Nobody Cares

I used to work with a guy who did something really abnormal. By “abnormal” I don’t mean weird or that he might be psychotic. He did something that no one else does.

I noticed this right away, but it didn’t sink in until we got lunch together at some soup/sandwich chain.

We walked in the door to be greeted by the cashier with a standard, “Hi, how are you guys doing?

My coworker responded with, “Good. How are you doing?

…I’m good, man. Thanks for asking.

That looks like a boring conversation, but it was fascinating to watch.

The cashier looked almost offended when my coworker asked how he was doing.

Why?

Because when he asked the question, you could tell by his tone that he cared about the answer.

And nobody cares.

Nobdoy Cares

Does the cashier at Target really care if I found everything I was looking for? I almost never do find everything I’m looking for, but I causally lie every time I’m asked this. I know they don’t care and people behind me would get upset if I actually told the cashier I couldn’t find what I wanted. It would then force the cashier to send out a search team for the hand towels I was looking for.

Does Spotify care that I wanted to be removed from their mailing list? Of course not. They just want me to download their app on my phone. They don’t care that I’m trying to unsubscribe from their mailing list. I tried the app. Sorry, I love Rdio.

Spotify

Does anyone who has ever said “have a good one” actually mean it? It’s absurd. Have a good what? Have a good time? Have a good weekend? Have a good life? That would actually be meant as an insult. “Have a good one” is a conversational exit. Nothing more.

Does the generic “Business in the Cloud” company care that I’m upset they whored out my email address from a webinar I forgot to attend? Nope. Five companies have emailed with me “following up” about services I never expressed interest in.

Does your server really care how the first few bites are? Or are they just hoping you have the standard, “It’s great!” response when the food is mediocre?

Does the cashier at the coffee shop I go to really care if I order something from the bakery? Does she think it will improve my morning? That I really wanted it, but forgot to order it? No, she cares about her manager seeing her ask for the up-sell.

Does any man care that a razors have 5 different blades that are strong enough to shave a yak? No, and that’s part of the reason Dollar Shave Club is successful.

You should care because nobody else does

Gary Vanerchuk is unique because of how much he cares. Himself personally and WineLibrary. I received a personal email from Gary and wine recommendations from the Vice President at WineLibrary, as well as a thank you call from the “Thank You Department” after ordering.

Mark Cuban is more likely to write back quicker to your email than your friends. He’s written back to a few of my emails in less than 5 minutes. It seems insane, but maybe that’s why he’s a billionaire.

MediaTemple answer my tweeted support questions within a few minutes. And they just mailed me a t-shirt.

Half the reason people love Apple products is because they feel the company really cares about making a good product.

While writing this, the creator of TimeDoctor sent me an email asking for feedback (with the promise of an actual response) as I’m in the trial stage.

The easiest way to be different, to separate yourself from everyone else, is to care.

The world craves people who care. People who are passionate about what they do.

Because nobody cares, you should.

Find me on Twitter where I write shorter things @BenNesvig 

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  • http://www.hullfinancialplanning.com/ Jason Hull

    What a statement about Bizo that they couldn’t even be bothered to respond to your tweet. It’s an implicit admission of exactly what they did and that they’re simply in the business of gathering and selling e-mail addresses. Blech.

    • http://www.twitter.com/bennesvig Ben Nesvig

      Yeah, I didn’t expect them to. That tweet was purely cathartic to make me feel a little better. I used a new email address for that webinar so it’s pretty easy to see that the 5+ companies who have spammed me came from there.

      • http://twitter.com/rchatterton Ryan Chatterton

        It’s funny how they’ve responded now, almost sounding defensive.

  • (mt)KatD

    Thanks for mentioning us, we definitely do care :}! If you ever have any questions about our services we are available 24/7 via Twitter, chat or by phone to help! Have a greaaaaaat day!

    p.s. Hope you enjoyed your shirt ;D

    Kat D.
    (mt) Media Temple
    Social Media Team

    • http://www.twitter.com/bennesvig Ben Nesvig

      I love the shirt. And the support. And that my website doesn’t crash during traffic spikes.

      • (mt)KatD

        I understand Matt and I appreciate the feedback ;].
        Ben, I’m glad you are liking the shirt, they’re pretty nifty!

        If either of you ever have any questions, we are always here to help! :}

        Kat D.
        (mt) Media Temple
        Social Media Team

    • http://www.linkedin.com/in/matthewtagg Matt Tagg

      Well KatD and Media Temple “care” in as much as having a social media team that uses monitoring software to pick up on mentions in the web, and responds to them in an automated way, is sort of caring.

