Customer Service

OnStar: Shame on you

Posted on September 22, 2011. Filed under: Business, Customer Service, Good Business, Life | Tags: , , , , , |

For the record I do not own a GM car, but have thought the introduction of OnStar emergency services was a wonderful idea.  And when I saw that you could now purchase OnStar at BestBuy for installation on any car, well I was elated.  Was even considering buying one for my wife’s car.

Now however, my high regard for OnStar has come crashing to the ground … perhaps even below ground.

In the article below it is revealed that OnStar now continuously monitors your vehicle and sells that information to insurance companies, law enforcement, and anyone else who might be interested. 

To put it another way:  Customers purchase the OnStar service and pay a monthly fee so that OnStar can profit even more by selling detailed customer information. 

 That’s just too much of an invasion of privacy for me.

Article:

GM’s OnStar now spying on your car for profit even after you unsubscribe? [UPDATE]

OnStar
 

By Zach Bowman RSS feed

Posted Sep 21st 2011 4:28Pm

 
If you’re the owner of a fairly new General Motors product, you may want to take a close look at the most recent OnStar terms and conditions. As it turns out, the company has altered the parameters under which it can legally collect GPSdata on your vehicle.Originally, the terms and conditions stated that OnStar could only collect information on your vehicle’s location during a theft recovery or in the midst of sending emergency services your way. That has apparently changed. Now, OnStar says that it has the right to collect and sell personal, yet supposedly anonymous information on your vehicle, including speed, location, seat belt usage and other information.

Who would be interested in that data, you ask? Law enforcement agencies, for starters, as well as insurance companies. Perhaps the most startling news to come out of the latest OnStar terms and conditions is the fact that the company can continue to collect the information even after you disconnect the service. If you want the info to be cut off all together, you’ll have to specifically shut down the vehicle’s data connection. If that sounds scary, you should check out a full breakdown of the new policies here.

*UPDATE: OnStar has released a statement in response to the dust up over its newest set of terms and conditions:

 
New Terms & ConditionsThe following statement can be attributed to Joanne Finnorn, Vice President, Subscriber Services

“OnStar has and always will give our customers the choice in how we use their data. We’ve also been very open with our customers about changes in services and privacy terms.

“Under our new Terms and Conditions, when a customer cancels service, we have informed customers that OnStar will maintain a two-way connection to their vehicle unless they ask us not to do so. In the future, this connection may provide us with the capability to alert vehicle occupants about severe weather conditions such as tornado warnings or mandatory evacuations. Another benefit for keeping this connection “open” could be to provide vehicle owners with any updated warranty data or recall issues.

“Of course, if the customer requests us to turn off the two-way connection, we will do as we have always done, and that is honor customers’ requests.

“Our guiding practices regarding sharing our subscribers’ personal information have not changed. We are always very specific about with whom we share customers’ personal information, and how they will use it. We have never sold any personally identifiable information to any third party.

“Keeping the two-way connection open will also allow OnStar to capture general vehicle information that could be used in future product development.

“We apologize for creating any confusion about our Terms and Conditions. We want to make sure we are as clear with our customers as possible, but it’s apparent that we have failed to do this. As always, we are listening to our subscribers’ feedback and we will continue to be open to their suggestions and concerns.”

 
Sorry OnStar, I’m not buying it . . . or your product. 
 
That’s my 2 cents
 
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Reprimanding 101

Posted on March 18, 2011. Filed under: Business, Customer Service, Good Business, Labor, Life | Tags: , , , |

From time to time even the best of employees may require a performance correction.  But there is a right way and a wrong way to correct or reprimand someone.

No one likes to have their supervisor tell them that they are messing up, and frankly these conversations can be more unsettling to the employee than you might imagine.

For our purposes right now I am talking about oral not written reprimands.

Being told you are “messing up” is very embarrassing, and should be done away from coworkers.  Heaping public humiliation on the employee not only demoralizes them, but also their coworkers; and it diminishes your stature.

What is the correct way to reprimand an employee?

1. You move them into your office or at the very least out of ear-shot of coworkers.

2. Always speak in a calm voice.  If you can’t be calm then wait until you can be.

3. Tell them what you observed that was wrong, and allow them to tell their side of the story.  Maybe what you saw or heard was only part of the story.  You need to be sure of your facts before proceeding.

