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.

Sandwich Ideas

If its near the end of the month and payday is too far gone, (our payday is the 15th of every month). Making your own sandwichs is the last resort, if you have to make them you can at least make something that doesn’t draw inspiration from British Rail cuisine. Pret A Manger the McDonalds owned sandwich shop has put some helpful recipes here.

X-Type Giveaway

In order to promote the Jaguar X-type in the USA Jaguar are having a draw for a rare-as-hens-teeth black Apple iPod. In addition, they are also offering some trendy as MP3s for you to download.

The tracks are by west coast house act Kascade doing a Moby, ambient outfit Zero 7 and drum n’ bass group DB and Stakka. Get’em while you can!

Cool Stuff Not Available for Mac Shocker!

Anoto are a bunch of mad Swedes who have invented a digital pen. The magic stuff they have came up with is a special spotted paper with unique markings so the pen can tell what kind of document its writing, the colour the ‘ink’, where it is on the page, should the writing be sent as an email. Despite featuring in a major feature article written for Wired magazine the company is doing quite well and coming up with cool stuff. As any bureaucrat would tell you the pen is a lifesaver for meetings and a sure TabletPC killer for mobile applications such as the UPS man.

Anoto have licenced this technology to a number of people most notably Logitech; the mouse and speaker people.

Logitech’s io is a neat piece of kit. Unfortunately they haven’t released any Mac drivers for it and won’t be doing so for the forseeable future. What I’d like you to do is help them forsee the future by completing this form requesting Mac drivers. (Re the product and serial number, they have a very handy prompt that tells you how many digits that you need to fake up).

The Number

Whilst catching up on my backlog of mails I came across this from CBS Marketwatch:

NOT MUCH SHOUTING GREETS YAHOO EARNINGSYahoo shares (YHOO) got the boot after the company kicked off a fresh earnings season for the online-media group by only just measuring up to expectations, demonstrating what American Technology Research analyst Mark Mahaney called a mantra: “in-line quarters don’t cut it for Internet stocks.”

Ok, basically what this guy Mahaney is saying that because Yahoo! managed to get their profit for the quarter in line with what a number of market anlaysts expected them to be (based on a guestimate set maybe 90 to 180 days back) then they deserve a kicking.

Unbelievable, accountancy despite the use of numbers is not an exact science, why?

– bills and sales are constantly coming in and out of a company

– what does a sale really mean? If you sign a 3 year deal for online advertising, should Yahoo! claim that as a sale all at once or claim as the money comes in

– when is the money in? When you invoice for it, or when it sits in your bank account

– is the capital gains made on the building you own and work out of profit?

– if you had a bumper quarther this time but you know that the next quarter will be soft, should you avoid booking all the sales in to give you an income cushion next quarter?

– How should you write off the depreciating value of computer equipment, chairs or a forklift truck? There can be more than one way of doing it that will affect the figures

With this in mind, I would recommend that you read The Number by Alex Berenson, which takes you through the insanity of it all in greater depth.

Move over Panini and TopTrumps

Remember when you used to get a sticker album and yet could never complete it, or play top trumps to avoid doing your homework. Well relive your childhood with these funky collectors cards sets for kids from the Center for Disease Control and prevention in Atlanta. Featuring such classic diseases as Avian Flu, HIV, West Nile virus and Hepatitus B.

Nice it up

I received an email from my old partner- in-crime Si Don’t know where he got them from but they sound like good Saturday nights in a club feel. Enjoy

From:

To: ged carroll

Date: Sun Jul 11, 2004 03:42:24 PM BST

Subject: couldn’t have said it better myself……..

Remind Me To Be Nice To Myself

Tower block rises majestically above the picturesque plains, and ever-so-gentle rolling hills of Stepney and Poplar, Bethnal Green and BOW. Bears silent witness to the daily trials and tribulations of the noble plains-people of these ancient provinces.

By the way, remind me to be nice to myself.

Tower block by night. It has very bright white lights attached to its top surfaces as a security measure, I can’t imagine what against. These lights, they are wonderful, they serve to illuminate this monument to pointlessness.

