Category Archives: Business

Best Buy Doesn’t Understand Social Media Or Customer Service

Best Buy seems to be at it again. Of all things, they seem to have forgotten a big time rule in business; have a sense of humor and roll with the punches. Some folks never learn.


by Lynn Lin

All of this comes on the heels of a post I read by Adam Singer of The Future Buzz titled Best Buy Meets Streisand Effect. In it, Adam explains how Newegg, a technology products company, did a commercial where they poked fun at Best Buy. Best Buy decided to respond with a cease and desist letter, which was pretty ominous stuff. Newegg responded the way most of us would; they popped the letter up on their site. You can see a copy of at the link I provided above.

In many communities these days Best Buy is almost the only game in town. Here in central New York, unless you want to find a small store or an office supply company, you can only pretty much get everything you might possibly get at Best Buy. In my opinion it’s one of the reasons they’re one of the worst companies in the country when it comes to customer service. I don’t say this lightly. I know a little bit about customer service and often I have stood or sat at Best Buy waiting to buy something only to be ignored.

At least I’m not blaming them for being racist by ignoring me since I know they do the same to pretty much everyone. My friend Pat wrote about them, calling them WorstBuy, which is a pretty neat play on words, and of course I’ve had my own issues with Best Buy, once writing about it in a newsletter. I even briefly mentioned it when I was talking about my purchase of Windows 7; waiting around while being ignored seems to be a common complaint about them.

Anyway, what’s happened is there’s been an online backlash against Best Buy for the strong arm tactics. It’s showing up in many places including The Consumerist, Techno Buffalo, 404 Tech Support, WebProNews, Maximum PC and a host of others. I’m wondering if they’ll end up getting a threatening letter for posting it like I did with Finish Line.

Here’s the thing. It seems that the companies that are ready to quickly threaten or sue over stupid stuff like this are the ones that deserve to be outed the most. Best Buy could really care less about most of us, but if they ever do decide to try, customer service needs to be the first thing they work on. Sure, when you’re buying a $2,000 TV or a $2,800 set of LG washing machines they’ll genuflect quite nicely to try to get the sale. But when it comes to almost anything else, the employees don’t care, management doesn’t care, and obviously the administration doesn’t care.

By the way, I’m not giving any link love to Newegg either since they killed their affiliate program through Commission Junction, a company I didn’t talk about in my rant against some CJ affiliates because if an advertiser expires, they take out everyone and not just me. Nothing personal this time around, but hey, they took money out of my pocket as well. lol

Anyway, in the long run, social media will be Best Buy’s Pandora’s Box because once the masses start rising, there will be a competitor, one that learns from the bottom up how to treat customers. That’s what killed Comp USA, and what will eventually get Best Buy.

Of course, if Best Buy is listening and it needs a customer service trainer
 

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Is Your Work Worth Nothing?

There’s an interesting discussion going on over at Ileane’s blog, Basic Blog Tips. The article in question is titled 5 SEO Scams You Should Avoid At All Costs.

Mitchell name

It was written by a guest blogger, and 4 of the 5 points aren’t bad. It’s #4 that I, and almost everyone else, has a problem with. That fourth point states that people who do SEO shouldn’t be paid until some results are seen, and that a quality SEO person will wait for their money, hoping to get other projects based on their performance of the first. By the way, this person also states that this isn’t work they do.

How many of you do work without any type of pay? How many of you that do freelance work base your payment more on performance than on the project?

Truthfully, I only know one person that works in such a manner, and it has nothing to do with SEO or computing. His company is called Price Reduction Partners, and what they do is go into companies, do evaluations of their technology, then offer ways for the company to save money on expenses. They take a percentage of the projected savings initially, then for two years they get a percentage of actual savings when compared to previous costs. The payouts from these contracts can end up being hundreds of thousands of dollars, but he doesn’t take on any projects where he feels the savings will be minimal; after all he has to eat like the rest of us.

So in his business, after 20 years or so, he’s comfortable with the business model of waiting for payment. In a way, one could say the same about real estate agents I suppose, since they get paid when a house is sold. Okay, there’s two professions; can anyone think of more?