      But I suspect that was not the kind of caring you meant Ben. Care can easily just be disguised as efficient business processes. So how is a process that makes someone feel loved different to a process that manages inventory?

      Anyway I have no idea what “care” really means. It’s a tricky word.

      • http://www.twitter.com/bennesvig Ben Nesvig

        That’s a good point. It is a tricky word since it largely deals with emotion, so the definition varies person to person. In general, I’d define caring as doing more than what is necessary. It isn’t necessary for MediaTemple to take support questions via Twitter. They didn’t need to send me a shirt. I certainly wasn’t threatening to cancel my service. Two of the higher up people at WineLibrary didn’t need to send me personal emails asking if I had questions about my order.

        A process that makes someone feel loved can overlap with a process that manages inventory. I think the element of caring can be added to almost any process.

  • http://rendion.myopenid.com/ render

    Dude, you kill me.

    Im an indie dev, and all I can do is care, other than that I got nothing.

    I hate auto-greetings. Theres this fuck at the convenience store closest to me.
    As soon as you set one foot in the door he SCREAMS “HEY HOWS IT GOIN MAN!” I havent responded in 6 months, but he does it anyway.

    Proof he has no social skills and that his greeting is just a job that he has to do no matter how embarrasing for both of us.

    I use to have a really PITA wife who would never look me in the eyes and say
    “I love you” but on the way out the door would wave every day and yell

    “Luv YA!!!”

    People just dont get it. Im not sure where the message left the bottle or where the bottle got washed up but this pack of folks is a sad earth.

    A sad fucking earth dude.

    • Ian

      Who says the guy at the convenience store doesn’t care? I worked as a cashier and would say hello to everyone entering the store. I wanted them to feel welcome and that someone cared about them, -even if- the person didn’t respond to me. I don’t see what’s so callous about that.

  • etc

    Have you ever had a thing happen that you wanted to explain in single-sentence paragraphs?

    I had a thing happen once.
    *You should make that thing happen*.
    Example 1.
    Example 2.
    Example 3.
    If you follow examples 1, 2 and 3, you will make that thing happen.
    My name is Seth Godin, good night.

  • screwu

    Mark Cuban is a load mouth piece of shit who only cares about hearing his own voice.

    • http://www.twitter.com/bennesvig Ben Nesvig

      People love him or hate him. I enjoyed his book and he has written back to almost every email I’ve sent him, when there is no reason for someone like him to do so. He was also nice enough give a friend of mine tickets to a Timberwolves game when the Mavs were in town, go out for a drink with them afterward, and give them advice on their start-up business.

  • http://obscurelyfamous.com Daniel Ha

    Others can be smarter than you, or have more resources than you. But there’s no reason — if you are competing against them — that they should care more than you.

    Use prolific empathy as an edge.

    • http://hirethoughts.blogspot.com/ Donna Brewington White

      Prolific empathy. That’s brilliant, powerful. And you are right, that is such an edge. I like that you didn’t say “the illusion of empathy” which is worse than no empathy at all. But of course you wouldn’t say that.

    • http://noblepioneer.com/ Tyler Hayes

      Big +1 on prolific empathy. cc @donnawhite:disqus

  • Christopher Brown

    Haha mediatemple replied to your tweets? You must have one of their Nitro servers because they sure as heck *don’t care* about their customers on the (gs) level. I got about two 9’s of uptime and 72+ hours of silence after every support ticket I made, because they cared so much (about their other, higher-paying customers, of course).

    • http://www.twitter.com/bennesvig Ben Nesvig

      I have the basic gs service. I came over from BlueHost where it seemed like every other day my site was down or was hacked with an infected file. Since being with them I think I’ve only had one instance of service being spotty, but everything else has been good. Maybe I’ve been lucky?

  • anon makes me feel strong

    hey! i’m not from the us. and i have to tell you the shocking truth, that not *all* ppl on this planet obey to these strange social rules you talk about. there are societies where ppl yell at each other and understand their rude behaviour as a nice act. where servers do care about your opinion on the quality of the food they serve. if ppl ask me how i feel, i tell them the truth. it’s nothing special. go abroad and listen to the people you meet. i don’t want to be a smart ass, but it starts with yourself.