4. If they were in error explain exactly what they did wrong and how they should handle it next time.

5. Do not threaten, lay blame, be sarcastic, or talk down to the employee.

When you take an employee aside they are automatically on the defensive, but raising your voice only adds to the defensiveness and tension.  Neither you nor the employee need that.

In retail situations I have seen managers reprimand employees in front of customers, that should never be done.

Employees want to do a good job, your job as a manager is to help them do the best job they possibly can.

You do not want them to live in fear of you.  You should have their respect and trust, and you get that by being considerate in all your dealings with your team.  That includes the way you reprimand.

Treat your employees well, and they in turn will do the best job they know how, which will take care of your customers and your business.

Are there times you want to beat your head against the wall?  Sure.

And there will be times when you will not understand how they could possibly have done something so silly, but take a deep breath and count to ten a couple of times.

Everyone makes mistakes, even you.  So reprimand privately, quietly, and with respect for the individual.

 That’s my 2 cents

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Are Your Customers Doing Your Job?

Posted on December 8, 2009. Filed under: Brock Henderson, Business, Customer Service, Good Business, Life, Marketing, Public Relations | Tags: , , , , , , |

I was sitting at an Arby’s waiting for my daughter to get out of school when I noticed something.

Frequently … way to often it seemed to me … a drive-through customer would pull around to the front of the restaurant and wait for their order to be brought out to them.  A number of them would then get out of their cars and come in and wait for their order.

What good is a drive-through if the customer has to come inside to pick up their order?

As a customer I would be outraged if, after placing my order outside, I would need to come in and pick up my order.  It would be easier just to go in and get my order to go.

I asked one of the workers why they did this, and her response was that they are timed on the length of time it takes to handle drive-through customers.

So in order to make their numbers look good, they “cheat” the system and have customers pull around front.

I suspected a lot of fast food places do this in order to “look good” to corporate, so I did a very unscientific study.  The problem seems to exhibit itself at some McDonald’s and Burger King’s as well.

But how insulting it is to the customer; they are putting the customer at an inconvenience rather than improve their work flow.

This raises the question:  Are you making your customers do things that your team should be taking care of?

Several months back I needed a locksmith to put a better lock on my doors.  He did fine, but left trash and wood chips all around the work areas for me to clean up.

Contrast that with a plumber that came out.  He did his job, (and it was a very messy and odorous job), cleaned up, used a fan to help move the odor out of the house, and left no trace of his having been there. 

That’s the way it should be.

It doesn’t matter what kind of business you have, or how small and insignificant the task, never have your customer do anything that you can and should do.

The customer is paying for your service or product, they shouldn’t have to do any of your work.

It wouldn’t have taken the locksmith five minutes to clean up after himself, but he didn’t bother.

It took the plumber several minutes to clean up and deodorize, but he did it anyway.

I’ll never use that locksmith again, but I have used that plumber again, and recommend him whenever I can.

Don’t make your customers do your job.

 That’s my 2 cents

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Taken for Granted

Posted on January 3, 2009. Filed under: Business, Customer Service, Marketing |

 Just before my daughter’s Christmas break from school her computer died.  It wouldn’t come on at all.  So I contacted a computer specialist about having him fix her computer.  [This is not the computer specialist I normally use, but it is someone I have met, comes well recommended, and takes barter which at this time of year is very important to me.  I need my cash for Christmas.] 

He said he would be downtown working on a client’s computer shortly and that I could bring it to him there.  He was to call me when he got there.

After an hour-and-a-half I called him again, and he told me where he was.  (No explanation as to why he hadn’t called.)  When I got there I gave him the computer and told him that I would like to have the computer back by Monday, my daughter’s first day of Christmas break.  Since I was giving him the computer on a Wednesday he indicated that this would be plenty of time.

Monday came and went, and no computer.  I called and learned that it would be ready Wednesday . . . it wasn’t.  Finally around noon on Friday he called and said the computer was fixed, it only needed a new power supply, that it was fixed and ready to go and that he would call me in a little bit to tell me where he would be so I could pick it up.  A little after 5:30 he calls back and tells us where he will be for the next 30 minutes or so.  Not enough time to get there and get it.

