Improving Blog | Golden Retriever Eats Pillow

Smack Me Down Hard: This Blog Will Be Better for It

Today is my two year anniversary of blogging, and I would like to admit something: I don’t know everything.

It’s an obvious statement, of course, who does know everything. But it helps me make my larger point that this blog is primarily a single author blog. While we are increasing our guest posts significantly, at least 2/3 or more of the content is still generated by me.

It’s me and my thoughts. Not only is it limited by what I know, but it is limited by the inherent constraints of blogging twice a week with well over full-time work schedule outside of blogging.

While some posts are comprehensive, many are quick opinion pieces — slivers of life from the business trenches or whatever strikes my mood.

It is you, the readers who comment, who fill in the void.

A Tale of Two Comments

I had a post submitted to Reddit awhile ago: How to Be a Good Customer: 16 Ways to Not Be A Jerk. One commenter on Reddit, cIumsythumbs, shared this comment on item 10 from my list:

10 Attempt To Put It Back Where You Found It — And if you don’t want to do that, at least don’t hide it on a shelf where no one will find it for a month. Stores make money by selling inventory, not by hiding it. If you won’t put it back, then take it to the register so the store can do so for you.

Oh god, not at my store. I expect that this is true in about 80% of retail, but if you’re shopping a specialty store — think staffing ratio of 2-4 customers per worker — it’s bad advice.

I don’t want to feel like I’m following you around the store. I know you mean well when you re-hang your stuff, but we have very high and picky standards, which you will not meet.

The size XL does not belong at the front of the rack. Those black pants you tried on were the Short Length, and you put them with the Averages…etc.

In this case, leave it in the fitting room, or ask the staff where they’d like the rejects.

I’ve had well-meaning customers, with 10-15 items, refuse my help to put them back. When i’m trying to look busy re-folding the same pile of tops for the 10th time. WTF. I’m getting paid, and you’re making me look like I’m not doing my job.

It was a great point from someone in the field. While my original point was still valid, cIumsythumbs’ comment qualified some times when it might not be. Better yet, the opinion was unvarnished. I don’t know cIumsythumbs and cIumsythumbs doesn’t know me.

Another great comment came awhile back from Jeff Toister on my post The Definition of Customer Loyalty.

Here is my definition:

Customer loyalty is the continued and regular patronage of a business in the face of alternative economic activities and competitive attempts to disrupt the relationship.

Customer loyalty often results in other secondary benefits to the firm such as brand advocacy, direct referrals, and price insensitivity.

Jeff made a great point in the comment section (which I just noticed I did not reply to — bad service!).

Adam, you’ve tackled a tough question with a pretty good definition. The one part I struggle with is “alternate economic activities.” Does this mean that if I have $5 to spend and I decide to spend it at Starbucks, I’m loyal to Starbucks because I didn’t use the $5 to make an extra contribution to my IRA?

I’m not sure if this is what you mean or not, but I’d define loyalty in this example as I spent $5 on a latte at Starbucks even though I could have spent $4 on a latte at McDonald’s or $5 on a latte at “Joe’s Cafe” that was 4 blocks closer than the Starbucks.

Jeff’s comment has forced me to consider revising the definition and replacing alternative economic activities with a phrase more steeped in the concept of economic substitutes.

Improving Blog | Golden Retriever Eats PillowOf course, my blog would have gone on without either of the comments above. My larger points would have been made and hopefully received by the readers. But the comments made the points richer, made the posts more valuable.

Filling in what was missed, challenging thoughts not fully formed, all of this makes a blog better and the reader more educated.

So yes, on my two year blogging anniversary, my big revelation is that I don’t know everything, and all I ask of you the reader is this…

Be professional, be constructive, but smack me down hard.

We’ll all learn a lot more if you do. Including me.

About 

By Adam Toporek. Adam Toporek is an internationally recognized customer service expert, keynote speaker, and workshop leader. He is the author of Be Your Customer's Hero: Real-World Tips & Techniques for the Service Front Lines (2015), as well as the founder of the popular Customers That Stick® blog and co-host of the Crack the Customer Code podcast.

