E L S U A ~ A KM Blog by Luis Suarez

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If You Are Serious about Social Computing Treat Your Customers The Way You Would Like to Be Treated – Trust and Respect!

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The last couple of days have actually been incredibly busy at work so have been spending little time catching up with RSS feeds. However, there has been one particular weblog post, that I just couldn’t ignore, from a good friend of mine, and that I have found incredibly surprising and … shocking. Yes, indeed, this is a weblog article coming from Emanuele Quintarelli and it is titled Social media is respecting your customers.

In it he gets to detail how a good number of years of his own work in the area of social computing has just vanished with Rawsugar‘s web site now been sold. All of a sudden, and without an apparent reason, vanished! All lost! Nothing! Nada! Zero! … Ouch! Indeed! That hurts! I can imagine how frustrated Emanuele must be at the moment, specially after all of these years not only producing and sharing that content in Rawsugar, but also after all of the help and advice he has been providing to them thus far. Yes, one word that keeps coming up to my mind is just that: frustrating.

I am not sure how it is all going to end up and everything, but I do seriously hope that they can restore his content without losing any major chunks of his data and, perhaps, apologise for the mix up; but one thing for sure that I have been thinking about is that it is going to take a whole lot more effort, energy, involvement and commitment for Rawsugar to reinstate people’s trust in the service. At least, for Emanuele, and, for sure, for myself..

Yes, I know and I realise that I have never been an end-user of this particular offering, but one thing for sure is that if they treat their long-committed, and fully engaged, customers like that, it is certainly not a space that I would even consider trying out, no matter how good their offering may well be. The last thing you would want to do, when getting your application widely adopted by knowledge workers out there, who are willing to spend their time, their energy, their efforts and so forth, is just betray that trust those same knowledge workers have put on you in the first place. Things just don’t work like that.

If there is anything that should be crystal clear for any social computing offering out there is that the last thing you would want to do to your end-users is misuse the trust they have put not only on your offering, but also on yourself, as an organisation, pushing for that social computing adoption beyond the consumer market.

There is also a lesson to be learned in here. And for everyone: to try to establish how much you actually trust the offerings you are actually making use of in the social computing space. This is a commitment that works in both ways. The same way that you trust that knowledge workers will make wise use of your social computing offering, the same way you should expect that those same knowledge workers would be trusting you as well to do the right stuff: not lose all of their own data. Specially when in most cases they are just promoting and evangelising your own offering. And in this particular case it looks like the trust from Rawsugar was just working one way, as opposed to both ways. Yes, indeed, not the way you conduct things if you would want people to trust you and what you do.

As I said, I am not sure how everything is going to be resolved in this matter, but I do sincerely hope that all this has just been a mistake that will be fixable as soon as possible, because the way things stand at the moment is sending a very discouraging message to all of those social computing advocates and evangelists out there who are using extensively social software tools. And that is the last thing we all need to have at the moment. There are much better things that we should be concentrating our efforts on than stuff such as this.

For the time being, and in my own case, at least (And I would suggest for you folks out there as well!), starting backing up all of the data that you have stored in other social computing tools just in case that trust fails to deliver both ways. Just in case. You never know.

(Emanuele, I hope you get your all data back and as soon as possible! Best of luck!!)

Update (April 20th 2007): Good news, folks, for those interested in the subject and those who would want to follow this up. Over at Emanuele’s original weblog entry, Raj Setty, President of the company called Suggestica, just confirmed that everything is back to normal and Emanuele has recovered all of his data safe and sound. Very good news, indeed! And a clear sign, and I agree with Emanule and his readers about that, that Customer Service still exists. Good stuff!

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