NetworkSolutions – Solutions Stars Videos

At BlogWorld Expo, I was interviewed by Network Solutions to answer a few questions that their customers might have. There are a serious of almost a dozen videos up now, with some major big names in social media, but with my ego being monstrous, I’ve only linked to the ones I’m in 😉

The whole series is pretty good though, and if you have a few minutes, I recommend them.

Start with Listening
Strategy Drives Outreach
To Blog or Not to Blog
Rising Above the Noise

CapitalOne’s Stupidity Has Impacted My Credit!=Process Broken

UPDATE: Wow! Look at their GetSatisfaction page.


If you like customer service horror stories, then you’ll love this one.

The Story

In February of this year, our heroine, yours truly, called CapitalOne to pay off one of her 3 credit cards with this company and to change her address and phone as she had recently moved and her forwarded mail was coming to an end. There was a whopping $5 balance so digging deep into her financial reserves she paid the trolls $5 while still on the line. Apparently a few days, after the card was paid to zero balance, these mean people accessed a $29.75 late fee on the $0 balance. Business process=broken

Pretty sure that’s not legal, but where does she go to complain? Government process=broken

Of course, as luck would have it, the trolls changed the address/phone on 2 of the cards, but not on this particular card. Business process=broken?

6 months went by, and our heroine lived blissfully unaware that the illegitimate late fee of $29.75 remained on the card. She was not receiving statements, so she had no idea that the CapitalOne monster was about to strike.

After checking her credit report earlier today, the heroine found that CapitalOne had charged-off the account for, you guessed it, $29.75. Yep, she now has an illegitimate charge-off on her credit for $29.75!

After 4 hours on the phone with CapitalOne today, and after talking to many of the Troll’s minions, she learned that they would not reopen the account and that they would not address the negative credit reporting. 4 hours of her life wasted and credit damaged only because the Trolls at CapitalOne do not have their **** together…

The Rant

It’s a sad story, but one we’ve all lived through at some mega-business in the past. The CapitalOnes, Comcasts and other notorious offenders continue to victimize on a daily basis.

But, why does this happen? Do people really start companies with evil, nefarious aims? Do they think that they will increase their customer base by pissing off the people who are shoveling money in their coffers? No. These companies hire fancy, dancy consultants to come in and ‘help’ them piss off their customers in the form of cost-cutting. Throat-cutting would be more appropriate terminology.

Hey, big business… Cut the damn marketing budget before you cut customer care. All the new orders you bring in will eventually be lost due to your prime suckage.

If your customers are !screaming! to get help and all you can think about is how to cut costs, you are bound to lose money. These consultants rarely care for the longevity of your company. They were brought in to immediately lower costs, but they have no stake in the future of your company so they could care less what their cuts do to your future.

Business Example

I recently had a discussion with a friend at a large company. Friend and company will remain nameless, of course. He was explaining to me why their customer service sucks. While his team begged to keep their customer focus, the execs told them that they had to cut $40k from the budget immediately (thanks consultants!). This was, of course, to pay for the companies large social networking experiment. Don’t even get me started on that one…

6 months later my friend was able to show measurable losses of revenue after the significant cuts in customer care and had the foresight to forecast future losses. Because his team did this work, and showed that the $70K cut had put them on track to lose $900K by year’s end, they were unleashed to again serve their customers with excellence. But, how much impact was done in those 6 months? To have him tell it, the impact was substantial. In fact, months after, they are forced to adopt a new, costly customer retention program that will add additional losses to the big savings that the consultant brought them. The sad thing is that before they mucked with their current setup, they were retaining customers just fine and were one of the top 5 *****s in their field.

Sadly, as consumers we have no way to educate big business on this truth. One would think execs would have learned this in their obligatory MBA education from a top school… (I know, now I’m just being snarky).

We have no real way to speak out against these retarded cousins of the business world and I’m tired of just giving up. The Better Business Bureau is useless. Yelp is about the best way to get any attention when you are railroaded by companies, but that really doesn’t work well unless it’s a local business. Any suggestions on how we take back our time, energy and buying power? GetSatisfaction?Anyone else have a customer service nightmare they want to share?

Building Communities In a Web 2.0 World

I’m preparing now for an upcoming presentation at Webcom-Montreal (note: site in French) mid-November. While I have my outline done, I am looking for a few great examples of community. I’d love to hear what you think about this.

Who is doing community right? Who sucks at community?

Quechup Invites Are Still Bombarding Me

I’m still surprised at the number of Quechup invites I’m getting from friends, business acquaintances and mailing lists. I thought that when Quechup saw the enormous flack they were taking for spamming their users’ address books, they’d fix this obviously broken invite system. However, I got another 5 invites today. At least it seems to be slowing down as more and more users are deciding to steer clear of the new social network. I suppose 30 email invites, plus at least 20 apology emails with an angry report of what had been done to them by Quechup, is a small price to pay for being well warned not to come anywhere near the site. But, the lack of response from the site’s owners is deafening.

