What “The Internet of Customers” means to me

I’ve spent the last few days at Dreamforce 2013 thinking about this year’s theme: The Internet of Customers.

What does it mean to the nonprofits I support? What does that have to do with CRM? I don’t want to just introduce my clients to a new mobile app – I want to show them why it matters. I want to drink the Kool Aid and share it.

This morning I received an email which led me to a bit of a revelation:

Hello Webmaster,

We had approached you on dated October 13th, 2013 for remove our back links from following links.

(links removed)

It has been past almost one week and neither link has been deleted nor any confirmation from your side. Again we are requesting you to remove link or we have only option to approach for disavow tool.

Disavow tool may be harm to your website so please remove back link and confirm us.

Softweb Solutions

I’m not honoring this company with another backlink – they’re easy enough to find if you’re curious to see a company still living in 2003 and not 2013. This isn’t a startup fly-by-night. This is a big company serving the enterprise space.

I replied, to express a bit of a WTF but mainly to see if a real person sent the message. He replied and said he “understood my situation” but his manager made him do it.

The link in question was on a comment at the bottom of a 5 year old blog post. The comment itself was “Thanks for this information” and the URL of Softweb Solutions. Truth be told, I typically delete such useless drivel right away as blog spam. Guess that one slipped through in 2008.

I was mad. First, I don’t like being threatened. (who does?) Does it look like I care about the disavow tool? I’ve long stopped monitoring where my blog comes up in search results. When I have something I want to say I post here, and when people who care about what I post want to read what I post they come here and they read it. If they really like it they’ll post a link on their own networks. That’s all I look at. If it comes up in Google, all the better. I don’t remember the last time I looked at traffic stats.

But then I thought about it and it made me sad for poor sorry Softweb Solutions. They don’t get it. This is a technology company in 2013 serving the enterprise with expertise in every tired technology, and they are clueless about what it means to be a customer company. And they shouldn’t be clueless. No business or nonprofit can afford to be clueless about the direction we’re heading.

I’m not their customer, and probably never will be. I’m sad that they saw a link buried in a comment on a 5 year old post and decided that I had no value as a potential customer or partner. They didn’t know that I recommend technology to many others, including some who work for or connect with some very large companies. They didn’t know that I have 1,000 more followers than their company Twitter account does. They apparently decided based on one old page on this site that I was a detractor to their success rather than an opportunity. And that’s sad.

And here I am, posting a blog saying bad things about this company and there’s no disavow tool they can threaten me with to make this go away. People who follow me might be looking for exactly the service that Softweb Solutions offers and their first impression of the company may very well be someone else’s negative insight.

That’s the Internet of Customers, isn’t it? Everyone who touches your brand, even if it’s in a buried and forgotten blog post by some tiny person, is your customer or constituent. Are you going to threaten them with disavow or make a positive impact? Your choice.

A customer company would have known that I’m so much more than a blog that doesn’t get enough love.

Dear Softweb Solutions: I was more than happy to mark that useless ancient comment as spam. You don’t deserve to have a link here.