Friday, August 15, 2008

Rich Gmail

Gmail doesn't let you do much in the way of "rich" formatted emails.

One way around this is to write your email in Google Documents and then copy and paste into Gmail.

This lets you, for example, insert images. And since you can edit the HTML from Google Docs you can tweak it even more.

The copy and paste isn't perfect, but it works fairly well.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Managing Customer Service

I took my Prius in for an oil change the other day. When I went to pick it up the person on the counter was on the phone. No problem, must be talking to a customer. But as I stood at the counter waiting, it became obvious it was a personal call making plans for the weekend. I kept expecting to hear, "I'll call you back, I've got a customer", but no, I stood and listened while the conversation continued for several more minutes until they settled their plans.

I got a little annoyed, but it was only a few minutes, no big deal.

What I was thinking about was that if it was my dealership, I really wouldn't want to treat customers like that. But how do you prevent, or at least minimize, that kind of thing? Your first thought might be to ban personal calls. But that won't get you good customer service. That'll get you unhappy staff and higher turnover. And personal calls aren't the only cause of poor customer service.

Although the customer support people at my company don't deal face to face, I still worry about it. There are still lots of ways to treat someone poorly over the phone.

One of the ways I try to combat it is to tell stories about good and bad customer service in our support meetings. Of course, most people think they give good service and they would never be rude to someone like that. But I hope that it helps raise their awareness and helps them think about it from the customer's perspective.

At the same time, I do put some of the "blame" on the individual. After all, even if this was a non-work situation, it's still pretty rude to ignore someone standing in front of you and gab on the phone. Although, with cell phones this is becoming increasingly common, which may be part of the problem.

There's a lot of hype about how the younger generation is so much better at multi-tasking. I don't buy it, it appears more to me that the skill at play is in not paying attention. The research isn't conclusive but there are certainly results that show that multi-tasking doesn't work, in the sense that you just end up doing a half-assed job of each task. Luckily (or sadly, depending on your perspective) that doesn't matter because most of the things being multi-tasked aren't of any value anyway.

On the other hand, I'm starting to sound a lot like my parents :-( "Kid's these days - no respect!"