I’m at more than 30 invites so far, most from people I have only exchanged one email with the in the past. What about you? How many spam Quechup invites have you gotten? Were you a victim of the site’s spam-friend invite?

Much Love For Comcast Ad

This is one I forgot to add to my last post about great ad spots. Here’s the best Comcast Digital Voice ad. However, each of these is great, including their 30 second spots, which typically for most advertisers, suck.

Note: This one has 30K views on Youtube, and it’s one of many of the exact same Comcast spot. How much free advertising do you think that is worth for Comcast? Free advertising in front of their target demographic…

Commercials That Last

Advertising is getting better and better. Because so many of us own DVRs and can regularly skip anything that we want to skip, ad shops are forced to deliver fare that is often better than the show that we are viewing (saving of course Reno 911, because they just can’t beat that one).

Unfortunately, some advertisers aren’t even trying. Nike spent a gazillion dollars, I’m sure, making this commercial. While the soccer moves are pretty darn amazing, I didn’t even think about shoes, clothes or Nike during the entire ad. What gives?
Continue reading “Commercials That Last”

Community-Driven Responses

Your response to unwelcome actions at your company is very important. At MyBlogLog, I (or someone else on the team) sometimes has to ban or block users, delete porn avatars or classify sites as adult on a regular basis. Often, as you can imagine, we have to explain why this happened, and let the users know that we do this in the best interests of the community. The limit on unreciprocated messages was particularly nasty with 123 comments, the large majority of which were negative. Keep in mind, I’d been on the job 4 days when we flipped that switch. But, as with most things, the storm was weathered and life goes on.

We’ve also had some more shocking situations, even banning a well-loved member of the blogosphere, and we took a hearty beating on that one as well.

How you respond to these types of situations is vital. And, while I’ve been called some nasty things (case in point below this para), most of the time the outcome is positive, because I really do care about members. This is the case for most of the social-networking nerds I know. We went into this type of work because we love people and we love to socialize. From Lord Matt:

…and as for the inane comments from “Robyn Tippins” like “You have no idea how helpful this is to our decisions. Please feel free to vent and suggest and you can be sure we’ll listen.”. I’m sorry but living as I do in a county with the most spineless political reps ever I can smell saying something nice even though I have no power any day.

All she did was re-summarise the points made already (like any good PR or spin doctor) without giving anything by way of fresh reply or actual insight. (others think so too but said so more nicely). I know we can’t go back to the days when the guys that do the work answer questions themselves but now we can no longer talk to the organ grinder I feel less inclined to listen at all.

Dealing with a community isn’t always fun. Take Digg, for instance… I’ve long been a Digg member (April 05 I think), and was a subscriber to the vidcast from day one. I even supported Rev3 for a time, when I HAD to have the file a few days early. I was/am a big fan of Digg.

Usually, when people write about Digg the posts are either about Gaming it or about how much it sucks. Yet Digg sees an overwhelming number of visitors each day. Clearly it’s popular, even if the blogosphere still doesn’t know how to treat it.

Kevin Rose, however, has always had a ‘golden-boy’ treatment from most writers/bloggers. He’s the nerd that made it, and we all rather hero-worship him because of it. It helps that he’s attractive, in a boy-next-door way. I think if he was not attractive or too attractive, he’d get harsher treatment. Probably not fair, but that’s the way the world works.

For the most part, even when Digg got spotty reviews, Rose emerged unscathed. But today (see story on Techmeme), with the repeated banning and deleting of posts/members in the past 24 hours, Rose is likely feeling the heat.

From Stuff To Think About:

So I’m reading the comments, and every once in a while I’d refresh the page a few times to see how high the digg count would climb. And then it happened. First, the comments all disappeared, and then the story itself disappeared. And then, my digg account disappeared. My account is no longer valid.

There you have it folks, if you submit a story that Digg needs to censor, your account too will be deleted.

And, from his comments:

I suggested a couple of times that Digg was operating out of fear, and not out of legal requirement, based on the fact that Reddit still has the key up, and Wired published an article on Feb 13, 2007, with the key, and that is still up. I used no foul language at any time.

My account has been disabled for misuse. (only commented, never posted the offending article)

Submitters of the code have been banned. People questioning the bans have been, well, banned. This isn’t the first time digg has attempted to snuff out people who become enlightened to their little scheme.

I dugg them, commented, and submitted one of my own after I thought yours had been taken down. I’m now banned as well.

