Debunking the “Everyone Is Equal” Myth

by on 11/04/2009 • 44 Comments | Online Marketing

everyone isnt equal

Sorry, Joey. Mommy loves new baby more.

David Spinks caught me on Twitter Friday morning and asked a question that was hard to answer on less than four hours of sleep and within the confines of 140 characters. Thanks to Twitter Search, you can watch me awkwardly try. However, the question he asked was an important one. And my inability to appropriately answer it haunted me all weekend (GET IT?).

David asked for my thoughts on treating all customers equally – basically ARE all customers equal or are some customers “more important” or “more vital” than others? He was piggybacking off a conversation he started earlier.. I thought maybe we could continue it.

What I told him is this: Your customers AREN’T equal and believing they are takes money out of your pocket. More attention should be focused on those that “matter” and less should be focused on those people who simply matter “less”.

Before you kick me, let’s back up.

A few weeks ago we talked about ComCast. I mentioned that one of my biggest issues with ComCast was how differently they treat customers in terms of service. If you mention them on Twitter, they jump into action to help. If you try to speak with someone over the phone, they jerk you around and you get no resolution. It’s not cool. Customer service should be universal. You’re responsible for the product you make and the service you provide. You shouldn’t get a different experience based on how you choose to make contact. End of story.

Outside of that, things change.

Social media ruined the Web. It turned us into whiny babies.

  • We don’t want Twitter lists because we don’t want people to (God forbid) feel excluded.
  • We don’t want to down vote bad content because we don’t want to hurt people’s feelings by giving them the heads up that they’re not clever.
  • We offer mediocre services for free instead of charging for something better because paying for things offends us. People won’t even pay for porn anymore.
  • We don’t want to even suggest that one customer is worth more to us than someone else, because that’s not right. Communities are equal. And made of rainbows.

And it’s this “no man left behind” approach to business that breeds mediocrity and attempts to make the status quo acceptable. It’s screwed up our schools by handing out participation trophies to the weak and it’s had even larger consequences on businesses. If you’re treating your customers equally, you’re shooting yourself in the foot. You’re doing a disservice to your “better” customers, you’re wasting time and money trying to appease the “lesser” ones, and you’re spending time looking in the wrong direction. I realize that it’s not politically correct to publicly lump people into “good”, “better”, “best” buckets, but you’re already doing it in your head. Why not at least get it on paper where the information is actionable?

Respect your customers by segmenting them. You know which customer type is more important to you. Create complete customer personas that reflect each type. Then, bucket them.

  • Vocal brand evangelists go into one bucket.
  • Long time/major customers go into another bucket.
  • Average customers go into a bigger bucket.
  • Whiners get thrown out.

The people in the top bucket get more attention. Their voices should be heard the loudest. They are the ones who should be consulted with for decisions about your company or product. They get to leave the input you read most. They’re who you care about and whose experience you aim to better. That is the bucket driving your business.

participation trophy

Trying to lead a company by committee and pleasing “everyone” doesn’t work. That’s how you wind up spending ten early morning meetings and a Saturday debating the size font you’re going to use on the home page. By giving more weight to the people who actually bring value, you build a leaner organization. One that naturally filters out people who don’t fit inside your brand and who would walk over your dead body if it meant collecting $20. You, over time, cut out the people inclined to be a time suck.

Let’s be honest: Your average customer would leave you if your competitor waved a free Medium French fry and chocolate shake in front of their face. Let that person walk.

In David’s post, he argues that businesses should treat all communities the same, regardless of their influence. He wonders if it’s really worth alienating your average customer to do right by the average one.

In my opinion? YES, YES, IT IS.

Twitter created a network of average by refusing to charge. And as a result, their service is weaker. I don’t care how successful Twitter is today, if they were to switch over to a pay model, tomorrow it would be a better platform. Would people drop off? OMG, in DROVES. But the brand evangelists, the people who understand the mission, the value and the use of the site, would fight to pay for it. If paying for Twitter meant I could get new features and a promise that it wouldn’t CRASH every other day, I’d pay in a heartbeat. The people who wouldn’t don’t believe in you. They’re not worth your time.

