I remember back in the late 60s our “rich” neighbors, the dentist’s family, were the first ones in the neighborhood with a microwave oven. It was fascinating. And fast.
“You mean you can actually cook a meal in that thing in seconds??”
Of course, back then, my parents would never have gotten a microwave.
“Don’t stand too close to that thing. It’ll kill ya!”
Now I stand by my microwave and look at my the clock, wondering when the 30-seconds will be done.
That nice computer that used to boot up really fast? Now it just seems sooooo slow.
We’re impatient. We want everything faster. Right away.
I once saw a local social media and marketing professional complaining on Twitter that she had been standing in line at a restaurant for ten minutes, waiting to be seated. Ten minutes! Can you believe she had to wait THAT long? She even called out the restaurant for it and started badmouthing it to others. Then the shortly after that she was complaining loudly about an airline’s customer service while waiting for a plane.
How would she feel if people did that in relation to her business?
We have the tools of social media at our fingertips. It’s as if we’re walking around, just daring people to tick us off:
I have a smart phone and I know how to use it!
We react. Fast. Too fast.
I read with interest Gini Dietrich’s post yesterday about how Skittles is finding themselves in a bit of a PR crisis because of the Trayvon Martin case. And through no fault of their own. There is a great discussion going on in the comments section there, so you should check it out. But Skittles is being strong-armed by some activists, and the company isn’t sure how to respond. They can’t win.
We react. We want our way. And we want it now.
I recently watched with interest as a local restaurant was taken hostage on their own Facebook page in the aftermath of a racial incident that really had very little to do with the restaurant itself. The incident involved two patrons. And as much as I abhor that kind of behavior and racism, I was bothered by how a group of people took control of the Facebook page, blaming the restaurant and it’s management, with some even saying the restaurant needed to undergo racial sensitivity training, and others outright referring to the establishment as racist.
We react. We have power at our fingertips. And we’re not afraid to use it.
From a business and marketing perspective, this presents a problem. Everything we do is put under the microscope. Immediately. If enough of a vocal minority speaks loud enough, they can bring us to our knees.
And this is why many businesses fear social media and the digital world. But it’s not going away. Avoiding social media isn’t the answer. The bad things will still happen. We can’t ignore them and pretend they aren’t there. The success of our businesses is contingent upon how we respond. Life and technology are not going to slow down; rather, the pace will continue to increase, as will our collective impatience.
This is our world now. Get used to it. We will adapt. We have to.
But at the same time, we as business people are also consumers. We can set an example for others in the way we conduct our lives online, in the social realm. Let’s not be so reactionary; so quick to reach for the smartphone. Let’s learn how to praise and give “mad props” when we’ve been treated well.
We all know how to complain, and be reactionary. That comes easy. Let’s try being the nice guys (or gals) for once. Let’s bring a little civility to our culture.
While bad things will happen to us, and our businesses, if we treat our customers with respect, it will minimize the chances of that happening. And who knows, people might actually like us, and cut us some slack.
Have you been at the wrong end of some reactionary comments? How have you handled it, and how are you dealing with our increasingly impatient culture?