Great Customer Service

Just had a great customer service experience. An excellent example of how good customer service can transform a bad experience into good PR.

I was trying to purchase a new leather folder online via Corban and Blair and the online transaction failed to process successfully. After three goes I resorted to the more low tech telephone to place the order.

Good thing #1: The call was answered by a friendly voice and the person already knew I’d had a problem and let me know they had planned to phone me that day to see if they could assist.

Good thing #2: The person already had my details but confirmed them just in case.

Good thing #3: Unprompted the person apologised for the inconvenience and waived the normal delivery fees for my trouble.

Result: A bad thing – customer unable to purchase online – has been transformed into a good thing – a happy customer.

The company in question was Corban & Blair, a design company based in Australia. I predict that with cool products & great customer service they will do well. I am telling everyone I know about this company & their products, I will shop there again. Good PR really!

How simple is this?

  • Treat the customer like they are actually important to you
  • Don’t waste their time
  • Don’t pretend to offer a level of service you don’t actually offer
  • Don’t be rude

Web 2.0 How Spooky

After my musings on web 2.0 and the enterprise the other day it was amusing to attend Ross Dawson’s Sydney Web 2.0 extravaganza last week, more about it from Ross at Web 2.0 in Australia: The birth of Silicon Harbour?

Ross managed a jam packed agenda with great discipline and got some interesting discussions going. I felt like we could have kept the discussion going for several days. Lot’s of journalists were in attendance, not really sure how many enterprise practitioners were around. Although BEA, Sensis, and Bigpond had people attending. It was generally agreed that take-up in Australia was significantly constrained by broadband problems (it is so obvious it make me want to go “duh!”).

Speakers included:
* Richard MacManus, Editor, Read/ Write Web
* Allan Aaron, General Partner, Technology Venture Partners
* David Backley, Chief Technology Officer, Westpac
* Brad Howarth, Journalist and Director, LaGrange Communications
* Randal Leeb-du Toit, CEO, Yoick
* Adrian McDermott, Vice President of Engineering, BEA Systems
* Chris Smith, General Manager, Sensis Interactive

There were some presentations by Aussie web 2.0 startups:
* Atlassian
* gnoos
* Omnidrive
* Scouta
* Tangler

Although, apart from Atlassian, I am still not sure (apart from general use of the technology) how any of these will work in an Enterprise environment. I suspect the approach of BEA is more aligned to the regulatory and compliance obligations of many corporates.

Ben Barren has some pics on flickr from both the day and evening activities; and Trevor Cook has written a nice summary of the event too.

Enterprise Web 2.0 (an oxymoron?)

I’ve heard lots of discussion about web 2.0 lately in business circles. I’ve also had debates about putting user generated content (UGC) on corporate web sites. What makes me stop and think is the gap between web 2.0 as a bottom up democratic and slightly anarchic use of technology (dialogue) and the desire by corporations to control messages from the top down (monologue).

The questions for which I don’t know the answer are:

  • What does a corporation do if the UGC includes things they don’t like? Does the company moderate the content? If yes, then how do the users perceive that act – can they continue to trust? Like the recent Digg saga – users need to see congruence between the site’s meaning and its content. Web 2.0 is really about a dialogue, rather than the monologues that businesses are used to.
  • Is it possible to moderate content in a UGC context in a way that keeps the site meaningful to the user community?
  • Is business ready for their stakeholder communities to tell how they really feel and is business ready to hear it?
  • How can issues regarding UGC material copyright and digital rights be managed? YouTube is interesting to observe regarding this issue.
  • Can business actually manage the community input? What drives the UGC forums is lots of time invested by interested participants who are not paid, in business they will likely have to pay someone to undertake that same role to get similar results – it will be interesting to see if businesses are willing to make this investment.
  • How are we going to make money out of web 2.0? (This is my favourite question.)
  • Also by the time business people even know that web 2.0 exists is it nearly over? Are the people moving on to the next thing already?

I really love what web 2.0 has done in making the net open to greater participation by non-technical people, and how it has enhanced communication and enabled the development of communities of practice. The whole open source movement has flourished in this environment, and this has led to exciting developments like blogs, wikis, AJAX, and more recently Google Gears. And, while the technology can definitely be used by business to great effect, I’m not sure how the human side will go given the differing cultural imperatives between businesses and user communities.

Social Network Analysis?

At the recent KLA (a.k.a. Knowledge Liberation Army) meeting in Sydney we discussed the benefits and utility of social network analysis (SNA). Apart from a moment of interest when you see the network map, what is it useful for in a business setting? My theory is that it could be useful for organisational restructures to work out the potential impacts on the non-official organisation structure. More stuff on this at: