July 22

Customer Service That Works!

I was reading this post, Akismet Gives Me A Lesson In Customer Service, at Blogs With Wings this morning and it made me smile. I, too, had a great experience with customer service yesterday and it was an excellent reminder of how important it is to respond quickly to the needs and wants of your customers, big and small.

I use a couple different hosting companies for the various websites I own, but my primary hosting provider and the one that this site is hosted on is Total Choice Hosting. I’ve been with this company since 2004 and will probably continue to stay with them for a long, long time. Why?

Well, for one, they provide good hosting services at reasonable prices and, two, they provide great customer service.

Are they perfect? No, not always. My experience with them yesterday proved that. Early in the day, their company dropped the ball. In a BIG way. I was experiencing some serious issues with connecting to their web server and uploading files, even being completely locked out of connecting at one point. I opened a support ticket to get the issue resolved and their low-level support techs basically responded with “There’s nothing wrong on our end. It’s your problem.” and closed the ticket, issue unresolved.

I wasn’t having the problem with any of my other hosts and extensive testing of everything on my end made it clear to me that the problem wasn’t on my end, so I reopened the ticket, only to get the same response. Your problem, ticket closed, issue unresolved. I went back and forth with them on this several times, reopening the ticket only to have them close it again. Things came to an explosive point when yet another problem occurred.

I opened another ticket for the second problem only to get the same response as the first ticket. Problem on your end, ticket closed.

At that point, my redheaded, Irish temper took over and I exploded. I reopened both tickets, not to get resolution, but to rant at them for being completely unconcerned that I couldn’t use their service anymore. If I can’t connect to them, there’s no point in keeping an account with them.

Within minutes, I received a response. Not from the tech department but from the President the company. He asked me to contact him directly through instant messenger so we could chat. I did and we spent the next 30 minutes working together to get all my problems solved. He fixed the problems occurring on their end AND he helped me find and fix a few things that were contributing to the problem on my end. By the end of our chat, my service was working perfectly and I was a HAPPY customer.

Then, to top off my great experience, he made sure I knew how important my business was to him and he gave me his personal cell phone number and told me if the problem happened again, I could contact him directly and bypass the ticket system. THAT is good customer service and when I think of that day, it’s that experience I will remember. Not the frustration that led up to it.

Akismet Gives Me A Lesson In Customer Service

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July 19

To Hell With Niches, Blog Your Passion!

Have you ever read something or been told something that sucked the life right out of your dreams?

I seem to get that a lot, especially from well-meaning friends and family members who think they’re sparing me a lot of wasted time and hard work. Or maybe they think a little disappointment up front will hurt a lot less than a big failure down the line. Whatever the reason, I get sick of hearing it.

Something else I get sick of hearing about is niches, especially from bloggers who encourage you to pick a niche, just not their niche.

I recently came across this post, Blogging About Blogging: Fair Warning, where the author linked to and commented on another post, Stop Blogging About Blogging Already. The point of both posts was to discourage new bloggers from blogging about blogging, a niche they claim is saturated and much too difficult for a new blogger to break into. Ironically, both of these bloggers happen to blog about blogging and if you take a few minutes to read through some of the content on each blog, you’ll quickly find that they each write pretty much the same thing, as do many other bloggers on blogging.

The funny thing is… I like and subscribe to both sites. I also subscribe to Problogger and many others, all blogs about blogging, even though they say a lot of the same stuff. Why? Because they each have a different voice, a different way of presenting the same thing and I like being able to compare ideas, to read different viewpoints. The blogger’s personality draws me in as much or more than the content itself. That’s what keeps me coming back. That’s what I love about blogs. They’re not just information dumps. They’re people. Fascinating, exciting people.

According to Ambrose Bierce “there is nothing new under the sun but there are lots of old things we don’t know.” There are also a lot of wonderful voices we haven’t yet heard. Yours is one of them.

My advice to new bloggers is to find your passion and blog about it. If you’re passionate about blogging, love blogging more than anything in the world and want to pass that passion on to others, than blog about it! Don’t worry if your niche is saturated. Put your voice out there and be heard. You might have to work a little harder than you would in another niche, but if you’re passionate about it, it won’t matter. You’ll be doing what you love and that passion will show through on your blog.

Be who you are and don’t let anyone steal the life out of your dreams.

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July 12

Book Review: Blogging For Fame and Fortune

Blogging For Fame and Fortune CoverHave you ever tried to read a book and been stopped, not by poor content, but by poor editing?

That’s the problem I’ve had with reading Blogging for Fame and Fortune by Jason R. Rich. I’m about halfway through chapter 4 out of 14 chapters and I just can’t seem to get into it. I’ve leafed through it quite a bit and there appears to be some great information there. I just can’t read it. There are too many spelling and grammar errors. I’ve found as many as four of them on a single page.

The name of the publisher is Entrepreneur Press. I’ve looked at their website and they seem to have a variety of books published, but not having read any of them, I have no idea if the editing issue is a problem with this book alone or an issue with the publisher in general.

All I know is a potentially great book has been ruined by poor editing and it’s a shame.