Figuring that he would be unavailable during the weekend I waited until bright and early at 9:00 on Monday morning to call and coordinate picking up the computer.  He’s not dressed yet, but he’ll call me shortly when he gets someplace; and no, I can’t come by his home to pick it up because he’ll be leaving in a few minutes.  (Hopefully he will be dressed when he leaves.)

At 2:30, (5 1/2 hours after he said he would call shortly), he finally calls and tells me where he will be for the next hour.  Since I am out shopping with the family, I have to rush them out of the store, so I can drive for 35 minutes across town to get the computer and pay the man before he leaves.

Here are my problems with this whole interaction.

 

· Promised delivery dates were not met.

· No real communication from him concerning the status of the repair.

· Nine days for a repair that only took him 2 hours.

· Saying he would call shortly and then either not calling, or waiting 2 or more hours to call.

· Not once was there ever an offer to deliver the computer to me, or to even meet near me; it was always at his convenience, never mine.

This is completely wrong in my book.  The person paying the money should be taken care of as promised, when promised, and with total respect for their time and money.  Yes, customers can be a total pain in the backside, but they are still the customer and should not be taken for granted or ignored as I feel I was.

If you want the customer’s repeat business and referrals then treat every customer the way you want to be treated … with complete respect and honesty. 

I will not use, recommend, or refer business to this individual again.  The next time I need computer work I will return to my normal repair person.  He may not take barter, but he keeps me informed and lives up to his promises, and that’s vitally important to me.

 

Don’t lose valuable repeat business from

poor Customer Service.

Customer service is not just words, it’s the right way of doing business.

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Is This Unique?

Posted on September 8, 2007. Filed under: Business, Customer Service, Good Business, Labor, Marketing, Networking, Personnel, Self Promotion |

I am a participant in www.linkedin.com, a networking site I have discussed here before.  One of my contacts, a young man in Singapore, indicated that he needed a job and could I assist him.  This young man is in the technology industry, (as are many of my contacts), who was born, raised, and educated in India but now lives in Singapore.

Being the wonderful human being that I am I sent his profile information to the few Human Resource connections I have as well as to a couple HR people I know that aren’t on Linkedin.

One person responded and asked for more information; they didn’t have anything immediately, but wanted to start a dialogue for the future.  So I introduced the two of them.  (This all happened a couple of weeks ago.)

Today, another HR person (based in India), asked to connect with me.  I agreed, and in a follow-up message to them I mentioned my acquaintance in Singapore.  (I also copied my acquaintance to let them know I had passed on his e-mail and profile.)

My Singapore acquaintance responded to me with a very gracious note. 

Dear Brock,

It is my words from bottom of my heart. Thank you so much for this. It is really, nice to see your helping hand in a novel cause.

Yeah, I was thinking once I start searching I can get the job within a week given that I have so much wide range of expertise and experiences in the HIGHLY demanding field:). But it is not always true. It is about a month, but I’m still on the process and haven’t confirmed with anyone irrespective of offers and opportunities I came across as on date:).

I sometime feels, may be I’m over qualified for the openings or time is not with me or its bad luck:).

My family joins with me to thank you so much for this. I’m very thankful to find such a nice person in the Internet. We wish you and your family always a happy and enjoyable life forever. God Bless you.

Kind Regards,

To me I’m not doing anything special, I’m just trying to be a friend and introduce him to people who might be able to help him find a job.  Yet, clearly my simple act is having a much more profound impact on him than I could ever imagine.

So my question to all of you is:  Why is this so unique?

Don’t we, as human beings, try to provide assistance when possible?  Or have we become such a callus, self-centric world that being nice is uncommon?

Egad, I hope not.

So I post here a little about my acquaintance in the hope that perhaps one of you might be able to help me help him.  Frankly, I know nothing about him other than what has transprired here, but he strikes me as a sincere and dedicated individual.  His background in brief is:

More than 12 years of varied experiences in the key areas of telecoms, broadcasting and IT industries.

Proven track records for successfully leading and implementing a wide variety of strategic partnering, business development, technical marketing, sales and consulting projects.

Extensively involved in business development/Sales & Technical Marketing on the latest technologies including digital TV (ATSC, DVB, MHP, ARIB, ISDB-T, CAS, iTV), HDTV, IPTV, digital STBs (FTA, CI, CAS, Nagravision, Irdeto, Conax, etc.), mobile phones (satellite, GSM, CDMA, DVB-H, DMB), digital mobile TV (DMB & DVB-H), VSAT, VoIP, wireless (WiFi/Wimax), terrestrial and satellite two-way systems (DVB-RCS, DVB-RCT, DVB-S-WCDMA), satellite telecommunications, head-end equipments, invisible dot/bar codes, etc.

