Mary Bauer from Illinois is a super bitch. Do you know her?

At least, that’s according to someone at Comcast who decided to change her name in their system from Mary to “Super Bitch.” Unfortunately, her newly found nickname also found its way on to her monthly invoice, and then on to the web. That story HERE.

That came just weeks after another Comcast customer, trying repeatedly to cancel her service, received her bill to find out her new nickname was “Asshole Brown.” That story HERE.

And then there’s Mike Seay, who while sadly grieving the death of his 17-year-old daughter, received mail from OfficeMax, who also happened to know that his daughter had died. How did he know that they knew? He knows because it was printed on the latest piece of mail he’d received from the company. That story HERE.

In Evergreen, I talk about the “big data bandwagon.” Companies rush to collect gargantuan piles of data about their customers without knowing how they plan to use the data or, perhaps even more important, is if the data will be used wisely.

Maybe calling Lisa Brown an asshole was a joke, a mistake, or the result of a service rep having a bad day. It doesn’t matter.

The problem, and what’s most often forgotten, is that powerful business tools (massive databases, data mining, etc.), still don’t absolve you and your company the responsibility of actually using your brains.

Big data is a tool that can help you optimize your messaging and provide your company with tremendous insights. The best businesses and influencers know their ideal clients perfectly. Customers want and demand personalization. Today’s customers want to be recognized and they want to be heard.

But if you have a company culture where the customer is seen as a hindrance instead of your lifeblood, or you have fools in charge of customer support, it will cause you nothing but grief.

Here are a few questions to consider:

What do you have in place to ensure your front-line staff is representing you and your company the way you want to be represented?

How will your company improve its customer service efforts over the next six to twelve months?

For SMBs, there’s never been a greater time and opportunity to invest and reap the benefits of improved customer service.

Most people don’t expect much from companies like Comcast. In fact, these stories highlight the type of service you’re likely to get.

But the even greater challenge is that this doesn’t mean that just doing a little bit better puts you way ahead of Companies like Comcast, because instead the total opposite happens….

It makes it that much harder for the rest of us to show customers we actually do care, and even more difficult for them to actually believe it.