All posts tagged Edgeconomy

  • Learning When To Speak

    You’ve noticed that lately, I’ve been writing once a week, if that.

    I read a variety of sources most days, but it takes something special to inspire me to respond in my own words.

    Often, I feel that I don’t know enough about a subject to comment. This is less a fear of failure than an internal quality control, which I referred to when discussing my music writing.

    Having spent several years wrestling with words, concepts and emotions in a private journal, I’ve started to learn when to speak publicly. But I’m still learning.

    The polar approach is to open my mouth and speak about everything that I come across, like the wide-eyed teenager that I used to be. Everything that comes to mind. That drunk guy who I conversed with late last night while waiting for my train home. The costs and benefits of the brand of washing liquid that I use.

    I don’t, though. I alternate between the mindsets. Open versus closed. I know intuitively which of those strategies is bound for success.

    Umair Haque:

    The converse is: you only have to close when your DNA isn’t quite there yet; when the way you manage things still kind of sucks.

    Maybe that it’s it. The way I manage things – my thoughts, my ideas, my words – still kind of sucks. Not that there’s anything wrong with sucking, as long as sucking is a means to an end.

    Some days I’d like to spend a thousand words analysing a minuscule, inconsequential interaction. Or discuss the way that crowds tend to wait near the top of the stairs at a railway station, while the length of the platform remains largely unused. Some kind of public transport normal distribution comparison.

    Maybe my quality control is set too high. Maybe I should be throwing everything at the wall and seeing what sticks. I tried that with my Customer, Serviced posts, which I soon lost interest in.

    That’s the Long Tail theory, right? Instead of publishing a few precious – ‘quality’ – ideas, put it all out there, and I’ll find demand that I hadn’t anticipated.

    We’ll see. Until I better self-manage, I’m inclined to keep my mouth shut.

  • Customer, Serviced #1

    Where?: Australia Post Office, 448 Boundary Street, Spring Hill QLD 4004, Australia.

    When?: May 6 2008, 12pm

    Who?: Female salesclerk (name to be confirmed)

    What?: I made the mistake of visiting the store during the lunchtime rush. The line was fifteen people-deep; the automatic door stayed open due to people standing under the sensor. I’d been uncharacteristically caught without phone credit, and as I was attending a show with a friend that night, I had to recharge to reply to his logistical query.

    Cue fifteen solid minutes of queuing. I silently lamented my lack of foresight to bring reading material, though I hadn’t anticipated the store to be this busy. I passed my eyes across crappy pink stationary a dozen times, and attempted – along with everyone else in the store – to block out the moronic blonde yapping on her phone. “Anyway, I’ve gotta go, everyone in the store can hear me, haha.” No shit.

    By the time I’m served, I’m understandably a little annoyed. I’m a patient dude, but I’d found Australia Post’s customer service to be rather lacking up until this point. It was as if they’d scheduled their employees’ lunch breaks at the same time every other worker in the suburb was on their half-hour, and attempting to post mail – or buy credit.

    I gave a cursory “g’day” to the female salesclerk and requested my service. She complied silently for a moment, before asking – apropos of nothing – how my weekend was. I was taken aback, as the tone in which she asked the question conveyed that she would actually give a shit about my response.

    I responded that I’d had a great weekend; I spent Saturday with my parents and brother, and we all went to a concert together. Though, I neglected to mention a largely unfavourable event I attended on Sunday.

    She enquired about which band we saw – she didn’t know them – then told me that she was glad that I’d enjoyed my weekend. I politely enquired about hers, and she related some brief details about spending time with her kids.

    This exchange took place while she scanned the bPay barcode and waited for the system to produce a serial number for me to enter into Optus’ prepaid system. The line was still fifteen-deep behind me as we shared a friendly moment together within earshot of every other customer.

    What’s remarkable about this customer service experience is that the salesclerk turned an unhappy, impatient person into a happy, smiling customer purely by ignoring the outside noise – fifteen equally unhappy, impatient customers – and listening. In an edgeconomy, listen + respect x trust = loyalty and partnership.

    Yes, this was just one salesclerk putting themselves second and the customer first. I’ll admit, it’s a step to extrapolate one man purchasing phone credit at a corner post office to an entire economic model.

    But – imagine if every customer was treated with equal respect. Imagine if every customer was listened to. Imagine if every solution was customised to fit each individual need. That’s the future we’re aiming for. If we’re not, we should be.

    “The goal of every single interaction should be to upgrade the brand’s value in the eye of the caller and to learn something about how to do better, not to get the caller to just go away.” – Seth Godin discussing telephone customer service, but his message is equally applicable in any related situation.

    Result?: I left the store with a smile on my face. Genuinely nice people are difficult to find – I don’t claim to be one, either – which is why it’s disarming and refreshing to encounter them.