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***the old ways - a human contact, a hand shake, an acknowledgment that customers are valuable.***

I personally don't think that these have disappeared. In my opinion, it really depends on the size of the business we are referring to.

For example, startups and new businesses often display the above characteristics.

Many times, I've experienced young and hungry companies who would bend over backwards for my business....Polite, courteous, timely, etc...

However, once a company grows to employ thousands and even hundreds of thousands, these qualities start to fade...Especially if the company has received a government contract or monopoly license...then care for the customer disappears almost entirely...Unfortunately, this approach is becoming more and more popular.

In any case, it is my contention that employee number 1,000 or 100,000 will hardly have the same passion as the original owner(s) did.

This is not meant to knock large businesses...they do in fact satisfy the desires of the masses, which is a remarkable feat.

But to expect large companies, who employ every type of person under the Sun, to somehow have the customer-centered characteristics of a startup, is expect the near-impossible.

@Gavin - I hope it is a situation of "participate or perish". I'm not going to miss the arrogance, the pushiness, the intrusion and the power plays of those companies - they are a drain to our common resources. I think if as a company you are not listening to your own customers and employees, for example, you have no prayer of getting the collaboration piece right. This is not just another way to tell employees what to do and where to do it, as you know. Start small is the best advice anyone could get. Thank you.

@Gianandrea - hope is last to die - la speranza e' l'ultima a morire :)

@Brian - I know people who do that. I think the statistics were always self aware. Now we have a visible way of pushing back.

@Cece - businesses are stuck at dull product and sub par delivery, I think. That's why it requires so much effort to get the word out. I cannot remember (aside from Apple) the last time I was impressed by a company's product or service. Good enough, check the box. That's the attitude. So unless the business decides to change its ways, integrating a token community program is not going to move the needle.

We're at a crossroads of traditional marketing (one to many broadcast) to one of conversational or participatory marketing (listen, participate and engage in a conversation). The latter can be more time confusing and threatening for individuals/businesses stuck in broadcast marketing. It requires transparency and being open to constructive feedback.

Like having an online presence, which was foreign to many businesses at one point, participatory marketing will become a norm as more individuals continue driving those efforts forward.

It will grow organically as more success stories are experienced– streamlined customer service, increased brand and industry awareness, and even incoming leads that convert to sales. In the end, it will just become an extension of the other efforts that we've done to date.

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