End of the 2006 Garden

This was an amazing year for my flower garden here on the Cape. It went into the ground in April and bloomed right into November — I still have snapdragons and alysium going strong, but a frost over the weekend pretty much ended everything.

Here it is at the start. All order and tidiness.

Here it is at its peak:

And here it is as of this morning:

There’s a metaphor hiding in here somewhere.

The artifacts of unhappiness

Two blog posts on this blog have given me first-hand confirmation of the staying power that an unhappy customer’s beefs can have on a brand.

On September 14, 2005 I posted about Amazon’s lack of an easy customer service link. A month later some misguided, but angry soul, doubtlessly searching for relief, found that post and made a comment in the belief I was Amazon’s customer service blog.

“Please refund the $19.91 balance shown on my account and close my account. I don’t want to do business with you any longer. “

Last summer I vented my spleen over Southwest Airline’s customer service after getting stranded for the second time in a month. That post, due to the headline with the hot word “Sucks”, still has legs and garners comments long after the post scrolled into the archives. Why? Google “southwest sucks” and see who comes up second.
To any unbelievers in an organization that don’t believe blogged complaints have a erosive effect on your brand — listen up. Any posted negativity is going to get crawled, indexed, and put into the permanent record for the next unhappy person to find. While a blogged beef may not be representative of mass consensus, it has one single salient edge — it’s treated the same as any review by Consumer Reports, Travel and Leisure, or any traditional medium, last as long, and arguably has the same potential effect.

Listen to this stuff and respond. This is the engagement that matters.

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