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24 replies
  1. Jacob Yount
    Jacob Yount says:

    I enjoyed the post Adam, and I hope someday if my blog increases its readers/comments they will deal out the smackdowns – refining smackdowns that is…

    The first guy’s comment on being a good customer hit home. Sometimes being a good customer (and you can interchange this with many concepts) is instead of doing what you feel is polite, going with the flow of the organization. Figuring out how things are done THERE and then going with that, even if it goes against the grain of one’s conventional thinking.

    Reply
    • Adam Toporek
      Adam Toporek says:

      I appreciate it Jacob. And I’m with you, I only really like refining smackdowns… The other one’s are not as fun. 🙂

      Speaking of refining… Great point, I should have added figuring out the business and going with the flow of the organization to my original post. So much of the business criticism I see online does not take into account the business model of the business being critiqued.

      Reply
  2. Michelle Quillin
    Michelle Quillin says:

    Happy 2 Year Anniversary, Adam!

    I never thought of comments on blogs as an opportunity to learn more on the topic of the post. But you’re right — that’s what they are. The best blog posts I’ve read over the last couple of years have had robust discussions continuing in the comment section, with the comments adding to the conversation, not filled with fluff! I hope everyone who reads this will start using their own comments as an opportunity to help round out a topic. I’m going to start thinking more about how to engage readers in a discussion, too, on my posts.

    The comments you shared here are excellent. Thanks for pointing them out! (I always put merchandise back. But having worked in retail, I put it back exactly where it belongs, and neatly.)

    Reply
    • Adam Toporek
      Adam Toporek says:

      Thank you Michelle! And thanks for sticking around for so much of the journey. I really appreciate the support.

      This community is still being developed, but you can really see the power of blog comments when you look at a developed (and well-led) community like Spin Sucks or {grow}. Of course, the bloggers in both of those communities have a great deal of wisdom to share, but their communities are so strong that the comments on their posts create an exceedingly high level of content and discussion — fleshing out, in some cases, complex topics in a way that a single author simply cannot. Ironically, I sometimes won’t comment on Mark’s blog because the discussion has been so substantive prior to my getting to it that I don’t have time to add anything of value and I don’t feel right leaving a quick, drive-by comment.

      Reply
      • Michelle Quillin
        Michelle Quillin says:

        “I sometimes won’t comment on Mark’s blog because the discussion has been so substantive prior to my getting to it that I don’t have time to add anything of value and I don’t feel right leaving a quick, drive-by comment.”

        I feel the same way. I’ve seen some blog posts recently about how it’s a gesture of gratitude to comment with at least a “Great blog post!” comment. I understand why writers are seeking that acknowledgement, but I’m more aligned with you here. If we really have nothing more to add to the discussion or topic, why clutter up the comment section and now put added pressure on the author to respond in some way to our thank-you? (No one wants to let a comment hang without a response!)

        I like to use Twitter or other social media platforms to show my appreciation for a great blog post. If I add a public statement about the post (“Excellent read!”) and link to it, I’m certain the author appreciates that. And if I REALLY love the post, I share it several times!

        Reply
        • Adam Toporek
          Adam Toporek says:

          I’m torn on the quick comment thing. I generally won’t just say “great post” as I agree, that is basically clutter and meaningless. Depending on the vibe of the discussion and my relationship with the blogger (if I have one), I will sometimes do a 2 sentence quick comment just to let them know I read it and to give some positive feedback. I don’t have much time to comment so often it’s that or nothing.

          And PS. I always really appreciate your multiple shares Michelle! 🙂

          Reply
  3. Michelle Mazur
    Michelle Mazur says:

    Happy 2 year anniversary, Adam!

    The best part of engagement is learning from people who have a different perspective than you. It makes us better bloggers, writers, speakers and people. I love when people stop by my website and leave a comment that is going to help other people whether it’s a link to another site or a piece of advice. Our blogging is better for it!

