I love connecting with my clients. After all, doing video and photography in Hawaii ain't all that bad! Now, I'm not talking about connecting in your typical customer service kinda way, but in a genuine and authentically kind manner. We call that Aloha, but everyone has their own way to spell A-L-O-H-A. If I happen to part ways with a potential client without closing a marketing video or documentary deal, at least I had a chance to meet someone new and build a completely positive relationship.
I recently realized that my desire to do this goes well beyond my photo and video work at Sky Blue Pictures. When I need stuff or gear, I enjoy scouring Craigslist as much as everybody else. Whether it's photography and video equipment, cars, surfboards, motorcycles, I do it all on Craigslist first. Hold on... this isn't a plug for Craigslist. Give me a few more minutes to get to the point, which was customer service.
What I have noticed is that there are two types of Craigslist responders, and here's your two typical responses to an advertisement for a video item, a Panasonic GH4 mirrorless camera.
Question: Hi, do you still have the Panasonic GH4? If so, can you tell me how long you've owned it and how much and the type of use it's seen? -Aloha, Jon
Answer 1: Hi, Jon! Yes, I still have it. I bought it hoping to shoot some weddings, but I found a camcorder works better for me. It's about 6 months old and I've used it at 3 weddings.
Answer 2: i have it
Pretty clear difference, huh? Well, I run into Answer 2 a lot more than Answer 1. It really doesn't matter what the item or service is, it just seems to be that most people have no real interest in being genuinely nice at the onset, even if the goal is to make a little money. Ok, maybe they've been jaded by all the wild scams on Craigslist, but you can usually very clearly identify a scam through the major grammatical holes in the initial contact.
Getting back to customer service, it seems that we've lost an understanding of the paramount importance of first impressions. If Answer 2 happened sporadically, it would make sense. I mean, we can't all be people-people, or people-persons (is that the correct?)... I think you get the idea. Anyhow, the buffer inherent in Craigslist adds an extra wall between buyer and seller, and it seems to give people the green light to be very impersonal. People seem to hold themselves to slacked rules of behavior, with neither care nor consequence. If I saw it fit to treat the director of a marketing department that way during out first meeting, I'd not only lose the job and her respect, but I'd feel like an A-double-S! Who wants to walk around feeling like an A-double-S? Not me! I don't know if people feel that way on Craigslist when (or, if) they re-read their responses, but somehow I doubt it.
Bottom line, I suppose, is that the customer service of (not from) Craigslist(ers) seems to be a great indicator of how people treat complete strangers. It's a gauge of the quality of human interaction at it's most impersonal level. Craigslist doesn't pride itself as a platform of community and camaraderie, but to lay blame on a platform is nothing but a finger-pointing excuse for less than ideal behavior. Yes, it's the classifieds, but a sweet and genuine response could make you a few bucks, and even a new friend.
My thoughts, yet again.