The worst mistake you can make with customers

What is the worst mistake you make with a customer? Probably it is the inability to see things from the customer’s viewpoint, and to only see costs and benefits from your own position. A close second in the worst mistake category: raising someone’s hopes and dashing them in short order as in “Congratulations, you are not in the club!”

Mark Twain, who didn’t want to join any club that would have him, would probably approve. But anyhow.

Nautilus © Harold Davis
Nautilus © Harold Davis

This piece of idiotic computer-generated boilerplate that I received from Flickr today in response to my decision not to enroll images in the Flickr Curated Collection manages to make both mistakes in one hearty “Congratulations! Unfortunately none of your images were selected” epistle:

Hi Harold Davis,

Congratulations! You have now completed one full curation cycle with the Flickr Curation Team! Unfortunately, and it makes us sad to report, your photos are not available for licensing through our distribution channel.

Your photos could have been excluded for various reasons, including:

  • The photo was marked as invited in our system, but was not actually requested from you due to internal curation needs.
  • You instructed us to exclude the photo from the Flickr Marketplace.
  • The photo was not legally or technically resolved during our communications with you during the enrollment cycle.
  • The photo was declined by our distribution channel due to their own legal or technical examination.
The Flickr Curation Team may contact you as part of an effort to re-curate your photostream (an additional curation cycle). This will be especially true if you added more work, so feel free to upload additional content at this time. Our goal is to enroll some of your beautiful work in the Flickr Marketplace by completing additional rounds of curation.
We want to thank you for your patience as we work on improvements to photographer tools, communication and the overall onboarding experience.
Our appreciation for your involvement in this amazing endeavor!

Thank you,

The Curation Team | Flickr

Obviously, since as I noted in my previous story I asked Flickr not to include my images in their collection I am not heartbroken. But suppose this had been a big deal for me? The Curation Team seems to forget that Flickr members are their customers, and that customers are people. How would receiving this email feel from the customer’s viewpoint? Not very good. At least irritating, and tending towards infuriating.

On the Internet, as the saying goes, nobody knows you’re a dog. The problem here is somewhat the obverse: too many important communications on the Internet are generated via thoughtless computer-generated boilerplate that treats customers as no dog should be treated. On the Internet, the computers don’t know that you’re a human being.

Great Hall, Heidelberg © Harold Davis
Great Hall, Heidelberg © Harold Davis

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Hi Harold Davis,
    Congratulations! You reached the goal to make me rolling on the floor laughing my ass off!

    That’s unbelievable!
    What I find more irritating is the massification that this kind of approach brings itself. They don’t care to understand who you are, what you have done, how well-known you are. You are just an account on their site and you must be managed on an “unus inter pares” basis.
    Of course you, Harold Davis!, are guilty because you tried to start a personal relationship, but this is out of their mass-robotic approach. Have a nice day, my friend and remember: “Brains are awesome! I wish everybody had one!”.
    Best regards,

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