Posts tagged “contempt”

The Dog Days Are Over

Warning, Portland, OR, December 2010

Last week I stopped at a Safeway store in Portland, OR. On my way to the bathroom, I passed through a backstage area with the various HR notices, schedules, and so on. And then, I see this sign, depicting a crazy-eyed dog, and the exhortation: Warning – A customer who wants a sample looks like this. Don’t Forget The Selling Suggestion.

I’m astounded that Safeway would put this sign where customers can see it. I would hope that companies wouldn’t be using anti-customer imagery as motivational posters, but if they are, I would expect that they wouldn’t put it where customers can see it.

Really, Safeway? You think so little of us that you don’t even care if we know how little you think of us?


In my recent column Persona Non Grata I point to some of the cultural problems inside organizations that personas can create, or mask. And what happens when your personas become your marketing?

We’ve recently been experimenting with search marketing on Yahoo, MSFT, and Google. Today I received a shiny booklet from Yahoo, with a note from Sharon Goodsense, Yahoo! Search Marketing Specialist (“and remember, we’re always here to help you.”)

And I’m referred to as Bashful Beginner.

Yahoo’s search marketing management interface is so completely useless that all I ever do is click and click and click until I get some result; with no mental model being built that would help me next time. I have no idea what most of the information they are providing is about or how I can use it. So maybe this book will help me, but the first two pages are the most patronizing and fake thing I can imagine. I can’t believe they went to the trouble to come up with these fake characters to represent the company I’m doing business with; it’s offensive to take my money for a service, give me an unusable product, and then hand me a cartoon character who talks down to me; if I can’t call this person for help with my problems, because they don’t exist. It’s the least transparent thing a company should do. Yahoo got off the cluetrain a while ago, I guess.

37 Signals responds

37Signals responds to my earlier posting (about their mocking of customer feedback on their blog). I’m resposting it here.

I’m the author of the post at Signal vs. Noise.

We didn’t ridicule/mock our customers with this post nor did we intend to. We used our customers own words. We quoted directly. If you feel that quoting someone directly is equivalent to mocking them…well, we disagree.

This is disingenuous. As one example (and there are millions), go watch The Daily Show – it makes extensive use of direct quotes, but the mocking is quite evident. What is said before and after, and what pieces are chosen are highly editorial decisions that convey a point of view. Don’t you know this?

Fwiw, we don’t think the requests were stupid and we do value customer feedback. We showed theses comments so people can see the different realities that exist for individual customers vs. companies vs. the customer base as a whole.

Why share this info at all? The truth is these sorts of conversations are happening all the time in companies all over. Is it better that they be hidden from the public or is it better to have an open, honest dialogue about them?

Why the forced choice question? There are more than two options. For example, the option you guys chose. That wasn’t an “open, honest dialogue” by any means. Why not invite those individuals to participate, let alone consent, if you want such a dialogue?

appalled, indeed

37 Signals jumps the shark (if they hadn’t already)

While we appreciate customers who take the time to write in and tell us what they want, the way people phrase things often leads to raised eyebrows. Every feature that’s missing is essential, a must-have, and the fact that it’s missing is killing someone. Yet the #1 thing that people like about our software is how simple it is. To give you an idea of what it’s like to be on the receiving end, here are some excerpts from recent 37signals support emails and forum posts

The excerpts are meant to ridicule the customers/users/people who contact them. For being too intense or too clueless or in whatever way just not as cool as the folks at 37 Signals.

This is a company that makes software but also wants to teach the world about making great products. I’m not sure that their products are really that great, but their credibility for teaching anyone how to do anything is nil once they start using the bully pulpit of their own blog to mock people – customers! And of course, there’s an ensuing pile-in on the comments “hyuk-hyuk, people are morons.” It’s too easy to get your pals to agree with that sort of thing, and ultimately it reveals contempt for the wrong people. That’s a critical failure at the root of what they are setting out to do.

Update: several other bloggers agree with me.


About Steve