My 14-Year-Old-Son, Bad Pizza and Social Capital


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by Brian Olson – Sr. Product Marketing Manager, Jacada Inc.

You used to be able to get away with poor customer service every once in a while… these days, one bad customer incident is broadcast to millions within minutes and spreads like wildfire.

Life for my son is much different than it was for me when I was his age, simply because he gets information from more sources, and more quickly, than I did.  Case in point: I grew up in the North.  And in the North, there’s snow.  And where there’s snow, there are SNOW DAYS!  I won’t tell you how long ago I was in school (suffice to say that I used to watch Captain Kangaroo while eating my Wheaties for breakfast), but I will tell you that the only time kids actually woke up to their alarm clocks – I mean on the first ring – was on a day with a forecast for heavy snow, and that was for the sole purpose of lying in bed, listening not-so-patiently to the radio in hopes that school would be canceled because of a snow day.

I live in the South, now. We don’t get many snow days in the South.  Except for this year.  Here is what went down in my house one morning this winter:

Me:  [it’s snowing outside]… “Nicholas, time to wake up.”

Son:  [laying in bed, grabs phone from nightstand] Beep.  Snap (open).  TextTextText.  Snap (close)… “Snow day, Dad.”

Me:   [turns on TV, waits ten minutes for the news to scroll by] … “Umm, I guess you are right.”

Wife: “Get with the program, sweetheart”…

We recently had less than stellar service at the local pizza shop.   Beep. Snap (open). TextTextText. Snap (close).   At last count, 650 people heard about our bad pizza experience from my son. 

The buzzword in customer service centers these days is “social capital”.  Essentially, it distills down to how credible your opinion is and with how many people you share your opinion.   In my son’s case, that’s a lot of people (and from what I understand, the word around school is that a lot of kids listen to what he has to say). 

Have a bad experience returning a shirt that didn’t fit or trying to fix a billing error on a phone statement?  Did your Internet go down for the third time this week?  That retailer or Internet provider better make sure you are happy, or they, and millions of others, will hear about it via Facebook or Twitter.

Beep. Snap (open). TextTextText. Snap (close).

Social media sites are becoming the new current source of information for a growing segment of our population.  Not only is the information near- real-time, but because it comes from friends – from trusted contacts with social capital – it has perceived and instant credibility.

And it spreads like wildfire.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Cindy Knezevich
Cindy Knezevich is Director of Global Product Marketing & Communications at Jacada (NASDAQ: JCDA), a leading provider of unified desktop and process optimization software solutions for the customer service and support market.


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