Engaging the workforce – with pictures

Pictures can help your workforce engage with difficult issues

ElephantWhy? Because they create a bit of distance between people and the issues they find hard to talk about.

And because often pictures can capture and communicate how people feel quicker than words can.

Delta7 has been using pictures to help major UK organisations work through change over the last 10 years.

Delta7′s ‘Visual Dialogue’ process captures the organisation’s story and uses the picture to engage staff at all levels in a discussion about where they’ve come from, how things are and where they’re going. It’s a great way to develop a shared and more meaningful strategy because it invites everyone to co-create the future and innovate their way to it.

I’m pleased to have supported Julian at Delta7 in developing his ideas over the last 12 years – and even more pleased now to be working directly with them in London on a number of major projects.

Artist starves dog to death in the name of Art. Not.

And other Internet knee-jerk stories.

Dog

A post appeared on the A1 forum a while back, telling the story of an artist who had tied up a street hound in a gallery and was allowing it to starve to death – in the name of art.

Outraged animal lovers and right-minded people everywhere rushed to sign the petition. More than a few expressed the desire to do violence to the artist himself.

Several pages into the thread (the longest I can remember on that forum) one or two people began to question the story. Eventually, it became clear it was a hoax – just one of many designed to create chain-reactions in the online community.

It is claimed that the artist created the hoax to show how uncritical we have become in the online world. And we have. Not a single teenager I’ve ever spoken to about Facebook has expressed a concern – or even an interest – in the political, commercial, ethical or social forces at work behind the software they willingly give their data to.

When we lose our critical faculties, we are at the mercy of anyone aiming to get us to react.  Which is why the internet generally – and sites like Facebook in particular  -  is the perfect environment for advertising.

Great customer service: the secret

What makes great customer service? Your ability to:

Listen, understand, respond

It’s simple – but not easy to do.

Interestingly, the same three things that add up to good online reputation monitoring.

We specialise in looking at why it’s so hard for organisations to listen.  Why individuals struggle to understand the experience of the customer and what gets in the way of responding positively and respectfully.

Many organisations try to make customer service ridiculously complex.  Our take is that it’s simple, but hard.

PayPal customer service: how good is it?

PayPal logoDoes PayPal give good customer service?

Not in my experience.  Not in my brothers’ experience. Not, it seems, in an awful lot of other peoples’ experience.

We’ve all had our fill of listening to call center operatives struggling through scripts in a second language.  And losing money because this company seems to bank on people going away in despair rather than stick to their guns and demand satisfaction.

As customers, we expect a) to be listened to and b) our experience to be understood and c) our needs to be responded to.

There.  That’s the ‘Dripping Tap’ manifesto.

Listen.  Understand.  Respond.

Simple isn’t it?

What does Google make of my keywords?

A neat idea for testing how Google judges the keywords on your site – courtesy of Adam Stone

Adam StoneHow do you know how Google sees the keywords in your website content?

Register for Adsense and put some Adsense ads on a hidden page in your site – and watch what Google serves up.

If you design blogs and the ads are for blog design services, then you’ll know that Google thinks your copy is about blogging. Success. Your keywords accurately describe your business activity to Google.

If the ads are about something completely different, you’ll know that your copy isn’t communicating to Google successfully that you’re in blogging and you need to look at writing it differently or re-thinking your keywords.

Thanks to Adam Stone of Rokk Media in Exeter for this tip (and others) – and he points out the value of blogs, too ;-) Adam’s a nice guy – the Jeremy Clarkson of web design, don’t you think? (Close your eyes and listen…).

Meantime, we’ll follow Adam’s advice and submit this site to ‘Feedshark’ (hence the link below..)

Feed Shark

Is PayPal any good? Not according to this customer feedback

In the online world, if you won’t listen to our feedback, your prospects certainly will.

We’ve always said that blogging critically about a company is usually a deliberate act of punishment for the crime of not listening. I make no apologies for this post being exactly that. I hope it’s picked up by PayPal’s online reputation management people and I hope it’s picked up by people considering whether or not to use PayPal.

It’s not online defamation, its transparency. It’s real, lived experience – customer feedback – that the company won’t listen to.

Email from a family member to EBay dispute department regarding a possible scam on Ebay.

“John,

Thank you for your reply.

What concerns me so much is PayPal is unsafe to use, and impossible to contact. If your bank ignored six emails, two calls wouldn’t you be a little alarmed?

Before the iPhone issue my account was £4 in credit. Now, apparently, after their ill-advised transaction I am £5 in debt – simply outrageous. They not only helped a third party to scam me, they charged ME for the privilege.

