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The things that keep you coming back - redux

posted in Marketing on July 10th, 2008

Close to a year ago, I jotted down some thoughts on how companies treat their customers and what makes me come back to them.

Paypal:

First up is Paypal. Most people know Paypal from eBay, some use it in conjunction with Skype, another eBay property and many people downright hate the service. There is a myriad sites available that deal with how sucky Paypal is and how wrong they treat you.

For me, however, Paypal, means ease of use and I am so comfortable with the service that a month ago, I decided to pay a four-digit sum with it and although the payment initially went through, my account was quickly locked down, pending a number of steps, two of which I could complete (change password, fax / email official document stating my name and address) and one which Paypal would have to do: review my transactions.

Up to this date, I have not found out why they locked my account, but to be honest, I am very happy that they did. For one, my usual transactions range in the single to double digit area, hardly ever peaking $50, now, all of a sudden, I transfer a four digit amount of money to someone and that from a country from which my Paypal account has never been used before. I can see how that would trigger a few security checks along the line.

The problem with having your account locked down is that not only does Paypal hold the current transaction, they also change old, already completed transactions from the last couple of days to “pending review”.

One of the payments that was held, was for Namecheap, my preferred supplier for domains and they quickly informed me that their system noticed a “chargeback” and that I had to pay an administrative fee of approximately $60, as well as the money I, technically, owed them (due to the fact that Paypal had reversed the transaction).

After a few mails to Paypal’s customer service, their Dutch division still was not able to assist me and provided me with nothing but canned responses - not the kind of thing that puts your mind at ease when somebody took a four digit amount of money from you and is now keeping it.

Luckily, after some searching on the web though, I found two community managers and sent off my story in email form. Only a couple of hours later, I got a few suggestions from Jason Miner and was also informed that my case was upgraded to the next level.

One of the suggestions included calling the Paypal customer center, which I promptly did. I had to prove that I am indeed who I am, I got apologies aplenty and the issue was very quickly taken care off, in the most professional manner I could even think of.

With my account returned to me and all my transactions unlocked, Namecheap still was not too happy with me as a customer, so I fired off another email to Jason, who ensured me that his team would take care of the issue and lo’ and behold, they did: the next business day, I got an email from Namecheap stating that any issues were resolved and that they were sorry for the inconvenience.

As for my happiness level: Paypal did not only pick up the ball in this, they ensured that everything was solved and assisted me with anything I needed. Yes, technically, that is to be expected, but looking at the state of the current customer service industry, this certainly deserves a mention.

STM Bags:

Back in the beginning of 2005, I got myself a bag from STM, which I love and use to this day. This bag has accompanied me to every conference I have been to, it has met the forces of nature and clumsy waitresses and through all that time, has kept my laptop safe and sound.

On my trip to New York, however, I managed to break one of the plastic clamps that keeps the bag attached to your shoulders. While it was still technically possible to use the bag, I felt that it would be safer (and better looking) to get myself a new strap.

After drafting a quick email to STM Bags North America, outlining my problem and trying to find out the price for one of the straps, a friendly CSR, Yvonne Studebaker, confirmed which strap I had / needed and also asked for my address.

Three days later, USPS delivered a brand new strap to me, for a product that I bought more than three years ago, that was way beyond any warranty and what is more: the broken strap was normal wear and tear.

The commitment STM has shown in this case not only won my heart, it also made sure that STM will keep my business in the future, because if a company can take care of its customers like that, I believe that they deserve my money.

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Why aren’t you listening to this?

posted in Media on May 28th, 2008

Songs with powerful emotions seem to be the new rage around this part of the town and I for one do not mind at all. With the summer coming up at high speed, Colbie Caillat’s album Coco might just be what you are looking for, with a nice collection of touching songs.

Colbie is one of those artists that know how to leverage the 2.0 thing; this resulted in her being the number-one (unsigned) singer in her genre for more than four months - no small feat, that’s for sure.

With her father, Ken Caillat, record producer for, amongst others, Fleetwood Mac and Mirage, she has the right backing that great but unknown artists need in this business to succeed.