I am still just blown away that a stranger on the other side of the world would think that being kind is so unique. 

That’s my 2 cents
 

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Networking 102

Posted on August 26, 2007. Filed under: Advertising, Business, Customer Service, Good Business, Guerilla Marketing, Marketing, Networking, Newsletters, Public Relations, Self Promotion, Uncategorized |

An important part of networking is keeping in touch.  While I am a big proponent of keeping in touch with those you are connected to, it is an aspect I often forget to practice.

 

So last week I went through my list of contacts on Linked In, (a business/professional networking site I have joined), and sent a brief note to just about everyone.  Skipping those I had recently connected to or those who I had already had fairly recent contact with. (With only 100 contacts on Linked In it was not a big effort at all, I pity those who have thousands of contacts and try to do this in one shot. 

To be honest, I did this only with Linked In connections, not all of my professional connections.)The note was simple, just saying it had been a while since we had connected on Linked In and I just wanted to keep in touch.  I wished them well and that was about it.  My message specifically avoided any comment about doing work for them; it was clearly not an attempt to seek business but just one human
asking another how they were.

 

My e-mail was short and sweet:

It’s been a while since we connected on Linked In and I just wanted to drop a note and see how things were going with you. Hope you have a wonderful week. 

Brock

The results surprised me.

Only a dozen or so responded, with most saying they were doing well.  A few were in the midst of personal and/or professional conflict; one called me immediately after receiving the e-mail, (we talked for a good thirty minutes); while a second individual scheduled a call, (we ended up talking for an hour); and one person said “What a nice (and unusual) thing to do!” 

The word “unusual” caught my attention; don’t people normally keep in touch with contacts?

A short e-mail note to your professional (and personal for that matter) contacts doesn’t take long and reminds potential business that you still exist.  Why would someone not try and do this simple piece of marketing?

There is ACT, Gold Mine, and other contact management software programs out there to help you do this very thing.  Yet apparently, (based on my small sample), many people are not utilizing the basic feature of those programs to stay connected. What are the good of Linked In, FaceBook, MySpace, and all the other “networking” sites if the people just make the basic connection and stop there?Networking isn’t a single event of making a contact.  It goes beyond that. Once the contact is made you need to develop a bit of a relationship over time; keep each other posted on what is happening in your world and finding out what is happening in theirs; it is an on-going process.  It takes time and effort.Would you run one ad and expect people to remember you forever?  No.  So why do people make a networking contact and then seemingly ignore/forget them?   That’s terrible marketing.  (If you can even really call it marketing at all.)

I presented the above comments to a discussion forum I’m part of, and one of my connections, (Jason Alba, creator of www.jibberjobber.com), made the following comment:

 

<cheering loudly>

Brock … I’m one of those “other contact management software” companies… so perhaps I’m too close to this issue.But I’ll add one thing, and complement your message.  You know my biggest problem with LinkedIn?  It’s the perception that people get (so nothing against LI really) that it is their networking silver bullet!That’s it.Connect with me and “we’re networking!”But you sure as hell better not put me on your newsletter (reference previous thread in this or the other forum).

… and then lets sit around and wait until we can add value to one another.  We won’t do anything, but we’ll just wait. 

That isn’t networking.

Some of the CRM things that we should be doing is ranking our relationships (a la Keith Ferrazzi – ABC, or in my site, zero through five stars), logging important interactions and happenings, creating action items (follow up with Brock next month), and even having a proactive system to improve the relationships (there is a cool little feature in JibberJobber that helps with this).

Anyway, this is long enough… I just wanted to chime in!

When it comes to marketing I am often asked what is the “best” advertising method; and like Jason said in his comment, there is no silver bullet in networking, or in any form of marketing.

What people don’t seem to realize is that networking is marketing.  Face-to-face, in the trenches, personal marketing; be it for trying to gain new business, looking for employment, or whatever.  Networking = Marketing.  And it is not a one-shot endeavor.

 

As Jason said later in an e-mail to me:  “And networking = building relationships . . . so developing a relationship is marketing . . . right?”

