Customers Are Not Assholes

I’m having lunch with a good friend of mine and we’re discussing Intercom.

I put it to him that the publisher he works for could use Intercom to transform how they interact with readers.

“Sure why would we do that”, he replied, “We do our best to keep our readers at bay. Large companies make it hard to contact them for a reason. Most people are assholes.”

“It doesn’t have to be like that”, I rankled.

One of my core tenets is no ‘do not reply’ emails.

Every email out has to come from a real person and customers have to be able to reply.

At Gigstarter I deal with most of the replies myself and love it. In real time I get to see which bits of our flow are tripping people up.

People love personal responses.

You feel their mood lighten straight away.

People email in expecting to be fobbed off.

A quick response from a real person explaining what will happen and when lightens the tone.

I get a real kick of out solving problems for people.

One of our tours involved David Gray playing in London during a tube strike. We gave refunds to those who mailed us early and resold their tickets. Some we had to turn down but we explained it was because they emailed us too late. We had no major meltdowns at all. No one freaked out. The gigs went ahead and were full despite the tube strike.

I know what you’re thinking.

This type of customer support isn’t scalable.

I don’t agree and Intercom is one of the main reasons why, but they are not alone.

Slack’s use of humour has given their automation oodles of personality.

Slackbot has shown it’s possible to automate routine elements of customer service.

Ryanair’s realisation that being nice is profitable is a huge validation for making business personal.

The faceless aura that large web companies initially built up is being chipped away.

They realise they need to wrap human stories around what they do.

Slack chief Stewart Butterfield is my favourite of a new breed who tell it like it is with no fluff.

The golden age of spin died ended with Peter Mandelson et al.

Transparency and trust are the future tools.

There are no assholes to keep at bay, just people who have been gracious enough to become your customers.

Even Michael O’Leary now knows that.

My publisher friend remains unconvinced, but we’ll give him time.