Can you hear me now?

June 23, 2010

That title has probably been used two gazillion times since people started blogging (and probably even before Verizon used it in an ad campaign),

but it’s appropriate today because of the following…

1 – Turner Fisheries – one of my favorite places – is having difficulty responding to their messages on Twitter. I’ve been trying to DM them, but as you know a direct message can only be sent to the people who are following you. I’m judiciously waiting for this snafu, technical or operator-error related, to be resolved. What’s the urgency? Well, I was at Turner’s last week and the service in the bar area left me wanting to share some comments with management. Sharing is hard when people aren’t listening. It’s taken me two days just to get Turners to respond to messages sent to them via social media.

2 – Zoom Products specifically the Zoom H2 I currently use have failed me. Not completely. Not in a malicious way. But in a way that made me want to finally share the story here. It’s in two parts. Hold on, I’ll give the short versions of each part.

a – I tried to contact the company last fall for review products and was roundly ignored. Never mind that I’m a professional journalist who covers the consumer tech industry and that other devices are making inroads on Zoom’s turf. They obviously didn’t hear me. (To the company’s credit, their agency of record was responsive…to a degree, but I still don’t have an eval unit in front of me.)

b – While doing an interview yesterday, my formerly trusty Zoom H2 (not a review unit, bought because it seriously is the best recorder for the money on the market) didn’t do as good a job recording my interview subject as I had hoped. I still sound glorious, but the guy I’m interviewing sounds like he’s doing a Houdini trick in a closet, with a gag on, in a neighboring town. I may have had my levels too low. Or I may have not held the mic close enough to his mouth. Or maybe he’s one of those low-talkers. Whatever the case, it’s just some more ‘hear-me-now’ pain.

So what can I do about these two things? Especially given that I’m swimming in a fishbowl of social media and technical detritus that often compels me to be stubborn about how I contact people? Do I break down and dig for the Turner Fisheries phone number and give them a call? Do I do the same with Zoom’s people?

Or do I hope they’re better at listening for their own name out in the ether than they are at addressing specific consumer issues? If I link to their sites one would presume that Google Alerts would alert them to this article. To me it’s a puzzle.

So many companies are hot to get into social media. They fret about having a Facebook page or reaching out to people on Twitter. But if your customers are elsewhere, then there’s no need for you to pretend to be here. And if you do forge a path into a social media space – you’d better be there when people reach out to you with social-media tools.

Just my opinion, but 21 years of communicating with readers, colleagues and clients—with tools as varied as construction paper, hand signals and Tweets—has given me a little understanding into what consumers/customers are looking for.

It also doesn’t hurt that I’m a customer too and putting on that hat suits me just fine too.

What do you think about how people communicate these days? And what would you advise based on my simple descriptions above? Do I call Turners? Do I write a complete blog post on the details of that day?

What about Zoom? Do I give them another chance or vow never to write about any product they have until the end of time? For Zoom it might not matter. While I might only be writing for NPR, Technology Review, the New York Post and, it might make sense for them to sit up and pay attention.

Makes me wonder.