 

Right.

Developing a relationship, like any marketing effort, requires time and repeated contact.  When you make a contact in sales or on a networking site such as www.linkedin.com, www.jibberjobber.com, www.biztoo.com, or any other networking site you must keep in touch on a regular basis.   It would be like asking someone if they woul like to go on a date with you, but never actually asking them out.  Or having a blog with only one post.   Why even bother to make the initial contact if you aren’t going to take the time and effort to develop a relationship. 

Stop by their place of business, make a phone call, send an e-mail, or drop them a note; but do something to keep in touch. 

One of the things I utilize to stay in touch with business contacts is a monthly newsletter.  Not only does it provide marketing insight and tips to the recepient, but it reminds them I exist and by extension what I do.  Hopefully, when they need marketing assistance or advice they will call me.  If they don’t then I haven’t done my job of marketing myself very well have I? 

That’s my 2 cents.       

(NOTE:  This Blog entry was judged to be one of this weeks best blogs on business by www.ceoconsultant.com; and I sincerely appreciate this recognitin.)

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Halloween Marketing

Posted on August 7, 2007. Filed under: Ad Specialties, Advertising, Business, Customer Service, Good Business, Guerilla Marketing, Halloween, Holidays, Imprinted Items, Marketing, Public Relations, Self Promotion |

Yes, I realize Halloween is almost a full three months away, but when it comes to planning your advertising, now is the time to think about it.  (You always need to think two to three months in advance on advertising.)

Halloween provides you with an excellent marketing opportunity that virtually no business takes advantage of.  When those little costumed characters come knocking at your door, why not give them something with your name imprinted on it instead of candy, (or maybe in addition to the candy). 

For example, try pencils with your name on them.  The child can use it to draw and the parent will appreciate the fact that it isn’t more candy.  Rulers are another great item to give out; inexpensive but useful to child and parent. 

When you order, be sure to order enough for everyone in your company to hand out.  This will please your employees because they don’t have to spend their hard earned money on candy, and will increase the distribution of your name in the community.  You need to be ordering now, because imprinted items may take six to eight weeks to produce.  If you decide to order something I’d be happy to take care of it for you, just call or e-mail me and I can get started on your order. 

Here are some more inexpensive ideas to consider:

Key chains

Balloons

Candy with your logo molded in

Letter openers

Stick pens

Wooden nickels

Shoe laces with your name or logo

Bumper sticker

Another distribution idea would be to go to the local schools and offer to have the school name/logo and your logo appear on the promotional item and give one to every student, teacher, and staff member in the school. 

Also, you may have the opportunity of using co-op money, so be sure and check with your suppliers to see if they will help with the project.  When you are ready to take action just give me a call and I’ll take care of you.

Act quickly, time is getting short.  

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Customer Service as it Should Be

Posted on July 16, 2007. Filed under: Business, computers, Customer Service, futuristic, Good Business, Marketing, Public Relations, Skype, technology, Uncategorized |

I imagine all of you have sent one of  those automated e-mail messages to Microsoft when one of their products crashes.  Ever get a response?  Me either.

Have you ever heard of Skype?  I hadn’t until recently, when an individual I network with told me about it.  It’s a service, (both free and paid options), that allows you to place phone calls over the internet to other computers, land lines, and cell phones.  (The later two options require a fee.)

They also provide Instant Messageing, video calls, and conference calls – all free.

Plus, when you download their product they put a small icon at the bottom of your web site, (assuming you provide a valid URL), so people will know they can contact you via Skype.

All-in-all it seems to be a user-friendly and reliable service.

Now what’s all that got to do with automated error messages?

I downloaded, and started using Skype on Friday.  Unfortunately, Skype seems to conflict with my IE browser and crashes Explorer.  So when it happened an automatic error message was created for Skype as well as Microsoft.  And I sent them both along to their respective destinations.

This morning when checking e-mail there is a message from Skype!  Yes, a real live human being actually responded to my crash notification.  Not only that – they apologized!  WOW.

They they gave me a link to a beta version that seems to have corrected the crash problem, and they told me how to remove the Skype info from my web page.  (Apparently that was what was causing the crashing.)

Now that’s what I call excellent customer service.  So I recommend Skype to all of you; and know that if you have problems a real live human will quickly address them and get you a solution.

That’s My 2 Cents

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