The High Price Of Being Super Nice

May 7, 2015Comments Off on The High Price Of Being Super Nice

Let's imagine niceness is a continuum ranging from two extremes.

At one extreme is what we'll call 'super rude'. It's the pass-the-buck, inconsistent, rude, robotic, uncaring type of messages you might receive from calling customer service at a large telecom company. 

At the other extreme is 'super nice'. Here you send gift baskets with personalised positive messages whenever there's a mistake, a member shares interesting news etc…

You get to choose your position along that continuum in every communication you have with every member.

The default for most people is smack bang in the middle. It's what we can best describe as 'nice enough'. It's polite, pleasant, and personable without showing too great an interest in the member's life or circumstances. This is very much how society conditions us to be around those that aren't friends/family. We expend the minimum resources necessary to maintain cohesive relationships. 

In an ideal world, we would be 'super nice' to everyone. Yet the closer you push towards that extreme, the highest the costs. That's financial costs, emotional cost, and time costs. You simply can't send gift baskets out to every member every day. So we all have to make compromises. 

Even if you tried to edge beyond 'nice enough' with every member, eventually you reach a natural cap. There's only so many previous conversations you can recall, only so many details you can remember about a member, and only so many gift baskets you can send etc…Even if you use a CRM system to store previous discussions, you will start to sound impersonal when you reference them.

It's also hard to be as nice as possible to the very members that are trying to destroy your community. 

You could simply recruit volunteers to do most of the personal contact and limit the number of people you're in contact with, but then you've already decided to cut out most people entirely from you (an acceptable strategy, as long as you're clear you're doing it). 

So most of us go with the default route. We stay around the nice enough level with everybody. You treat every member the same way regardless of whether they're a veteran, newcomer, regular, troll etc…That's fair, but it's not best for the community. 

Another problem is perceived fairness. If you send a gift basket to one member won't others expect the same? 

The challenge then is to figure out both in your community dynamics where to best expend your limited financial, time, and emotional (mental) resources to achieve the biggest impact. Because they are limited.

Every gift basket you send reduces the resources you can spend on every other member. Is that fair on the rest of the members? 

The best strategy is to edge as far beyond 'super nice' as you can in most discussions, be as likeable, personable, and interested in each member as you can sustain. Save your 'super nice' moments for the impact moments – moments when you can fundamentally change their relationship with your community. 

You may also find there are volume members whose complaints and queries you need to process through so you can focus on the members who make the most key contributions to the community. 

For example, infrequent visitors and veterans are usually set in their habits, but newcomers are certainly open to being nudged into higher levels of participation if you go beyond your typical demeanour for them. 

You can't be super nice to every body, it's too costly for you, your company, and your community. You can be smart about it and use it as a powerful means to get the right members more engaged at the right time. 

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