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13 October 2007

Program it all

Will we see increasing programmability and customisation around the home? If not just to meet the needs of the consumer perhaps any company seeking to market environmentally friendly products would prefer to be selling products that can be easily upgraded and adapted?

Please vote for this idea on crowdspirit...


05 October 2007

Next big thing for the net to come from Silicon Glen, Scotland?

So says John Giannandrea, a Scot who became Chief Technologist at Netscape and is currently CTO of the hot startup Metaweb.

Watch this space then?


03 October 2007

Rude business communication

I have already blogged about rude e-mails. These are emails sent by allegedly reputable companies who consider email to be a good enough medium to communicate with you, but not a good enough medium for you to reply. In other words, they are rude. Instead of a simple easy reply using the tool you used to pick up their mail, they incorrectly assume you have access to the web (you might be using a slow mobile phone/PDA), they incorrectly assume your device must be compatible with their website (usually not, especially if you are disabled) and they incorrectly assume that you enjoy playing "contact us" droplist spaghetti just as much as people hate playing contact centre multi-option phone queue and hold music hell. "I'm sorry, I didn't get that, please listen carefully to the following options again".

Powergen are one of the rude companies when it comes to email, sending their emails from a "do not reply" email address, however they completely excelled themselves in rudeness when they called me yesterday, hung up the phone and didn't leave a message. So I called them back using the number presented to my phone 01158434900 (0115 843 9400 just to ensure it appears in the search index) only to be greeted with an even ruder "This number does not accept incoming calls". Not even an announcement saying which company it was. Not even a "Thank you for calling Powergen, we'll direct you to someone who can help". Nope, sod off hang up the phone.

Guys, this sort of "crap on the consumer" is completely unacceptable. It's the telephone equivalent of leaving a pile of shit on someone's doorstep with a note saying "left by anonymous ha ha". People actually want to be able to reply, people don't want to be called anonymously by companies hiding behind dead email addresses or phone numbers. People shouldn't have to go to a PC, type the phone number into Google (other search engines may still exist) to find out who it was because the company was too rude to say so.

Dead email addresses, "contact us" drop list spaghetti, long contact centre queues and dead phone numbers may be really convenient for the company but they are really INCONVENIENT for the customer and I for one am getting fed up using a good part of my lunch hour playing these silly games just to get in touch with you (including 3 hours to Demon's contact centre recently trying to figure out why my 5 day broadband service was down for 26 days, my website wiped and my email bounced.

You want to know how annoying this rudeness is? The next time you want to contact me, I'll not give you my email address and any phone calls will go via a service that makes you wait for 20 minutes in a queue listening to "Your call is important to me, please hang on while we try to connect you" without the option of leaving a message, without the option of being called back when you've reached the front of the queue and without the option of hearing a valid email address that works.

Your productivity would go down somewhat and rather than being able to call 20 customers an hour, you might be able to call 2.

Annoying isn't it? SO DON'T DO IT TO CUSTOMERS THEN. In any case, if my phone call was really that important to you, you would make more of an effort to answer it quickly.

DONT email me from dead email addresses, instead email me from a working email address and include a reference number so that my reply goes back to the right place.

DONT phone me from dead phone numbers (or withhold your number like a dodgy scam artist might). Instead, call me from a real phone number than when I call you back allows me to speak to someone.

Don't tell me that you can pick up the phone, deal with my enquiry and resolve it in well under an hour but somehow for an email it takes the best part of a week. Just because I use a different communication method, it makes my issue no less important. I actually had a sore throat recently and preferred to send email rather than speak on the phone. Goodness knows how any disabled people with speech problems put up with this second class service. Can't speak because of a very sore throat? No web access? You might as well not exist.

Above all, don't be rude. You might even find customers being more polite to your contact centre staff when they eventually reach the end of the queue....

Thank You.


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