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For the last 6 years I have coached youth football. It is volunteer and takes a ton of time, but it is great. We are to the age (7th grade) where we are trying to teach our kids that it is “their team”. This means that if they slack off or don’t try it is the team’s duty to get everyone in shape. We are not the barking in your ear types of coaches – atleast most of the time. We want them to be able to work together to learn, have fun, and fulfill the potential that they have. To make it “their team,” leaders need to evolve.

We have stressed that leaders are needed to make the team successful. Leaders are needed in good times and in bad times. When someone does something wrong a leader does not point fingers but rather finds a way to correct it. A leader gets the team motivated and helps the team identify goals and in turn, finds ways to achieve those goals. Sometimes they simply lead by example, and in other cases they need to be more vocal and communicate to the team to fix problems or note accomplishments.

In the first three weeks of practice we have seen some kids really step up. We have seen some of them step up to the point of dragging a teammate across the finish line for conditioning. No joke – we really push these kids. We have seen leaders evolve that lead by action. We have seen the vocal leaders. I think you need all types to be successful. The one thing that we have noticed is that these leaders are not pointing fingers when a play goes wrong, but rather they are asking how to correct it. They are teaching, motivating, and hopefully making a friend in the long run.

This experience of identifying leaders can be translated over to the business world. Think about it – when you have been in a leadership role were you motivating, picking your team up when down, advising, educating, NOT pointing fingers, etc.? If you haven’t, I may have a few kids that could teach you something.

My last post was about terrible customer service I experienced at Golf Galaxy, where I was a very loyal and frequent customer. I gave it two weeks to see if I would get any type of contact from Golf Galaxy, but did not get anything. What I did get out of it was the satisfaction of finding out that this has happened to many other people. Many of it through the Web (comments on FB, email, etc.) and also through interaction with friends and family. One of my biggest accomplishments out of this was having one of my friends (who buys new clubs every year) react by saying, “Wow. I have had decent experiences there but nothing great. Looks like I won’t be going back now….ever.”

But through this experience there are some key takeaways that we can all take when it comes to your brand being exposed negatively on the Web. And let me get this straight, my experience was not like many recent ones that were just huge (Dominos, Motrin), mine was very small in Web proportions with having just over 400 people view my post, 4 RT on Twitter, and 12 comments (FB and email). But here is the deal, this is thousands of people being exposed to this experience. Not all will change their minds and stop shopping there, but a few will.

The biggest thing that brands are having issues with on the social Web is listening. Obvsiously noboby was listening on the Web for Golf Galaxy two weeks ago when this post came out. If they were listening they could have joined the conversation by commenting on the blog, sending me something on twitter or facebook, or direct messaging me via twitter or email. If they would have done so acknowledging the situation and apologizing I would have wrote a post about how good they were at listening. And even better maybe would have given Golf Galaxy another chance in the future. Instead, they have lost a customer (hopefully hundreds!) for life.

So what should they do to prevent this in the future. Just a few thoughts:

  • Start a twitter account and listen. Search golf galaxy every day to see what people are saying. Also use this account to put out sales or coupons (much like the emails that they send).
  • Start searching the Web for blogs that talk about them and join the conversation.
  • Start being social on their own. Align social tools with marketing objectives.

Good luck.

The Situation

I have been a big time golfer (well atleast the interest level is huge) for my whole life. I spend money on the newest clubs, balls, even biodegradable tees! It was time for new grips because the cord (style) grips that I had were just not cutting it for me. So, I went to Golf Galaxy where I always buy (in this case bought) all of my golf necessities.

The Story

Monday 5/4/09 – Go to Golf Galaxy in Brookfield to get new grips. At the end of last year I had them put the Winn G8 on my 4 iron to test it out over the winter and see if it is what I wanted to switch to for all of my clubs. The test went good so I decided to switch to this grip. I went into the store and proceeded to the grip area. Went back and a guy was back there gripping a club. He was doing it for an elderly man who was trying to create some conversation with the employee – the employee wasn’t having it. Replied with one-word answers basically blowing the old man off. To be honest, don’t even know if the elderly man needed a regrip but really was just looking to  have some good golf conversation.

