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Adii Pienaar

Now working on Receiptful. Co-Founder & ex-CEO of WooThemes. Author of Brandiing. New Dad. Ex-Rockstar.

The Weight of a Title

I don't really believe in titles within company context much and to this extent we've avoided using titles over at WooThemes. But I recently realized that sometimes a title of sorts does become valuable.

In the last couple of weeks, I've been speaking to loads of WooThemes customers (an extraordinary amount compared to a general weekly average) due to vulnerabilities in our products or issues with user accounts relating to our new user dashboard. Chaos management basically.

During this time, I took it on myself - as co-founder - to handle most of the incoming mail, because I wanted to know exactly what was going on. So I also started doing something different and started to sign my e-mails as "Adii (Co-founder)" instead of simply "Adii" like I used to do. I did so, because I wanted to reassure our customers that their issues were important & significant enough that one of the co-founders of the business took the time to help them out, explain the issues and clarify what we were doing to fix.

What I found was that even the most vehement e-mail could be diffused with a kind response and due partly to the fact that I, as co-founder, answered the e-mail. Many users actually noted this specifically and expressed their surprise that they got an e-mail from a senior member of the company. So by adding my "title" to the e-mail, I was also adding weight to the response.

I don't propose the widespread usage of titles in a company now, because I still think that they're mostly useless. When dealing with customers though - especially difficult customers - I think a title communicates a certain level of reassurance & trust to the customer, which greatly influences the outcome of that conversation.

 

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