Web 2.0 will bite you if you don't watch out!

This was on one of the Internet control mailing lists. I've sanitized it, but I am well aware that y'all can figure out who's who. The point isn't to help this guy slapdown the vendors he doesn't care for, but to point out that vendors need to be aware that some of their more interesting practices regarding service and support don't bear scrutiny anymore when Web 2.0 makes it possible to drag them out of the caves into the light of day. Many vendors practice the art of making their customer support group a profit center. This isn't new. What IS new is the fact that end-users, who always hated the practices, now have Internet-wide podiums to pound over it. Caveat Vendor!  Here's what the annoyed (perhaps frustrated and angry, too) customer posted:We are one of the major producers of ferrous & non-ferrous metals. In our plant, we have various makes of DCS installed for captive use from (name), (name) and (name). Out of these systems, the cost of maintenance is very high for (name) and (name) systems. After every six months, we are informed by them to order updates and upgrade softwares which are very expensive. Also the failure rate of (name)'s (name) module is very high, because of which we have to keep high inventory of these modules in stock. We also had to face lot of problems during order execution by(name) and (name) due to frequent change of project managers from their side and inexperienced manpower doing engineering and commissioning. With (name), there were frequent claims for order amendments on flimsy issues. Even for changing one tag number description (name) asked us for payment.Like I said, all of these issues are well known, and don't just apply to the three companies whose names I redacted. It is very hard, when you are a financial manager in a large corporation, to understand the rationale behind making your customer service functions loss leaders or running them deliberately breakeven, so as to increase customer loyalty. There isn't a field in the spreadsheet for value of customer loyalty, now, is there? Conversely, there are "customers from Hell" too. These are the ones where everything that happens is the vendor's fault and needs to be fixed at the vendor's expense, even when it is obvious that it isn't the vendor's fault, or the equipment design, or that a reasonable person would agree that it is a warrantable problem. There are the ones who hold back information and then want free changeorders. We know who they are, too. But the bottom line, end-users and vendors, is that we all have to recognize that we are going to have to be much more transparent in our dealings with each other...because bad news will out.

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Comments

  • If customer service and products are good, you can be sure that those occasional Customers from Hell will be ignored and even berated by those customers who are getting good service.

    Basically, Web 2.0 is a great way to level the playing field. The information flows both ways. And incidentally, if a CEO wants to know how well things are going, they can always read the mail.

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  • (sounds of maniacal laughter)

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  • I know, Walt, we laugh when we hear of those CEOs who actually know what their company does.

    When I was a college intern, years ago, I recall working at a large company that serviced aircraft engines. This guy wearing worn jeans, scuffed cowboy boots and beat up hat sits down at my workshop and starts talking to me. Being an intern, I had no idea who half of these folks were, so I replied and we had a nice conversation.

    A few minutes later, my boss walks in and said "So what do you think of our CEO, Jake?" "CEO?", I asked. "Yep. That was him." "Cool!", I answered, "...it's nice to see a guy at his level know his way around and know who is working for him."

    So you see, this behavior is not unknown. The most highly regarded general managers I have known at our utility had all been known to wander in to the Operations Control Center, out to work sites, or to a plant to talk to the operators, the work crews, the meter readers, and so forth.

    The idea isn't as crazy as it sounds...

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