates are thrown away.

Count The Receipts

If you realize spending millions on a TV spot during the Super Bowl is less effective than building a community, you are well on your way to managing expectations, return on investment and living in the real world.

What are your thoughts?

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March 20, 2009

The First Day Of Spring

In climates where there are four seasons, today is the first official day of spring. If you live in Los Angeles, that means sunny and warm. If you live in Antarctica it means snowy and cold.

But in 'moderate' parts of the world, today is a day of hope and new beginnings. Where this post is written, spring is more of a theory today but with the melting snow and imminent warmer weather that hope remains.

Here are some others' thoughts on the season:

Science has never drummed up quite as effective a tranquilizing agent as a sunny spring day.
W. Earl Hall

Spring is nature's way of saying, "Let's party!"
Robin Williams

Spring is when you feel like whistling even with a shoe full of slush.
Doug Larson

Spring makes its own statement, so loud and clear that the gardener seems to be only one of the instruments, not the composer.
Geoffrey B. Charlesworth

No matter how long the winter, spring is sure to follow.
Proverb

In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt.
Margaret Atwood

Every spring is the only spring - a perpetual astonishment.
Ellis Peters

The first day of spring is one thing, and the first spring day is another. The difference between them is sometimes as great as a month.
Henry Van Dyke

You can't see Canada across lake Erie, but you know it's there. It's the same with spring. You have to have faith, especially in Cleveland.
Paul Fleischman

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March 18, 2009

Customer Service: A Lost Art?

Sandro Panetta runs a music store. It began with his father Amedeo forty years ago. It continues to thrive today because of a strong family bond and worth ethic. Sandro works hard, his wife and kids are delightful, his parents are wonderful, and his employees adore him – or so he says ;-)

This is the kind of guy you want to support in anyway you can.

We grabbed lunch yesterday and talked about the store’s anniversary this October. He is trying to find a way to celebrate the store’s 40th. He is not a client, he is a friend.

Sandro has been working in the music store since he could walk on his own and now he runs the place with the same passion he had the first day helping his dad. We discussed one of the top attributes of his organization which has come back to him through his own customers through all these years and that is how they treat people.

Competition can help you.

This is a stand alone store competing against chains and department stores for music instruments and products. There is a successful music school as part of the business and whenever you go into the store, you are greeted with an honest smile from people who truly want to help you.

He told me the story of young kid coming in to practice on his dream guitar for weeks on end which turned into a purchase because the kid finally convinced his father to come in a buy it for him. Sandro has one mantra: help every customer and treat them with respect.

Too often the cynicism we feel toward companies stems from the words they use to describe us – consumers, viewers, users or listeners. Sandro calls anyone who comes in to his store a customer – whether they buy something or not. He says you can’t judge someone by what they are wearing or whether they will purchase a drum kit worth thousands of dollars.

This mantra has done him and his dad well for four decades.

Another story is of a guy who came into the store on three occasions for a total of about four hours to test out guitar amps. One of Sandro’s part-time employees spent as much time with this customer as he needed, answering all of his questions, making suggestions, and being patient. On his third visit, he finally bought an amp.

A couple of weeks later the customer called the store and spoke with Sandro. He told him that the service was excellent and that the guy who helped him should be commended. Later in the call, Sandro discovered that the man lived eight hours away and had been in town on an extended work trip. He could have bought the amp anywhere, but because of the exemplary service, he made the purchase in Sandro’s store. And then called to thank him.

Consumers, viewers, users or listeners are just people.

Happy 40th Anniversary to International Musicland in Ottawa. Drop by if you're in town, you'll love the big guitar on the ceiling and all the cool stuff inside. But most of all, you will discover why I think so highly of a guy named Sandro.

How important is customer service to you?

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March 16, 2009

Daylight and Money

Something interesting happens as the temperature begins to warm. In North America, the clocks have sprung forward to save daylight and in many areas the snow is melting and spring is coming soon. There seems to be a fresh optimism in the air despite the rough winter we had and the long recovery we may experience. For the most part we are essentially optimistic creatures.

David Thackston wrote: “A positive effect that Daylight Saving Time has on the economy is that it gives people the opportunity to spend more time outside of their homes in the evenings, attending sports events, shopping, and in most all cases, spending money.”


What will happen this year as we all watch our spending?

More daylight does give us time to enjoy the outdoors more, get together with friends more and perhaps use our computers less while sharing time with each other. Perhaps this will give us needed time to discuss options and ideas. It may be a lost concept, but why don't we put down the tools and talk to each other out of the confines of our walls and social media spaces.