Some people are worth more to your organization than others. They’re simply more important.  Treat all your customers equal in terms of service, but know who best defines your brand in terms of operation and cater to that group.  Their voices are what define you, not the one of your “average” customer.

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About the Author

Lisa Barone

Lisa Barone co-founded Outspoken Media in 2009 and served as Chief Branding Officer until April 2012.

Get social with Lisa at Twitter

44 thoughts on “Debunking the “Everyone Is Equal” Myth

  1. This all goes back to the insanity of “the customer is always right.” Whoever coined that phrase was sucking up to get bodies through the door, not proposing an actual business strategy. (And if they were, it was a decoy meant to drive their competition into bankruptcy.)

    Every business, no matter its size, is actually a boutique that caters to those who appreciate and respect it. Identify the customers who matter to your bottom line and treat them like gold — within reason. That top x % are your actual audience. No matter how big your business becomes, all growth beyond that top x % is accidental, loss-leader busy work.

    • That top x % are your actual audience. No matter how big your business becomes, all growth beyond that top x % is accidental, loss-leader busy work.

      I agree 100 percent. That’s true for ANY business.

  2. Lisa, I’m so glad you wrote this!!! I especially like,

    Respect your customers by segmenting them.

    It’s very hard to do this, and our nature is often to give our all to everyone. I have personally made this costly mistake. You are right in so many ways here. Big THANKS for being “outspoken” and sharing an important tenet we all need to consider!

    • Glad you found it helpful. I agree that we want to be helpful and we’ve been trained to think that everyone is equal and deserves the same — but that’s really not true. And trying to deliver that experience universally is going to suck way more time and money from you than it worth. Your business isn’t for everyone. It’s for those that wouldn’t go to a competitor if it came with a free French fry and chocolate shake.

  3. I agree with the segmentation approach but not sure I agree with throwing out the whiners. As long as you can still make money dealing with the whiners, deal with them until they start affecting your business with the better customers.

    Do you think this segmentation would affect your ability to acquire new customers? Would new customers rather go with a company that doesn’t cater to an elite group of customers? Should there be a clear path to becoming a preferred customer?

    • Okay, maybe don’t throw out the whiners, but definitely put them in a far lower bucket. One that you barely hear. Even when it’s really late and quiet and you can hear the crickets outside. I think people who are going to complain about everything and anything do affect your business — even sooner than you realize. They’re a time suck and they’re not cost effective to keep. But that’s just my opinion.

      I don’t think segmentation limits your ability to bring new people on. I think by segmenting and really listening to what that top/more important group has to say, you build a company that attracts the same kind of person found in that elite group – which is really who you’re after anyway.

  4. Thanks for taking the time to write such a well thought out response. Hope I didn’t ruin your weekend too badly (=

    One quick thing, I know it was just a typo but: “He wonders if it’s really worth alienating your average customer to do right by the average one.” should probably say “to do right by your above average one.” or something…

    You make some very valid points. 5 years, or hell, even 1 year ago, I’d probably agree with you. The issue now is the incorporation of “social influence”. You might have an average customer that’s really influential on some online community. They might not bring in a lot of money directly, but their word can completely sway the decisions of others. This ties back to the issue of Comcast, providing poor service on the phone, and great service through twitter. It’s that disconnect that will really irk your customers.

    I’m not naive. I realize that not every customer is equally valuable, and from a purely numbers/business standpoint, you should categorize them and allocate resources accordingly. This is the best way to directly impact bottom line numbers through cost cutting.

    That mentality doesn’t take into account other factors that may be long term, and may not directly impact your bottom line, but certainly impacts the future success, or failure of your company. If there’s anything I’ve learned from the social incorporation into business, it’s that there’s more to it than numbers. There are human aspects to business.