    • http://www.twitter.com/bennesvig Ben Nesvig

      From observing a lot of sales people over the last few years, I think people crave honesty. Or at least when they are being sold to. People are so used to scripted politeness that honesty is refreshing. Totally agree that it starts within.

    • ZoubIWah

      true. i moved to the US and i was disturbed that people would ask me “how i”m going today” and when i say, im good how are you, they’re indeed a little annoyed. Which as a non-US citizen, feels like “well don’t f. ask” :)

      Nevertheless I got used to it and I still reply back because I can’t help but feel like it’s out of place if I don’t.

    • http://www.facebook.com/andreea.scacioc Andreea Alexandra Scacioc

      It is a US thing. Here in Europe people do care. I can give you an example: in Kaufland, a huge supermarket, I was once asked, while checking out if everything is ok. I said that I have observed that there are always empty boxes laying around and I do not like the disorder (their biggest competitor, Real, does a better job at this:P, but I skipped this detail). The cashier noted down my answer. I was like, yeah really, like they care… Next week, Kaufland looked like Real: no boxes left around. They do care when they ask. Anyhow, this is good for business because I was impressed up to the point of increasing my visits to Kaufland while slowly decreasing my visits to Real. (Actually I felt guilty not to go after they changed themselves to please me:) ) Moreover, I observed that am not offered help at random in supermarkets, but only when I am really lost and I tell them that I am looking for certain things. Once, one of the guys in the supermarket even called his boss to check the database where the Marsala wine is because he did not know it himself. In Europe, we do care!

  • brad parks

    Kudos. You’re right. Nobody cares. And we all know that everyone should. And like a movie that ends when the story gets good, you, and I shouldn’t let it end here. Care. No bullshit. Just get out there and be good to people instead of watching reruns of *****.

  • http://blog.cwl.cc/ Kevin Costain

    Hello Ben, and thank you for the great blog post. I enjoyed reading it.

    I feel, however, that there’s something more than caring. I don’t mean to belittle the importance of it, but I think there is something more valuable than caring. I spent a good part of my younger years working at Burger King (8 years, I still can’t believe it). I learned allot working there, but one of the big lessons I learned in that customer service environment is what people seem to like when the possibilities for conversation consist of about 10 seconds of small talk.

    My feeling is this: Caring=Investment
    Not horrible, but often times investment just means stress. Have you ever tried to reply with “How are you” only to have “Ho…” come out because that person has moved on? Investment is not always what’s important, and I think the assessment of no one is invested is true. Or, at least not too many people are invested in any of us.

    Here’s what more important IMO: connection=magic
    When I meet new people, random people and really anyone that is not a close friend, there is always something in the interactions that takes it over the top. It could be that I looked them in the eye. That I didn’t use intimidating body language (I’m a big guy), that I smiled directly at them, that I said “Thank yo and meant it” or that I actually engaged in a conversation about “How they were doing”. Every I see people who want to be connected too. This happens on every medium of communication. My ten year old niece wants her text responded to immediately to know I’m there. My cleaners what me to ask them questions about the services they offer because I’m interested. People crave interest, communications and connections with others.

    It takes time, energy, focus, investment (that caring stuff), and attention to make a reasonably decent connection with another human being. It’s harder electronically, but still very possible. My perfect day is that I’ve connected someone with everyone I’ve met and (maybe) learned something about them I didn’t know.

    P.S. I considered this idea of connections earlier today when I had a parking pass that still had an hour of paid time on it. I went to a car that was just arriving in the parking area and said to the woman “Excuse Me”, and she didn’t make eye contact, pause for a good duration and i could swear she started rolling “up” her window. Eventually it seemed nice manners kicked in, she connected with me and I was able to give her this parking pass (and hopefully save her some cash). She may have never engaged me and perhaps driven off, too invested in her own safety to realize someone was helping her.

    • http://hirethoughts.blogspot.com/ Donna Brewington White

      A strange man approaching a woman in a car. Of course, she should have been cautious. Sadly.

      • http://blog.cwl.cc/ Kevin Costain

        I find it sad that we’re all so disconnected from each other that some part of approaching another person seems “strange” in any way. There are countries that follow different customs that see that scenario turn out much differently.

  • california

    “Have a good one”, means “Have a good life, until I see you next time”. At least that’s how I’ve always understood it. It’s not that I don’t care, but because they are parting words, it means that I’m about to focus my attention elsewhere and so, “have a good one, until I see you next time, and if you or I don’t die before then”.

