It doesn’t matter how smart you are, how kind you are, how much common sense that you have, as a manager (community manager or otherwise), if the people that you have on the front line are ignorant, poorly trained and unable to communicate clearly and respectfully.

If these people mess up a relationship with a fan, client or customer, the damage will have been done and, by the time that person reaches you and your level of authority (if they reach it at all), they will already be angered or disappointed.

I was reminded of this last Sunday, when I traveled an hour and a half (and stayed overnight in a hotel) to attend the Diddy/Dirty Money concert in Norfolk, Virginia. Those that know me know that I am a huge, huge fan of Diddy. If you had to select one musical act to see in person, dead or alive, who would it be? For me, it would be Diddy. That’s how much it meant to me.

I have been a fan of him for 14 years and have spent tens of thousands of dollars on music released by him and his company, clothing from Sean John, his clothing line, products related to him and other memorabilia. I also run Bad Boy Blog, the top Bad Boy Entertainment (his company) and Diddy-focused publication in the world, and have for more than 5 years. But, I had never seen him live. He only rarely tours. I bought the tickets the day they were put on sale and was so excited.

But, my experience was ruined by a tour official who was, simply, a bully. He verbally and physically threatened me and was completely out of line. I missed part of the show, and the rest that I did see just wasn’t the same after a stressful situation created unnecessarily by a man who fit the description above: ignorant, poorly trained and unable to communicate clearly and respectfully. You can read the full story on Bad Boy Blog.

That’s the inspiration for this post. This man is at the front line of the tour, dealing face to face with fans who have paid good money (over $50 each after fees, for the tickets alone) to be at the show for a few hours. He should be well trained, he should know how to communicate and have a kind demeanor. Instead, he didn’t. He’s face to face with your most valuable customers and he’s a huge jerk.

This is so destructive. And it applies to any business. The bouncer at a nightclub. The cashier at a store. The receptionist at an office. The customer support rep at a phone company. The stock clerk at a grocery store. The moderator of a community.

Some of these jobs may be among the lower paying in an organization, but that does not mean they should be filled with people who are one dimensional. It is no longer acceptable to just be the “muscle” or a button pusher – everyone who interacts with your fans and your customers is an ambassador that can make or break a relationship.