    Good customer service is good marketing. Everyone wants to pursue this magical “word of mouth” marketing that they’ve heard so much about. Well a great way to get people to talk about you, is to send them away floating every time that come to your store or website. If you’re not providing the best possible customer experience to every customer, you’re losing an opportunity to convert an average customer into an evangelist, you’re missing a chance to trigger word of mouth, and you’re giving customers a reason to leave.

    Mind you the customer experience is ongoing. It’s not just reactionary. It’s not just responding to problems…

    Interested to hear others’ thoughts on this.

    David
    Community Manager at Scribnia.com

    • I think the “social influence” factor is why customer service is so important. You need to treat people well in that respect because you don’t know which one of your customers has 9,000 followers on twitter and a massive social network. That said, that’s all you owe them – your promise that you’ll make good on whatever it is you just sold them. That person gets no say in how you run your business if they don’t fall into one of the top tiered buckets. They don’t have any other impact on your business.

      I agree with you that customer service is good marketing and that it should be equal among everyone to the best of your ability. There are times when you’re going to have to pick and choose your battles, but the overall experience should be similar.

      I really want to point out that I don’t think for a second that you’re naive. I thought you started an excellent conversation and you sent me into the weekend with something to really think about. So I thank you for that. :)

      • “There are times when you’re going to have to pick and choose your battles, but the overall experience should be similar.”

        That’s it right there. (=

        Hope to have more conversations like this one.

  5. Being in the financial services industry for 10 years now, I can see where this is beneficial and, to a point, required. Treating every customer / client the same ends up degrading the service level to EVERYONE. Granted, in finance the level of customer importance is directly tied to the number of zeros in their account, but the point remains the same. Just as a vocal brand evangelist can do serious damage in one tweet, a large investor can decimate your book of business simply by leaving. They expect more, and it’s part of my job to provide that.

  6. Once again, I completely agree. People seem to have this idea that you should treat everyone the same, often even those who AREN’T customers.

    That’s a dangerous idea & will end up costing you time, effort, and opportunities.

    If you spend time idiot proofing your product to an extreme degree instead of providing a new feature that your loyal brand evangelists want, you’re hurting your company.

    Who cares that my grandma can’t figure out how to use your product? She probably shouldn’t have purchased it anyway and certainly won’t be getting the value out of it.

    Instead of catering to her and her whining, how about improving the product so that someone like Lisa becomes a fan or evangelist.

  7. Customers as a whole are changing the way they think, react and purchase in today’s digital world. WE understand the power that we have when it comes to companies that we ‘evangelize’ and/or help create revenue for. We know that if we drop a few mentions about a company in a tweet or blog post, we’ll get noticed, get a response, and receive exceptional service from them. It may seem like some people get preferential treatment over others who may not have as big a influence on a company, but it’s a reality that both customers AND companies are understanding today.

    As far as segmenting goes, it’s already happening. Our marketing/social media initiatives are already focused on niche communities. We understand which people to target and the type of message/content to communicate with them. And I totally agree w/you about Twitter’s potential success if they had provided a paid service. I’ve said this from the get go – that the smaller but more active users should have been their focus vs. the mainstream of millions who – either – don’t tweet that regularly and/or just don’t give a crap about the company/service like we do.

    Great post, Lisa – and thanks David for initiating the convo.

    • Thanks for the comment, Sonny. Some great insights there! And you’re right about the segmenting by focusing on niche communities. I hadn’t thought of that. Completely agree with you about Twitter.

  8. About segmentation, how do you know you are doing it right? I mean sure its easy to spot the whiners. Some average customers can turn into brand advocates over night. Some with only 3 twitter followers might not look impressive until you see that they maybe the spouse or brother to someone with more weight.

    I think segmenting is something that we all naturally do. We do it with all people not just customers, but i think it can be dangerous if you get to entrenched in your own view point.

