What the recent Comcast episode highlights about sales organizations

A recording has been making the rounds this week by Ryan Block of Gdgt, where he is trying to cancel is service with Comcast in the US. In the eight minute conversation (following after his wife, another tech journalist Veronica Belmont, gave up!), Ryan calmly tries to get the rep to just cancel, while the rep just won’t do it.

Comcast has naturally responded to this by blaming the employee for this, and are allegedly trying to get the employee to personally apologize. And this is where they go wrong.

See, I do not believe for a minute that this employee is acting in a very unusual way. Contrary, many people are sharing similar stories. In a typical sales/customer service/customer retention department, compensation would undoubtedly today be set in part by performance. For a so-called retention specialist, this is likely to translate into how many customers he or she can persuade not to cancel.

This story shows a series of issues, the least being how much good a nice experience even when canceling can do. More broadly, it highlights how disposable these low level sales people are to companies today.

For Comcast, it is convenient to have just another scape goat. It does, however, in fact just serves to highlight the systematic approach, which is likely not at all limited to just one person.

Business

Musings on Expanding to Germany

It’s been a while since I updated this blog. As I mused over this January, it is something hard to just sit down and take the time.

Business-wise there are quite some things going on. Perhaps the most time and energy consuming thing is planning and realizing an expansion to Germany. The timing makes sense and the potential for refreshed websites seems rather good in Germany. And so, to the German market we go with a new website offer at XLD Studios and Bernskiold Media gets to come along for the ride.

When we developed the new site for the new direction that Bernskiold Media is taking we made it multilingual from the start and I very recently added German as a language on the site. For XLD Studios, this takes some more work as the Swedish and English sites need to be consolidated and refreshed, partly because of the new direction and positioning.

Apart from actually making the website changes there are the practicalities of an office address, a place to live in Frankfurt and getting trivialities such as bank accounts and phone numbers set up. Despite the great deal of work, it is fun and I am much looking forward to extending my travel to include many trips between Gothenburg and Frankfurt in the coming months.

Viel Spaß bis nächstes Mal!

Business

GoodUI—Practical Ideas to Better User Interfaces

goodui

User Interface design is always tricky. It not only involves a bit of creativity, but needs decisions on business and branding as well as take psychology and the human user into consideration.

The site GoodUI has a running list which is being continuously updated, with good practical ideas to improving user interfaces. My suggestion is to bookmark, read and revise. You might know many of them, but being reminded about them is always a good thing, for everyone.

Business / Marketing / Web

Amazon’s Anticipatory Shipping and How It Will Affect Small Businesses

Amazon has been awarded a patent on a pretty nifty idea that they are calling “Anticipatory Shipping”. Basically, they are going to be using customer data to predict where, geographically, an item is most likely to be ordered and likely in what quantity. With this information, Amazon will be trying to shift inventory as close to these locations as possible to achieve as short as possible delivery times, when a customer finally does order.

The idea is, like most good ideas, surprisingly simple. By realizing that customers don’t want to wait and that there (most likely) are customer behavior patterns, this new “anticipatory shipping” idea might become a big success—if they manage to do it properly.

It’s effect on small businesses

For Amazon, this is all good, but what about small businesses? If this catches on, small businesses might have an even bigger problem on their hands. Doing what Amazon is doing will appeal to customers and if this catches on—which I am confident that it will—other stores will have no option but to try and follow.

This highlights an oft forgotten need for logistics. When we at Bernskiold Media work with clients to launch e-commerce sites, it happens more often than not, that people have forgotten about shipping and logistics. Yet, this is one of the processes that customers care about. The lead time from ordering to receiving your product is still one of the biggest obstacles for e-commerce.

As Amazon is trying to overcome this, it puts greater pressure on small businesses to care about logistics too. While it may not right now be realistic to think in the same size and scope as Amazon, just giving logistics a thought in the purchasing process is a good step forward.

Business

Reflections on Blogging and Giving Yourself Time To Reflect

As most people, I have a blog. In fact you’re reading it right now. Truthfully, I don’t just have one blog, but I should also—in a perfect world—be blogging over on my company site. Publicity builds brands and promotes good products, as it is called, or in my case being a consultant and running a service business, promotes my knowledge.

The problem, which I am sure you are facing too, is finding the time to blog. Actually, this isn’t quite right. Often, finding the time is not the issue, even prioritizing blogging is not the issue. The issue is sitting there, trying to come up with posts, but the mind drawing a blank.

Every holiday season and summer I feel an urge to start blogging regularly again. After all, I have quite a lot of opinions that I’d like to voice. Give it a few weeks once my hectic life cuts back in and any trail of well articulated post is gone with the wind.

When thinking about this, it shouldn’t come as a surprise. It is not about setting the bar too high nor as we have already said about finding the time. What I think the main reason for not being able to keep the blogging going is that I, and many others, don’t give ourselves the time to reflect in our everyday lives on the topics we wish to write about.

Everything is focused around our direct work and by the time we get home we are inundated with other things to get done that we rarely find ourselves able to sit down, perhaps read an industry publication and reflect. Through reflecting we do the real work, coming up with interesting new angles which can be turned into interesting blog posts.

Not being able to blog consistently and drawing blank on posts, may be simply because you are not giving yourself enough time to reflect on the topics you want to write about. I for one, will be trying (yet another time, mind you) to try and fit in reflection time as we head into yet another new year.

Productivity