Thursday, July 31, 2008

Larger companies might consider employing consumer advocates, to represent the consumer point-of-view when making business decisions.

A couple of examples for interactions today:

HP Canada Shopping: I phone just before 8 pm, stay on the phone ("please stay on the line, your call is important to us") until 8:35 pm, at which point I dropped into a message that says "our office is open until 8:30 pm, please call back during regular business hours or leave a message"). A consumer advocate would recommend keeping some staff on to handle the backlog of calls (i.e. calls placed during business hours) in order not to lose business.

Microsoft: a trial version of Microsoft Office is installed on my computer - when I click to go to buy, I get trapped in an endless circle of web pages telling me about policies and options, but never offering a simple BUY button. A consumer advocate would suggest viewing the interaction from the consumer point-of-view, and moving the consumer quickly through the buy process.

When a company becomes focused on internal considerations (e.g. office hours, company policies) it is beneficial to hire consumer advocates to represent the external concerns.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Electronic hostage taking is interesting as it offers a myriad of storylines for books and/or screenplays. Thus the SF Chronicle story of:

computer network administrator … tampered with the city's new FiberWAN … created a password that granted him exclusive access to the system … may have enabled a third party to access the system by telephone or other electronic device and order the destruction of hundreds of thousands of sensitive documents … engineered a tracing system to monitor what other administrators were saying and doing

shows the ongoing need for technical oversight of your technical folks. I'll update this blog entry when we find out how this case turned out for the city.