    • About segmentation, how do you know you are doing it right?

      I think you know by watching your company and the direction it’s going. Whether you’re beginning to filter out people who are time sucks and resource drains (I think I’m gonna be a resource drain for Halloween next year…) or if 6 months, a year down the road you’re still battling the same hurdles. I think it’s a bit of trial and error, just like everyone else is.

      As for the influencer side of it, I think that goes back to a lot of what David was talking about up top. You manage that by doing your best to provide an equal level of customer service to everyone. I don’t think equality in service and equality in voice/impact are the same.

  9. Interestingly, this is almost exactly the path that Google follows in many cases (this was actually told to me within the past year by Google personnel when I asked why I was getting a little more private assistance in a couple areas than my peers with the same issues on WMW). To paraphrase, I was told the amount of money spent or generated wasn’t the determining factor over who gets the special treatment, it wasn’t even about criticism or the lack of it, it was about *fairness*. Ad hominem attacks are noticed, and distinguished from constructive criticism, however harsh it may be.

    But when that kind of treatment is noticed, Google sure takes a lot of shit for it.

    (And for other things as well, but we’re talking about “some are more equal than others” at the moment)

  10. As with any generalization of this nature, the theory pertains to certain types of business models more than others. I agree that some customers are more important than others all the time. BUT, some businesses require a more even treatment of customers than others.

    A restaurant is the example that immediately comes to mind for equal customer treatment. Although you could argue that treating regulars better than others makes sense, I would disagree. In fact, once someone becomes a regular, you can almost do less. They’ve already made their decision to be a regular, and all you have to do is not eff-up.

    The occasional customer or the first time customer is the one that you want to treat well so that they will leave with a good opinion to share with others and a desire to come back for a second meal. The restaurant SHOULD treat everyone to their best service. If you start placing restaurant customers into buckets, you are providing a reason to provide inferior service to those that could potentially become regulars, if only you hadn’t placed them in the bottom bucket. That type of thinking is actually what drives the ridiculously high restaurant failure rate IMO.

    Again, in general, I agree with the post, but there are exceptions to every rule. The definitions of the buckets are extraordinarily important, so you need to know your customers really, REALLY well before you start tossing them into buckets – and that is much easier said than done for most businesses with a customer base in excess of a couple hundred.

    • I agree that even the lowest tier customer deserves a baseline level of service, and it behooves every business to set that baseline high. A well-run business won’t (and won’t have to) reward top-tier customers at the expense of others. A business is more likely to get intro trouble by overpaying to secure the regular’s loyalty than by screwing the baseline customer. Companies that do the latter tend not to treat good customers any better. Ask me how I know.

      However, I don’t think you give enough credence to the emotional benefits of being “treated like a regular” at a restaurant or anywhere else. Regulars expect to be treated as such and it usually doesn’t have to cost a lot to make them feel appreciated. A restaurant doesn’t have give away a steak to make a regular feel special: A comped desert costs very little and being greeted by name is free. On the other hand, it might be very costly to take these cues away. Imagine you go into a bar frequently enough that your drink is waiting for you when you sit down. Now imagine you have been going there so long that management believes you can safely be taken for granted. So no one cares who you are let alone what you drink. Still a happy customer? Still a regular?

      It’s true, I think, that not all long-time customers are created equal. Some really are the product of inertia and are not worth much incremental resources. But it’s important for the business owner to segment the “lazy loyals” because the only thing worse than overpaying them for their loyalty is taking your top tier customers for granted.

