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Craig Kerstiens

Blurring the lines, the flip side

So yesterday I posted around blurring the lines around your personal and professional life. Today I’d like to discuss a bit of the opposite of when companies blur the lines. Hopefully you don’t, but at first you may think how is this possible. Well first let me highlight some of what many feel are negative pieces, such as when an HR Rep who went to the same university as you looks up your facebook profile. You thinking this is private to friends at school may not regularly monitor the content that goes up there. This specific case is a very interesting one, and for the moment I’d like to stay clear of it.

Instead I’d like to focus on some of the areas where businesses undoubtedly should improve, and some notable ones that are doing that very well. I first would like to take (as per my usual) an example from twitter. Twitter is many things for many people, but it is extremely common to find people on twitter ranting about a particular service. While I may complain all I want about Comcast to my friends, they have little ability to do much to counteract this. But when I do it on twitter they do, and Comcast is one example of a company that is taking a very pro-active approach to managing their online presence. I take an example of a few months ago, when internet had been out at Michael Arrington’s house, who is the founder of TechCrunch. He twittered about this outage, and had a personal phone call from an executive in Philadelphia a few hours later. Sure, he’s a noticeable guy so they responded to him. To me the attention getter was when someone called comcast’s bluff they they only follow the important people, and any old average joe doesn’t get a response. That particular average old joe did, saying they make the best effort they can to reach out to everyone (HR Block, Southwest are also doing this quite well).

The other is a little less about blurring the lines, but I still think a great example of a business stepping out of their traditional roles. This one was a story relayed to me by a co-worker. Zappos, which is an online shoe company primarily, has a great return policy. In any case, if you don’t like the shoe after you receive it, just return it, and they’ll even pay for the shipping. This specific incident a woman’s husband had recently passed away and she was attempting to return the shoes. She gave the reasoning behind it, and the customer service rep proceeded to go an extra step and send flowers to the funeral. While to some this might be offensive, or at the very least outside the bounds of a normal company, it shoes a company actually caring for people, which wasn’t their core business. While I won’t go into details of how well this turned out for the company, it’s a great example of a company blurring the lines.

In the future I anticipate we will see more and more of companies doing this, actually caring about what someone says/thinks/feels not only about the company, but personally as well. As we get to this it will become less about the buck and more about meeting needs.