What defines a customer?

Simple question maybe…. but: What defines a customer?

When I couldn’t figure out today how to make a permanent change to my Facebook email address security preferences (it keeps reverting back even though it seemingly accepts my changes), I clicked help on the bottom of the Facebook homepage. When the FAQ’s didn’t help, I clicked through to send a message to their customer support desk. I just got an email back from Facebook Customer Support thanking me for the note and saying that they’ll be back to me soon with an answer.

We generally only think of customers as those people that have extended some form of consideration in exchange for a product or service…. most often cash. This helps tell us how they should be treated (hopefully) and establishes some expectations along the way.

But I’ve never paid Facebook a cent. Not one. And I suspect you haven’t either. Now, I suppose one could make the argument that I am giving them my attention (with corresponding ad revenue) in exchange for the use of a social networking service… but, we give our attention to TV, outdoor ads, radio, print, etc. all the time, and I don’t think they treat us as customers. Viewers / listeners / readers maybe, but never customers.

Part of understanding what’s going on with the Internet is recognizing that the old rules just don’t apply. Now Facebook has an opportunity deliver a brand-building, favourable experience to a customer via a positive two-way interaction. When was the last time you had a customer conversation with a TV network?

(Update: Less than 24hrs later, Jamie at Facebook has fixed the problem! Fantastic ‘customer’ service.)

Previously posted on carmanpirie.com

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