digital marketing

Amazon kindle allows some e book sharing

Keeping a promise made in October, Amazon implements Kindle e-book sharing –
Very good, but why on earth was it blocked in the first place? All digital media tends to free, shared formats, so this is inevitable.
Sharing doesn’t need to equal ” giving away”. It can also mean
Social promotion
Trial before purchase

All of which reward the originator by promotion or money. Which is a fair trade.

Just when you thought all was fine on the BT front…

“ah, well, there it is”, as one of my island ancestors might well have said.

Clearly, I’m not *meant* to have a fully functional broadband line at home/office.
Last night a drunk driver succeeded in poleaxing the telegraph pole that carried our line: instead of being 20+ feet high, it’s now in two parts. Astonishingly, and a testimony to the stability of the installation that BT (finally) achieved, both phone and broadband were working, while the pole was in two parts, and the lines variously lying in the road and hanging in mid air (carrying the weight of half a pole!)

Of course, to leave the accident scene safe, the lines had to be cut clear of the road – at that point (no surprise) we lost connection.

@btcare on twitter got a heads up last night before the connection was lost.

So now, I try to report the fault. All my old & new BT accounts are now consolidated into a single online account, so that I ave full visibility of status.
1 I try the online fault check: no fault is showing for the line. OK, so if a neighbour reported their broken line, it didn’t trigger a fault on our line, A pity, but fair enough.
Past extensive phone experience with BT
2 Try the Report a fault options: there’s several Live Chats available, however none works in Chrome, Opera or Safari, in full, high contrast or accessible views. Pity – & with a soupcon of irony I was lecturing this morning on making websites accessible & well-designed. #fail
3 (with a sigh) I call BT. First call goes through to Billing: odd. They transfer me to Faults, who flat refuse to do anything because there’s a “billing issue”. I’m looking at the consolidated online accounts, and the total due on the one bill outstanding is… £0 The man in Faults isn’t budging. I hang up.
4 Calling again, I’m put through to an entirely different BT department; apparently random assignment of callers has been happening a lot today. The chap kindly puts me through to Billing. The lady confirms that there’s no billing issue, and puts me through to Faults. I hear a ringtone: I’m on hold. Again. The call disconnects some minutes later.

So that’s another 45 minutes of my life that’s passed by dealing with BT – the majority of it spent on hold. A minority spent trying to unravel BT information errors. And at the end of it, the Fault’s not been reported. Probably. (You can never be quite sure)

I’ll try again later. Of course, the fault isn’t BT’s: they’re not to blame for drunk drivers! And the process of trying to restore my service? That’s starting out to be as tortuous as before.

In the meantime, having spoken to BT People 75-77, I have to go earn a living. If only to pay for my phone lines.

My phone was *already* smarter than my satnav

Google’s blog announces local recommendations and takes my smartphone one step further beyond my satnav.

Now, my satnav is in theory a smarter bear. It networks with other users to give realtime, high definition traffic updates. Trouble is it’s only networking with other users of the same service – and that means there isn’t critical mass. Sure, it works well on motorways – but it’s struggling with the trunk roads that I prefer to travel on. There just aren’t enough users to give even a 425-line picture of local traffic. Last year I saw an A road closed for 6 hours: nope, nada, niente on my SatNav’s HD service – it reckoned the road was open all the time.

So what’s the alternative? Why, my trusty smartphone. I ran a back to back test on a 4.5 hour trip to Liverpool. The result?
SatNav wins out on managing motorway traffic – spotting it & routing you around it. On A roads, the smartphone wins out. It’s so much faster at recalculating routes, and in a different league when it comes to finding local information. & since my smartphone is an HTC/Google Nexus 1, adding local preferences to my information could be a great help/

The usefulness of results is going to depend on how smart the social engine is – when I’m in a part of the country that only my preferences’ friends’ friends’ visit, for example. That’ll be interesting. Last FM have managed that trick with my eclectic music tastes for years, so it’s certainly possible.