So I went and looked at grips. The G8 was advertised but did not have any grips for sale in the “bin”. I looked around and waited for the employee to finish the regrip. He finished and I asked if they had any G8’s in. He replied, “I don’t think so.” I asked if he could check “in the back” and he replied that they were all out and didn’t sell them anymore. BUT they were advertising them so that was a little sketchy.

Being open to other options I began asking questions. “Is this one like the G8?” “Is this one firm or soft?” “I don’t want a cord, so can you tell me which ones are opposite of that?” The response that I got was basically that it was a personal preference/he didn’t really care to help. Yes, I know it is a personal preference but you are paid to give me information! So we went around and around, basically I felt that the dude just wanted to go back for a cig break or think about his broken dream of being on the tour and now stuck in Golf Galaxy. So I found the Winn DSI. Nice grip but the display wasn’t on a shaft. Asked him if he could put it on one and employee said “no”. Ughhh.

You are probably asking now, “Why in the world did I even stay after this?” For me it’s all about loyalty. I have been loyal my whole life. Loyal in my job, loyal to my friends, girlfriends, and to my favorite stores. So I gave them a chance. I ended up getting the Winn DSI and had them put the grips on. I asked when I could get them and he said by the weekend. 7 days for 10 grips? Come one now! The guy was being a jerk. I tried to engage in conversation about a course that he and now another employee were talking about and they blew me off.

So I got an estimate for the work. I know it is an estimate and they can change it – yes I get it. But the guy’s estimate was only for the labor of 2 grips plus price of 10 grips for a total of around $65. I really thought he was hooking me up for being such a terrible help, but turns out he was just incompetent and couldn’t figure out how to work the computer. So I signed and left, asking to have the grips by the weekend and they said hopefully it could be done. 9 out of 10 times I would have brought up the mistake. But in this case he ought to be doing me a favor anyway.

Wednesday 5/6/09 – Early! Got an email the grips were done. Sweet, thanks buddy for coming through. I’m busy with softball the next few night so go in Friday. Go back by the club repair area and there is nobody around. Stand there for a good 4 or 5 minutes and two employees walk by but don’t acknowledge my existence. Awesome… Then the same guy comes back. Thinking he may have had a case of “the Mondays” during my last visit I give him a chance.

He walks up I say, “What’s going on man?” He blows me off…”Last name?” Really? After not helping me you have to be a huge prick. So I tell him my last name and look and the estimate is change to $90 (from $65). I say to him that the estimate was $65 when I signed on Monday. He replies that he screwed up (no “sorry I screwed up sir”) but just a non-genuine answer. So I say that the original was $65 that I signed and I shouldn’t have to pay for his screw up (in a very NICE way). He says he screwed up and I have to pay it, end of story. I come back and say that I have been coming here for at least 5 years and should not have to pay it. SIDE NOTE – if you know me, I am not cheap. Have never been cheap. But after how I was treated at Golf Galaxy I think I should be compensated for terrible service and shouldn’t have to pay for someone’s screw up.

So this guy then has the nerve to say, “So lookin’ for a freebie. I get it. You can go to the manager and try to get your freebie.” Basically saying that I am cheap. Golf Galaxy employees are now calling their customers (loyal customers) cheap! As you can imagine, I am furious. Just furious. So I go to the manager. Instead of apologizing and saying “Sir, I’m sorry that we screwed up but we cannot do anything about it,” he ends up telling me that the work was done and I have to pay it. I tell him that I don’t care about the money part, but the service was terrible. Even go on to tell him that his prick of an employee was unhelpful and extremely rude. He has no answer, but he can give me half off the difference ($10). I even said I would never come back again and he could still do nothing! Ohh, and still no apology on their mistake and his employees terrible service. I leave in frustration.

The Loss

I have been going to only Golf Galaxy for everything like I mentioned. Even have forwarded sales via email to friends, coworkers and family. Not any more. I am finished at Golf Galaxy for life.

My estimated future purchases and projected revenue lost for the next 40 years. Sorry Golf Galaxy but I’m going elsewhere.

