Tag Archive: customer service


The latest trend in marketing and social media is the rise of user multi-screening.   Tech Crunch says more customers are using several screens together for a richer information experience.  For instance, a customer may start looking up a product on their smartphone and continue the purchase on a PC or laptop.

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A few weeks ago Techsnoop had the joy of trying to help someone enable their wireless internet on a Compaq CQ56.  This unit has a function key that theoretically turns the wireless service on or off.  However, holding down the function key and pressing the wireless key does nothing.

By accident (holding down function plus other keys and hitting the wireless key), I discovered that you need to hold down the function and alt key while tapping the wireless key. There is no documentation on this glitch.

So for everyone who is about to smash their CQ56, here is the answer.
Too bad it didn’t come from Compaq.

Well, AT&T has drawn first blood in the “unlimited” data usage wars.  They have started to slow down those they consider “heavy” data users.  FYI, some had used as little as 2.3 GB of data.  When users hit the arbitary target, they are slowed down for the remainder of their billing cycle to dial up speeds, making their “smart” phones useless.

Hey AT&T, talk to Netflix.  I am sure they can tell you how hard it is to win back customers after making an anti-customer business move.  Either upgrade your service lines to handle the traffic, or raise your prices.  Do not crush your customers who have paid for “unlimited” data plans with snail-pace service.  To heap insult to injury, when customers complain, they are told to switch to one of the “limited” data plans.  How in the heck is this an answer to the problem of unlimited service?  Tell the customer to do without or buy an even lower usage plan?

No one buys an iPhone or Galaxy class phone to use 2GB of data per month.  The entire point of a high-end smart phone is to have access to GPS, internet, streaming and other data heavy services.  Slamming a smartphone user with dial up speed service at 2GB is borderline fraud.  You basically have removed what the customer paid for.

Verizon just offers temporary slow downs based on the actual traffic in a given area.  When the lines clear, users are free to surf away.  This allows for peak usage slowdowns similar to cable and DSL internet usage.  Everyone knows there are peak periods just as there are rush hour traffic times.  If possible, customers avoid using the services during peak times.

If you want truly unlimited data service, Sprint is your only choice.  AT&T should consider if the stampede of customers leaving is worth it when placing restrictions on data usage.

Remember Netflix.

Micro CruzOK, so Techsnoop took the plunge and bought a tablet. Being on a budget, I choose the Velocity Micro Cruz 7″ Tablet. It was a great bargain on Black Friday. So, was it worth it?
Portability; the Micro Cruz comes with a cover, adapter and stand. A great set of accessories that make it easy to take around and use. While not the lightest it could be, it is comfortable to carry. After learning to customize it, I like it and will use happily until I can upgrade.

  • Handling; the 7″ size makes it large enough to view comfortably and just small enough to handle with one hand, barely. If I could change one thing, it would be slicing a little thinness down.
  • OS; the Micro Cruz uses modified Android 2.2 which blocks the download of apps from the Android Market. A serious handicap for the average user. However there are workarounds for the advanced tech-geek. I don’t know what caused Velocity to handicap their otherwise nice equipment with this drawback. It seriously detracts from the functionality of the device and nearly caused me to return it.
  • Uses; As an eReader, A++. Text is clear and crisp and it displays pictures well also. Photos; a great photo display, accurate color resolution.
  • Support; customer support is friendly, helpful and knowledgeable.
  • Battery life; Absolutely astounding. Had it on for a full day’s use of retrieving e-mail, tweeting and occasional reading and the charge lasted over 9 hours. Streaming from YouTube for over 2 hours with no problem.

Cons: slow processor, limited on-board memory, kind of heavy and thick.  Touch screen is not very responsive, takes multiple taps until you get the pressure correct. Has several glitches that occur when trying to customize.  Manual is not as thorough as it should be, but is well written and easy to follow.

In summary, if you are an advanced Geek on a budget who wants to plunge into the tablet era, go ahead.  Know that you will need to upgrade in the near future, but this is a great device to get started on.  If you are a casual user looking for a beefy eReader, this might suit you.  You’ll probably need some help from customer service to get up to speed.

Novice; unless you have a Geek friend on standby, don’t try this.  You’ll get frustrated and the money saved will not be worth it.
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NetflixYea!  Netflix is waking up from their stupor.

Over the past couple of months, Netflix has doubled prices, tried to spin off their DVD business and alienated customers, investors and bloggers all over.  Now, they have apparently started waking up to their in-company insanity and are starting damage control.

As eloquently stated by Flack Me, Qwikster joins the ranks of New Coke and Windows Vista in becoming the marketing joke of the century.  Perhaps even the Millenia.  I outlined some of Netflix’s blunders in September, showing just how absurd the progression was.

From the price hike to the idiotic idea that anyone would want to log into 2 different websites and maintain 2 different lists to pull entertainment content from the same source, Netflix leadership was making decisions with their hindquarters, not their brains.

Did anyone do market research, a focus group, Facebook poll?  Clearly not.  A million subscribers spoke with their wallets and let the formerly excellent company know how they felt.

The only question now is can Netflix regain the loyalty and trust of their customers and investors?

NetflixFirst I raise rates and thumb my nose at customers.

Second I tell them “so what”

Third I tell stockholders I underestimated how much customers were ticked off.

Fourth I say “mea cupla”, I didn’t mean to hurt your feelings, but the prices stand.

Fifth I announce a great venture splitting up the company.

Sixth I find out I don’t own the new (stupid) company name.

