Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Oh Century Link... NOT AGAIN!!

Customer Service that doesn't make sense:
So I used my phone and tweeted about my trouble with the internet not working - TO Century Link -  last night: Problems in Clovis, NM?? Over 10 minutes and still no action on the Internet. How much longer? Or did you gate us?  (and actually, the internet was down for over 30 minutes.)

At 7 this morning (at my count, about 9 hours later)... they send this response: @PamAtherton Pam, Sorry to hear about the frustration! We'd be happy to help! Send us the details to our link http://bit.ly/TTUwf.


You are also a big enough company that you should have support on call (and on twitter) during a wider span of hours.  7 am the next day doesn't help me when my problem was at 10 pm the night before.

Smart Customer Service Response:
  • Ask me to follow you on twitter so that you can direct message me and help me with my problem.
  • Tell me YOU will handle it.  Why do you shunt me off to an online form, which most probably isn't going to have my problem as an option, or will take support 9 hours to respond? And which... I CAN'T GET TO BECAUSE MY INTERNET DOESN'T WORK!!
  • Instead of me filling out a form and THEN a representative calls me... why don't YOU have a representative call me and we can talk about the problem then? 

Bottom line: 
I think CenturyLink would do well to research and model after HSN's customer support.

--One Woman's Opinion

And yes... the all caps.  This is not my first rodeo with Century Link, and it appears that Customer Service is not a priority with them.

Monday, January 06, 2014

Could the Michael Bay meltdown have been avoided?

Michael Bay meltdown at CES 2014
Michael Bay(courtesy IMDB)
Speaking in public is one of the greatest fears that we humans have. So although it was awkward to watch when Michael Bay walked off the stage at the start of his presentation at the Samsung press conference at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas today, many of us also had empathy for how he must have felt.

If you listen closely to Bay’s voice in this video, you can hear the start of some trembling, showing his nervousness. And then apparently the teleprompter got off timing with where Bay was in his talk, and Bay lost his composure.

What would you have done? 

This is a good example of how important media training is before an event. You see, it doesn’t matter how much public speaking you have done, how many years of broadcasting you’ve had, or how many meetings you have led - when it comes to an event, you need to be trained in how to handle it. Because situations like what happened at CES are always a possibility. Both Bay and the host should have had training.

If Bay had been properly trained, he would have been able to pick up with his most important points and take it from there, despite the teleprompter malfunction. He would have learned how to focus on the host and speak to him, thus relieving some of his anxiety about speaking in front of an audience. He would have known what was the most important point he wanted to make, and he would have found the words to make it.

But this disaster could have been averted if the HOST had had media training prior to the event.

What should the host have done? 

The host should have known what Bay was going to say (the script was available to the teleprompter operator, so it could have just as easily gone to the host). He could have then verbally prompted Bay by leading him into the comments that Bay was expected to make. He could also have made Bay feel
more comfortable by engaging him in a one-on-one fashion, so that Bay would eventually tune out the audience.

Granted, the guy who was up on the stage with Bay was not a public speaker either.  He was Joe Stinziano, senior VP for Samsung Electronics America. And I'm betting he knows Samsung products inside and out.  But that knowledge didn't help avert the Bay disaster.

It’s really the host’s job to make sure the guest doesn’t fail. And it’s up to the marketing people to make sure everyone is properly trained.

So instead of this press conference being a highlight of the convention because of the curved Ultra HDTV, the press goes to Bay and his awkward skedaddle from the stage. Definitely not what Samsung had hoped for.

Could this meltdown have been avoided? 

I'm available for Media Training!
With media training, and a more experienced host, I think the press conference would have gone a different way. Bay would have felt more comfortable and confident, and the host could have picked up the ball and pitched it right to Bay's sweet spot.

So when you are putting together the next event for your company, consider getting media training for all the people who will be facing the public. It may save you from a PR disaster.

(BTW, The new Samsung curved Ultra HDTVs are pretty cool!)