      • I didn’t elaborate on the treatment of regular customers because that’s not the point I was trying to make. I agree wholeheartedly with the idea of a waiting drink and a friendly ‘Hello’ for a regular customer, but that plays right into my point.
        By saying “Hi Ron, how are you today?” and having your normal beverage waiting for you, I’m actually “doing less” than I would have to do with a new customer . . . “Hello and welcome to Tim’s! I’m Tim and I’ll be taking care of you today. Can I start you off with something to drink?” which is inevitably followed by the listing of the beers on tap or some other additional interaction before the drink order is even given. I’m not suggesting that regulars be treated anonymously or poorly compared to the newcomer, I saying it requires less service to retain a loyal customer than it does to create one.
        Here’s the defining scenario: If the food isn’t perfect once out of every 10 times I serve the regular, the relationship will overcome the insufficiency. If one out of every 10 new customers receives sub-par food, I’ve probably lost him for the future if I can’t develop that relationship within the visit. The new customer requires more/better service on the average visit than the regular if you expect to grow your business.

  11. I think one of the more important points is “whiners get thrown out”. I made a similar point in my comment on your post Dealing with Negativity Online (& in Life). I’m not talking about customers who have a legitimate complaint but the chronic whiners that will never be satisfied. Having worked in retail management before moving on to internet marketing I encountered these customers on a regular basis. These are the ones who demand to be treated better than the long time or evangelist customers but who inevitably spend less and require several times the work that others do. Do not be afraid to cut those customers loose. Too many businesses try to hang on to any customer at all costs, especially in this economic climate. The whiners will eat up the time it would take you to help several “good” customers and they still won’t leave happy. Send these customers to your competitors and let them eat up their time. You’ll be happier and so will the good customers that you can now spend more time helping.

  12. When a whiner becomes a brain-drain, I invite them to find another vendor. Sometimes, when I do this, they become very manageable and respectful. If they don’t, they’re gone. Others are just so psychotic that even if they get all humble, they’re sent packing.

    The biggest issue for me with vendors and service providers that I am a customer to, is if I’m in the “average customer” bucket, don’t treat me like a piece of crap. This whole “We can be there next Tuesday between 9 and noon” method of appointment scheduling is full of swiss cheese holes. Yeah, I understand the repair guy may get delayed on the earlier appointment. So fine. I’ll deal with a half day stuck situation. But then, when 12:25 comes and they’re still a no-show, and I call you, don’t even try and pull the “he said he was there but nobody answered the door” crap on me.

  13. “Trying to lead a company by committee and pleasing “everyone” doesn’t work.”

    I couldn’t agree more! You need to be clear and upfront with your customer, cut out the ones that are only there to nickel and dime you. If you look at it through the lens of the powerful 80/20 rule…there will be a clear smaller margin of clients producing a majority of your income, whether thats a hard product or a blog. Focus on them, give them special attention…why? because they are paying you! they love you, they are your biggest fans and they will create more fans. Be fair and honest with the others, but as soon as they start giving you trouble, ditch em. You’re running a company not a camp.

    Good read, found you via @sarahjbray . I run a site called the life design project, where amongst other things look into metrics, business design, and efficiency tactics to design a smart life. Thanks!

  14. A note about Rebecca’s poor Comcast experience. After thinking about that for a while it came to mind that maybe for Comcast it makes sense finacially for them to auto renew their clients with the NHL package and respond to those that do actually complain than it is to really fix the issue.

    This was brought up during a heated discussion on rep management where the concept of telling the client to clean up their act as part of the ORM consulting was dismissed as a bad idea. The concept is that maybe its cheaper for companies to keep doing the things that get them a bad rep and then work to clean it up on the back end.

    What do you thing about that?

  15. “Sorry, Joey. Mommy loves new baby more.”
    I can’t believe everyone missed the caption. It’s epic.

    On a more serious note:
    Every client should be treated according to their value for your business.
    It should be a goal to provide “WoW” service to those who have the most understanding, respect, financial resources and who can bring in more business of the same quality.
    For the rest, you should try to provide more than expected.
    80/20 rule is really amazing. It applies to everything.

    Keep them coming.

  16. Hi I like your article but not your solution. In hindsight it’s easy to say they should have a paid option. If it was not for free twitter they would not have been Twitter. Who would pay? This sounds like AOL selling email addresses.

