Monday, June 16, 2008

The Seasoning of APEX @ ODTUG

Well, my busiest day at ODTUG is already behind me! We had somewhere around 150 participants at the APEX Symposium yesterday, which was amazing as it was both a Sunday and Father's Day.

The day started off with my keynote, which I successfully navigated through 431 slides in just 30 minutes. It was done in a different style - very rapid, each slide getting only a few seconds of display time. From what I've heard, people liked it, as it kept them engaged, something not easy to do on a Sunday morning after a night on Bourbon Street!

The day was comprised of a number of APEX customers telling their stories about how they got APEX adopted into their environments. This was a departure from the normal "here's how to do something cool" approach, but it was a departure that was both well needed and received. It was very interesting to see the wide range of projects being done with APEX. One of the few common threads between all of the presenters is that each project was vastly different from the next.

Today is my "down" day; I don't have anything aside from a few client calls and ODTUG meetings. I'm looking forward to seeing a few presentations and meeting up with those that I have not had a chance to see.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Know Thy Customer

We all get telemarketer calls, even if you think you've signed up for the National Do Not Call Registry. It's just a fact of life these days. Thus, you can approach them a number of different ways:

1) Simply hang up
2) Demand to be removed from the list then hang up
3) Make them hang up

I prefer #3, but that's not what this post is about. (ask me about my SkyMiles call, which is my personal favorite)

I got a call from a certain hotel chain today that I stayed at from time to time. The call started something like this: "Mr. Spendoli (telltale sign of a telemarketer when the last "ni" is left off). We're calling our preferred customers to let them in on a great deal we're having at our properties in Las Vegas and Orlando."

Before I go on, I need to note that this same hotel chain scuttled my rewards point account a couple months back because I did not stay there over the past 12 months or so. All of my accrued points went with it. No grace period, no offer to extend. Just plain old gone.

"Well," I replied, "do you completely delete the rewards accounts of all of your preferred members?" was my reply.

"Oh, I'm sorry to hear that happened. Let me ask you a question about your income: Do you make less than $50,000, between $50,000 and $75,000, etc." replied the agent.

I then took the next few minutes trying to explain to her that I was really not up for spending money with their company in light of how I was treated. She persisted, upping the ante to include New York and Hawaii. I held my ground and eventually got dumped off to a manager who did little more than give me their toll free number and offer his apologies. At least he stopped trying to sell me stuff.

Now, I don't really care about this incident or my rewards points, and the call gave me something to do while having lunch, but my point here is that companies should at least make a college try to weed out potentially unhappy people before calling them and trying to sell them more stuff. A simple query of their systems could have shown that I was a somewhat erratic customer over the past 10 years who simply had just let his account slip into the void. This could have been parlayed into an opportunity of sorts - perhaps an offer to reinstate my account and its previous balance for at least listening to their pitch or agreeing to one of their offers. The call would have gone in the entirely opposite direction.

After all, they were calling me on their terms; they could have at least chose the correct terms!