Friday, May 24, 2013

Just because you can't see us doesn't mean we don't matter

2009 Google Doodle winner from Christin Engelberth 

I love the ability to do so many things online.  As a journalist, Google and other search engines make my life infinitely easier.  Being able to renew a prescription online, or buy vitamins online, or grab a copy of the latest bestseller online… I don’t have to fight crowds, or worry about store hours, or waste gas.

And by the same token, purchasing and making payments online makes life easier for retailers.  After all, it reduces human manhours when those transactions move online.

Yesterday I was checking prices online for shipping a package.  Was it a better value to go USPS or UPS?  (Did you know – prices can be up to $10 cheaper for mailing something by US Mail if you purchase online?)  I ended up going with UPS because it was still a better price and promised to get to the destination faster. I was able to determine that online, without running around from the post office to the UPS office.

Companies are actively recruiting us to purchase and handle transactions online.  Every time I check an account online, I get the “GO PAPERLESS” page.  I get emails from retailers every day encouraging me to use their mobile site, or offering me a discount for purchasing online.
I like discounts.  And I’m all about saving the environment from too much paper usage.  But it’s kind of ironic that I’m encouraged to go paperless and some of the profit gained from not mailing me a statement is used to send me useless marketing crap in the mail.

But what I really have a beef with is how basic customer needs are ignored once companies have gotten us online.

PROBLEM: Credit cards expire. If you use a credit card for a recurring service (think Netflix or Skype), you need to update your credit card information with the new expiration date.

I DARE you to do it in less than 20 minutes for your Skype account.

This has been a consistent problem with Skype for at least 4 years (since I tried to update it the last time my card expired).  And many customers have angrily written about it.  I finally found a sort-of FAQ, but when I tried to follow the directions, I realized the graphic and information was not accurate for THIS version of Skype.  No one at Skype had updated the FAQ.

I tweeted to Skype about it, because I was incredibly frustrated.  A day later they tweeted me back and encouraged me to use the outdated FAQ.

SOLUTION:  Skype… how tough is it to put an EDIT CREDIT CARD tab in your account section? 

How Buzzstream.com does it
In the next few posts, I will write about other online customer service problems that many people are experiencing, along with solutions that are downright simple.

Another source of frustration is when customer experience problems are brought to your attention over and over and over again… you ignore us.  If you really care about customer loyalty, here’s a way to find out just how well your site is working out for us:  Google to find out how many people are experiencing problems with your sites. You may be shocked.

I am not sure why the customer experience is so shoddy at many sites.  Is it because you don’t test your sites in the way that a real customer would use them?  Is it because you can’t actually see us, so therefore you aren’t faced with our frustration?

Just because you can’t see us doesn’t mean we don’t matter.

--Just One Woman's Opinion...

Friday, May 11, 2012

Media Training: The most important thing to remember

Tamron Hall
I just watched the video of the interchange with MSNBC host Tamron Hall and Washington Examiner writer Tim Carney, and it brought to mind the very first point that we make in media training:  You’re a GUEST on a show.  It’s not your show.  Don't try to commandeer the conversation.

I want to make one thing clear in my analysis… this ISN’T about politics.  In fact, this has nothing to do with what the intended conversation was about.  This is about appearing as a guest on a program, how you should act, and what might very well happen if you forget you are a guest.

Now there are some (but not many) media trainers who will tell you to try to hijack the conversation to make your points.  To me, that makes the guest look like he is evading the question and trying to subvert the conversation.
Angry Guest John Doe

And to me, it makes the guest look like a jerk.

Here’s what most media trainers will tell you:  Answer the question, then pivot to make your point.

It’s the respectful way of having a conversation.  “Well, Tamron, I think blah blah blah… but don’t you think that sometimes the media blows these kinds of things out of proportion?” would have been a much better way for Tim to have handled the question put to him.

As a radio host for over 20 years, I can understand the frustration that Tamron felt.  Her show tackles a lot of hot-button issues, and this kind of a situation is apt to happen from time to time.  I have been fortunate in that it has only happened to me a few times. It’s not only annoying, but it’s downright disrespectful as well.

