Fast Food – Customer Service Done Right

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If  you read my recent post “Beware O0ps Pricing” you will see how Papa John’s Pizza failed miserably to do customer service.  So it is with great pleasure I get to give kudos to Jack-in-the-Box.  This last week I took a break from my normal home-packed sandwich to get a guilt pleasure.  In this case it was a Jack-in-the-Box Sirloin Burger. 

Sadly it was terrible.  I don’t remember them being terrible, but this one was badly made with too much sauce, a meat patty that was falling apart, and sad bit-o-lettuce.

A few hours later, I got a call!!

It was so bad, when got back to my desk I filled out a feedback form on the Jack-in-the-Box website.  I gave them an email address and phone number and told them how bad the burger was.  I figured that was it, maybe someone would read it.  I might even get a “We’re Sorry” email.  However! a few hours later, I got a call!!  Someone has the job to read those feedback forms as soon as they come in and contact the customer.  The result was they wanted details on why the burger was bad, and then offered to send me a coupon so I could try one again in them.

It’s not that hard people!  Papa John’s had people staffing the phones, just no process to take care of the customer.  Jack-in-the-Box has the process in place and clearly showed they value their customers more than saving a buck or two.  Good Job Jack!!

Beware “Oops! Sorry” Pricing

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I am not giant on conspiracy theories.  I tend to think that most of what happens that is bad is the organic result of humans being part of the process.  As a matter of fact there are times that I would find a grand, global conspiracy a bit comforting, because it might mean someone knows how to keep the whole “thing” from melting down, falling apart or just not reaching the worst case.

However, I am a firm believer in watching for patterns.  Is is possible that 90% of the programmers writing computer systems that manage inventory and pricing them accidentally only put in bugs that charge me more?  Could be, but I doubt it.  How often do you get a better price at the check-out scanner than was posted on the shelf?  How often does an error save you money on your utility bill, vs charge overcharge you? Continue reading

Inception: The Clue About The Ending I See No Discussion Of

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This whole post is a :: Spoiler :: if you have not seen the film “Inception”.  This is not a review. You have been warned

It has been a lean year for us.  So finally we watch “Inception” on Blu-ray from Netflix.  My first response at the ending was to turn to my wife and say “There is no way the people who stand in the ’10 items or less line’ with 15-20 items have a clue about what just happened.”  I loved the layered time-lines and the question which came very early for me.  Is this all just a dream. 

The whole film is uses “jump edits” to keep some level of discontinuity.  It was clear to me from almost the start that we were at least meant to feel like we were in a dream. My assumption was that we were heading towards a “Sixth Sense” ending.  Instead with got a “Total Recall” ending.  I am coming to the same conclusion I did then.  The movie ends with the hero still in a dream of his creation.

Nolan may never tell because he designed it to end that way.  Or did he?  I was also sure that there was an alternate ending that didn’t work, or maybe three alternate endings.  Each one defining the “truth” about the film’s view of reality.  Instead we were left looking at the spinning top.  But there are clues in the film that for me point to a real answer embedded in the film to be found.

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Verizon and T-Mobile I Want To Be A Customer But…

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Today I am again writing about business.  This week I wanted to become a customer of T-mobile or expand my Verizon services.  In both cases it is clear to me that these companies are paying large amounts of money to product managers and developers to create molds their customers are expected to fit, molds that may be costing them many customers like myself.

As I wrote last week, I have an HP Elitebook 8440p that I really love.  One aspect I find exceptional about this machine is that even though I bought a well priced pre-configured version without Bluetooth or 3G broadband built in, HP shipped the unit with the cables and antennas installed. This has allowed me to add these later without taking the machine apart.  Kudos to HP for allowing me to expand my machine within my budget and not locking me out because I wanted to spend less to start.

That brings me to last week and my discovery that some large companies are paying product management large amounts of money to lose them customers.  It sounds silly, but it is true.  In my opinion these companies have product management teams that think they are in competition with the customer; that there is a game they can win by making the customer do what they want.  Why not create a system where you win customers to your product by letting them choose the service levels they want.  I am not talking about free products or even discount products, just letting the customer buy and use the product in the quantities that they need it. Continue reading

Dear HP, We Have Friends and Family

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This is my first post about business.  I chose this topic because it is a case where a business that could be exceptional is dropping the ball.

I currently own an HP Elitebook 8440p.  This is an amazing little business machine.  When my old HP failed, I was going to choose as different brand.  However, I often work contracts with large companies that use things like smart-cards for security and this machine was the best deal I could find on a machine with a built-in reader.

Buying an Elitebook class machine, kicks me out of HP’s consumer support division and into business support.  It has given me a fascinating view into a company that understands support, almost.  It is HP’s paradoxical business vs consumer support that has prompted the writing of this post.

My previous HP was a TX1419nr, Best Buy consumer model.  Because of a recent lawsuit with HP and Nvidia I expect it to be replaced because it died early do to a hot running graphic chip that slowly weaken the electrical connections and can cause a specific set of failures.  Mine failed the first time out of warranty.  I got it fixed and then it failed when I was on a key deadline.    BUT, it is not a bad support experience with that machine that leads me to question if HP understands that business people don’t live in the office. Continue reading

Reclaiming the Creative Spirit

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There was a time when I created because of “the jazz.”  This is my own term for my creative spirit.  It’s hard to quantify an energy that comes from the very act of creation driven by the anticipation of sharing that creation with others.  For me “the jazz” lived a long time ago, when I was a child, when I was a teenager, when I was just learning to be an adult.

As kid I started my first book, “The House in the Field” based on a heroic nightmare I had. I would pound away at my 1908 Underwood typewriter until my ten-year-old fingers were too sore to type.  I never finished it, but there was no deadline and no “in order to make money” I just had story that had to be told. That drove me through lots of finger pain.

When I grew older I discovered the early personal computer.  I would write programs in paper notebooks to take to school and type into the TRS-80 with cassette drive that the school had been given.   Later I would write programs that sometimes took weeks of work.  One of my largest projects was an old text adventure for the Commodore PET computer,  “Escape from Nightmare Manor”.   This was writing, storytelling and programming.  The code was written in  my paper notebook while I was attending Western Washington University during the week, then on the weekend I would type my program into the computers at the Pacific Science Center where I worked.  Again, I made no money from this, it was a passion to create a more interesting adventure for people to play on the computer. When completed, I watched people pay over $50 in computer time rental just to solve my adventure game.  Affirmation like that will nurture the creative spirit.

At age 22 it was easy to feel unstoppable.  I knew that I could accomplish any task and that it is worth the cost in time.  Then IT came, FAILURE.  The truth that I am stoppable, that after tens of hours and lost opportunities, the result can be failure.  It was in 1985 that I discovered failure.  Not a small failure, but a large visible failed computer project that created large amounts of pressure.   For 26 years my spontaneous creative spirit was lost to me. Continue reading