    And I can’t afford to care, really. It’s not that I wouldn’t like to, really, but I’m a human being. My attention and focus are limited in numerous ways by the laws of physics, unfortunately. Maybe some people really don’t care, but a lot of us care about as much as we can afford to without neglecting our own basic needs.

    And I think that probably your co-worker is about as sincere as any other politician. That is, I believe the laws of physics likely apply to him/her as well.

  • Calle

    Just a note.

    What you are describing is mainly a US thing.
    Do i cant say that things are perfect in My Home country either.

  • r.

    i live in the US, and i do care. and i don’t think i’m the only one. i make an effort to answer all of these questions honestly when asked, and to express my caring for salespeople honestly, back to them. i rarely, if ever, have the experience of them feeling annoyed. it has resulted in some short but sweet conversations. like when i’m honest and rather than saying, “i’m good” in response to “how are you”, i say “oh i’m alright – it’s been a long day”, i’ve had cashiers agree and start talking about how they’re tired but they’ve still got to stay several more hours etc. i express compassion in and caring in response, and shockingly to you perhaps, they usually really appreciate it – at least that’s what it seems like to me, as they continue talking and sharing with me, and asking me questions.

    sometimes connecting with the people we see in our every day lives can really make a difference. i know it makes me feel better to express care to the world around me. makes me feel like the big city i live in isn’t as anonymous as it sometimes can feel.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=708577 Nathan Artz

    “Does your server really care how the first few bites are?” read this tired and actually was appalled because a (computer) server definitely would care about the first bytes.

  • Wiless

    When someone asks, “May I help you?”, I sometimes like to respond, “Nobody can help me; I’m beyond help…”, just to watch their reaction. :)

  • RobertStarsi

    The word care has certainly devalued within our society as it is now. People then use is as such as that’s what care means to them – a mere mental projection gained from education, popular culture, parents – or a very self-interested type of care focused on a small group of people that we expect to “care back”. That’s one of the dimensions of why when somebody then uses a statement of care we consciously or unconsciously know it has no value whatsoever. However it’s a good opportunity to to then ask oneself – am I actually a caring person? If so, what does this “caring person” mean towards others, do I care equally about everyone and everything? Do I live the word care?

    That’s something I look at when I see myself uttering to someone “take care” or “have a good one”.

  • http://noblepioneer.com/ Tyler Hayes

    I saw Gary Vaynerchuk speak at SXSW a few years ago. He gave a keynote and opened it up for Q&A afterwards. One of the questions was, “If you were stranded on an island with only two things what would they be?” His answer:

    1. Some wine (duh).
    2. Jizzhut.com.

    The most raw fucking answer you could give. Any doubts about Gary not being “real”/”genuine”/whatever were quickly washed away in that moment.

    So then when the next question was “You must get so many emails and phone calls, how do you deal with it all?” and Gary gave his standard answer about “I hustle, all day every day, because I care” we all knew it wasn’t bullshit; this wasn’t some bro who just wanted to make his millions and get out. He then went on to rant about how “you can’t scale caring”. Gary was railing against outsourced support teams and companies that don’t answer inquiries from customers.

    You can’t scale caring because you can’t fake caring. Caring is implicit; it’s not something you can tell new hires to “just do”. Caring is developed over time — from victories, from rock bottoms, from holding the line with your compatriots — which is why it can’t be scaled, at least not how many companies seem to be trying to do it.

    Great writing, keep it up.

    • http://www.twitter.com/bennesvig Ben Nesvig

      Well said. That’s a hilarious and awesome answer from Gary.

  • http://twitter.com/vtamethodman Liam Martin

    Hi Ben, I’m one half of Timedoctor.com (you probably dealt with Rob), somebody just pointed me to this blog post. I would say we definitely care. But the funny thing is that “caring” doesn’t really require a large amount of time as long as you stream line the process. I myself send personal emails to each client we get. I check out their facebook pages, twitter feeds, flickr pages etc and off of that I know exactly where they are, what they need and how I can help. This process takes maybe 30 seconds if you streamline it properly and the advantages for us have been massive.

    So we definitely care, but we care because we know the ROI is ensured, maybe we can’t measure it as closely as a PPC campaign but I know it’s there and on top of that it’s the right thing to do.

    • http://www.twitter.com/bennesvig Ben Nesvig

      Great thoughts.

      It was indeed Rob. We exchanged a few emails. Great work with TImeDoctor. I’m still loving it.