Share Share Share

It may be radical to suggest we tweet less and share more. So, put the laptop away and enjoy some fresh air with colleagues and friends.

We need to work harder, but more importantly we need to work smarter. Perhaps we need to spend less time on trivial things and more time on solutions.



How does this affect the types of entertainment we produce, the kinds of advertising messages we send and the ways in which we communicate socially?

knealemann

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photo credits:
www.lakecarey.com ◦ www.newsimg.bbc.co.uk ◦ www.carboncatalog.org

March 13, 2009

Seth Sums It Up In 38 Words

Even the casual observer of marketing, advertising, public relations and business knows Seth Godin. His daily blog – which just surpassed post number 3,000 is the #1 marketing blog in the world.

His best selling books include: Tribes: We Need You To Lead Us, Purple Cow, Meatball Sundae, The Dip, Small Is The New Big, All Marketers Are Liars, Free Prize Inside, The Big Red Fez, Survival Is Not Enough, and Permission Marketing.

Seth is real, he tells it straight, and he shares constantly. And today he wrote a blog that was 38 words and that’s all he needed.

Seth wrote
The closer you get to someone, something, some brand, some organization, the harder it is to demonize it, objectify it or hate it. So, if you want to not be hated, open up. Let people in. Engage. Interact.


It has inspired many who do this on a regular basis to shorten the message and get to the point.

So I will today...

Share often. Build relationships. Stop selling. Ask questions. Wait for the answers. Listen more. Empathize. Solve don’t tell.

What are your words?

@knealemann

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TED2003

March 12, 2009

People Are People

I got an email yesterday from someone who had sifted through previous posts here and found one I did last May about taking the social media experience to the human level. It was inspired by CC Chapman who suggested that once you establish a new relationship perhaps you should just grab coffee and get to know someone better. That is the essence of all this online chatter.

Tools vs. Humans

We have websites and profiles, friendfeeds and tweets, followers and connections, microblogs and status updates; but those are simply the ways in which we reach each other.

Mitch Joel suggests that Twitter may become the next Google. Jeff Pulver thinks that it will be sold to Microsoft or Google in the next 18 months for $2-4 Billion. All could be true, all could be irrelevant. Those are tools and without the human element, we’re right back to the dot com bust.

We Are The Change

The point is we are the ones creating change; we are the ones connecting with each other across different industries from far off locations. Mitch and I had lost touch for 15 years and frankly he’s the one who pushed me in the deep end in the first place. Then he walked away to let me figure it out. Glad he did.

The Web of Social Connections

From geek dinners to podcamps, blog comments to phone calls, tweetups to webinars, the world really is a lot friendlier and a lot smaller than you think.

We all have the opportunity to gain new connections, contacts, colleagues, friends and perspective. There may be a dimension missing from some business plans and that is a better understanding of human behavior. And most of all it means we are just people trying to figure it all out and if we share more often we can help each other do just that.

Whether you meet someone in a coffee shop or through contacts in a social networking site, it’s up to you how much you want to pitch in. If you do, you’ll be pleasantly surprised how much we will appreciate it. #followfriday

@knealemann

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March 11, 2009

Make It About Them

Train vs. Plane

I love travelling by train and VIA Rail Canada is great. There are no body cavity checks, blood tests or shoe removal exercises, the service is friendly, your fellow passengers don’t seem as stressed and the train leaves on time!

For short hops – say, a one hour flight – by the time you get to the airport an hour or two ahead of time, wait for the delays, stand in line, go through security, stand in line, wait, stand in line, get on the plane, wait, taxi to the runway, wait, taxi on the runway, fly, land, taxi again, wait, get off the plane, walk through the airport and get to your ground transportation – the train can actually get you there faster.

Sorry To Interrupt

While on the train a couple of weeks ago, enjoying a nice cup of coffee and reading a book; my consciousness was shattered by this delightful phrase. “Can you fill this out for VIA?” Not ‘can we have your opinion’ or ‘sorry to bother you sir, would you have time to let us know how better to serve you’. Nope. They wanted me to put down my book, grasp the complimentary golf pencil and fill out a two-sided, double gate fold cardboard document the size of my laptop. I don’t think so.

Before I could engage with my interrupter, she had vanished into the next car. I then opened this manuscript and began to scan its contents. This behemoth came with 56 questions! I was on a four hour train ride and this thing would have taken me an hour to fill-out. Which begs the question: Who would?

What Do You Think?

While we grapple with metrics and ROI one thing has never changed – keep it simple. If you are thinking of conducting research, conduct on yourself first. Ask yourself the hard question: Would I actually participate in this? Would I actually sit on my delightful train ride and put aside work or a good book to fill out this 56 question investigative research piece? Really?