  17. COMCAST!

    Lisa, it’s crazy I’m reading this today, because yesterday I had a ‘two-fer’ with the Comcast folks.

    My service has been screwy for awhile and I’ve been sick of footing the bill for it, so I called in to complain/seek a solution. When I told the agent I had asked for help via Twitter, the rep told me not to do that, because the Twitter folks, “Were probably just third party contractors.”

    I popped that message onto Twitter and got about 15 responses from multiple Comcast Tweeters, both rebuffing what the agent said and providing me several email addresses (a few direct ones, not the ‘we help’ address) to resolve the problem.

    Makes me realize that all customers aren’t created equal in the eyes of Comcast, and it makes sense. Some customers have the ability to effect the brand via broadcasting. Others will always be relegated to the phone tree.

    Just sayin’ …

  18. I agree with Robert and think it is important to emphasize the 80/20 rule. When such a small percentage of your customers create such a large percentage of your revenue, how can you not say they are more important?

    One should also consider how it is easier to maintain existing customers than to bring in new ones. Your heavy users are vital to the success of your business and therefore should be treated as such. By rewarding them, they will be more likely to continue to promote your brand and bring in new customers for you!

  19. Hi Lisa!

    As one of the Comcasters who helped to build our Twitter presence, I can tell you that one of the key aspects of our social media initiative is to apply what we learn to our overall customer service organization.

    The sheer volume of calls we take in a day means that even a half a percent error factor will generate some angry people. Our social media outposts are one of several ways that they can escallate and, whatever the method of communication, we try to solve problems quickly.

    Those of us who have the privledge of managing local Comcast operations review every escallation we get on a regular (in my case, daily) basis. We look for root causes and commonalities so that we can change processes and procedures to end up with a better end-to-end customer experience.

    Comcast’s social media initiatives have had a dramatic and positive impact on our overall culture and operations. While some may feel that not all customers are treated equally, that is our overriding objective.

    Scott Westerman
    Vice President
    Comcast
    @comcastscott on Twitter
    [email protected]
    Direct Line 505 761-6201

  20. Lisa,

    This is a great discussion and something that I agree with wholeheartedly. Alas, my comment is to try to add the wrinkle of Loyalty to this discussion.

    The purpose for any business with customers should be to build long-term, emotional loyalty. Else, why are you in the business of having customers? Your post talks about the rational, short-term loyalty (lower prices, chocolate shake and fries (love that, btw), better terms) as the problem, but it is actually the solution. Your vocal advocates were not born that way, they were made that way by you and the way you treat them. In that sense your reply to David that you use customer service to equalize all customers, but segment for the long-term ones (I am paraphrasing here) was dead-on.

    Organizations must focus on short term loyalty matters (price, features, fries and shakes) to retain customers. I am certain that more than one organization out there can look at their top 10 customers and remember that when they were first customers most of them were not top-ten. Rather, more than likely, were there for the short-term benefits and a loyalty and advocacy grew with time.

    Excellent post, sorry to have muddled it with my ramblings.

  21. Hi, man on the street told me:

    If i buy a $50 service plan, and you explain what it entails…. well that’s what I expect. Same as Joe over there with his $50 service plan. If I don’t get the same service i’ll scream bloody muder — see I got twitter, disqus, facebook, ning, blog, email, linkedIn and feedburner friends. (yup 3 on each service). :-)
    Oh… you mean my service plan doesn’t come with free shipping, and 24/7 concierge service… hmm let me check (rifles through docs) — Nope you’re right. That service plan C, I shoulda taken that one… oh well. So, how about just reconnecting the phone now please , that is in my plan, right?
    “my momma taught me a long time ago, there are no VIP’s in coach class”

    It sure does seem that from what I read above there is an awful lot of discussion about service levels.
    It’s actually a very simple thing.

