Friday, December 23, 2011

On angering your customers - sometimes it's a good thing


Try as they might, some businesses just can't please every customer. Take Wendi McGowan and the Stoneleigh Hotel.

I want, want, WANT to LOVE the Stoneleigh Hotel. I met my boyfriend there for the first time over five years ago at a professional networking event. I was so excited when they announced their remodel and upgrades two years ago and completed them all above anyone’s expectations. I have been (and taken boyfriend) to the Spa in the Stoneleigh numerous times, and their services are sublime. I love sipping cocktails in the lobby lounge and the retro chandeliers are chic. I wish more than anything that they would get back to work on the Stoneleigh Residences Tower because I want to live here… do you get that I like this place?

So what terrible crime did the Stoneleigh Hotel commit to earn McGowan's ire?

In mid-Tweet, I realized that I wasn’t positive that the Stoneleigh’s Twitter ID was @StoneleighHotel (it is!). I asked both the bartenders for confirmation, and they said they didn’t know it.

HUH? Isn’t this basic marketing? NOTE to all companies: Every employee should know the company Twitter ID, Facebook group, LinkedIn URL. It should be on their business cards for easy reference.

So, back at the Stoneleigh, I walk over to the Concierge Desk thinking (stupidly, it turns out, on my part) surely this guy will know. Instead, I am handed a snippily delivered, “I don’t tweet.” complete with a side order of disdain.

Now in my opinion, it's not the end of the world if my maid doesn't know the Google+ page of the hotel or motel where I'm staying. What's next - demanding a complete recitation of the latest quarterly earnings?

Which brings us to SOPA, the Stop Online Piracy Act that all the cool kids oppose. Except for the one kid in the corner with the scantily clad babes on each arm. Yup, GoDaddy is one notable Internet company that actually supports SOPA.

"As much as some would like to paint a bleak picture, this debate is not about Hollywood vs. Silicon Valley," reads a statement GoDaddy filed with the U.S. House of Representatives. "This debate is about preserving, protecting, and creating American jobs and protecting American consumers from the dangers that they face on-line."

GoDaddy goes on to condemn the ease with which people can conduct illegal activity like selling fake drugs and sharing copyrighted material on the Internet today and dismisses concerns about the potential drawbacks of SOPA and the Protect IP Act. Critics claim that this legislation hands too much power over to corporations and authorities to police the Internet and could lead to wholesale censorship online. GoDaddy disagrees.

"This bill cannot reasonably be equated with censorship. This bill promotes action pursuant to preexisting criminal and civil laws," the company said. "Not only is there no First Amendment concern, but the notion that we should turn a blind eye to criminal conduct because other countries may take oppressive steps in response is an affront to the very fabric of this nation."

And now there are calls for boycotts and GoDaddy-less cheezburgers and everything else, which has served to...well, it's served to give GoDaddy a whole lot of publicity.

Hasn't anyone followed GoDaddy's marketing model for the last few years? GoDaddy has consistently courted controversy, and laughed all the way to the bank. If you were to believe the protests, no one registers domains with GoDaddy any more anyway, since they're a bunch of demeaning sexist pigs. Yet it appears that there are still enough GoDaddy registered domains to make a boycott threat worthwhile.

How do feminists feel, knowing that the cheezburger empire is registered with GoDaddy (at least for now)?

Here's what's going to happen. Come December 29 and 30, GoDaddy is going to get a ton of mentions in the press as sites that most people have never heard of start to pull their domain registrations and register with others. This will result in enough talk about GoDaddy in early January, leading up to the latest episode in which a GoDaddy ad doesn't make the Super Bowl broadcast.

In other words, Bob Parsons has engineered yet another marketing bonanza, with the willing help of the techies. Masterful.

Oh, and one more thing...after I wrote this post, but before it published, I found that GoDaddy had issued this release:

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (Dec. 23, 2011) - Go Daddy is no longer supporting SOPA, the "Stop Online Piracy Act" currently working its way through U.S. Congress.

"Fighting online piracy is of the utmost importance, which is why Go Daddy has been working to help craft revisions to this legislation - but we can clearly do better," Warren Adelman, Go Daddy's newly appointed CEO, said. "It's very important that all Internet stakeholders work together on this. Getting it right is worth the wait. Go Daddy will support it when and if the Internet community supports it."

Go Daddy and its General Counsel, Christine Jones, have worked with federal lawmakers for months to help craft revisions to legislation first introduced some three years ago. Jones has fought to express the concerns of the entire Internet community and to improve the bill by proposing changes to key defined terms, limitations on DNS filtering to ensure the integrity of the Internet, more significant consequences for frivolous claims, and specific provisions to protect free speech.

"As a company that is all about innovation, with our own technology and in support of our customers, Go Daddy is rooted in the idea of First Amendment Rights and believes 100 percent that the Internet is a key engine for our new economy," said Adelman.

In changing its position, Go Daddy remains steadfast in its promise to support security and stability of the Internet. In an effort to eliminate any confusion about its reversal on SOPA though, Jones has removed blog postings that had outlined areas of the bill Go Daddy did support.

"Go Daddy has always fought to preserve the intellectual property rights of third parties, and will continue to do so in the future," Jones said.

Of course, if GoDaddy is lucky, most people will miss the December 23 release and will continue to protest about GoDaddy, putting its name up front in our minds. And then on December 30, someone will triumphantly announce the successful transfer of domains from GoDaddy, and will then be informed that GoDaddy changed its stance during the prior week, and all the while people will be talking GoDaddy GoDaddy GoDaddy.

So, when will that Super Bowl commercial talk start again?

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