Reading the Signs

I’m sitting in a downtown Starbucks in Winnipeg, doing some online work, drinking a coffee. There’s a sign on the door outside, and another one on the second door in the entryway that says “Attention Customers: Due to technical difficulties we will ONLY be accepting credit, debit, or Starbucks cards. NO CASH!! Sorry for the inconvenience – Team Broadway”. I should mention that the all-caps words are highlighted in orange and green, and double-underlined.

Everyone (well, almost) stops to read the first sign, standing outdoors, sometimes holding the door open as they read. Those who skip the first sign will usually do the same process at the second sign. And in case you ignored both of those, there’s one on the cash register.

Are You Giving More than You Bargained For?

Counting MoneyYou get what you pay for.

You got more than you bargained for.

Ever notice that phrases like these mean something negative when on the face of it, they shouldn’t? You pay for something, and you get it. Naturally. You bargain for something, and get a little extra. Who wouldn’t be happy about that?

Yet these phrases don’t mean good things. These phrases mean there’s an unanticipated shortfall in the deal, and you’ve been shortchanged in one way or another.

Money-back guarantee. In other words, if you don’t get what you’re supposed to, you can return it for a refund. This is your bare-minimum: both sides of the ledger balance out, one way or the other. Dollar-for-dollar, equivalent value.

The Customer Has the Podium

united-airlines-logo.jpg Customer service will never be the same, thanks to the Internet. Those who deal with the public — especially in the complaints department — need to remember that failing to impress the customer at a critical moment could backfire in a very big way. In Internet time it’s already old news, but the aftermath of United Airlines declining liability for a guitar they broke is going to cost them far more than the cost of a guitar. Even a custom-built one. Maybe they didn’t know that Dave Carroll was going to launch a viral video. Maybe they weren’t paying attention to Terry Heaton’s visit to CompUSA. In contrast to United, Taylor Guitars responds with helpful information about traveling with your guitar — they’ve also offered to repair his damaged Taylor 710ce, and have given him his choice of a new guitar.

Let the Customer Exclude Themselves

I was reading Seth Godin talking about What to do with special requests, 632229_decisions_no_thanks and as I often do, related it back to my own practice to see whether I was doing the same thing or something different, and why.

When I was in the general insurance industry, clients with a poor claims record or high-risk properties were quoted higher rates and/or higher deductibles. Sometimes very high… but we tried not to say “no.” Sometimes clients would accept the rates or terms offered, and sometimes they’d just keep shopping and place their coverage elsewhere.

A Happy VoIP Customer

I put off switching from my ILEC to a competitive provider for way too long, especially now that it’s easy to find a competing provider, thanks to VoIP offerings. I’d been through switches with CLECs before, and can tell horror-stories about number porting. I never really split out my long-distance, just always left that with whoever provided the dial tone. I have a friend who seemed to spend way too much time getting set up with Vonage, but had heard good things about Primus — the rates compared well, and I decided to give them a go. But first, I’d put them to the test.

Customer Service: Does it Still Count if You're Forced?

Terry Heaton took himself down to CompUSA a month or so ago, and found to his surprise that the store was going out of business, and a big sale was going on. He splurged, purchasing a number of items, which came out to $3,300. One of the items was a $269 Canon A620 digital camera — good choice. Unfortunately, when he got home and began to unpack all his new electronic baubles, the camera box turned out to be empty. You’d think that’d be a very obvious oversight and one that the store would quickly remedy. You’d be wrong.