    Most people understand them very clearly, and accept that. What they do NOT tolerate is the mishmash of legalese which surrounds their service offerings, for example cell phone plans. In general people want what they paid for, no more no less. If they are whining about service it’s YOUR fault — either your service is shoddy, or you haven’t invested the time to clearly educate them on their expectations. I see that more and more every day.

    I believe companies that take the time to clearly delineate their offerings and services receive a lot less complaints, and save money. They CREATE customers who need little after-service. Most, however, are only too happy to take the cash, get the new customer, and worry about that service later.

  22. On the business level, I agree. Whiny customers who cannot be satisfied can suck up all your time and poison your business (because they will complain regardless of how hard you try to please). Been there with web development. Dream customers who pay on time and don’t overstep the bounds of their contract by asking for programming they aren’t willing to pay for get my prompt attention. Fortunately, most of my customers fall into this category.

    But wouldn’t this model applied to Twitter leave “brand evangelists” without an audience? If only the people who get the program and understand the mission are willing to pay to play, then they will be, in effect, preaching to the choir. Which would completely negate the value of Twitter as a social – or social media marketing – tool.

    • Note to self: Don’t click on the “Receive Email Updates” check box.

      Sherry, I think a reasonable pay model could be worked out. Something like free tweet reading, first 25 tweets per month are free and $5/month to tweet your heart out. At this point, I believe Twitter could act like Cable Television. People were already hooked on broadcast TV as they are with Twitter today. Then Cable came around and started charging people for the same or similar service. At this point, I believe a very low monthly subscription cost would be accepted by many.

  23. Tim, if they started charging for Twitter, I’d make a single post and the content would be “follow me on facebook http://www.facebook.com/sherisaid?ref=profile I am so outta here.” In my capacity as a non-marketer, a twitter where paid advertising rules and personal tweets are limited has less than zero value to me. Cable delivers value for my money in terms of better reception and shows I would not be able to see otherwise. So it is not a similar service, it’s different service for money, and I don’t lose anything in the process, I can still watch free tv. Theoretically. With rabbit ears, tinfoil, a kid standing on one leg by the window and a converter box.

    • Fair enough, but I still think there’s room for a paid model with Twitter. Just because you post “follow me on facebook” doesn’t mean people will. Sorting out the line that divides consumers and marketers isn’t what I was trying to do, I just think there has to be some sort of way to do that. If consumers are on Twitter, marketers will be happy to pay to get in front of them. I’ll let them figure out the model.

      • Tim, to me that sounds like a fabulous way to weed out people who aren’t really interested in me. To those of us who are not marketers, a big audience is not as important as an interested one.

        Twitter missed the boat with pay services. If they had tapped members for paid services like auto-tweets and service directory listings instead of opening it up to third-party APIs, they could have easily monetized. They could also have capitalized on the pay-for-tweet scenario and cut a deal with google to include the value of tweeted links for SEM.

        But they didn’t.

  24. I agree all customers are not equal. Small-med business owners need to learn to fire their bad customers. The time and happiness you get back will make you money. Big business is different because they can throw low-wage employees at the whiners all day long. It might be profitable because of volume alone.
    I don’t agree with the paid Twitter ideas. It’s a bad analogy. Twitter users are not Twitter’s customers. You are just assets providing free content and an attractive audience they can sell or help others sell to. Assets need maintenance but that doesn’t make them customers. Advertisers will be Twitters customers and Feed aggregators are already Twitters customers. They will make a lot more money off Microsoft, Google and advertisers than they would ever make selling service to you and me. I’m not saying they won’t or shouldn’t offer a premium paid service but it will never be their lifeblood.
    The restaurant reference doesn’t work either. Why would anyone put a new customer in the bad bucket right off the bat? I think the point was missed. A bad customer has to earn his way to the red bucket. New customers go in the gold bucket until they are a regular and you understand them. Every new customer is potentially your best customer.

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