Tag Archives: trust

dance dance revolution

If I can’t dance, I don’t want to be in your revolution.

-Emma Goldman

“Trust your gut,” my friend and mentor says, when I am trying to make an important decision. My method has always been to imagine what it would feel like, deep in my gut, if I did NOT make a certain choice.  But she tells me to think, instead, of which choice makes me feel like I’m flying; which choice makes me feel like laughing out loud; which choice makes me feel like dancing.



Now listen: this goes for anything.  Sure, yes, life decisions, choosing a school, a job, a city to live in… but it goes for business decisions as well.

Deciding whom to hire or promote to an important position; determining whose advice to seek out, whose advice to trust; projecting sales in an uncertain economy; deciding how much to spend on a marketing strategy; and whether that marketing strategy should be purely traditional, or if it should include new and explored territory like social media…

…and how you will go about doing business in an online world where squishy concepts like “trust” and “authenticity” are thrown about with such reckless abandon…

So much about marketing, in particular, is reduced to spreadsheets and numbers. But so much about social media is about trust and reputation, which are pretty tough concepts to reduce to numbers.

Don’t get me wrong: I am all about the quantitative analysis and the gathering and crunching of data.  But once you’ve got your budget and you’ve got your spreadsheet and you’ve projected your figures, be honest: Doesn’t there come a quiet moment when you take a deep breath, calm your mind, and listen to your gut?

And don’t your customers do the same thing, too?

This is why I’m curious about how this process works, and under what circumstances we trust one another.

How does it work for you?  How do you decide whether or not to trust, to choose, to commit?  What sensations do you look for? Do you prefer to follow the sense that what you are doing is absolutely right, or are you more in tune with what feels dead wrong?  Does your intuition attract you to the good, or repel you from the bad? Does it use a carrot or a stick?  I’m curious.

Also: What makes you feel like dancing?


trust, twitter, and those holiday travel blues

I have always loved airports, and flying. The whole experience is still glamorous and exciting to me.

Of course, I never travel on the holidays. This might explain a lot.

This morning I read this post by an MIT student about her frustrations with an unnamed airline as she struggled to get home for the holidays. She starts off by asking her airline’s CEO:

Have you ever ridden on an airplane? During the Holiday Season? Without your Super-Sparkly-Platinum member’s benefits? Incognito, so that your employees don’t know that they need to behave around you? Might I make a small suggestion? DO. Then go back to your interviews and repeat, “We need to take excellent care of our customer,” and MEAN it this time.

Here’s a sample of the contradictory information the MIT student got during her ordeal:

“We’ll arrive in time for your delayed connection.”

“Though you sprinted through the airport and made the connection, we decided to give your seat away.”

“You definitely have a seat on the next flight.”

“The next flight has been canceled. Since before you spoke with the last agent. There is no hope for you.”

“Oh, you can standby on another airline. Let me transfer that ticket.”

“What? They say we haven’t transferred the ticket? Well, that’s because we aren’t allowed to. No, it’s not possible. I don’t care if they say it needs to be done. I don’t care if the other employee told you she did it. You have issues with communication.”

No, I’m sorry, you, the airline have issues with communication.  And with trust. What happens after we, the customer, receive a few contradictory messages like this is that we lose faith in anything anyone wearing that company badge tells us.

But Twitter is built on trust — that’s why we insist on talking to real people we can call by name, even if you are representing a brand.

When I tweeted @comcastcares (who I know from his profile information is actually Frank Eliason) that my service was out after the last snowstorm, he told me something different (and, it happened, much better) from what the guy on the Comcast 1-800 number had told me minutes before.

Who did I trust? Frank. Who turned out to have been right? Frank.

Turns out, @JetBlue and @SouthweastAir use Twitter.  How do they manage their customers’ trust on Twitter?

The first thing I noticed is that both of these companies publish and (if necessary) change the name of the person on the profile who is staffing the account at any given time (see “currently on duty”):

Twitter / JetBlue

Twitter / SouthwestAir

This is really important, because Twitter works best when the interaction is personal, real, and human.  In fact, it’s the only way it works at all. We need a name, if we’re going to trust.

