Thursday, January 27, 2011

Blog Post about My Blog

This is a short and sweet blog post about a recent change to my blog name. For the longest time, my blog has been called “My Stories.” Today I started thinking about my blog, and realized that a better name for it is “Me” because my blog really gives you a flavor for who Trenton Bradford Ostler really is. There are the philosopohical posts on life, the business-y posts, the spirtual posts, the stories of adventure, the posts on love and family, and the opinions on random topics. I would rename my blog to “Me,” but that's not too terribly creative so I decided to translate the word "Me" into Russian giving as an end result "Ya." I hope you continue to enjoy the posts.

My Business Advice for Customer Service Departments

I heard on the radio not too long ago that companies save huge amounts of money by not talking directly to the customer. It’s true. A company can save upwards of $6 per call. That is why automated directories are now widespread. But people still just want to talk to real live people to resolve their issues. I, for one, have gotten quite good at pressing the right keys to get to a person the fastest. The number 0 usually does the trick.

Today was different. I decided to try the website approach. You know those "email a representative" links on websites that nobody ever uses? Yep, I clicked on that and asked my credit card company a total of two questions, which were in turn promptly answered. This experience restored my faith in alternatives to calling humans. Indeed, using websites gives you access to more helpful and better organized information than is possible by talking to someone over the phone.

But here’s the problem: people are going to need an incentive to switch to addressing their problems online because it takes time to search the website, figure out their organization and wait for a response (which could take upwards of a couple days). The only reason I tried the email approach today is I was curious. Notwithstanding this problem, I think I know of a way that companies can incentivize customers to email them: pay them cash to resolve their complaints online. I know, you’re thinking that there’s no way to prevent abusers from gaming the system to get money. But the solution lies in making the price low enough that people won’t want to ask questions, but high enough that will attract people to go online.

I will be the first to say that I hate waiting for answers. When I have an issue, I want it resolved right then and there. But in reality, in a lot of instances, the problem is not immediate and going online can be much more efficient. I would be willing to jump through some hoops and be patient if the price is right. I think a lot of others out there are too.

Friday, January 07, 2011

That was scary

I nervously stalled in the stairwell. I knew the gist of what I wanted to say, but as I came to the second floor, I started getting nervous. I went over some thoughts that I wanted to say in my mind again. Then I started walking to his office. The door was locked--he wasn't there. Shoot, I'll try back later. After about 20 minutes, I got a text from him. "Come on over for a visit before 10." It was 8:50. I immediately started walking back over to the Benson building. This time I was not as nervous; after all, he was basically beckoning me to come over. I also had been thinking about things to say for the past half-hour. I made it to the second floor of the Benson. He was with what looked like a colleague and a girl who was talking about her engagement or something. I retreated out of sight. I was sure that he didn't see me because his back was turned on me. Then I waited until the conversation ended and I made my move. He was in his office, but was on the phone with what sounded to be his wife. He motioned for me to come in, and I sat down on the couch and waited for the conversation to end. Then it was me and him. We small-talked around for a little bit, but we both knew what we were there to really talk about. In essence, I told him I wanted his permission to marry his daughter. Then I waited for his response. And waited. It seemed like an eternity. I am exaggerating, but at the same time I'm not exaggerating because he seriously paused for about 15 seconds. Then he started talking about how I would be so good for Amy and that he is really impressed with my appreciation for his daughter. A wave of relief spread throughout my body. What a nerve-wracking experience! And even for someone that I thought had shoe-in support for me. It was at that moment that my desire to have girls began as I would have the opportunity to have lots of fun with their potential suitors!