    Reply
    • Adam Toporek
      Adam Toporek says:

      I appreciate it! “The best part of engagement is learning from people who have a different perspective than you.” I think that line says it all. It really is the secret sauce in this whole blogging experience. And I think it’s undersold. When you read the lists of why you should be blogging or advantages of having a blog, people don’t usually say: you’re going to get called out by people with a different perspective, and you’re going to learn from it.

      Thanks so much for taking time to share your thoughts here!

      Reply
  4. Gini Dietrich (
    Gini Dietrich ( says:

    Happy Anniversary AND Happy Valentine’s Day!!

    I love a good debate and people’s perspectives to help keep your mind open as well as make you a better blogger. I say let’s do more of it!

    Reply
  5. Kaarina Dillabough
    Kaarina Dillabough says:

    Happy 2nd blogaversary my friend. It seems like many of us 2-year olds are redefining our paths as we consider from whence we’ve come and where we want to go. I think healthy discussion is the spice of life but, like you, if I’ve noticed that many of the things I would have commented on have already been adequately covered, I might not comment. And sometimes, when the thread is long and comprehensive, it just doesn’t feel right jumping in. I’m more a spectator then.

    Wishing you a wonderful day, and Happy Valentine’s day too! Cheers! Kaarina

    Reply
    • Adam Toporek
      Adam Toporek says:

      It’s fun to look back at two years. First, it’s a nice milestone, because (supposedly) the great majority of blogs go dark within the first year. And it’s also nice to see where you are on the journey. I was deciding what to write for this post and went back and found an old “What I Learned in My First 6 Months” post I did. It was interesting to see where I was then and compare it to now.

      See you and Bill at year 3!

      Reply
  6. Jeff Toister
    Jeff Toister says:

    Thanks for including me in your example, Adam!

    I agree that it’s rich discussion and endless learning that makes us all wiser. This spirit also indicates that you are truly a customer service expert! As I wrote in a post of my own today (see link below in Comment Luv), most people overestimate their knowledge and abilities. However, the reverse is often true for experts who continuously remind themselves they don’t know it all.

    Reply
    • Adam Toporek
      Adam Toporek says:

      My pleasure Jeff! Thanks for taking the time to add your input on the original post.

      And thank you for the kind words — they are much appreciated! I hope I never lose the desire to learn and to grow. The world moves to fast nowadays anyway; if you’re standing still, you’re getting left behind. And fast.

      Reply
  7. Bill Dorman
    Bill Dorman says:

    See what happens when you ask a question that requires some thought; you actually have to think of an intelligent response. Sounds like work to me….I just want people to tell me how great I am because I can then ‘aw shucks’ a response pretty easily.

    Congrats on two years sir. Whereas I’m headed in the other direction, I like the direction you are taking and I think you will see some good results from your efforts.

    Reply
  8. Sonia
    Sonia says:

    You know, if there is one thing I have learned with blogging is that you aren’t going to please everyone all the time. I like a difference of opinion because then we all don’t sound or look like robots agreeing to everything. I would rather you just be YOU and give it to me straight. I can’t stand posts that color-coat the message to sound politically correct. To hell with that! Now, I do adhere to be professional and not use bad language on my blog because I don’t want to offend my readers, but it happens and you just “keep it movin”.

    In regards to the post about about customers being jerks…I can confirm that it does happen and its WHY I don’t work in retail anymore. They tend to be the worst customers and don’t treat employees well either. On the other hand, some employees in those types of jobs might not take their job seriously either. Hence, high turnover rates in retail.

    Nevertheless, it is what it is and you can’t make everyone happy, but your posts provide enough value for me to leave you a long-winded response. Great post Adam!

    Reply
    • Adam Toporek
      Adam Toporek says:

      That’s as true as it comes. If you want to be loved by everyone, putting your ideas on the Internet is a lousy way to go about it — especially if you do not hold back your opinions. I tend to say what I think about ideas, but I will restrain myself (depending) if my thoughts are about a person or company. One thing about digital communication — it is very easy to be misinterpreted.

      Glad you are finding value here Sonia; I really appreciate your input!

      Reply

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