One of the joys of releasing this blog public is waiting for the reviews to come in. I’m lucky enough to get good engagement, and one of the things I enjoy most is the reaction a piece on a specific business generates, often from the employees. Reactions can range from agreement with my point of view all the way to pointing out things I may have missed. Here are a few examples:

  • GrabOne’s marketing director dropped me a note after this post
  • Unsurprisingly, pieces like this and this generated excellent private debate with people still at that particular coalface
  • This one made it all way to the exec of the company I mentioned
  • Anytime I write about sales, the note gets topped and tailed and forwarded to sales teams
  • Whereas my feedback on service at this restaurant rather pleasingly made its way direct to the waiter…

Even with that lovely history of interaction with readers, I was still taken aback to hear from the hero of my piece on subscription models. And I couldn’t help but make the comparison with the subject of yet another blog, one I am still awaiting feedback from…

The Dollar Shave Club was of course the hero of my subscription blog. Their transformation of the shaver from a physical purchase product into a subscription priced transaction was genius, and I was an unabashed fan. The elements I was most impressed with were:

  • The building of a direct B2C relationship, meaning:
    1. Capture of the customer email and physical addresses empowering direct communications
    2. The ability to up and cross sell
  • Consistent and predictable revenue streams
  • Consistent and predictable demand – letting Dollar Shave Club match their stock directly to this

So far so good. You can though, imagine my genuine surprise to receive an email the very morning of the blog posting:

I can’t tell you how thrilled I was to see that time was taken to feature us! We take mentions from respected sources like you as huge compliments, and love that your readers will now have the chance to check us out….

…We’re always looking to help answer questions that readers might have about our brand, and we’d love to serve as a helpful resource! 

The cynic in me assumed it was a bot, scanning for articles on Dollar Shave, looking for sentiment, and then sending an automated email (and, if bots are a far-away and scary future for you, then keep tuned… I’m going to cover them in a future blog).

However, having engaged in an email conversation, I am happy to say if it’s bot, well, then it’s an EXTREMELY good bot. And yes, I get they are an internet company and these things should be bread and butter, but still it really is impressive that they took the time to follow up and comment on my piece.

And then there was Westpac.

To say the blog detailing my Westpac experience wasn’t quite as positive as my coverage of Dollar Shave Club would be an understatement.

The relationship with my long term bank went south soon after I started Generator Consulting. Overnight I went from a golden boy with a large pre-approved mortgage facility to an outcast and a massive risk.

That wasn’t the bit that hurt. I understand banks need to be protective around risk and there were no guarantees Generator would blossom like it has. As someone with a real love of best-business practice, what really hurt was how effectively they turned a good profitable customer into an active detractor. After all, here I am, perhaps a year later, revisiting the experience with you all. The icing on the cake was being asked for feedback on my experience, giving it openly, along with an offer to follow up, only to be roundly ignored. Two (three!) posts later that’s still the status quo. I get it, I’m just not important enough…!!

And just in case you think this is reflective of business size, scale, and potential customer upside… think again. One of these (Dollar Shave) has an ARPU of $120 per year. The other (I can’t even say their name!) has an ARPU measured in the many thousands. The potential value of satisfying me would generate significant additional revenue. This is all about the young hungry upstart focusing on enhancing their brand… while the fat, slow, undifferentiated oligopoly just can’t be arsed.

Here’s the thing. We live in a world where if it can be digitised it can be disrupted. That means every consumer has the power to make a ruckus*. In that world it will only be the fit businesses that survive.

Key Takeaways

  • As a brand it is your choice how or whether to respond to online opinion
  • Some brands are proactive and follow up
  • Some brands choose not to and ignore feedback, whether requested or unsolicited
  • You need to figure out where your brand sits


*Thanks Seth. I have always wanted to use that word.

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