No one at this point should be naive enough to know that SEO can be dicey for some people. If you’re in a crowded market you can do the best you can do, but you may never reach the first page of Google; sorry to tell you that. Or if you have a site that’s heavily laden with flash and all sorts of other “pretty” things such as music and images, but no real content, SEO is going to be problematic. And I helped to warn people about certain SEO scams as well.

But in general, with most businesses, you get what you pay for. If you’re not willing to pay someone before performance sometimes, it’s just not going to work out. You pay plumbers the minute they walk in the door. You pay doctors whether or not they’re able to totally cure you or not. Payment for some services might be delayed, but you’re going to pay or you’re going to be sued; that’s just how it works in the United States.

As an independent, I don’t undertake any project (especially after this happened to me) without getting at least a deposit of some kind up front. People can always say they don’t like your work, even after you’ve put hours into it, and then turn around and use it. That’s one reason why I stopped sending any company my full outline of a presentation or training session I’m planning on doing for them; I’ve had two instances where those people ended up taking my outline and doing the training themselves.

Just as some people who hire you might not trust you, as a worker you can’t always afford to trust those people who say they want to hire you; at least not fully. A deposit is a bond between consumer and contractor, and if that bond is broken, the consumer hasn’t lost much and the contractor will actually lose more in the long run because word gets out.

Your work is worth as much as your name; hence, the reason for today’s image. By the way, sidebar training, it seems that with some blogs you have to click on the image a second time if you want to see the larger version of it, and that’s the case with my blog. So, if you want to read what the plaque says, you have to click in it, wait until you’re at the next page, then click on it a second time. I have no idea why WordPress is making you do that but in this case if you want to see what it says that’s what you have to do.

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5 Dangers Of Working From Home

I don’t think of it in these terms all that often, but overall I work from home for the most part. Every once in awhile I go on the road for a few days to a few months, but in general I do most of my work from home. What brought me to thinking about it was that I made a list of Work From Home blogs, #21 in fact, and since it’s always nice to be recognized I thought I’d point it out and thank it for giving me an idea of something new to write about.

Before You Quit Your Job

I’ve often encouraged people who are out of work to at least look into the possibility of working for themselves while they’re collecting unemployment. There are many people with great skills that could translate into a profession where they wouldn’t have to deal with weak managers or poor working conditions.

However, there are realities to working for oneself as well. I would recommend that every person who’s even thinking about working for themselves start by reading Before You Quit Your Job by Robert Kiyosaki. Although I probably wouldn’t have changed a thing, I’d have learned some things to watch out for ahead of time.

If you’re not in the mood to read the book just yet you’re in luck, because I’m going to talk about it for a brief bit. In essence, I have 5 things to tell you about working for yourself that you have to watch out for, or that you need to get more information about before you embark on your quest. Here you go:

1. You need to learn more about marketing. I have to say that marketing is the thing I’m the worst at, even after almost 10 years; gasp! I can tell you what doesn’t work, but I can’t tell you what does work. The issue becomes what can one do to captivate their particular audience. For me, the main audience I’d love to reach right now doesn’t do social media, doesn’t do “out of the box” thinking, and doesn’t really do minorities telling them what to do; that’s just being honest. However, my long term career goal works well for each of these, which makes me work on finding a balance between the two.

2. Money will almost always be up and down. I’ve had years that have put me in one of the highest tax brackets that barely kept me middle class. Then I’ve had years like 2009 where, because of the economy, I was scratching every week just to have enough money to pay bills and eat every once in awhile. It takes a lot of discretion not to spend unwisely when it’s coming in like water and a lot of planning to make sure you have enough to spread around and last awhile when things slow down.

3. Wasting time can be easy to do. Man, I feel like I waste time every day. I do, but when I look at it overall I also work more hours than a person working a 9-5 job does. Unless I’m working a project that someone else is paying me for I tend to work in spurts. That means that oftentimes business and pleasure get mixed together. For instance, when I’m checking email, there’s always more business email than personal email these days, yet I tend to do both around the same time. Also, something I learned as a manager is that you have to have “thinking time” because that’s how you come up with ideas for things such as writing or creating stuff. That could be seen as wasting time by some, but I find it crucial, and I find that not enough people take those moments out of their schedule for it.

my desk
My Work Space

4. You can overwork yourself. How many of you remember my 10-hours a day experiment? Hopefully things will change some as it starts to get warmer, but I normally sleep 4 to 5 hours a day, get a couple of 30 minute naps in here and there, and most of the rest of the time I sit at the computer working and thinking and wasting time. I joined the gym to try to get myself out of the house and into shape, but that’s often only an hour, if that. So that pans out to 14 – 16 hours or so at the computer on a regular basis; no wonder my mind feels shot here and there. I need to take more time off, although I know time off means I don’t get paid, but one’s mind just can’t stay sharp working that many hours. However, most of the people I know that work from home do the same thing.