So the next time you are asked to be on a radio or TV show, please remember YOU ARE A GUEST.  Which means that when you are asked a question, you answer it.  You don’t try to overtalk the host, or insult or demean them or their company.

But the most important thing to keep in mind is that the host is in control of the microphone.  So if you try to hijack the conversation, they may very well turn yours off. 

And that puts an end to any point you had hoped to make.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Just TELL us: Why you should quit using video

Don't bother clicking.
YouTube is now the second most popular search engine.  We know videos on a website help move you up in Google.  People love videos.  All the latest info and research, and all the social media gurus, tell us that everything we do should be done on video.


Because of the radio show, I get a lot of pitches every week from publicists, experts, and authors.  And because there have been times I have wanted to read an article, or get more information about something, I have often been forced into signing up for an email “newsletter.” (see David Meerman Scott’s belief about giving info away for free and not forcing the sign up).

So I get a lot of email from people who want me to look at their stuff.  The new trend is to send a couple of provocative lines, with a link to a video to “explain more.”

“I’ve just found the secret to curing cancer.  It’s easier than you think and you have the ingredients in your pantry.  Click here for my video explaining how to stop this monster!”
"I can help you fill your workshop with thousands of people, every time! Click on the link and I’ll share my magnetizing secret in the video.”
 “Dr BlahBlah is the #1 bestselling Amazon author in the category of Feel-Good for the first 10 minutes of the first Tuesday in odd months!  You’ll want him on your show because it will change your listeners’ lives! Click on the video to find out why.”

 I got another one today, and it just made me shout....


Your video isn’t really that good.  In fact, it’s rather self-indulgent.  You have bad lighting, you say the same thing over and over again, you’re trying to sell me, and you have now taken 8 minutes of my life that I can never get back.

You are insulting us by assuming we can’t read, (or perhaps, can’t be persuaded by your copywriting skills) and you are using up our valuable time.

And it all feels rather sleazy...like you have something to hide.  Because you can’t write it down, you have to tell us on video, I have to wonder if the FTC is after you.

Instead: Give us the bullet points of your program or your pitch, and offer us a video if we want to know more. 

And stop making videos until you can make compelling ones...  ones that really offer us GOOD content and that are concise.

Otherwise, it all feels rather Prince-of-Nigeria-Million-Dollar-Scheme-ish to me.

Just one woman’s opinion….

Do you prefer to get your basic information in written form, or in a video?

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Being Successful: Exhibiting at an Expo

It’s Expo Season!
Here are some ways to make the most out of your expo experience
As an exhibitor
The most important thing to consider before signing the paperwork and writing the check to be an exhibitor at an Expo is to know WHY you are exhibiting at the Expo:
Is it to introduce a new product?
          Is it to sell something?
Is it to gain visibility?   
          Is it to get names and emails?
          Is it to actively engage attendees and make them into customers?


DO let your customers know you will be at the expo.  Use Social Media, statements, posters, signs

DO ask yourself… Why should people come to my booth, and want to spend some time talking to me?

DO have a Demonstration.  People LOVE to see a show! And that’s what Demos are. This will engage people and make them stay at your booth longer (If your outcome is to sell product, this is really a must)

DO have plenty of informational handouts.  And make sure all of them have your NAME, PHONE and WEB address

DO smile!  You need to be approachable.  You need to make it easy for me to find out information


DON’T have a busy sign.  Your name should be the most prominent thing, with your website address very visible as well.

DON’T have a cluttery booth.  But also, don’t have an empty one.

DON’T bring Trick or Treat items.  Bring items that have to do with your business,  and offer valuable information instead

DON’T hand make signs. How you look matters! The more professional you are, the better I think you are at what you do.

DON’T sit at your booth.  I have to come to YOU?

DON’T eat at your booth.  No one eats prettily.  Plus, you might get stuff stuck in your teeth. And oh yes…. It’s rude. 

Send a thank you email for stopping by the booth.  Call the people you promised to call – even those you can’t help.  Suggest someone else to them!