you’ve gotta know when to hold ‘em…

Kenny Rogers

I *knew* it was just a matter of time before I was able to use Kenny Rogers on my blog.

And it’s all thanks to Joshua Porter who has written a great post comparing design with playing cards.

Each design is a new hand of cards. Not only are the cards we’re holding different every time, but so are the hands of the other players. Our hand is our own knowledge of the design project, and the hands of the others are the constraints that we must deal with.

Josh uses the card game metaphor to demonstrate how every design situation must be considered afresh and all the constraints, requirements and opportunities be evaluated anew each time. That old ‘tricks’ don’t necessarily apply in a new situtation. Or, to borrow his great closing line ‘three fives beat two aces every time.’

I’ll definitely be borrowing this analogy in the future. Go read it now, you’ll love it.

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rumours of attention scarcity have been greatly exaggerated

People have a boundless interest in those that they think worthy of their attention.

So says Stowe Boyd of /Message, and I agree entirely.

If you think something is important or interesting or worthy of your interest. You’ll make time for it. You’ll make it a priority.

Even when you have 300 blogs in your RSS aggregator, there are some that you will always have time to read.

When you scan for news online, there are some keywords that will always get your attention.

You’re not *supposed* to know everything or be interested in everything. If that were the case, we’d all be remarkably boring and alike. Stowe says:

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great error msgs (part 2 : wordpress)

Wordpress Error

Previously I wrote about how taking a little time to write a good error message can turn what is potentially a catastrophic user experience into one that actually endears you to your customers.

Here’s another great example from WordPress that turned a potentially frustrating experience (not being able to reach someone’s blog when I wanted to), into an experience that confirmed my experience of the WordPress brand, *and* made me smile.

Even though they’re personifying the server here, the voice of the clever and friendly and humorous people who make up WordPress comes through loud and clear.

As the Cluetrain guys say (which you should all know from heart by now):

These markets are conversations. Their members communicate in language that is natural, open, honest, direct, funny and often shocking. Whether explaining or complaining, joking or serious, the human voice is unmistakably genuine. It can’t be faked.

Unless you saw this error message too many times (and nothing can turn chronically poor performance into a good user experience), you’d be hard pressed to come away from this experience thinking poorer of WordPress.

You may even be so impressed you have to write a blog post about it :)

Nice work WordPress people.

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customer service 2.0

technorati logo

I’ve had two close encounters with 2.0 customer service this week. Both of them have really left an impression, so let me share:

Blogbeat: This one you can actually see on an earlier post. I’ve been having a bit of a go at Blogbeat lately because I actually want to like them, but I find it hard to love an interface that’s so bloody ugly (it doesn’t work for me.. I don’t care what Scoble says).

After my last post, Jeff from Blogbeat lobbed up and posted a little comment that totally put a human face on that company and their service for me. And then he linked to me! Even though I wasn’t saying entirely flattering things.

And what’s the outcome? I’ve got about 15 days left on my free trial at Blogbeat and now I’m almost sure I’ll pay them their $24USD. Eh. I feel like I kind of know them now. I have an emotional involvement with them now. If anyone’s going to get my cash, then I’d rather it be someone I know (this is not a new concept). Its like I want to reward them for caring about what I think, and engaging in the conversation.

powerful customer service 2.0, or I’m just a big sucker.
Either way, I like it.

Then today – Technorati impressed my socks off.

Now, I’m not compulsive about my Technorati ranking… Its hard to get too excited about it when there are so many digits involved! But I use Technorati tags and my blog hadn’t been updated on Techorati for over a month. I was pinging.. they weren’t receiving. What was up with that?

This morning I filled in their contact form to see what was going on. They auto-responded saying they might take a few days to get back to me. 5 minutes later I received an email from a real person telling me the what the problem was, that they’d fixed it and apologising.

5 minutes! Very impressed.

I had no inclination to blog about Technorati in the past. So many other people do, I figure, why add to the noise. But service like that is something special. So, here I am. Talking up Technorati. Doing their marketing for them.

So, when you go to seminars and hear people abstractly talk about ‘engaging in your customers conversations’, ‘listening to the market’, ‘creating a one to one relationship with your customer’, being honest, and open and truthful. This is what it looks like. Here are concrete examples.

I’d be interested to hear other examples you’ve had of personal experiences with customer service 2.0. The good, the bad and the ugly.

Who’s been treating you nice lately?

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