I’ve sent SIX emails – how many do you think I should have to send to get a reply? I can’t work on this ‘full-time’, I have to earn a living. I’ve spent a fortune on the telephone, no-one senior was available, the indian call centre operative couldn’t understand me, and the promised ‘call-back’ never came.

These guys are out of control, are going to ruin your business and an unsuitable partner for eBay. I now fully understand the ‘No PayPal’ I see so often.

Please help me to bring them to justice – they are operating beyond any kind of decent business practice. The worst company I have ever dealt with.”

My response to family member:

“I’m currently paying a $5 a month subscription because Pay Pal connected two of my accounts with a supplier to the same record number and I can’t delete it as a result.

I too gave up after weeks of phone calls trying to explain the nuances of the problem to someone in what was, for them, a second language. No response, no solution. In fact, the more I called / emailed, the further I got from a solution until, like you, I just gave up.

Totally unacceptable, totally unaccountable.

Is PayPal any good? Not according to these customers.  Family member says eBay seem sympathetic which, I suppose, is good news – considering they own PayPal :-)

This is another example of what happened to family member, btw (see first story in the thread).

Business directory rip-offs: the Emperor’s Newest Clothes

“If you don’t have anything good to say, then don’t say nuthin’ at all” – Thumper

I’ve had to gag myself tonight.

I’ve seen yet another ‘local online directory’ that’s started up, peddling its wares, inviting people to sign up and advertise their businesses.

The site is a mess. There’s almost nobody signed up on it, and it currently offers no Google visibility to the few who are.

I’m not going to name names, but its one of many. They come in all flavours: online business directories, local ‘portals’, community magazines. They all have one thing in common: they want you to advertise in them, promising increased traffic and Google visibility in return. Some of the big, well-known ones deliver (with varying degrees of success). A lot of smaller, local ones don’t

One such business in this region I’ve heard explicitly offering people increased Google visibility as part of its so called ‘benefits’. I’ve tested its claims backwards and forwards and found that it offers its top paying members NONE.

Another such venture quotes statistics to impress prospects how many people use the internet to buy things – and, of course, to imply that their product offers increased Google visibility. Guess what? It doesn’t.

I’m stopping short of naming these businesses because it’s tantamount to declaring war – and I’m still not sure why it bothers me so much that they do what they do.

In part, it’s because they depend on ignorance to sell their services. But I think the thing that really gets me is that nobody dares announce that the emperor, yet again, is wearing no clothes.

I suspect that if I named those businesses and challenged them, nobody would thank me for doing it. The businesses themselves certainly wouldn’t, nor would the people wasting their money on them. Why?  Because they want to believe in an easy fix.

Business start up video podcast – Iain Scott’s Enterprise Cafe

A quick behind-the-scenes audio peek at ‘the making of Iain Scott’s ‘Agony Uncle’ video blog for his new business startup site – ‘Iain Scott’s Enterprise Cafe‘.

Look out for his 3 times weekly video podcast- now serving!

And be sure to look out for my Darth Vader impression (even I haven’t seen it yet!)

Ozh’ Admin Drop Down Menu makes WordPress 50% better in 60 seconds

Ozh wordpress pluginThe way WordPress should have been designed in the first place ;-)

WordPress is an awesome piece (family?) of user-friendly, open-source software. It makes web design a practical option for a lot of people who wouldn’t otherwise have even bothered trying.

But, like many other non-commercial things, it has ended up with surprisingly ragged edges. Documentation? Only for the geek. Navigation around the Admin ‘dashboard’? Clumsy, clunky.. ugly. Counter-intuitive even. So much ‘sideways tunneling’ to find the functionality you need… So many opportunities to do the wrong thing.

Like changing your permalink structures and losing your entire site in one click.

Like writing a post instead of a page (again)..

This plugin makes using Worpdress 50% easier in my opinion. Thanks!

Best audio player for blogs

Yahoo player – possibly the simplest audio player for your blog so far

If you’re looking for a simple audio player for your blog, Yahoo seem to have come up with it. It’s simple to use and features a useful drop-down list that makes our samples page work far better.

NB: ‘mu:kaumedia work-around tip: This (and some other players) work by presenting a play button plus linked text. The play button plays your sound on-page in the player, but the link button (if clicked) opens the audio in a new browser window (Mac) or a Windows Media Player (PC).

If you just want the cute ‘play arrow’ you can replace the linked text with a full stop ‘.’ – and using the html editor, colour it white. Give the audio a title in plain text before the ‘.’ and it will appear as on our samples page.