As you can see, I haven’t “blogged” since March 7th. The reason? I’ve simply been inundated on both the business and personal fronts (most of it good!).
Recently, however, someone whom I respect criticized my most recent post, so I decided to clarify its purpose:
- In several prior posts, I have made the point that poor customer service and lack of attention to operational excellence can lead to lost customers, lost sales, lower profits–poor financial results.
- I have also written about “the paradox of choice;” i.e., when companies offer too many choices, people may avoid making purchases and/or may buy from a competitor that provides fewer choices–poor financial results.
- In my most recent post, I was making the point that not only can poor customer service and too many choices lead to undesirable financial results, but they can also lead to undesirable societal results; e.g., increased stress; wasted time; anger and frustration.
If I were a researcher, I would conduct a study and write a book about the impacts of disorganized, inefficient businesses on society as a whole. To me, that is a topic worth exploring.
I have a theory about what is causing the increase in gun violence. My theory is overly simplistic and certainly only a part of the explanation, but I am betting you will agree with me: Life has become increasingly complicated and frustrating, and that undoubtedly means shorter fuses.
I’ve been thinking about writing this entry for some time, and finally wrote down the annoyances of just the last 26 hours: (As you will soon conclude, I am taking some “personal time” to get some personal business done.)
- I had to contact AVG support because PC Tune-up had stopped opening. I was “connected” to the PC Tune-up department. After waiting on-hold for more than 20 minutes, I went to the user interface which invited me to enter my info, call in, and gave me a code to enter. I called. No option to enter the code. Got another rep who was going to connect me to the PC Tune-up department. I asked, “are you sure I will be able to get through without holding for another 25 minutes?”–The customer service rep checked with his supervisor. The answer? No one would be in PC Tune up tech support for 30 minutes. I do not mean that the lines were busy. There was no one in the department, period.
- I need to buy a new mattress, so decided to get a one-month membership with Consumer Reports. After I filled out all the info and paid my $$, I tried searching for “mattress.” (There were 3 places to click–I tried all 3) Received the following error message: “Not found: the requested URL…was not found on this server.” (I have the screen shots!)
- I then went to the Sealy site–Do you have any idea how many mattresses there are? (I didn’t count–but too many) I gave up–perhaps that is the idea…I called the company to see what mattresses they had that had the key features I was seeking. The person didn’t know anything more than what was on the site–she told me I would have to look through all the items on the website.
- I recently got an iPad mini, in part, so that I could read e-books and check them out from the library. As it turns out, to do this, I have to log into my library then log into Library2Go, which requires me to enter my library card number and pin every time. The good news? I have now memorized my 14-digit library card number.
- I had purchased a high-end oven which turned out to be a lemon. When the company came to exchange it today, they were unable to check the bios to be sure they were correct. The good news: At least the tech was smart enough to know that needed to be done and to request the information in advance from the company. The bad news? The info hadn’t made it to dropbox. That means the tech, the reps at the vendor, and I will all have to follow up to be sure I have the right version.
Clearly, none of the above is a life-threatening or significantly life-altering experience, but I am betting that virtually everyone is experiencing these kinds of occurrences increasingly often. My theory is that some of those who turn to gun violence have simply “had it.” They have other issues in their lives AND these kinds of issues as well.
Life would be less stressful if these aggravations didn’t occur so frequently. I have lots of solutions but lack the power to implement them.
As you may recall, one of Renee’s Rules™ is “Two sick companies do not make a healthy one.”
Based on my in-store and on-line customer service experiences with both Office Depot and Office Max, I predict that my rule will prove true for their upcoming merger UNLESS–and this is important–they hire a new, capable CEO for the combined entity. Although it is true that some of their troubles are attributable to the changing environment, the bigger problems is that these two companies simply are not well managed.
I rarely visited the Office Depot store in downtown Portland. Store layout was horrid. It simply took too long to find anything. (Apparently, others felt the same. The store is a ghost of its former self.) The last time I tried to do business with Office Depot, I tried to use a coupon I received in the mail to make an on-line purchase. The website would not recognize the coupon, so I tried calling. When the customer service rep was unable to solve the problem after 15 minutes, I said, “Thank you very much” and have never bought anything from them again. I really do “vote with my feet and/or my fingers.”
Office Max seems slightly better, but when I recently returned home from buying supplies at Office Max, I found a coupon that had started that day. Really?
In the big picture, I am a teeny customer, but the examples above are symptoms of the kinds of problems that affect larger customers, too.
These companies–like too many others (ToysRUs comes to mind.)–simply do not pay adequate attention to operations and to detail. They do not think about what it is like to be their customer. The merger will extend life but is unlikely to produce a healthy entity.
The tech pundits have cited multiple reasons for slower-than-anticipated sales of Windows 8 and related phones and tablets:
- Availability and pricing
- Poor connectivity, hardware problems
- Mixed early reactions
- Clumsy interface
- Misc. + the “current economic crisis”
Although all of the above reasons may, in fact, be contributing to slower sales, my gut feel (If “gut feel” is good enough for other pundits, it’s good enough for me!) is that the biggest issue is that everyone knows that it’s a mistake to be the first to get a new Microsoft program, let alone, a new piece of Microsoft hardware. There will be the inevitable “updates” and “fixes.”
Personally, I’m going to wait a few months and then update my PC to Windows 8 and switch to a Windows 8 phone and tablet. Am betting I’ll have lots of company.
So much for punditry. Calling Nate Silver! Any input on this burning issue?
I wish that, instead of reporters and other “observers” providing media reactions to the political debates, the media would engage “real” debate coaches and judges to evaluate the performances based upon pre-established criteria.
That method would add a degree of objectivity, and the results might prove surprising.
As the election approaches, it is clear that the two presidential candidates have very different approaches to “fixing” the economy, reducing the deficit.
If you have not done so already, I strongly urge you to take a few minutes to go to the 2010 New York Times Article, Budget Puzzle: You Fix the Budget. In essence, it is an interactive spreadsheet that allows you to play with various scenarios. You can select which cuts you, personally, would make and what changes in the tax code, if any, you would make. You can run multiple scenarios and see the results immediately. Categories include
- Domestic programs and foreign aid
- Health care
- Social Security
- Existing taxes
- New taxes and tax reform
I have mentioned this article before, but with the election approaching, NOW is the time to try it. I can almost guarantee that you will find it FASCINATING! It changed my views about what steps should be taken. If you take it, I would love to hear your reaction.