In order to think like your customers, you need to be your customers. To insure you get accurate feedback you need to engage rather than interrupt.

How do you ask your customers and clients for their opinion?

@knealemann

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March 9, 2009

Get Board. Get Broke. Get Creative.

Charles Brace Darrow
1889–1967


A heater salesman who lost his job during the Great Depression, Darrow is known for introducing the world to the board game Monopoly. For years there was dispute over who was the actual inventor.

Darrow sold the concept to Parker Brothers. It was an evolution from The Landlord's Game which was invented by Elizabeth Magie Phillips. Credit should also go to Charles Todd who introduced the game to Darrow.

Monopoly is one of the most popular board games in history and it was launched during one of the worst economic times ever.

If necessity is the mother of invention, perhaps it’s time we got resourceful.

Maybe we turn off the news and focus on solutions. It makes you wonder what ideas may be brewing right now that will emerge from this time.

What are you working on?
What have you always wanted to try?


@knealemann

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March 6, 2009

Social Media Expert: Fact or Fiction?

The trouble with experience is the final exam comes before the lesson.
Author Unknown

As the world changes – because it always does – and we all get much too distracted by bad news and unfocused on trivial minutiae, there is a quite a bit of chatter about the value of social media.

You'd swear someone just poured blood in the pool and the sharks are hungry.

We have been building relationships, communicating, gathering in groups and satisfying our need to belong since the days of clubs and caves. And this is not a human thing, I’m sure the animal kingdom has their version of Twitter.

Good judgment comes from experience.
Experience comes from bad judgment.

Rita Mae Brown

As soon as you call yourself an expert, you run the risk of telling others you have learned all there is to know about a topic. The word 'expert' is misused more than the word 'irony'.

I hope my mechanic knows how to fix my car but I'd like to hope he is always learning about new and better techniques. Whenever you hear about a new wonder pill (the one with more side effects and warnings than benefits) there is always the requisite "call your doctor" mention. So, your doctor better stay on top of this stuff in case you ask her about it.

No one is a social media expert.

I worked in the radio industry for many years, had the amazing privilege of overseeing the launch of radio stations, made countless friends and built lifelong relationships. Does that make me a radio expert? Absolutely not. You may have never stepped inside a radio station, so I may know more about how they operate than you. So what, it means nothing.

Experience is the name everyone gives to his mistakes.
Oscar Wilde

We are all experts and we are all learning.

It matters not whether you have a PhD in Finance or a Masters in English, if you cannot share knowledge and information so others can learn and share with you – letters and degrees and experience means nothing.

Education is when you read the fine print.
Experience is what you get when you don't.

Pete Seeger

Where social media becomes a stumbling block for many people is when they treat it like another advertising medium – that is suicide. I was speaking with a colleague recently about social media and after an hour of explanation he said those five infamous words – “I know what I’m doing”. He then sealed the deal with seven more - "It worked for me in the past."

The world is your school.
Martin H. Fischer

He is looking for a social media expert to guarantee success. This is a horrible time to challenge ROI and metrics though many are attempting to do that. If you attempt to weigh an elephant with a produce scale, the chances of getting an accurate reading are remote - okay, impossible.

If you can guarantee your customers absolute success, buy a money printing machine and send us a postcard.

Everything has been said before, but since nobody listens we have to keep going back and beginning all over again.
Andre Gide 1891

Social media is not the golden bullet to save us from the abyss. But it is for real and it is here to stay. It will continue to evolve but at the core is our human need to build relationships.

Then again, that’s just my opinion. I’m no expert on the topic.

What are your thoughts?

@knealemann

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March 4, 2009

Nomenclature: Important or Random?

How important is your name?

It is your calling card, the first thing you tell people, the way you are identified to others. It’s the word you say after “Hi, my name is”. Barack Obama is certainly not a common name, but is now the most well known name in the world.

The Asteroid Field of Information

We live in a time when we are blasted with thousands of tiny pieces of content every day. The human mind can digest a lot of data but none can process all that is fired at it on a daily basis. We must be selective and in that we need to quickly toss stuff aside so we may keep looking for the valuable information.

How many people (perhaps even you) say “I am terrible at remembering names”? But we expect instant recall in a world of endless messages and chatter.

What Is Your Company Called?

Twitter, Netflix, Google, Napster and thousands of others have flown in the face of traditional wisdom. The first time I heard of Facebook, I thought it was a photo sharing site. Google was simply silly, but the name stuck right away. You have examples too.

