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Be it Business on or off the Net; it probably needs a Smack!

I was fortunate enough to find a break in a rather cold winter spell this year and getaway to both the US and Mexico on a couple of 10 day trips. Those interludes sure help with “attitude” when you’re facing minus 30C at home.

Besides personal attitude adjustment, I also find these trips to be re-awakenings when it comes to business vision. Sitting in the office day after day dealing with often repetitive tasks (as necessary as they are) can slowly numb you to learning experiences… and eventually you fail to see what’s in front of you. You start to lose the “bigger picture.”

In my last blast (can be found here) I started to talk about “a little knowledge” and the dangers of taking direction from those who know a little when they need to know a lot. I was referring to the online business in that article, webmasters… web administrators… IT’s… and the often questionable level of experience and know how so many of these self-anointed experts actually have.

It wasn’t bitterness… so much as dread for the poor victims of
bad advice that grow in numbers exponentially every day.

Back to my trip and how this ties in...

Understand that I had a bounty of fabulous experiences, but I’m not using this platform right now to tell you about things that work. This time it’s more about a dangerous wave I see coming… dare I say even a tsunami of bad education, lack of awareness, influence over substance, quota dictated hiring, failing equipment. For every fabulously ran business I had an experience with during my trips, there was another that was fighting a losing battle.

I don’t really know if it’s a lack of awareness or management and ownership being too far removed from the sales/service floor. That Undercover Boss TV program kept coming up in my mind… thinking how badly some of these businesses needed some simple hands on presence from those who could make the decisions to make a difference.

A McDonalds in Tampa Florida had a DIY computer menu (you’ve seen them) that SHOULD have made things simple. It failed to print out a receipt, so I had to go to the counter anyway. It failed to notify them I was eating in… so another trip to the counter. Then a staff person brought the right coffee and tea, but two cheeseburgers instead of our McMuffins. They came back later, with only one McMuffin. Understand something…. EVERYTHING we ordered was right there on the printout in their hand. Either no one read it, or they couldn’t. I’m not judging here, but really?

A reasonably priced motel with a receptive last night desk staff, struggled with a slow and unresponsive computer booking system so desperately, they finally resorted to booking us in on printed out sheets they had ready. Obviously this was not a first occurrence… I dreaded asking what Windows version these machines might still be on. No way I was going to ask about the booking system. Been there… done that. Someone got paid big bucks to write it… and now nothing is being maintained or upgraded.

Budget Rent A Car at Tampa International took… honest to goodness… at least 30 plus minutes (probably more) to write me up for my pre-booked, pre-filled reservation. So much for the advantage of filling things out ahead of time. Now… the point is… the computer system supposedly already had all my info… so why was the poor girls at the desk having to fill everything out again.

And then we get to my pet peeve… programmers who have
no experience with or concern for the art of “usability”.

This is an International car rental firm… and their online form at this location anyway, would NOT accept a driver’s license with hyphens in it. Really? After all these years no one has complained about or addressed the issue? The poor girl struggled with a choked up computer repeatedly because some programmer did a real poor job. Once again, we only finally got our car due to the manually running around done by a good soul there who physically had to do what their expensive computer system could not do… fulfill our reservation.

One more? OK… PA announcements. Look… we’ve all seen the Seinfeld episode… we’ve hear numerous comedians make fun… but enough is enough. It’s communication… it’s essential… it prevents panic… it soothes. But if all that comes out of a PA system is a horrid nasal drone, or a thick regional accent or an echo filled midrange blur… what’s the point? This is not a position granted by status, seniority or who is sleeping with who… it’s a critical function.

Airport, cruise ship, train terminal, even grocery store… my gosh. There are numerous voices for hire on the net… spend the damn money and use them. For repetitive announcements, have them record them and then play them, so that everyone can understand where to go if the sinking ship alarm actually does go off. Our last cruise on a Royal Caribbean ship used a young girl with such a horrible head cold (or so it sounded), it was laughable. Was no one in management listening… do they think it was a joke too? This is an announcement that is the same for every trip…. Hire some talent, record it, and play it so we can all understand. Same with repetitive airport announcements.

So what has this to do with the internet and your business?

Let me get to that… because we all need to wake up a bit...