And succeed she does, with chart breakers that hit #1 in (very) short time spans in more than one market, Colbie apparently is able to capture the essence of what the audience is looking for, and, in fact, her voice has something so appealing to it, that even Jason Mraz decided to record a track with her.

And that brings me to my next topic: Jason Mraz, too, has just released a new album, called “We Sing, We Dance, We Steal Things” and it shows that Mr. A-Z has the guts to try new things, because this album, style-wise, is much unlike his older albums, and I mean that in a positive way.

Coyotes, for example, sounds very much like an extended and improved version to the second part of “Song for a Friend” and if there is one song that kicked butt on previous albums, it certainly was “Song for a Friend”.

Coyotes is not the only track that sounds great though, “Only Human” and “I’m Yours” are Mraz’ way of sharing a lovely stories with his fans, both with that distinctive Mr. A-Z sound.

In closing, I can say that both artists are definitely worth checking out, if not for their recent successes, then for the lyrics they write, lyrics with meaning.

Oh and on a related note: Happy Birthday Colbie :)

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Why aren’t you listening to this?

posted in Media on May 4th, 2008

Let’s be honest: being an up-and-coming artist sucks. It generally takes ages until you get noticed, if at all, and with the rate of new songs / albums being released, many songs do not receive the airtime they deserve. bands do not get the airtime they deserve.

Many people who do not use, or even know of, alternative means of discovering music, such as Last.fm, Magnatune and others, generally just know the “common charts”, so I decided to share three unknown, yet high-quality artists with you:

Number One spot, withouth a doubt is A Fine Frenzy. There are only a handful of albums where I can say that every song rocks, and this one definitely meets the criteria. Sudol’s songs are powerful, visual, lovely and insanely touching.

In a time where artists try to impress with naked bodies, big cars and one scandal after the other, Alison Sudol manages to captivate the essence of what good music should be, of what good music is, go check it out!

Kate Voegele, yet another young, female, singer-songwriter definitely gets the second place in this listing. Her album, Don’t look away, contains nearly an hour of sing-out-loud-songs that will cheer up just about any day.

Voegele’s songs pack strong lyrics and she delivers them with an equally great voice (and great video clips), which gets a definite thumbs-up from me.

The Hush Sound, an alternative rock band from Chicago gets a deserved third place for their Wine Red, from the album Like Vines.

The album has a number of great songs and thanks to the refreshing sound the replayability is quite high too; compared to most other artists, this, once again, becomes something special.

Like these suggestions? There is more, to be found here, or just check out Summer of 98, by The Secret Handshake.

For the record: yes, the title of this post (-series?) is very much inspired by the Why aren’t you wearing this? section of Styledash. Styledash showcases great, yet unknown products that you ought to be wearing, go check ‘em out!

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mobile Webcamp Hasselt - Tijs Vrolix on Twistory

posted in Events on May 3rd, 2008

Tijs Vrolix used the mobile Webcamp to launch his newest brainchild, called Twistory and managed to gain some nice link love from a number of international blogs.

Before the news broke though, I had the opportunity to sit down with Tijs and get the super-quick lowdown on what Twistory actually is:


mobile Webcamp Hasselt: Tijs Vrolix on Twistory

Click on the image to see the interview, it is roughly 5 megs in size.

 

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mobile Webcamp Hasselt - Interview round-up

posted in Events on May 3rd, 2008

Tijs Vrolix:


mobile Webcamp Hasselt: Tijs Vrolix on mobile 2.0

Click on the image to see the interview, it is roughly 6 megs in size.

 

Dorien Aerts:


mobile Webcamp Hasselt: Dorien Aerts on mobile 2.0

Click on the image to see the interview, it is roughly 4 megs in size.

 

Bart Gysens:


mobile Webcamp Hasselt: Bart Gysens on mobile 2.0

Click on the image to see the interview, it is roughly 7 megs in size.

 

Nele Vaesen:


mobile Webcamp Hasselt: Nele Vaes on mobile 2.0

Click on the image to see the interview, it is roughly 7 megs in size.

 

Stijn Janssen:


mobile Webcamp Hasselt: Stijn Janssen on mobile 2.0

Click on the image to see the interview, it is roughly 2 megs in size.

 

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