Yes, the night time’s the best time:

The wind blows furtively, drives the rain irregularly against the windows.

And all the time the short-wave drones. Beautiful isolation – hermetically sealed surrealism at tow hundred and fifty feet.

By the way, remind me to be nice to myself.

There’s a girl lives next door, been to India. She’s an American Swedish hippy at a bus station in Northern Holland sort of a person- vaguely opiate-like – Yeah! Sometimes I scream to her, From my nineteenth floor balcony:

“I will not continuously qualify and justify what I say”.

I smile benignly – return to my flat, imagine her demurely murmuring: “Don’t patronised me”. I feel, we’re both happy with this arrangement, as it’s cordiale enough without threatening our own individual, desperate loneliness with any degree of intimacy.

By the way, remind me to be nice to myself.

Tower block, external symbol of our inner desolation a scenario so bleak, it brings a tear to your eye. A nostalgic, sentimental tear, as if in vague subliminal remembrance of a barren airless landscape of a different planet,

one million years ago. Tower block, Oh ancient timeless representative of all that is meaningful, oh nearer my God to thee.

By the way, remind me to be nice to myself.

I LOVE EVERY BODY

And now the buildings change. Now the people change. Everything changing.

Spirit and matter most apparent. Realised there never was anything to worry about, to doubt was insane. The limited, callow individuals living on housing estates in Chingford, Large detached houses in Kew Tower blocks on the Tottenham marshes, Become my gods. I see an accounts clerk from Tooting: I see Zeus. A sanitary inspector from the London Borough of Haringay, And Brahmin stands resplendent before me.

For five minutes I love everybody. There is only love. All action ceases.

The Mile End Road, once a blood-stained battleground of Bacchanalian

excess, becomes the Garden of Gethsemane. A bitter, 72-year old ex-docker becomes the ever-compassionate Buddha. A Cypriot minicab driver becomes St Francis of Assissi. The 22-year-old Glaswegian checkout girl IS the divine mother.

I love everybody. My spirit is free.

I am limitless in space, time and matter, Simultaneously the planet Neptune, part of the structural support to Vauxhall Bridge. I am your left breast, I am Stepney, I am Peru, I am divine and so are you.

I love everybody.

I am nothing except a mere cluster of notes, a road sign in Skelmersdale.

I ran the Roman Empire. I was a lavatory attendant in Hull. I am everybody and everybody is me. Spirit.

Who put the spirit in matter? LOVE

State of the Union

State of the Union seems to be BBC Radio 4’s way of replacing the late Alistair Cooke’s Letters From America.

The 15-minute slot from 20h50 – 21h00 on a Friday and repeated from 08h50 – 09h00 on a Sunday is hosted by a different American journalist each week. You can have a listen here. Cooke was an institution and a relic of when Britishness meant life as a character in an Agatha Christie novel and acting like Cole Porter show tunes were still all the rage. State of the Union is very now, and a good way of ensuring that the presenter doesn’t get unfavourably compared to Mr Cooke’s legacy. It won’t be cult listening, but listenable all the same.

The BBC’s own spiel: In this US election year, a new series, State of the Union tells the stories that define the American nation. Drawn from the Pacific and the Atlantic coasts, the deep South and the mid-West heartland, each week a distinctive American broadcasting voice reflects on everyday America.

The first one was done by Betty DeRamus, a Pulitizer prize winning columnist from the Detroit News. State of the Union will continue until November. It will be followed by Letter, first-person reports from Beijing, Delhi, Johannesburg, etc, which already goes out on the World Service at 05h30 on Sundays.

Buttocks and Ambient Advertising

ABC News have an article about sponsored streakers. Under the UK’s government would anti social behaviour orders be served against advertisers , similar to what happened to BMG and Sony Music for their continued use of illegal flyposting and stencilling crews?

Popbitch rumour mill

From Popbitch:

– speculation the Weinstein brothers are leaving Miramax imminently to buy MGM with Steve Jobs for more than $5bn

– UK garage/ R&B starlets Mis-Teeq’s future in UK is worrisome, Telstar’s demise left them labelless, but Scandalous is shooting up the Billboard chart in US. No 35 and “greatest gainer” this week