Seventh I try to explain the business justification for all the changes.

Eighth I find I lost the company a bundle of money.

Ninth I lost a valuable streaming partner.

Tenth I start over again, maybe I’ll listen to my CUSTOMERS.

In July I blogged here about the Netflix proposed price increases and hoped that the company would come to their senses.  Unfortunately, just the opposite has happened.  The scandal with Netflix, the proposed Qwikster, the price and structure changes and the Twitter account seem to grow worse by the hour.

Companies have the right to run themselves however they see fit.  They do not have to kow-tow to customer needs and wishes.  It is fine if a company wants to do the exact opposite of what market research shows is the trend.

By the same rules, customers have the right to take their money and their business elsewhere, to a company or service that does meet their needs, wants and budget.  So Hola, Netflix, we once loved you, but you don’t talk to us anymore.

NetflixWell times are hard everywhere folks.  Now Netflix, a company who made a $83 Billion profit in 2008, is crying that they need to double customer prices to pay for new content.   Please note, they just made an 80% price hike 3 months ago.  So, for their short-sightedness we, the customer must pay.

This presents just the latest example of big business stomping on those who made them big business.  Netflix was just a little nobody in 1999 when I initially joined.  I loved not having to run out and get a DVD from the store only to find it was “out”.  After a few years, I dropped out and used cable for a while.

I came back to Netflix a couple of years ago as part of a streamlining of my lifestyle.  I spend lots of time on my computer, but not too much watching TV.  Netflix made sense over cable as a cost efficient entertainment option.  I use both DVD and streaming because many of the things I want to watch are not available to stream.

In a recent article on CNet Greg Sandoval questions if Netflix will change their mind,  Since their CEO’s response is “our prices are our prices”, it doesn’t look good.  This anti-consumer attitude is what caused customers to leave Blockbuster in droves.

Hey Netflix, your customers helped you grow with word of mouth and loyalty.  This is because you were a great place to do business. Now, you are just another evil empire.

Maybe Netflix will wake up and go back to their origins or perhaps they will forge a new business path and listen to their customers.

Well, here we are folks, now that the cell service providers have hooked us on all the fun and important things to be done on a phone other than talk, they want to limit us.  After years of pounding smartphones into our hands, cell service providers are crying “smartphone use is expensive”!  So, what you are saying is that the CFOs of these businesses did not run calculations and projections before pushing this product on the public.  Verizon is the latest to jump on the pay per use bandwagon for data with AT&T and T-Mobile.

Here is a great opportunity for Sprint to be the stand alone provider with a backbone to provide their customers with a clear and aggressive choice for service. They can also re-define themselves and create a completely separate and loyal customer base.  By keeping unlimited data plans and offering the iPhone, Sprint can re-capture some of it’s lost buzz as a premier provider.

The question is; will Sprint cave?  Only time will tell and they will surely attempt to make any change quietly so that they don’t get caught as one of the sheep, following placidly in the footsteps of the competition.

So, will Sprint make us proud?  Or, will once again, consumers bear the brunt of the shortsightedness of big business?

Well, it had to happen, Sprint is in negotiations to add the Apple iPhone to their line up of products. With the end of AT&Ts lock down of the iPhone, this was a foregone conclusion.  Sprint must keep up with the competition or die as a company.

This will be a boon to those Sprint customers who like Apple products but I don’t see it raising Sprint’s market share by much unless the following issues are addressed.

1. Sprint’s customer service must step up.  Poor support is not what Apple customers are used to or will tolerate.

2. Connection issues.  Verizon has done a better job of making the iPhone perform as a phone than AT&T did, but there are still some fixes needed.  Personally, I would never purchase a phone that did not perform the primary function at peak efficiency.

3. Product overload.  Sprint has a huge portfolio of smartphones now and should begin weeding out some of the lower end models.  Skip the mid range and concentrate on offering basic phones and high end models.  Use sales metrics and customer surveys to see which features are most wanted by Sprint customers.  You have a customer base, utilize it.

 

As posted here previously, I love my HTC EVO.  This is arguably one of the 5 best phones ever released.  However, I am quite exhausted with the sporadic service from Sprint.

For the past two months or so, many services I use have had a high “fail out” rate. Sometimes they work fine, sometimes they work poorly, and sometimes they didn’t work at all.

I at first thought my phone might be having problems.  But after talking to some other Sprint users, I found there was a high incidence of issues from call dropping to non-working features.  So, I contacted Sprint customer service to see what could be done.  The rep was very nice and had me run some firmware updates on my phone.  She then began to explain that some of the services I was trying to use were only available for 4G.  I then told her I had been using these services on 3G just fine until recently.  She was unable to explain this and referred me to go into a repair center.

Prior to going to the repair center, I did some digging around and found out that Sprint is currently converting some cell towers in the area from 3G to 4G.  The work is causing some connectivity issues and bandwith narrowing.  It should be resolved within the month.

Now, I’m all for updating equipment, especially since it will provide me with a feature I have been paying for nearly a year without having the actual feature.  However, why couldn’t Sprint simply announced the coming changes and apologized in advance for any inconveniences?  A little upfront transparency can go a long way in customer satisfaction.

Instead, like so many companies, Sprint choose the ostrich method.  Stick your head in the sand and hope most people won’t notice the issues.

Come on, Sprint, don’t go back to your previous last place in customer satisfaction.  Your customer policies are what put you behind your competition. After all, your phones and packages are very highly rated.  Make the 4G leap of customer care and put yourself ahead of the pack.

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