Several years ago, prior to the release of my first film April Showers, I was schooled oddly enough by a group of high school students on the power and importance of social media. Since that fateful day I've been pretty active on the more popular social network sites such as Twitter and Facebook - though my interaction has largely been on behalf of Home Theater Review versus my own personal thoughts or desires. Earlier this year I decided to breakaway and launch my own social network presence on Facebook, Twitter and the web via my own personal site. My personal sites are not entirely AV oriented for I often comment about my life as a filmmaker as well as my time spent with the various exotic animals that my wife routinely works with as an animal trainer.
A few nights ago, I was busy installing my new Integra DHC-80.2 A/V Preamp and was going through the Audyssey setup procedures when I realized something. The DHC-80.2 is equipped with Audyssey's most advanced EQ software, which can be accessed in one of two ways; first using the included microphone, which gives the customer less control, or via Audyssey's Installer Kit and MultiEQ Pro Software, which is far more advanced and in-depth. I had a chance to use the Installer Kit and MultiEQ Pro Software some years ago when I reviewed Audyssey's standalone EQ for another publication, so I know about its added features and levels of control. What struck me as odd was the fact that there was no option for the consumer to obtain and/or use the Installer Kit with their DHC-80.2. By not offering the Installer Kit to the consumer, even at an additional cost, both Integra and Audyssey are all but ensuring their customers do not get to hear their system's full potential, which is a shame because the Audyssey system is quite special when you have the advanced tools. I know why Audyssey and Integra have chosen to do this, for it helps custom installers earn a bit of extra cash after the sale -the problem is that, in my experience, few Integra/Audyssey dealers bother with this step. I've purchased two Integra AV preamps from authorized dealers over the past four years and have never once been offered installation, let alone Audyssey setup assistance. Furthermore, many of Integra and Audyssey's competitors now offer professional calibration kits with their AV preamps; companies such as Anthem and Lexicon immediately come to mind. Why not Integra or Audyssey?
Knowing both Audyssey and its president follow me on Twitter, I went ahead and posed my question regarding their Installer Kit on my Twitter page. I often pose questions to those that follow me on Twitter; this includes other manufactures such as OmniMount, Bowers & Wilkins, Paradigm and MartinLogan to name a few. Not really expecting a response, I hit "tweet" on my 140-character question and went to bed. By the time I awoke the next morning I had my response. Audyssey and its president stopped following me. In fact, my previous correspondence with Audyssey over Twitter was also removed from their company's Twitter page. It was like my question, hell - my entire existence ceased to be - at least as far as Audyssey was concerned.
You would think Audyssey, a company with 2,000 plus Twitter followers, would understand the power of social media, let alone the Internet, for the first thing they teach you in Internet school is that nothing goes away just because you want it to. However, unlike an unfortunate sex tape or yearbook photo, what Audyssey wanted to simply make go away was an honest question that even unanswered, would've been chalked up to a large company not having enough time to personally answer its fan mail. Instead they went out of their way to erase an honest question and a fan (aka customer) from their network. FAIL.
I'm sorry, but in today's modern world, one that must encompass both Facebook and Twitter, a company's interaction with their "fans" is simply another form of customer service, one that Audyssey failed miserably. The only way around any customer inquiries, good or bad, is to simply make perfect products. Since no such product exists, it's important for companies to realize that their social network is a direct line to their customers. In many ways it's free R&D, for whom better to help develop products than the very people who have supported them with their hard earned money over the years? Customers understand that even in today's hyperconnected world not every question or comment will warrant a response; however taking the time to delete those who challenge you to go beyond or, dare I say, think differently will. It just might not be the type of response they hoped for.