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First world problems: they don’t have free cookies

On a recent day trip to New Orleans, our family was diverted from the small airport we usually land in and instructed to proceed to a larger commercial one. To which I looked out the window and replied in my most whiny foot-stomping voice, "But I don't want to land here. They don't have free chocolate chip cookies."

My son immediately submitted my rant to a “first world problems” website and it became the most liked post of the month. I was officially an entitled complainer.

High expectations feed customer entitlement

In this day of high expectations, breakneck speed communication, (and bitchy postings), customers often have the upper hand. They can tweet, post, snap, share, and shout from the rooftops that your company has screwed them over one way or another. And while we know that first world problems are no longer reserved for the First World, it hasn’t stopped the growing sense of customer entitlement.

In this day of high expectations, breakneck speed communication, (and bitchy postings), customers often have the upper hand.

So, what is a brand to do

1. Understand that no question is too insignificant
I used to tell my staff (when I had one) that for every customer who calls, there are 99 more who didn't bother and went elsewhere. As silly or as minor as the question may be to you, your customer really didn't have the answer and that's why they contacted you. No question is insignificant. No legitimate (trolls and bullies not included) customer is insignificant. Feedback is a gift.

2. Monitor your social media all the time
Nowhere are first world problems more prevalent than on your social media accounts. We all expect an immediate response when we post something—good, bad, or ugly. We want a retweet or a comment or a thanks or an emoji—some sort of acknowledgment as if we are the only customer in the world. Social media is no longer an afterthought; social media is your main source to immediate customer interaction and should be given the attention it deserves. If you provide a product or service to anyone—consumer or B2B—monitor your social media or don't have social media at all.

3. Stop burying your contact page
You have a contact page, but where is it? Ask around to see if anyone on your team actually knows where the contact form is. Stop making it hard to find. Again, if you have a product or service, you MUST have an easy to locate “Contact Us” page. And just like I tell people with their business cards, only include the contact information you actually check.

4. Keep things simple, clean, and easy
Make your contact form as simple as you can. Your customer is already frustrated about something. Having to fill in multiple fields and write a dissertation on what the problem seems to be will send your customer's blood pressure soaring. Do you use a drop down menu for particular problems within the form? Always, always, always have a generic "other" to choose from.

5. Don’t let things die in the contact form graveyard
Now that you have a soothing contact form on your website and you know where to find it, who gets the email? Anyone? Hello? McFly? Contact form-filler-outers traditionally will give you more leeway than the social media posters, but infinite is not included. Make sure you know where that contact form information lands and have a response plan for your team.

6. Check the links
Do the links work on your website and on your social media accounts? Yes, they look pretty but do they actually link to anything? Check your contact links constantly. Weekly is good. Make checking your contact links a regular habit. Nothing creates a first world firestorm faster than a broken link. That's is worse than no acknowledgment at all.

7. Empower customer service rock stars
Train your team, keep them updated, and give them the autonomy to make decisions and take care of people. "There's nothing I can do" and "I'll have to get back to you" gives your customers an express ticket to first world problem land.

With a few simple adjustments and a well-trained and informed team, you can reduce first world problems to a mere trickle. And by the way, warm chocolate chip cookies go a long way as well.

Dayna Steele has been on a microphone and a stage for the majority of her life. She worked with the world’s greatest rock stars as a Hall of Fame rock radio personality and now on The Rock Talk she presents those true stories and business lessons alongside a musician who has shared (and survived) years in the spotlight. She also highlights these musicians on the TV series The Rock Business, coming soon to network television. Dayna is the author of eight books on success. Find here at

Illustration by Andrea Mongia.