5. You spend a lot of time alone. Why do I write my blogs so much? Because other than when my wife comes home I don’t have many other interactions with people during the day, unless I’m going to a meeting, networking, or I’m out of town. Some people think we just sit around drinking whatever in our pajamas or underwear all day and how nice it is, but there’s something to be said for engaging other people every day, even if it’s only for minutes at a time. If I decide to work out I’m still sitting in Barnes & Noble or Wegmans or the library by myself, even if there are other people around. It’s not always easy mentally, but it’s something you’d have to be ready to get used to.

Did any of that scare you? If not, you might be ready to explore doing this type of thing for yourself. You won’t have to deal with weak or mean managers anymore, but you just might find that your worst and meanest critic is actually you. But if you can get paid well, it eases things dramatically. 😉

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4-Hour Work Week’s Not-To-Do List

I found myself taking a few hours to read the book 4-Hour Work Week by Tim Ferriss. It was an interesting book that maybe one day I’ll write a full review on. Suffice it to say, I found things I liked about it and some thing I didn’t quite like about it as well.

One thing I felt I wanted to add my own comments to is what is listed in the book as The Not-to-Do List: 9 Habits To Stop Now. In Ferriss’ mind, by eliminating these things you not only improve your efficiency but you reduce stress as well. I’m going to list his topic, then add my own opinion, if you don’t mind.

1. Do not answer calls from unrecognized phone numbers. I adopted this one in full at the beginning of this year, but I’d actually started it for the most part late last year. I have two lines into my house, and for the last 3 or 4 years I never answer the personal line if I don’t know who it is; actually, I often don’t answer it if I do know who it is since it’s almost always for my wife. For the business line I didn’t answer if it was an 800-number of some kind but always answered other numbers, then realized that most of those are sales calls as well. Now I don’t answer any numbers I don’t recognize; my mind’s at peace with this policy; that’s why I pay extra for voice mail.

2. Do not email first thing in the morning or last thing at night. This one I’m probably not going to change. In his book he talks about having to get used to losing some business for the sake of living the life you want to, and that you’ll find yourself enjoying your time more than what you might lose out on. Truthfully, I start every morning checking email since my hours are erratic, and I get all other work done during the day and love trying to get to the rest of my email in the evenings. I might work at some point to limiting late night email, since I’ve written some stupid stuff at 3AM, but my mornings are staying.

3. Do not agree to meetings or calls with no clear agenda or end time. Working for myself I have a great handle on this one, which eliminates almost all early morning meetings. I do have to get better at other meetings that I know won’t produce income or contracts, though.

4. Do not let people ramble. In his book, he offers up suggestions for how to help people get to the point such as telling them you only have a few minutes for them. This works well, and is a technique I’ve often used. I think we all have to gauge when to use this or any other techniques and when to let the other person just talk.

5. Do not check email constantly – “batch” and check at set times only. I had to break this habit, and I’d say that I’m about 80% there. I plan my days with free time built in and that’s when I get to emails and other stuff I want to do instead of have to do. Of course he’s only checking email for an hour a week; I don’t see that happening.

6. Do not over-communicate with low-profit, high-maintenance customers. This one is hard when you have a finite number of customers, but I understand his point. He loves talking about the Pareto Principle of 80/20, and it makes a lot of sense. Eliminating those people who give you the most grief and turning your attention to those people that give you the most benefit is not only stress relieving, but sometimes you find you don’t have to deal with the folks left all that often because they were satisfied to begin with. Any assistance you give them makes them better, and thus all you usually end up with is improvement and satisfaction.

