The blog of Rahoul Baruah from 3hv Ltd

What's going on?

My name is Rahoul Baruah (aka Baz) and I'm a software developer in Leeds (England).

This is a log of things I've discovered while writing software in Ruby on Rails. In other words, geek stuff.

However, I've decided to put this blog on ice - I would ask you to check out my business blog here (or subscribe here).

12 April, 2006

What do you say about your customers?

My first thought on reading this, coupled with DHH's recent posts, was that the pressure of success must be getting to 37Signals. Despite being at pains to deny it, it is an attack on their customers (or potential customers) and even with the anonymity, anyone quoted in there has a right to feel slightly aggrieved.

But, as Jason says, it's just what they talk about in private. And they want to be open. Like them, we have customers that sometimes infuriate us and quite often it's not what they are saying but the way they are saying it that causes the problem. I don't work for an open organisation. I don't think I have mentioned the company name or URL on here once and I doubt I ever will, simply because it is not the company way. But even if I did, I don't think I would make public a complaint like that - maybe an individual comment paraphrased beyond recognition - but a collection of direct quotes? No way!

Which provides the unifying thread between this post, the last post, DHH and Jason Fried - at the end of the day, it's all about intention and respect. Jason's post is a complaint that if these prospects and customers showed a bit more civility in their comments they would receive a more favourable response. However, the manner in which the complaint was presented, lumping together a set of different responses to different issues and quoting verbatim so that the person who made the original comment will immediately recognise it (even if 99.999% of the readers do not), is, to my mind at least, similarly disrespectful - if not in content then in tone. And tone is notoriously hard to read on the internet.

My point? If you are using a medium where such nuances and subtleties (and intention is always open to interpretation) are hard to read then do not say it. You are the supplier, not the customer. Even if you can afford to lose the business (which I presume 37Signals can) relationships are hard to build and easy to break and you never know when you might need a helping hand.

(then again, I may just be jealous because my employers are not making money hand over fist in such an open environment - a theme I may be returning to soon enough)

UPDATE: My company's site has been mentioned. I leave it to you to find out where ...

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