Critical mass shouldn’t be a problem (a final bye-bye to my satnav, then).

Blurring the boundaries of privacy could be the greater issue though.

Web-savvy strategy

Will Rowan provides consultancy to grow businesses with web-savvy strategy.

Strategy isn’t about technology: never has been, never will be. Strategy for digital business is no different.

“It’s about people, process, behaviours, and how they change. Right now business, web & marketing communities are full of hints, tips and whirring technologies:
useful, if you remember that tech is only a means to an end – an enabler which will change colleague and customers’ behaviour.

Services: Consultancy: Writing:  Speaking

more un-service from BT

in following up the VOIP order, I’ve received two automated emails from BT, and one manual one.

The automated ones include

“This is an automatic response, please don’t reply to this address

Thanks for your email to the Small & Medium Business team. We aim to respond to your request within 2 working days.

Our reference for this message is 1xxx0, Please note that this is not an order number. However, you will need to include this reference in the subject of any related e-mail correspondence.”

Just how would I send any email related correspondence if the email doesn’t contain a reply address?

And the Manual email?

It’s from the same ‘ no reply’ address:

“Dear Will,

Thank you for your e-mail.

To proceed with your order, please confirm the company name.

If you have any further queries please do not hesitate to contact us again via e-mail.

Thank you for contacting BT.

Yours sincerely,”

How am I supposed to reply? Am I supposed to use one of the generic website links in the email footer, and hack my way through to my order?

Just why would I do that? There’s every chance I’ll end up buying a second VOIP service.

While I’m very happy to do the work on BT’s behalf, please don’t make it hard for me!

Service from BT

On Wednesday afternoon 24th March I rang BT to have one of our two phone lines disconnected – we’ll keep the other for broadband & VOIP. (We’ll call this person BT1, and number subsequent BT operatives in sequence.)

By 8pm BT1’s instructions had swung into action, and disconnected the broadband line (though we only found this out later).
Calling BT’s broadband support team (BT2) showed only that there was a fault on the line, and they promised an investigation. Since our broadband comes to us by overhead copper wires, that’s not an unusual occurrence – broadband goes flaky for us perhaps once a year, as roadside telegraph poles get moved by speeding arctics and the road’s slide into the river.

At 10am on Thursday I received an email, confirming that our broadband service would terminate in 14 days.
That’s odd, since we didn’t want to terminate our broadband… a phone call back to the Voice line support desk (BT3) uncovered the problem: in a spectacular piece of muppetry, the operative had disconnected the wrong line.

A long call established that the operative I was now speaking to could get it fixed later that day, and that they’d call back to confirm when it was done. And that if they didn’t speak to me, they’d leave a voicemail.

I then rang the broadband support desk, to try to have the broadband termination stopped. (BT4). They said that the Management Desk couldn’t help until the line was active again, and put me through to the Fault desk (BT5) to make sure the line restoration was in process. BT5 promised that this would be done within the hour.

Two hours later, I rang the Fault Desk to find out what was happening. “It’s in the system” said BT6. Two further hours later, I called again – and BT 8 told me that the fix had just arrived on Openreach’s system. And that they had no idea how long it would take to be acted on.

While I was talking to BT8, BT7 rang on behalf of BT3, to say that the fix had been requested: fine, but BT3 had promised it would be fixed, and that they’d leave contact details. Only a generic 0800 number was left.

Friday morning, still no phone line.
BT9 on Broadband faults bounced me to Domestic Faults (BT10) who passed me to another part of the domestic ‘support service’ BT11. Who gave me the correct number to call – I’ll be speaking to BT12 shortly, though the call has been on hold for 20 minutes.

In two days I’ve spoken to 12 people, only one of whom did what they said. (BT2, who called off the Fault Team – as there was no fault to find.) I’ve spent 3 hours on the phone – much of it on hold. The most shunts in a single call stands at 4 – a call which ended with my calling another number, and re-entering the system I’d just left.