7. Do not work more to fix overwhelmingness – prioritize. No, that’s not a real word, but he used it. lol This fits in with the principle that says if you know something’s broken fix it so you don’t have to keep fixing it and can get on with other things.

8. Do not carry a cell phone or Crackberry 24/7. He’s not saying don’t have these things at all; just limit your usage of them. I don’t have smartphone, so I’m good thing. And very few people have my cell number so I’m good there as well. But there are a lot of people we all know who seem like they’ve forgotten how to interact with people they’re with because they’re constantly messaging someone or talking on their cell phones, no matter where they are.

9. Do not expect work to fill a void that non-work relationships and activities should. Yes Virginia, there is a work/life issue, and I’m living proof of this. When I was an every day employee, I went until I was 37 without taking even a week’s vacation; the longest I ever took off was 2 days; isn’t that a shame. I only took a week off when I got married, then the next year on our 1st anniversary. It wasn’t until the middle of 2000 when I finally took 2 weeks off in a row and found how relaxing that was.

However, since I’ve worked for myself, I haven’t had a vacation or any time off. It’s harder when you work for yourself, but I’m going to be dealing with that issue this year in some fashion; more on that at a later time. The main concept here is that you need a personal life, and you should substitute your work life for it because work is just that, work.

Those are my thoughts; what are yours?

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How Can I Be Useful To You?

Last week I was honored to have Chris Brogan stop by this blog for the first time and leave a comment. Of course, I’d been talking about his post regarding ways to write multiple posts in a day. He stated something interesting in the comment: “The qualifier might be USEFUL posts a day”.


Young “ME”
being real useful

It got me to thinking about how often I’ve been “useful” to those who visit this blog. I know that my business blog is useful, if tough for some people to get into, but what about this blog? Is it supposed to be useful or entertaining? Can it be both?

As I get close to post #900 I decided that I would take just a quick look at topics I’ve written on over the past 3 years, but I’m going in a different direction. For instance, I’ve written around 55 posts on entertainment topics. Out of all those posts, only one could be considered as useful, that being when I spoke on how to create playlists on Windows Media Player. Certainly a post like Saturday’s top 20 sports movies isn’t useful, but it’s fun and, in my opinion, is the type of thing where some folks might enjoy comparing their favorites to mine; an outlet for expression that anyone who likes movies can comment and know that there are no wrong responses (that is, unless someone actually thinks The Fish That Ate Pittsburgh is a top 20 film).

I then looked at personal posts, where I get to talk about anything I want to, sometimes things that have nothing to do with my norm here (do I even have a norm?). I’ve written around 50 of those, and I have to admit that determining what’s useful or not is a little bit harder. For instance, my update post on my gym workouts might not be useful to a majority of people, but if there’s someone who’s been thinking about joining a gym to lose weight and reads my post on my travails, have I given them something useful to think about, since I mention it also takes changing one’s diet? Personally I’d have found something like that useful before I joined the gym, but what about anyone else? Anyway, based on my own criteria, I think at least 7 of those posts were fairly useful; the others, well, at least half are subject to interpretation.

And of course there’s the Sunday Question, which may or may not be useful to people. Its intention is to get people thinking most of the time, and to me, that’s useful. However, I’m not sure people learn anything from it, unless they’re learning something about themselves that they never thought of before.

Anyway, based on the quick review, it would seem that I’m useful at least 80% of the time on this blog; I really hadn’t expected that at all. I’ve talked about blogging, writing, software, plugins, product review, health, social media, motivation and posted some interviews. There are more topics, of course, but you get the drift. For me, it’s been an interesting mix of things over time, and I hope to continue it.

Still, I figure it’s time to ask this question; how can I be of more use to you? Are there topics I haven’t covered that you might want to see me tackle, if I’m able? I’m not going to ask what you don’t want me to talk about because, well, I’m going to write what I want to write about, even when it’s a tough topic to discuss like issues of race. And I will tell a story or two here and there, like my story about The Keys. But I figure why not ask, as it’s the holiday season, I’m on the cusp of 900 posts, and who knows, there might be other posts in your questions as well.

Go ahead; let’s see what I do and don’t know as far as helping you out. But if you ask me how to build a car; ain’t gonna happen! 😀
 

 

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