If, unlike me, you’re the type of person who can read a good book in spite of poor editing and you’re interested in starting a new blog or improving an existing blog, you might find this book very helpful. There is plenty of information on how to get started, how to drive traffic to your blog and how to start making money.

One thing this book does not promise you is a quick trip to fame and fortune. The author makes it clear that blogging for fame and fortune takes time and hard work. I give the author credit for that. There are too many books and other information products out there promising instant internet fortune without lifting a finger. It’s refreshing to find an author who tells you the truth about what it takes to succeed without crushing your dream of getting there.

If you’re going to read this book, that’s a pretty good reason to do so.

I’d like to hear what you think.

  • Have you read this book? Did you like it?
  • Do you have trouble reading books with lots of errors?

I’ve told you What Ven Thinks. Please leave a comment and tell me what YOU think.

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July 5

Seesmic Desktop: The Shadow TweetDeck Needs to Fear

Seesmic DesktopI tried Seesmic Desktop alongside of TweetDeck for a short period of time and it didn’t take long for me to realize that Seesmic Desktop and TweetDeck are shadows of each other. If you look at the two clients side-by-side, you can barely tell the difference. Seesmic looks a lot like TweetDeck and has most of the same features. Each client also has features the other lacks, which makes it very hard to chose between them. Even as I write this review, I find myself once again waffling between the two clients. Sometimes, TweetDeck works better for me, but at other times, Seesmic is the better fit.

These are some of the features Seesmic Desktop has in common with TweetDeck:

  • Handles multiple Twitter accounts.
  • Support for multiple URL shortening services.
  • In program profile viewer with the ability to follow, unfollow, and block.
  • Support for saved searches.
  • Support for unlimited columns.
  • Support for posting a single message to multiple accounts.
  • Single column view mode.

These are the features Seesmic Desktop lacks:

  • The ability to view images within the program itself rather than opening via the browser.
  • Support for trending topics and tag clouds via TwitScoop.
  • Support for groups
  • Support for scheduled tweets.
  • Short URL Previews.
  • No support for MySpace, Foursquare, or LinkedIn.
  • No support for global filtering.
  • Ability to change the programs color scheme.

Here are some of the features that Seesmic Desktop has in its favor:

  • Handy navigation bar on the left, which can be expanded or collapsed as needed.
  • Option to control the width of the columns. (I LOVE this feature.)
  • The “Home” column which combines tweets from all accounts into a single column, a nice feature if you like it, can be closed if you don’t.
  • Support for a larger number of URL shortening services than TweetDeck.
  • Much less annoying notification sound than TweetDeck. Still no support for changing the notification sound though.
  • Better font than TweetDeck.

The good news is that Seesmic Desktop is fairly new and still in the development process, so there is always the possibility that, if they implement the missing TweetDeck features and  continue to add features that TweetDeck lacks,  it could very well end up being a much better client than TweetDeck. It’s too early to tell, but I will definitely be keeping an eye on both in the future.

I’d love to hear your opinion. Which client do you like better and why?

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June 30

TweetDeck vs Digsby: A Close Competition

Digsby LogoOf all the Twitter clients I tried, Digsy was the one that almost stole me away from using TweetDeck, which is surprising considering Digsby was the most lacking in features of all the clients I tried. I used Digsby for several months before making the switch to TweetDeck and still alternated back and forth between the two for while after that. Even now, there are days when I’m tempted to use Digsby just to get a break from the annoying TweetDeck chirp.

Here are a few of the benefits of using Digsby:

  • Handles multiple accounts for Twitter, Facebook, MySpace and LinkedIn
  • Ability to open separate columns for each account, resize them, and move them to any position on the screen.
  • Completely customizable appearance with skins.
  • Ability to customize the notification sounds (big, big, BIG plus for me).
  • Can be used for instant messaging and email as well as for managing social network accounts
  • Less memory usage than TweetDeck

Unfortunately, as much as I loved the ability to customize the look and feel of Digsby, there were too many features I needed that it just didn’t have and ultimately those missing features drove me to TweetDeck. Here are some of the features Digsby didn’t offer:

  • No ability to create saved searches in columns so I could monitor subjects that are of interest to me.
  • No way to save the position and sizes of the columns for each account when opened and positioned on the screen. Each time I started the program, I would have to reopen the columns, re-size them and reposition them on the screen again.
  • Each column opened took up space on my taskbar.
  • Not able to view, follow, or unfollow Twitter profiles without going to the Twitter website and logging into one of the accounts.
  • No ability to handle images or video within Digsby.
  • No ability to post messages to multiple accounts at the same time.

I think the part of Digsby that most impressed me was the customization features. I love being able to customize the look and sound of my software to match my personality. With Digsby, you can do that. With TweetDeck, you can’t.

I hope the developers of TweetDeck are listening and will someday add more customization options to their software. If they do that, they will be almost unbeatable as a Social Networking client. For TweetDeck competitors, here’s your chance. If you can have all the features of TweetDeck AND add the ability to customize font size, column size and positioning within the program screen, colors and notification sounds, you’ll knock TweetDeck out of the park.

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