One of the differences between success and mediocrity is the amount of time we spend on activities that create movement for our business vs. time spent simply consuming information related to our business. Most of us bloggers and entrepreneurs are wearing multiple hats at any given time – juggling clients with our own projects, or perhaps juggling a day job with a new side business. When time is a limited resouce, becoming conscious of how you’re spending it is crucial.
Trust is something that most businesses strive to develop with their customers/users/audience. Readers of Chris Brogan will know it’s one of his cornerstones and something he’s written extensively about. Trust has to be nurtured and maintained as a value that guides everything you do.When companies gain the trust of their client base it makes for much easier marketing and communication, because you no longer have to prove how awesome you are – your customer already knows. However, this trust shouldn’t be leveraged in questionable ways that take advantage of the customer, nor should it be treated like a bank account from which you can make withdrawals.
For those that don’t know, Hootsuite is a service, with free and paid levels, that allows you to manage multiple social profiles from one place. It’s a pretty great service that I’ve been using and advocating for several years.
So what has got me all riled up?
Yesterday, my go-to Twitter application, Hootsuite, decided to go ‘freemium.’ Without getting into the pros and cons, I’ll just say that while they are still offering a free service, it is very limited compared to the rich features I’ve been enjoying for a long time. This has created quite a backlash amongst their users, with accusations of bait & switch. If you’re interested in seeing some of the sentiment – just search on Twitter for ‘Hootsuite’ and you’ll see the range of reactions.
The bigger lesson here is to start thinking about how this applies to customer service, and how it could apply to your own business when you have to change the model or create revenue streams, and even to bloggers who want to monetize their sites.
Some thoughts sparked by this whole debacle:
1) No matter what business you are in, if you willingly provide a service to people for free, those people are still your customers and deserve to be treated as such – not as second-class citizens.