Surprise Broca

Paul Pierre Broca was a French physician who discovered an area of the brain that produces language and speech. It has since been known as Broca’s Area. Think of this as the gatekeeper to information and cognitive ability. Broca’s Area likes routine and mathematical certainty.

If I said “chocolate bar”, your brain instantaneously computes those words and instantly conjures up an image. But if I said “chocolate lawnmower” you would have to stop and think about that because it makes no sense. Broca doesn’t understand that, there is no previous example to drawn upon.

So in the case of naming things, we need to find the fine line between making Broca happy and creating an event so Broca can place something memorable into the database.

Don’t Get Too Cute

I posed a simple question on Twitter yesterday:

“When naming a new company, what is more important: cleverness or functionality? Or both?”

Here are some responses:

@CurtMonash When naming a company, convenient brandability beats all. "Vertica" means more than "Greenplum" or "Netezza" -- but so what?
@sparklytosingle i'm going to go with memorability as most important aspect of naming a company.
@krigeren the name should be memorable and tie into the products while reflecting the mission statement and that it's unique. Google and yahoo really set the standard for naming conventions. Since then almost anything goes. Catchy is key.
@arpixmedia something easy to spell
@ronjon Memorable and whether the URL is available :)
@kcarpentier77 Make the name memorable and catchy without losing sight of professionalism.
@phillipscott It's got to be easy to identify - either by being unique or clever
@geekgiant It's a mix of domain availability and it having a story.

What’s Her Name?

I was speaking with someone over the weekend who is expecting her first child in June. The two big questions that are always asked came quickly: “Do you know if the baby is a boy or a girl?” and “Have you chosen a name?”

The naming process is stressful because it’s something that lasts for the rest of the kid’s life. Ask anyone who's named Adolf or Sunshine. If you’ve been faced with the same dilemma, you know the feeling.

Find The Balance

Perhaps a cop out but maybe it’s best to keep balance in mind when you pick names for babies and companies and projects? But it’s still important to be able to understand why you chose it. If it’s for fun, that’s cool. If it’s because it’s your grandfather’s middle name, that’s okay too.

There are numerous companies that specialize in choosing names, but it appears that science and logic may not always play out the way we expect.

How important is a name?

@knealemann

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www.usa.gov

March 3, 2009

Fine Print And Full Disclosure

Are you honest with your customers? Really?

Saturday was met with a cool chilling breeze. The mind doesn’t always comprehend things properly mere moments after lifting from a deep slumber. It was February and the furnace was broken.

Stumble and Bundle

My first move was to play the part of furnace repairman. This consisted of turning a couple of switches on and off, a breaker back and forth, removal of the furnace panel door, a look inside to a collection of wires and switches and a motor, re-installation of said panel door and a call to furnace repair weekend helpline.

The guy on the line was friendly, he told me that service calls on Saturdays were $150/hour plus parts but if I could wait until Monday that drops down to a paltry $98/hour. He gave me a couple of things to try, none worked so a Monday appointment was booked.

How Much You Got?

He arrived Monday to discover a doohickey needed replacing and the thingamajig on the other thing was corroded. The furnace was fixed, that is all I cared about.

He then disappeared outside into his truck to calculate the bill. Fifteen minutes later he came back and the amount at the bottom of the page was $212.82 which included one hour fifteen minutes labor, $80 in parts, and tax. Hang on, one hour and fifteen minutes?!?

Clock Keeps Ticking

I paid $98/hour from the second he left his last repair to the moment he handed me the bill. Yes, that’s $98/hour to have him sit in his truck and tally the damage. That’s ninety-eight bucks an hour for him to drive from his last repair, grab a coffee or lunch or something on his way and then fix my furnace. And the kicker, I have no way of proving how long it took him between stops so I pay some imaginary trip fee. Not the point, it's a rip off.

This is clearly a company policy they don’t go out of their way to state ahead of time. My mechanic charges less per hour and doesn't ding me for his trip to work as well. I'm happy my furnace is working but I just spent about a hundred bucks for him to sit in his truck. That’s quite a scam!

Your Choices Are Few

In the case of doctors, dentists and I guess furnace repairmen; there isn’t much choice in the service charges you have to pay.

Companies are doing this every single minute of every single day, but perhaps that is how you can differentiate yourself? Actually be honest with your customers, actually be accountable and actually deliver great service to them. It may be worth a shot.

Caveat Emptor

Ask a lot of questions and run the other way if it feels like a scam. We all want great service, but few of us expect it. And even fewer of us do anything about bad service.

As a customer, how important is customer service to you?
As a provider, how important is it to your customers?


@knealemann

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