Irons (new every 5 years): $1000 x 8 = $8000

Driver (new every 3 years): $300 x 13 = $4000

Woods/Hybrids (new every 3 years): 3 clubs x $200 each = $7800

Balls (5 boxes year):  $40/dozen = $8000

Total Estimate: $27,800 – this does not include shoes, gloves, tees, bags, and clothes – all bought at Golf Galaxy in the past.

The Power of Social (social experiment)

RT and pass this along. Let’s see if I hear anything from Golf Galaxy. I will update the post if I do. Twitter tag: #antigolfgalaxy

In these tough times there is absolutely no reason NOT to go out and build your personal brand. You need to absolutely kill it when it comes to your own representation. For ways to do this go to a post from last month on growing your network. I saw this opportunity to kill it on twitter the other night. I was relaxing and watching Scarface when I got a message that @Scobleizer is now following me. Are you kidding me! If you have no idea who Robert Scoble is, you need to start at Web 2.0 101. This guy is one of the most profound gurus in the space.

See, I took like 15 days or so off of twitter due to a ridiculous span of working my tail off and now have come to the realization that I need to take advantage of this opportunity. And taking advantage in no means is about  just posting more STUFF, which unfortunately  on twitter there is just a lot of STUFF, but it is about posting content that can build a relationship with a top guru in the space. And when I say stuff, I mean irrelevant information from individuals which I think actually builds the character of the tool itself – don’t take it out of context, twitter is awesome. It brings collaboration and socialization together. You can gain knowledge from others while also learning about them. Their travel, their habits, their personal experiences.

You know some say they have those life changing moments when they have a near death experience. Mine came with a simple email notification of a new follower. I gotta step my game up and kill it. I need to contribute content to the masses that is new and worthwhile. Crush it as Gary V would say….haha dude is another guru when it comes to the space.

Are you concerned about your job? Or do you want something even better? There is one thing that you can do to make yourself ready for a change – build your online network.

In times like these, it is essential to build your network online. Start making virtual friends with those in your field all over the world. Here is a list of some necessary steps to take online.

  • Go to Facebook, LinkedIn, MySpace, Bebo, etc. and build your network of friends
  • Go to these social networks and join groups that surround your profession and PARTICIPATE
  • Participation is key. Be active and be well known and thoughtful
  • Join FreindFeed and subscribe to top professionals in your area (and me if you want!)
  • Join Twitter and follow top thought leaders and professionals in your area (@samsova)
  • Find top bloggers in your area and put them into an aggregator (like myyahoo.com) and learn
  • search for free or cheap events in your city

The biggest thing to take out of this is to build YOU online. Understand how people follow one another and how to be followed so that you are well know. Start a blog, contribute to a blog (comment). Be thoughtful. Just participate.

Hopefully taking some of these actions will help you understand more what is going on in your profession and will open up opportunities in these tough times.

It is interesting how people associate things like work and sports with the term WE if they truly feel part of it. A few weeks back I was in Minnesota visiting some friends that I have not seen for years and really noticed this when everyone started talking about their jobs. Most people worked at places that nobody has every heard of (one being Fiserv) and it was interesting to see the difference in descriptions of the organization. The big thing was the use of either “WE” or “The company does….”

So for example, one friend said, “I work at xyz company. We are the biggest manufacturer of nuts and bolts in the world with over 50,000 clients worldwide.” Where the other one said, “I work for abc company. ABC is the second largest publisher in the nation.” The big difference was WE. The people who used the term WE were truly engaged in what there company did and cared. They felt part of it. It was more than just a pay check and a 9-5. For the other example, you could tell that it was just a job for them. They really weren’t brand ambassadors. I sure wouldn’t work there or believe much by the way he talked about the organization.

People do this with sports too. I had a huge debate with a friend in college when I started talking about the Brewers baseball team as if I was really on it. “We will go to the world series this year.” When you are a true fan you are a brand ambassador for that team.

So the big question is do you use WE when you talk about your company? Are you a true brand ambassador? If not, it may be time to start doing or get out.

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