Customer Service Heroes and villains

Orange turns me green at the gills

One of the things I have learned over the past couple of weeks is that you can’t rely on a brand for consistent customer service, only people.

As you may have read, I had some problems when Three cut my number off. Well credit where credit is due, eventually my problem was dealt with in a most professional and helpful manner by a Scottish customer services lady called Sammy Reynolds. I decided to move to Orange, they seem on the surface to have their act in gear, WRONG!!! The shop staff near Bond Street tube were happy to sell me a phone but weren’t so eager to expedite a swift number port from Three. I eventually called the Orange customer services line and got through to the relevant team, things then got Kaftesque. Orange would not be interested in my number until Three called them. Read Orange was not interested in having my custom in a particularly speedy manner. I had to get Three to call Orange to sort things out. Three had given my number up, yet could not do anything as Orange’s systems were down for two days.

Orange did not keep me informed of my progress and dealt with me in a manner that would have impressed a civil servant. This was all happening on the back of me trying to sell my house and my best friend about to give birth. My initial impressions of Orange have been disappointing to say the least. Despite Three facilitating the process as much as possible it still took seven and a bit days to port my number over – this is the minimum standard specified by Ofcom!

BT signs Jeremy Clarkson for ad campaign, wags start their engines

A quick skim of the infospam that comes from various IT news organisations reviewing the weeks news came up with this gem courtesy of the merry pranksters at St Katherines tower:

And finally, everybody’s favourite incumbent telco has signed up everybody’s favourite jacket-and-jeans wearing braggart for its latest advertising campaign. That’s right: BT and Jeremy Clarkson. It’s a match made in heaven. One is overblown, often rude and has offended pretty much everybody in the UK at one time or another (wait for it… you’ll never guess what’s coming next) and the other one used to present Top Gear. Gavin Patterson, BT group managing director, consumer and ventures, said: ?We felt that Jeremy Clarkson was an ideal choice for the whole area of customer service. He?s famous as somebody who doesn?t suffer fools gladly and embodies the straightforward principles we aim to follow in our business.” Great, so we can expect BT customer service modelled on the presenting style of Clarkson. “I’m sorry your phone’s not working love, have you ever stopped to think it could be because………..[cue long dramatic pause, raise eyebrow to camera and lower tone] ………. you?re a woman.” “Is your husband there?…………………………….Or are you too ugly to have one?” “Aha! Now this really is the Ferrari of phones! Whereas, your current model is very much………………………………………………. the Skoda” You get the idea. Patterson added: “If these adverts are anywhere near as successful as the famous Bob Hoskins ones then we won?t be doing badly at all.? So Jeremy has his work cut out trying to fill the shoes of Bob Hoskins? That’s quite a challenge, not least of all, the Round-Up assumes because Sir Bob (come on, he should be!) probably has pretty small feet.

 

For our international readership you can find out more about BT here and Jeremy Clarkson.

Dot.com with Good Idea

A couple of weeks ago, I got invited the wedding reception of an ex-colleague. The bash was at the function room of a well appointed pub in North London. The wedding present list was online, ok lists can be a bit assumptive, however this one was cool. The thing that struck me was how well the whole online thing leant itself to wedding presents:

– You don’t have wrap the present

– don’t worry about bringing it along to the bash

– don’t look too mean or extravagant compared to other guests

– they won’t get damaged in the traditional family punch-up that happens at these events

Oh yeah, the party was good and all.

Renaissance Chambara in we like Microsoft Product Scandal

Feted not slated

Actually we like three:

Word 5.1 for the Mac in the early 1990s. A word processor that had a reasonable real world speed and all the features that you still use now. Hell, I still use the Word 5.1 layout in my version of Office X. Stripe out the fat, speed bump it and reinvent Word Mr Balmer – less is more. Your competitors are already doing it, have a look at Nisus Writer Express

– Excel for the mac. Some truths Microsoft made the best spreadsheet, now I realise that thats as contraversal as saying that Poll Tax was a good thing, but I’ve used alternatives like Lotus 1-2-3, ClarisWorks, AppleWorks, QuattroPro and they sucked. They got kicked because Excel is better – there I’ve said it

– Number three is MSN’s Slate magazine. I had avoided Slate in favour of Salon, partly because I thought that it would have some of the attributes of other Microsoft products:

– bloated

– useless

– lacking in quality

– full of profane language

– low on anything meaningful (like the Microsoft Executive emails)

Slate is actually a damn good read with varied content and a quality of writing that is close to that of the New Yorker, but for a younger audience. Check it out, seriously.

VC Do’s and Don’ts

Eric Dunn, general partner with Cardinal Venture Capital wrote the following guide for pitching VCs. This was originally posted on AlwaysOn:

Figure out what the audience already knows. If you have included a long market overview in your presentation, but are presenting to an industry veteran, you almost certainly win points for skipping quickly through the overview. Figure out what the audience doesn’t know. Conversely, there’s no rule against giving a brief introduction before starting your prepared pitch: “Just in case you aren’t familiar with the automated test equipment market, let me outline for you the major categories and who the market leaders are….” Then take a few minutes off the cuff.

Explain acronyms and terms of art. Your audience is probably ashamed to ask what the LEAP protocol or the IFX standard is, so unless you are sure that everyone in your audience knows what it means, give them a break.

Track your audience. If you are getting blank stares from the audience, it could mean that they don’t understand, or it could mean you’re belaboring the obvious. Break stride and ask to find out which it is.

Answer questions crisply. It’s better to say “I don’t know” or “I’ll have to get back to you on that” than to waffle with an incomplete or inaccurate answer.

What Doesn’t Work

Unbalanced presentations. Don’t succumb to the temptation to dwell on your personal area of expertise. A dozen slides on the technical attributes of the product, or on the details of the proposed sales organization, is almost certainly too much.

Spelling, grammar, and punctuation errors. Although your audience will cut some slack for non-native-English speakers, there’s really no reason not to get this stuff right.

Math errors. Not fatal, but math mistakes definitely chip away at your credibility.

Hiding the ball. If your CTO is about to resign, you lose far more points when potential investors find out later than if you are up front about it.

Arrogance. Most entrepreneurs have a lot to be proud of, but the best I have seen retain their humility no matter how successful they become.

Selling the wrong point. If the critical question is price performance, don’t spend 15 minutes on channel strategy.

Preaching to the choir. If an investor says “OK, we accept that this is a $5 billion market,” stop! Once you have convinced your audience of a point, you lose ground (for obtuseness) by going on to make additional arguments.

For many entrepreneurs, these suggestions for improving investor pitches will be old hat. But all entrepreneurs should recognize that even a great business can’t shine through a low-quality pitch. Good pitches mean investment decisions are made on the merits of the underlying business, and that’s in everyone’s interest.