It goes on and on from there. The Digg users are rioting. The blogosphere is in an uproar, and here’s the odd part (from Valleywag):

(Digg founder Kevin Rose didn’t respond when I asked if his staff deleted the posts, but a Digg user tells me Rose actually dugg the story.)

Sitting here, with 20/20 hindsight, it seems like the code had to be removed, legally. Apparently publishing the number, 09 F9 11 02 9D 74 E3 5B D8 41 56 C5 63 56 88 C0, may violate the Digital Copyright Protection act, because it may be a way to allow pirates to unlock movie protection. However, the Digg Blog didn’t have an explanation until 1pm today.

This has all come up in the past 24 hours, mostly connected to the HD-DVD hack that has been circulating online, having been posted to Digg as well as numerous other popular news and information websites. We’ve been notified by the owners of this intellectual property that they believe the posting of the encryption key infringes their intellectual property rights. In order to respect these rights and to comply with the law, we have removed postings of the key that have been brought to our attention.

And, while Jay Adelson, CEO, said exactly what needed to be said, because Rose is still the face of Digg, it probably would have been better coming from him. Also, him being open and even self-effacing would have been very good to diffuse the situation. “hey, we hated to come in and moderate this, heck I even dugg the story myself, but to protect digg, we had to take it down.”

If Rose is the face of Digg, and at this point he is, then he should come in and speak when there is crap to deal with. If he doesn’t want to be the only face of Digg, then they should hide him for a time and build up the images of whoever they are wanting to be the face (and voice).

As I said, I say this with 20/20 hindsight, but this should have been the statement. Of course, I’d suggest direct contact (phone even, email at the least) with each banned member explaining the situation, personally from Jay or, ideally, Kevin, and reinstating the account if they agree that the TOS was violated. Whatever the case, I understand why they deleted the posts, but I hope they plan to reinstate the users.

Wired News: Digg Bashing For Reddit’s Sake

I just finished an initially interesting read on why Digg‘s system is flawed at Wired News (via and via). By the time I clicked the ‘next page’ link, I was annoyed to read that Wired’s parent company owns Digg-clone Reddit.

(Wired News is owned by CondéNet, which also owns Digg competitor reddit.)

Now, I’ll say quickly that I actually like Reddit and I am a frequent complainer about Digg (why no comments allowed on the Digg blog, Kevin?), but this article seems to be a thinly veiled attempt at trashing Digg’s spam algorithm and user-defendant bury component, which seems to really help Reddit out far too much to be a coincidence.

CEO Jay Adelson told me before I conducted this experiment that all the groups trying to manipulate Digg “have failed,” and that Digg “can tell when there are paid users.” Adelson added, “When we identify a (Digg user) who is part of a scam, we don’t remove their account so they don’t realize they’ve been identified. Then we let them continue voting, but their votes may count a lot less. Then the scam doesn’t work.”

There’s no contextual quotes here, only snippets here and there that support the opinion that the author wants you to read loud and clear. She puts this here to set up Adelson for the big ‘doh’ moment when the algorithm doesn’t work near the end of the story.

Now, in an effort to draw out the foregone conclusion the the site stunk to high-heaven, the blogger proceeded to buy herself some votes and earn her blog the coveted ‘became popular’ tag. I guess Digg’s system is completely flawed. Why do we even both with that worthless site anyway, huh?

Ultimately, however, my story did get buried. If you search for it on Digg, you won’t find it unless you check the box that says “also search for buried stories.” This didn’t happen because the Digg operators have brilliant algorithms, however — it happened because many people in the Digg community recognized that my blog was stupid. Despite the fact that it was rapidly becoming popular, many commenters questioned my story’s legitimacy. Digg’s system works only so long as the crowds on Digg can be trusted.

Hey wait, I’m confused, doesn’t that mean that the system DID work? The algorithm is the first line of defense, but when it fails, Digg depends on it’s users to know crap when they see it.

The system did, in fact, work like a charm. But you won’t hear that in the article. The blogger goes on to question if the users can be trusted in the long run. Where did that come from? It is a completely contrived question because her hoped-for flop did not happen.

Plus, most people skim these types of articles. They’d read the main parts of this story and assume that the Digg method is so hopelessly flawed as to mean the site is destined to fail. Is this a fair story?

Nothing like exposing your competitor to some juicy, dishonest gaming so you can have that beautiful link bait article that everyone will gobble up. But, that’s the blogosphere right? We can’t just write a post, we have to write an inflammatory one destined to harm whatever company we can get some traction off of…

Am I getting too old to appreciate the mud slinging or is it just that the mud slinging itself is getting old? I don’t know, but I do know that I’m really disappointed to see this type of article on Wired. (sigh)