Go to the Dark Side for Innovative Customer Service
Disclaimer. In no way is this article meant to condone the use of drugs, illegal or otherwise. Nor is this a campaign to state an opinion as to whether drugs that are currently illegal be made legal.
Businesses compete in a number of ways and one of the most important is customer service. Because today there is so much competition, your customer service has to be beyond excellent. Needless to say, some businesses are better at this than others. One example of this is the dark side. No I’m not talking about Darth Vader, but rather the dark net.
According to a Ted Talk eloquently delivered by Jamie Bartlett, Director of the Centre for the Analysis of Social Media at Demos, a leading UK think tank, the dark net is going mainstream with its own brand of customer service. For those unfamiliar with the dark net, visitors to this realm may surf through sites for pirated books, activists and their causes, whistle blowers, illegal porn, and drugs. The business of illegal drugs is the focus of Mr. Bartlett’s Ted Talk.
Mr. Bartlett tells us that when one searches for illegal drugs on the dark net, one finds web pages of high quality with well-done images of products with detailed descriptions. The descriptions appear to include even how the product is made, thus alluding to its quality and purity – a major concern of drug users.
Not only are quality and purity a customer concern, but the ability to remain anonymous, is of course a big draw to these sites for those who do indulge. Therefore, this is one of the largest or most important aspects of their customer service. So, first to ensure this anonymity, your IP address is run through other computers to encrypt the address. This innovation protects the customer’s identity. The sites also provide ready access to clear pricing, an easy check out process, and, get this, some sites even have a “Report this” button. Although I’m not clear on who reviews THAT information. However, there have been glitches for customers of the dark net.
The innovation of the bit coin helped with ease of payment. Unfortunately, it was discovered that the bit coins must be registered publicly and therefore could be traced. This doesn’t do much for anonymity. So, in order to provide the service the customer requires to purchase these goods and services, another innovation was born. Enter “multi-signature escrow payments.” Here’s how this payment process works. Hundreds of customers send in their bit coins to one location. These bit coins are then tumbled and jumbled all together. The correct amount is then sent to the seller who receives different bit coins that might have been sent in for the purchase from any particular individual. Viola! Instant bit coin laundering. The customers’ needs have been satisfied. But these websites don’t stop there.
These sites, really want to please their customers and some have generous refund policies, competitive pricing, free delivery, and one even offers you the opportunity to not support the cartel drug lords. This site offers you a choice of drugs from the cartels or products from some small farm in Guatemala. They take it step further, stating they send a certain percentage of sales to Guatemala to support education. If that’s not enough, these drug vendors even know how to humanize communication with their customers.
Mr. Bartlett wrote to one of the sites: “Hello, I’m new here, do you mind if I buy just one gram of marijuana?” You might expect a reply similar to, “What? Like YO! Dude, are you stoned already? Do you think I’m running a charity here? Look, scum bag, we have the best #%&@& on the web. So either pony up for 12 grams a pop or piss off.” (sorry, just shooting [no pun intended] for reality here).
No indeed, within just a couple of hours, he received the following reply: “Hi there, [nice and friendly – low key – no pressure] Thanks for your email. [warm and polite] Starting small is a wise thing to do. [This vendor recognizes and appreciates the intelligence of his potential buyer] I would too if I were you. [You and I are just alike and have a lot in common] So no problem if you’d like to start with just one gram.[I don’t mind doing something special for my customers and no order is too small – just whatever you need] I do hope we can do business together.[asking for the order in such a gracious manner – Do YOU do that?] Best wishes, Drugs Heaven.” [sincere and warm closing]. Wow! Who among us can’t take a lesson from that? Usually what we hear are replies like, “No, we can’t do that.” or “No, that’s against policy.” or “No, if we do that for you, we’d have to do it for everyone.”
Who knew we might be taking customer service lessons from drug vendors? Or who knew that we might all be gravitating to the dark net for privacy issue concerns? But I suppose whether the source is good, bad, or indifferent, lessons can be learned wherever we find them. Surely we can do as well at customer service as the dark net.
Graphic Credit: Big Stock.com