In addition I’ve spoken to five Reception Desk staff – BTi, BTii, BTiii, BTiv, and BTv. Their only role is to ask for the number that you’ve already keyed into the call Handling system, and to pass off your call to a team who may be able to help. Or one with a short queue: I’m honestly not sure which.

It’s hard not to wonder…
– will anybody ever point out to BT1 the trouble their mistake has cost me, and the expense to their employer?
– if the operatives could actually do what was asked of them, in the timescale they promise, how much of customers’ time, and BT’s operational costs, would be saved?
– how BT will measure the compensation for one small business, two teenage children’s homework, and one MSc student, all losing internet access for 2 evenings, 2 days, and counting?

I’m still on hold to speak to BT12 – that’s 27 minutes now…

BT12 moved the disconnection/reconnection problem to the Seized In Error Helpdesk, who apparently deal with this sort of thing. In a ‘does what it says on the tin’ kind of way. We can only hope.

BT13 rings – a callback from a previous enquiry, and they’re happy to leave it with BT12’s Seized in Error Helpdesk.


8.45am: still no service. This is Day 3 since disconnection, and should be the day that normal service would have reconnected the line, according to BT1.

BT14 (on the general fault number 0800800150) initially can’t find the number at all. I relate that the issue is with the Seized in Error Helpdesk. BT14  decides to pass me through to the Service Team. On the first attempted pass, they’ve disconnected BT14. Connected to Sales: BT15. They’re treating it as a new purchase, so it’ll take 14 days. A new contract. And the business broadband contract will probably have to restart…

This means that two teenage children in full time education will have no internet access during their easter holidays. And a part time MSc student won’t have web access during a vital two week holiday period.

BT15 gives us a new contract & new number.
So as a result of BT’s error, we have a new phone number, Or will have on 15th April… that’s  days.
After 26 minutes, Sales shunts us to Service

BT16 in Service asks what the problem is… and puts me though to a Supervisor – BT17… they’re confirming a ‘turn on’ date of April 15th (22 days after disconnection). BT17 is the floor manager at a BT callcentre in New Delhi – I’ve absolutely no problem with where it is. He’s now passing me to his boss.

I’ve suggested that on Monday I may drop into BT Centre in St Pauls London, to see who I can talk to. and perhaps Live Blog the experience. BT18 apologises.

Jill,  BT19, the helpful one, calls to tell me what’s going on. a new line was turned on On the 26th.
Nobody knew till today

1 hour long call… and the first concrete progress since Wednesday.

BT Business Order Management Desk BT20 who puts me through to BT21 in Business Broadband Sales… they’re working offline on Sat morning, and aren’t available.

Back to Order Management Helpdesk, where BT22 sets up order id 37436 to reestablish a broadband contract on the new number

BT23 Monday morning
Re-order broadband in 48 hours, on a fast track basis.
They offer a new modem, new contract etc etc

On Tuesday morning I receive paperwork confirming the order, but with an installation date of 7th April.

BT24 Wednesday morning (47.5 hours after reconnection promised by BT23) tells me there’s no fast track order, and the line will be active on 7th April. She asks who I spoke to on Monday – BT23 – but of course I don’t have a name: only one person at BT has offered a full name (BT19). So that’s just a ploy to try to put me on the back foot, as if it’s my responsibility to know who I spoke to, rather than expecting BT to have a functional order management system.

I lose it
Big time.
Sorry, BT24

I have to tell BT24 what the old line number was…. so that they can go and find out what’s happened. (What was I saying about a functional order management system?)
I’m back on hold, and rapidly heading towards another 30 minute call – that’s almost 6 hours of phone calls…
I have to go to a meeting; BT24 agrees that I’ll be called back later.

