August 4, 2007

why the apple store rocks customer experience

Reason # 518: Human Beings Instead Of Robots

So -- I'm fairly unhappy because the pricey Monster Cable mini-audio-jack-to-stereo-RCA cable I bought last month has failed. I use it to connect my iPod to my car audio system, and music is just no fun with only the left channel playing. Worse, I'm predisposed to be unhappy -- I had to buy the new cable because the damn JesusPhone audio jack is incompatible with standard mini audio plugs (and how annoying is that, I mean really). Anyway, I take the defective cable back to the Apple Store, the fellow behind the counter looks at my receipt, and notes that I am past the 2 week return window. I'm supposed to send it back to Monster, he tells me. But then he says "Let me see what I can do to swap it for you", and a few minutes later I have a brand new cable installed, and Metallica's The Unforgiven is playing in sublime stereo as I roll away from the curb.

I'd like to see that kind of goodness from the return desk at [insert your favorite digital electronics retail outlet here], instead of the usual robots. Todd's right, those last 30 feet make all the difference.

Posted by Gene at 1:43 PM

December 12, 2006

sure, i need more storage, but hey seagate, here's what i really need

I need a shelf to put it on.

So Scoble points out this contest sponsored by his blogsponsor Seagate (he's a judge), wherein you can win a 750GB(!) external drive. To particpate in this viral marketing stunt, you do a blog post like this one to demonstrate just how mega-desperate you are for more giga-storage space.

Well I do need more space, that's for sure. The lovely 200GB Seagate drive I bought a couple of years ago is getting kind of full, what with the 10,000 photos, 5000 songs, some precious home videos of my family, and backups of 2 desktops, 3 laptops, a server, plus a few hundred lame blog posts. And by way of sucking up, I really do mean it's a lovely product. It's reliable, it's pretty OK looking, and it just works whenever I plug it into whatever machine I own. I'd buy another one without reservation, and I probably will soon since I doubt I'm going to win anything here ;-)

But about that shelf, and I'm serious here. I don't want to keep my drive at home. I want to put my drive on a shelf, at the bank, in the networked equivalent of a safe deposit box. Push a little blue button every now and then, and my backups go whizzing off to the bank. So that if something bad happens at home, all my records, my portfolio of work, my music, my family memories are all safe and sound. By the way, I'm not talking about a shared online storage service; I know those exist and I don't like them. I'm talking about a physical drive that I own, that I have full physical & digital property rights over. So that if the hosting company goes bust, or changes their terms of service in an unfriendly way, or they raise their prices too much, I can go down there and withdraw my data. Empty my box, close my account. And yes, I'd pay for the services that go with that shelf. My actual physical safe deposit box at the bank runs $100 a year, and it holds way less than a terabyte of stuff. So there's a starting point for your value proposition, oh storage marketing gods.

Also, I might be ok if the shelf was from Seagate, brandwise.

And oh yeah, this will effectively double my storage needs, since I'll still want one of those little drives at the house. If that helps, you know. Well in any case, thanks for listening.

Posted by Gene at 9:48 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

October 30, 2006

is common courtesy dead or what?

Okay, I have low expectations when it comes to telemarketers. I know that the phone droids that make cold calls are measured on maximizing successful leads and minimizing time spent on dead ends. But when did it become reasonable for telemarketers to just hang up on you as soon as it is clear you are not a prospect? I mean, they start out all warm and friendly, hello mr. becker, how are you today? and so forth. Then I tell them no thanks, and click, into the void. Really, it just pisses me off.

Fortunately, I know who to be mad at, because today's telemarketer told me who she was working for. This afternoon, it's that fine publication Information Week, published by CMP. Hey Information Week, when your low rent marketing sub-subcontractor calls me at work, reads me the full dossier of my personal contact information from their screen, tries to push a free subscription into my mailbox, and then hangs up on me when I decline, well, you know that reflects on your brand perception, right? At a rational level, I know that's not how you intend to treat your customers. But at an emotional level, I now have a mental note that your brand "sucks".

"OK, thanks anyway. Goodbye". Would that be so freaking hard to say?

Posted by Gene at 1:53 PM | TrackBack

September 8, 2006

great service experience at BMW mountain view

I had a great service experience here at BMW in Mountain View today. Getting unusually good service on anything relating to the auto industry is an event worth talking about ;-)

I had a cosmetic problem that I thought was caused by their service department, so I called the service manager Ken. He said bring it over anytime, and when I did he made himself available immediately to look into it, even though they were very busy at the time. He said he didn't think the problem was caused by them, but he told me he would put it into the detail shop anyway and make it right. My car was ready for me 45 minutes later with the problem completely corrected.

And thanks to Google wifi, I'm merrily posting this from the BMW Mt View waiting room ;-)

Posted by Gene at 9:58 AM | TrackBack

August 2, 2006

dreamhost: hot or not?

So as I mentioned, I just moved the site from "that old server under the desk upstairs" to Dreamhost last week. I was pretty psyched, because I got a great deal and it was nice to be out of the hosting business. Unfortunately, I made the switch just in time for dreamhost to Go Down Big Time due to a power failure during that tremendous hot spell we were having, literally the same day I flipped the DNS, which pretty well sucked. No site, no control panel, no email. It made me wonder who I was dealing with and what they were doing to fix up their service level.

Well it turns out there's a dreamhost blog, and yesterday they posted a long explanation of the string of issues they have been dealing with, "Anatomy of a(n ongoing) Disaster". Heh, I think I like these people. However, it's also clear that they have reached a scale where the best efforts of a few dedicated geeks is no longer sufficient. They are hosting about 300,000 domains and growing like a weed, yet they are only in one data center located in downtown LA of all places. Nobody's going to care much if fredshouse goes dark a couple of days a year, but I assume a lot of those 300K domains are real businesses that expect uptime in the 4 nines range (99.99%). Well it's their business, but I hope they are working hard on redundant infrastructure (hello spare core switches?) and remote disaster recovery, because, well, we have spare the air days and earthquakes and fires and such down in the Southland, yes?

Anyway the question is, dreamhost: hot or not?

Hot: 20GB disk, 1TB/month data transfer, LAMP, ssh, unlimited mySQL, perl, php, ruby/rails, lots of other goodies, all for $7.95 a month. Good word-of-mouth. Honest, open bloggers.

Not: Downtime. Sometimes no power, maybe less redundancy than they should have, single data center in a somewhat risky location. These things are fixable, but maybe they should already have been fixed?

Bottom line for me: I'm getting good value for the features I want, and I'm not super sensitive to downtime, so: hot!

Posted by Gene at 11:16 PM | TrackBack