Sears, Twitter and a Remarkable Phone Call

Sears Yesterday I had the pleasure of participating in a conference call.  Of course conference calls are not particularly unique in the world of business, but the manner in which this one came about is:  Last week  fellow K&B designer, Paul Anater, wrote a blog post about a disappointing experience he’d had getting specifications (online, over the phone and everywhere else) from Sears for a particular appliance he was trying to incorporate into a design he was working on.   He posted a tweet regarding this event on Twitter… which sparked the whole thing… and the rest is history!

Not so historical in the sense that the blog inspired the reaction and participation of several of the other kitchen and bath designers that read his blog –or even that it got the attention of Sears’ management for it’s appliances division.

This photo was stolen directly off of Paul Anater’s (aka Polly Netzer’s) blog: http://www.kitchenandresidentialdesign.com/… That’s right, I went directly into his blog and stole it right off the page!  What is remarkable is that it grew from a loose association of like-minded individuals with a common interest on Twitter: a popular social network that we all had in common.

Also remarkable is that Sears actively sought us out (via Paul’s recommendation and association with us on Twitter) and invited us to tell them what we needed from them to do our and their jobs better.  For those of you reading this who do not participate in Twitter and think it’s a silly waste of time, well here you go!

A little bit about how I work:  I don’t sit in an office building.  In fact, my “office” is the third bedroom of our townhouse with a computer at one end of it and some easy chairs at the other end and a counter with coffee stuff, a microwave and a mini fridge along one wall. (The room doubles as a den.)  Most days, I at least start the day “working” in my PJ’s.  Some days, if I don’t have to go anywhere, I just might be in my PJ’s ALL DAY.  I have no coworkers –except my web designer son, Jason, who works from home at his desk in the next room… or sometimes brings his laptop into my space so we can share music and coffee while we work. 

This is a unique ‘business model’ for a kitchen and bath designer as most also do sales and meet with their clients directly.  I do not.  My business is online and I mostly provide design support for cabinet dealerships and contractors that sell cabinets.  Of the several hundred kitchens I’ve designed in the past couple of years, I have only met about three or four of the homeowners in person as they were clients of a local showroom I contract with.

While son Jason’s employer is in another state, he often has multi-person calls, and he has at least met the people he converses with.  For me, it has been many years since I’ve worked in an office where I participated in a conference call.  The experience was like being blindfolded and sitting at a table with people you don’t know to have a discussion.  Nobody knows who goes first and at times it was hard to tell who actually said what.  If there is turn-taking etiquette, nobody really knows what it is, so we just blurt out our thoughts and hope it makes sense, that somebody’s listening and somebody else isn’t upset because they’re trying to talk also.  After an hour of participating in this somewhat uncomfortable communication platform, it was clear that this was indeed a very useful activity and would begin a very important dialog that would change the way we would communicate with one another forever more.

This story is really meant to share my experience with you.  I’m not going to give you a litany of what the call entailed.  If you want to know –the best source is from the source:  Paul’s Blog http://www.kitchenandresidentialdesign.com/The component of the discussion I am focusing on here is the connection to social media both as a platform that initiated this dialog and a topic of interest within it.

Yesterday morning, prior to the conference call, I had been learning about a new program being beta tested by Google called Wave.  This is indeed the ‘next wave’ of social networking.  It sports a new way of microblogging, email and instant messaging bundled all together into one activity.   (Here’s a link to the really loooooong video about it:  http://wave.google.com/help/wave/about.html#video 
where you too can sign up for an invitation to be a beta tester.) We had discussed on the call how we might interact later to share information and
  
   

continue the dialog.  I mentioned that we all had not only a professional connection in the K&B business, but that we had become acquainted through Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.  Most of us also write blogs.  It occurred to me after the call, that Google Wave might just be the future of ‘conference calls.’  I think it’s a bit early for this group… maybe.  But I have to say, I sure enjoyed hearing the voices for the first time of several friends within my social network that I have been ‘chatting’ with daily for almost a year since I first took a dive into the world of Social Media.

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One response to “Sears, Twitter and a Remarkable Phone Call

  1. Thanks, Pam, for your honest insights. I too am intrigued at the implications social media has for better dialogue and accountability among professionals. It’s interesting to watch it evolve. Sometimes its more a curiousity than anything!Also thanks for painting a picture of your work environment. You’re a very personal twitterer and I enjoy that!