Call girl

Speaking of customer service, Gabriella Paiella wrote a funny article on her experience as a customer service rep.

If you think you’re talking to an expert when you call a customer service center, you’re probably not.


Customer Service empathy

37 Signals has an interesting post on Customer Service and its focus on scripted empathy rather than actual solutions.

There’s simply nothing worse than someone telling you how sorry they are when you can hear they don’t give a damn. Nothing worse than someone telling you that they’re doing all they can, when they’re aren’t lifting a finger.


Why digital talent doesn't want to work at your company

If you're a manager, Fast Company has a great article on what to avoid if you're trying to hire digital talent.

Digital talent won’t want to work at your company if:

Every element of their work will be pored over by multiple layers of bureaucracy. Even if that’s how the rest of the company operates, it can’t spill into the digital department. In a technology environment, new products and businesses spring up daily and a new endeavor can go from conception to launch in a matter of months. Reining in the momentum will be read as inaction and a clear signal the company isn’t willing to grasp the new way of the world.

Mediocre is good enough. While clocking out at 5 p.m. is attractive to some, it will discourage digital talent. They want to be expected to do something great. They want to be pushed. They care about their work. Their leadership, and those they rely on to get things done, must match their appetite for success.

Trial and error is condemned. The freedom to try out new ideas allows employees to take initiative, make decisions, and learn from their mistakes. It also demonstrates an attractive and inspiring entrepreneurial spirit.

Your company is structured so it takes a lifetime to get to the top, and as such there are no digital experts in company-wide leadership positions. Digital talent--often in their 20s and 30s--need to see a clear path for uninhibited career development that’s based on merit, not years spent, and that’s beyond the confines of the digital department. If they don’t, they won’t see a reason to stay with the company in the long term.

Your offices are cold, impersonal and downright stodgy. It may sound like it conflicts with the “you don’t need to be in Silicon Valley point,” but appreciate the nuance. A traditional office layout is designed to communicate power among certain individuals and barriers between departments. This does not support the collaborative ethos which is intrinsic to the web. Companies should do everything possible to provide the digital team friendlier, open office space. A location in a hip, young neighborhood (which surely exists in every mid- to large-sized city) is also a big plus.


Film industry hijinks

Found an interesting article over at detailing 6 things the film industry doesn't want you to know.

Crazy stuff. Seems like Hollywood is pretty good at extorting, lying and stealing.


Customer service happiness manifesto

Found a fantastic article by John O'Nolan on customer service. If you have a business big or small it's definitely worth a read.

Customer service exists, for the most part, to help customers when things fail. On that basis, the best customer service in the world would be no customer service at all. If I never needed customer support again, then that would quite simply mean that everything was working as it should. So the very first step in customer service should be to figure out how to do less of it.

In the corporate world customer service departments are often proud of the number of employees they have and the volume of calls they get. The goal here should be to reduce the number of calls you get and the employees you need. This is not intuitive to customer service program managers who look to grow their department and budget.

Communication here is key. Customer service needs to talk to the rest of the company and product managers need to talk to customer service. If customer service says, "We handle tons of those calls everyday" then your response should be "Why?"

Instead of getting good at handling it, learn how to eliminate it.


Wanted: complexity?

I was in Starbucks the other day and I overhead some business folks chatting about their new website design.

"I love it! There's so much going on! It's really complex!"

Yikes. Regardless of the product or service this company offers, I wonder how many of their customers would suggest making it more complicated.


Want to know what your customers want? Ask them.

Ran into a great anecdote at the Contrast Blog:

In 2007 I was sitting in the boardroom of one of Ireland’s renowned universities listening to a group of stakeholders fight over the label used on a web-form. One side thought the users called it an RFPN number while the other was adamant it was a “Prop Number”. The conversation grew increasingly heated, one side demanding we usability test both and the other pointing at me saying “We hired you to solve this sort of problem“. I snapped out of my daydream quickly.

They watched horrified as I went to the corner of the room and started ringing professors, administrators, and researchers. After 10 phone calls, my research findings concluded that it didn’t matter what label we used. No one fills in that part of the form anymore. They didn’t even know what it was for.


Why work doesn't happen at work

Check out this awesome talk by Jason Fried of 37 Signals. He does a great job of articulating why interruptions kill productivity and why it's hard to get work done at the office.


Corporate chiropractors

Great article from Seth Godin on the need for an architect in your company. It's essential to have someone who can rise above the separate groups, departments, data sources, managers and ideas and pull them into a cohesive strategy.

My friend Jerry calls these people corporate chiropractors. They don't do surgery, they realign and recognize what's out of place.

Organizational architects know how to find suppliers, use the cloud (of people, of data, of resources), identify freelancers, tie together disparate resources and weave them into a business that scales. You either need to become one or hire one.

The organizations that matter are busy being run by people who figure out what to do next.