(I’m beginning to wonder what else they can do to mess this up)

I call back 15 minutes after my meeting finishes. 6 minutes on hold before speaking to BT25. A very clear explanation of where were are… and that the Manager is asking the Sales person why the promised Fast Track order wasn’t placed. I’m promised a callback before 1pm.
Which is fine, but I don’t need explanations of why the sales process didn’t work; I need an active account.

Incidentally, the security question is now “Who placed the order?” but the order confirmation has come through addressed to Mr W Unknown – it’s that functional order management system again!

The promised callback by a Manager hadn’t happened by ten past, so I called BT (again).
BT26 apologises… says that the manager is very busy and will call back.
There wasn’t a lot of point in promising the 1pm callback then, was there?

He chides me for losing it with BT24, and tries to give me a lesson in handling call centre operatives. He in effect hangs up mid call by willfully mis-understanding what I’m asking for, and passes me off to another department (152)
after 16 minutes on hold & talking to BT26.

BT27 comes on the line after further 5 minutes on hold. Very helpful. Figures out that even if a Fast Track order were put on now it wouldn’t be active until the currently scheduled date of the 7th, anyway.

BT28 – the manager – leaves a phone message. Promises a callback.
It never happens.

ReEstablishing VOIP

BT29 bounces me back to the start of the phone system
BT30 advises me that Sales aren’t available on a Saturday
I don’t quite beleive them so call back in & press different buttons to speak to Sales
BT31 takes my details and promises a callback “within hours” to fill out the form manually

Saturday: BT32 doesn’t call to fill out the form
Monday: BT32 doesn’t call to fill out the form
Monday evening, I complete the form online. It’ll take five or more days to be set live.

That’ll be three weeks to fix BT1’s foolish mistake.
And 6 hours (or more) on the phone, some of it not spent punching numbers on BT’s IVR system.
Of all 31 BT operatives, two that I spoke to. were genuinely helpful, and did something. One took useful action (to set up the new broadband line) but didn’t tell me or their colleagues what they’d done.
And just one caused the mess in the first place.

Another dent in tv’s advertsing revenues

YouTube has just started auctioning video positions to the highest bidder – Adsense paid search results for video. (tip o’ hat to Marshall K at Read Write Web ) Along with yesterday’s announcement that full length feature films from MGM are to run on YouTube, that’s another dent in broadcast tv’s audiences, and revenues.

There’s already a good selection of brand commercials on YouTube: there’s a high definition service too. If you were running a commercials agency, wouldn’t you put some budget into YouTube? If only as a hedge against falling broadcast audiences – and with the potential to earn larger production fees on long films.

How long before we see broadcast tv being used to trail long ads on YouTube? It’s a technique that’s already been used by advertisers like the Army (who also offered mobile video, iirc). The idea that TV may not be the prime channel, that it’s just feding others, will make some old Madison Avenue & Soho admen rotate in their graves.

The world’s changing, and fast.

Starting a business community

As you’d expect, Teligent gives a very quick & precise heads-up on adding community to a business:
6 Things For The Community Strategist To Think About

You’d think that folk starting social businesses would get past the technology & think about what their users expect – should a start-up be fortunate enough to have any users… Last year Rapleaf upset some folk when early adopters felt their privacy had been violated. Rapleaf reacted quickly, and a crisis was avoided.
This year, socialminder managed to stir up the privacy storm.

Two things to note.
1 The storm raged faster & more intensely this time around, as Twitter spread the ‘news’.
2 Early adopters have different expectations from later mass users… they’re probably *more* sensitive to privacy abuse. (I’ve no science to back this up, just years of watching 😉

socialminder (& indeed rapleaf) aren’t doing anything that Plaxo et al get up to – but the mass user perhaps doesn’t manage their network reputation as sensitively as tech-savvy early adopter types. That’s a challenge for any savvy startup in this area – early adopters are (probably) a vital part of your launch strategy. Their feedback can iron out many bugs & unintended design consequences.

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