On being the squeaky wheel

If you like it, tell all your friends. If you don’t, just tell us!” It’s a cheesy commonplace and we’ve all seen it on signs. But if you’re interested in the relationship between customers and businesses, it’s worth looking at again.

If you like it, tell all your friends” acknowledges that word of mouth is a powerful marketing tool. “If you don’t, just tell us!” is the other side of the coin: an acknowledgement that if customers tell their friends about a bad experience with a business, that has the power to hurt the business.

The flow of signals and the paths we choose

The #amazonfail furore made me angry, but not for the reasons you might expect. I'm angry at the sheer numbers of people who put their energy into mobilising against Amazon. The whole affair showed us just how easily Twitter and blogs can be used to spread a message about a company's unacceptable actions (in Amazon's case, removing LGBT-themed books from their sales rankings) and to generate massive amounts of negative publicity. Perhaps a month after the problem was first spotted, the complaints reached a tipping point; after that, it took just a few days to give Amazon the PR headache of a lifetime.

And I'm furious that it happened this way. Perhaps I should explain why.