Migrating to new hosting provider…

Ran into too many problems with my previous hosting provider. You caught me in the middle of migrating to the new one.

Things should be back to normal soon!
-k

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Why I’m not using my Google Voice number

I have a Google Voice number (originally from a Grand Central beta invite.) I love the concept, but I don’t publish my Google Voice number.  Why am I passing up on making use of cool technology that can route my calls to me wherever I am?  Fear of audio advertising.

Google Voice may have audio advertising

We’re inundated with advertising throughout our online experience, watching movies, and for some even on their mobile phones.  I see a phone call as more personal and intimate than any other form of electronic communication.  My friends and family have had my phone numbers for years – I saw Google Voice as a great opportunity to centralize my phone numbers into one published number that could follow me around.  But, if a customer is calling me for work or a prospect is calling me about consulting, the last thing I want them to hear are advertisements while they’re waiting for me to get to the phone.  Especially when there’s an opportunity the advertisement could be from a competitor or from some company/service I wouldn’t want to be associated with or perceived as endorsing.

For me, it’s one thing to see ads in the sidebar of a web site (easily ignored), but an entirely different story to force callers to endure them while waiting to speak with me.  You could make the argument that I could just let everyone know if I ever decided to stop using Google Voice or take the number with me.  I’m under no illusion that the agreements Google puts me through give me any real say in the matter.  I see phone calls for more important/urgent real-time communications.

If the point of engaging online is to connect and stay connected, would you take the risk that some may not be able to find you later on, when some new tech fad comes along and makes Google Voice look “so 2009”?

-k

Scripted support troubleshooting can be painful

A little rant on call centers.  I just had a very frustrating experience today with a Voice Over IP (VoiP) company (I’m going to leave off their name as I like them and this is not a commentary on their service, just their support center).

My cable provider had an outage yesterday, our internet was down for at least 6 hours.  When it came back up, everything worked except our voip telephone service.  It typically takes a few minutes to reset itself.  I waited and it didn’t come back, so I called the support number for the company.  The first person I spoke with walked me through a scripted series of troubleshooting steps (some of which made little sense from a networking perspective).  After about 2 hours the person recommended I go replace the appliance from a retail store.  I did that (about 1.5 hours round trip drive — I live in the country).

On the first person’s recommendation I called in to support again to activate the new appliance.  After about 30 minutes of this second person not being able to successfully activate the appliance it was time to “hook up my computer” and troubleshoot again.  I have been relying on this service as my primary home number for years and trying to do a call over my mobile phone in the country is never easy.  It was exactly the same steps as the first call.  I finally hung up in frustration, went through the online activation and was up and running in 5 minutes.

I sent an email to the company to let them know how frustrating the experience was.  I’ve used their service for years with few problems, but let them know that if I have another support experience like this, I will most likely move to another service.

-k

Jumping into the conversation? Great, now can you sustain it?

Conversation among customers has grown online and marketers realize they need to be part of it.  That’s great, but one thing bugs me — why aren’t more people talking about engaging in a way that can be sustained?

I’m not seeing enough conversations on making sure the efforts are sustainable. There’s a post from Sean O’Driscoll called Nuggets form Social Media workshops where he talks about participating in the conversation (section #8). It’s the best advice I’ve heard so far:

Take the time to step back and do the analysis work to understand where the conversations are taking place, how do you categorize them, who are the influencers, what should the internal accountability model be for taking action, ensure you are trained/ready to participate, determine what are you trying to accomplish and how will you sustain the participation.  Nothing like deeply listening before you start talking to help ensure what you are doing is “joining the community.”  (“Nuggets from Social Media workshops as of late” by Sean O’Driscoll)

Sean is absolutely right. Of course you want to engage in the conversation, but you need to do it in a way that gives you the greatest impact and you can sustain.

I don’t know about you, but for me there is nothing worse than a company jumping into the conversation, then suddenly disappearing.  Customers will read into it — and their first reaction won’t be “it’s a shame company x doesn’t have enough people able to participate in this great conversation.”

I’d love to continue this discussion with more specific examples you’ve seen (good or bad).  Please share in the comments.

-k

Use your own email address with GMail

I’ve been using GMail as my primary mail client for some time now and have walked a number of people through these steps. For these steps to work, you will need to be able to have your email address (ie. yourname@yourdomain.com) directed to your GMail box (yourname@gmail.com).

[Update 9/4/2010: Sorry, in the move to a new hosting provider all the screen shots that should be in this post were lost.]

  1. Log in to GMail
  2. Click Settings
  3. Click Accounts
  4. Click Add Another Email Address
  5. Enter your Name and Email Address
  6. Click Send Verification
  7. Verify your email address
  8. (Optional) You can set this email address to be your default within GMail on the Accounts page by clicking make default.
  9. (Optional) You can also change your Reply-To settings to use your default email address or to use whichever one the original email was sent to. I have mine set to use the original.

Hope that helps. Contact me if you have any questions on this.

Thanks!

-k