Soundview Executive Book Summaries

Unbecoming Attractions

I couldn’t tell you the last time I set foot in a movie theater. I won’t voice the usual grievance of previous generations and toss out details about the cost of a single ticket during my youth (although, ahem, the cashier generally saw a couple of images of Washington rather than Alexander Hamilton’s portrait, if you understand my meaning). To be honest, I don’t go because I simply can’t take the incessant ringing of cell phones despite multiple requests to silence them before the film begins.

However, I would certainly hesitate to complain about such a problem if I lived in St. Croix Falls, Wis. A theater patron in the town wrote a humble e-mail to the theater to voice her displeasure that she could not use a credit or debit card to purchase tickets for a showing of Shutter Island. It seems to me that the majority of Americans walk around with mostly plastic and very little paper in their wallets these days. Her complaint sounds reasonable enough, doesn’t it?

What this theater-goer received in return was a profanity laced tirade from the company’s vice president. Anyone who works in an organization that receives customer complaint e-mails has probably wanted to do exactly what the VP of Evergreen Entertainment did in this situation. Twenty years ago before e-mail and social media dominated every second of our lives, the woman’s complaint would have been in the form a letter that would have found its way to the trash. At most, she would have told her story to a dozen friends and the theater may have lost a few patrons.

That was then. I’m certain you can guess exactly what the aggrieved patron did next. You can click here and see for yourself.

In our new summary of Chris Brogan and Julien Smith’s Trust Agents: Using the Web to Build Influence, Improve Reputation and Earn Trust, the authors repeatedly emphasize the need for companies to be more human toward their online customers. While yelling at one another is certainly a human action, it’s probably not what Brogan and Smith had in mind. In fact, this situation is a perfect example of how trust gets broken online. It also demonstrates the exponential power of one poor customer service interaction. The actions of Evergreen’s VP toward one customer now have 4,300 people lining up online to take their own shots at the company. You can only imagine how much the VP wishes he’d never hit “Send” on his rage-fueled e-mail.

As for the theater-goer, maybe she should take a page from my book and wait for Shutter Island to be released on Blu-Ray.


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