So what does this do? How does this help? Is the only thing accomplished here adding another channel of information to a subset of customers who use Twitter?

No, because the secret ingredient is trust.  The thing that Twitter does is it archives and makes visible your conversations with other customers over time. So if I want to talk to Jet Blue, I check out their Twitter profile to see what kind of conversations they tend to have with people. How human are they? Are they funny? Helpful? When was the last time they tweeted?

Based on the answers, I can decide the level of trust I have for them. This kind of archived conversation isn’t available anywhere else, except maybe on some forums and bulletin boards, which don’t offer the same immediacy, nor are they as public as Twitter.  I can’t go through transcripts of customer service phone conversations to see how well they do with that channel.  But I can watch how you behave, publicly, over time, on Twitter.  And that builds trust.

A new report just released from the Society for New Communications Research confirms the link between brand management and customer care.

Among the findings, when a customer is considering a purchase:

  • 72% use social media to learn about the level of customer care offered by a company
  • 74% make their purchase decisions based on the customer care information they find online.

On Twitter you can:

  • Respond immediately when a customer mentions your company, your competitor, your product, or your industry
  • Make the customer feel like the the company hears them and is responsive to their needs
  • Find out valuable information about what your customer experience is really like (and respond accordingly, one hopes)

The SNCR report also found that only 30% of customers believe that companies take their customers’ opinions seriously.

That’s atrocious.

How do you use Twitter when you’re having problems with a company? Do you trust what someone from a company on Twitter tells you more than what they tell you through another channel?  What can companies do better to earn your trust?

fear of a red hat

So Beth Kanter does a lot of work with nonprofits, helping them answer pressing and far-reaching questions about their use of technology, and how it can advance their missions without leading them down some nightmarish rabbit-hole of Bad Tech Decisions.

She has been doing this for a long time, with a lot of different types of organizations – arts groups, advocacy groups, etc.

I love this image, and the accompanying quote, taken from an attendee at a workshop ten years ago on technology for artists and arts organizations:

Image courtesy Beth Kanter

“I feel like a stranger in a foreign country and I don’t understand the language and I’m not wearing the right hat.”

This is a great image – and a great metaphor for fear.

Whatever the New Thing is – whether it’s a social network like Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, or Second Life; a new Constituent Management System, donor software, or phone system; or even just a new job or an unfamiliar transit system (my own personal bête noir), we can always use a trusty guide.

I’m now doing what Beth was doing ten years ago – helping artists and arts organizations overcome their fears and use the technology that can help them. And it is not easy, for reasons that go beyond just labeling people (or a community) tech-resistant.

That’s why I love the quote above – it isn’t JUST that we don’t speak the language. If it were just that, we could keep to ourselves and just pray that we get off the Mètro at the right freaking arrondisement. No, it’s much worse. We’re wearing the wrong hat (and last year’s dress, no doubt) and PEOPLE ARE LAUGHING AT US.

It’s the old naked-in-front-of-school-assembly fear. Which is why it’s so important to respect it, and to work with it.

1. A Technology Translator needs to respect people’s fear.

Put a name to it. Put a face on it. What are you afraid is going to happen if you go on Facebook, if you switch software systems? Put that on paper, and talk about it. How can that risk be minimized – not trivialized, but addressed?

2. A Technology Translator needs to listen.

This should really go without saying, but even those of us who think we are good listeners can clam up a little more. The less you talk, the more they say. How many times have you noticed that it’s the last thing that people say, or put on a list, or finally raise their hand to add to the brainstorming session, that really gets to the heart of the matter?

Once you’ve got the fears out on paper, have listened to them all, and have assured everybody that their fears are being taken seriously, you can start to move forward.

3. A Technology Translator needs to respond individually to each case.

It would be a shame to follow up all this trust-building and listening with a one-size-fits-all solution, right? So it’s important to be truly flexible in your thinking, hear what some of the unique challenges are in each case, counter-balance those with the assets, and craft a middle road that navigates the minefield safely.

This is all terribly abstract. I’d love to talk case studies at some point. In the meantime, what are your thoughts? How do you translate technology effectively to newcomers and immigrants?

What would a guidebook to social media look like?