Technology Meltdown Rant

Today, I had a technology meltdown.

My email didn’t work. Thank goodness I can rely of Valley IT Support ( I sent an email via my website at 6:17 am and had a reply by 6:23am setting a time to resolve this problem.

Then my phone dropped off a client in the middle of a conference call. I called the telephone company and the voice mail said that they were really busy and I should go online. I did and was lead through a series of menus until I got instructions on how to go out to my box, unscrew the lid and test my wires. I gallantly followed the instructions and unearthed my inner engineer hiding behind the marketing gal. But, since the problem of dropped calls was intermittent, my tests didn’t reveal anything. So I had to call the phone company and wait until I could request a technician.

I couldn’t upload changes to a client’s web site in the usual manner due to some technical difficulty. At I-Tul ( the tech experts answer the phone and quickly offer alternatives to work around the issue. So, this was resolved quickly too.

The final straw was my calculator. I found “new” batteries that weren’t new enough to make it work and ended up doing calculations longhand. It’s good to know I can still do it.

This evening my step-mother said she finally got her email fixed. I had sent messages to the customer support requesting assistance for her. They had replied to her via email even though her problem was that she couldn’t access her email. That’s why I had submitted the service request for her. Is someone actually reading the service requests or is everything automated?

Today’s lessons:

  • Having a responsive IT expert is priceless.
  • Web sites are great to help customers help themselves and email is a wonderful tool but if those don’t work, customers need to be able to reach a real person.

Hopefully I’ll have time to actually do some marketing tomorrow since I went on a technology rant today.

Customers deliver better service than employees

I’ve been shopping at the same grocery store for 15 years. When I had a particularly bad experience due to lack of shopping carts, clerks unable to find things, out-of-date produce and no bagger available to help me out, I felt compelled to call the store.

The person I spoke to was gracious in taking my feedback and told me to stop in for a gift card left in my name in appreciation for bringing my experience to her attention.

When I stopped in a week later, there was no card and I was told that I had probably called the wrong store. They did however offer a lower valued card, all that the weekend staff were allowed to issue.

So I tried again a week later, finally reaching the store manager. By this time, I had figured out how to show him the text message from 411 documenting that I had indeed called the right store as well as the exact date and time that I’d had this interaction. He too politely listened and apologized for the experience and offered a gift for my trouble.

My gripe is that I tried really, really hard to give my feedback. I was frustrated that the store didn’t have a mechanism in place to communicate among their team so they’d know what I’d been promised. And, it left me wondering if anything was done with my feedback.

What can you learn from this?
  • If you get feedback from customers, you need a system in place to communicate the problem and the solution to your team.
  • It would have been more proactive and had greater positive impact to send the card to the customer with a thank you note rather than put the onus on the customer to request the card. It would have been even better to let the customer know what had been done with the feedback.
  • The store would profit from talking with employees about how real customers feel about their experiences and what needs to be done differently to enhance those interactions.

The further irony to this story is that on my second visit I witnessed the customers delivering more service than the employees. The gentleman in front of me in line noticed that the mechanism to move the items toward the cash register was not turned on. So, he manually moved his food forward to make room for me. Then he turned, and started helping me take things out of my cart and load it on the ramp. After I thanked him, he said he was just standing there so he might as well help. How lucky his grandchildren are to have a grandfather like him as a role model! Then the woman, who was behind me, revealed that she was back in line for the second time. During her first round at the checkout counter, her purse had covered a few items and she didn’t realize it until she was out at her car. So she brought them back to the store to pay for them. Now these customers are truly delivering service to this store. Maybe the customers should be training the employees!

Success story is a best seller

When you’ve solved a customer’s problem or helped a customer make money or save money, turn it into a story that you can tell to other prospects. Often sales people are on to the next sale and forget the value of capturing a success story. That’s where marketing comes in. The description of how your company helped a client overcome a challenge can go on your web site, be used in a newsletter or be part of the presentation packet for a new customer.

Although it is like pulling teeth to get a sales person to relay some of their good stories it is worth the effort. The sales process is about overcoming fears that the service or product won’t work as expected. What better way to persuade than to tell a story of how your company solved a similar problem for another client?

To see some examples, check out how the Sierra College Training & Development and Center for Applied Competitive Technologies (CACT) tell successful employee training stories and the beneficial impact on the companies served.