I ate dinner the other night at an Applebees. You might know that this chain of restaurants calls itself your neighborhood grill and bar. I used to scoff at that sentiment until the other night. But my experience there got me thinking: about service, about interactions, about what this all means to me, and about questions of scale.
Applebees Isn’t Lying
The bartenders at the Applebees where I ate knew everyone who came in, many by name. There were clearly lots of regulars here. But I was treated every bit as warmly, was brought into the jokes, and felt very much like a valued part of the evening. When I finished my meal and got up to leave, the bartender wished me a great night and invited me back. I felt with all my heart that he meant it.
The people working at the Applebees where I had my dinner truly lived the spirit of making it a neighborhood grill and bar.
Cafe-Shaped Business, Again
That’s how I first got to know Carolyn. That’s why I like buying comics from Mick. I think the purpose of us all figuring out blogging, figuring out twitter, accepting friendships in Facebook relates to this notion. I think the idea of putting a social network around our conferences so that you know the people before you get there is part of it.
We like to feel known. We like to feel wanted. We like to feel like we belong to something. It’s part of being human. And that’s where it comes back to you.
You are Important to Me
I try in many ways to make this obvious. I try to show you by speaking with you, by commenting back when I can, by responding to your messages and reading and commenting on your blogs, when I can. I friend you on the various services, and in general I connect.
To me, that’s the crux of what we can all do with these various outlets. We can reinforce that we appreciate someone, that we want to connect, that we like interacting with them, that we appreciate their business.
Are you using social media in that way? Are you using your blog to connect and to reach out and to tell people that you appreciate them? Look at what John does at Simply Gourmet. He has a customer of the day blog post.
Will it Scale?
No. No, it will not scale. You cannot — I cannot — maintain a 1:1 relationship with every single person who interacts with me. But I will go down trying. I think the same is true of using these tools within an organization. Only, the beauty is this: inside an organization, you can spread the connections out a bit. Not everyone has to talk with Tony Hsieh at Zappos. They might want to, but they will find that there are plenty of other great folks there.
Ditto Comcast. Ditto Dell. Ditto every brand that’s trying to figure out these tools and this space.
It will not scale, but if you want the bottom line return on investment value, you’d best remember to remind people that they’re important to you. And that’s what these tools do best. Lucky us.