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March 25, 2010

When is convenience not convenient?

Through the course of my career (which encompasses a variety of positions and organizations), I've helped integrate digital resources with our "offline" ones. The end goal was to ensure the technology enhanced the traditional service and support provided to our customers. Perhaps this is an old-fashioned philosophy, but I believe that technical advancements should complement, not replace, customer service.

So it surprised me a few weeks ago, to call an internationally known technology leader's toll-free number, alerting them to problems I encountered while ordering a product from their website. A live person tried to troubleshoot my problem, but no luck. I expected them to be able to fulfill my order via the phone but was told instead I had to order on-line. I think our conversation continued something like this: 
   Me: "If I can't access the website, then how can I order [product x]?"
   Company: "You can't."
   Me: "So are you telling me that without the website, I can't place an order at all?"
   Company: "You will need to order on-line."
(Que up the song "Things that make you go hmmm....."]

Yet, more surprises were still in store for me. Just this week, I contacted another company requesting to convert all of my statements to email. After having difficulties with their website, I called a live person to activate this for me. Nope. In order for me to go green while (and here's the good part) SAVING the company money, paper and postage, I had to register on-line, regardless of the fact I was having difficulty doing so. While I admit my problem was probably User Error, it shouldn't matter. Neither company was able to assist a customer because of their dependency on technology.

Interesting tidbit: I didn't order order the [product X] and got another statement in the mail today.

10:34 pm cdt          Comments

March 21, 2010

Doing my Civic Duty

This week I performed two major feats - major for others more than myself. In fact, these two activities took less than an hour of my time collectively. Simply put, I completed the 2010 U.S. Census and I donated blood. The Census was a snap but I felt glad to be part of the small (unfortunately very small) percentage in my county to historically complete this quick paperwork. Giving blood is another story - a story that dates back almost two decades.

As a Freshman in college, I watched my brother swoon after donating, while I waited next in line to give. I shot out of that room faster than the nurse could give him a tiny can of juice to chug. Four years later, I nobly signed up yet again, only to be turned away from the cot because the nurse couldn't find my vein. It appears the "fight or flight" theory also applies to blood vessels in that mine decided to hide for protection. The advice given to me that day was to set up an early morning time-slot or pop in unplanned to donate.

For the next 16 years, I used one excuse after another as to why I couldn't donate blood, but ultimately, I was scared. Scared of the pain, scared of the needle, scared of passing out. However, it was my fear that someone in need, someone in a medical emergency, or someone I know and love, would go without a much-needed blood supply. And so on Friday at our work's regular blood drive, I did it - I popped in - no appointment, no anxiety, no fear. I may have a bit less blood for the time being, but my heart, and spirits, are doing good!

10:27 pm cdt          Comments

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