THE NEW GLOBAL WE.

Twitter Experiment

Posted in Big Thought by Harsha on February 27, 2009

I find Twittering is easier than blogging via WordPress.

The 140 character limit puts enough pressure on me to write something meaningful that is consumed as quickly as it is created. That is all the time both you and I have. The challenge is to know how to squeeze the vastness of a thought into 140 characters.

With more and more people following me on Twitter, it doesn’t make any sense for me to continue to syndicate my blog through RSS. I think Twitter is an easier way for you to read my content and for me to get to know you better.

This is a relevant lesson. Better to be precise in your communication than to be verbose. That is how you brand your company. In simple short sweet words.

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Fanatic fans

Posted in Big Thought, People by Harsha on February 12, 2009

Some rabid fans want the portrayal of the Joker to be banned from future Batman movies.

I say, the guy is long dead and gone. Leave the movies alone.

Wouldn’t it be great if some of our customers took to the streets (i.e. web) for us? How does one generate such loyalty? Can you influence my perception of you?

Yes you can. It is not just about a great product or exemplary service. It is the packaging of them both. Of course, if you have a crappy product to start with, then you’re out of luck.

Take what you have – your business – and make every interact as dramatic as the Joker’s portrayal by Heath Ledger. Make it crazy and out of this world. Don’t do something incremental from the competition. Go wild.

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Status Quo is Unacceptable

Posted in Big Thought, Business, People, Pulpit by Harsha on February 11, 2009

People say “Change is the only thing that is constant”. That is meaningless as it states the obvious. It shows that stuff you know and take for granted today, will change in the future. The marketplace will change for the better or worse. Your marital life may change as well.

But what do you do, now that you have this knowledge. How do you translate that into actions and those into results you want?

Status quo is unacceptable.

If change is inevitable, then why not energize it yourself? Flip the switch on things you’ve been doing the same way for a long time. Take a hard look at your sales process month by month. Remove what does not work.

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Obama aided Indian family

Posted in Big Thought, People, Pulpit by Harsha on January 25, 2009

The story posted on popular Indian website Chennai Online is about an Indian family that was successfully assisted by Obama when he was a senator. If only Obama took notice of the travesty that is the US immigration system, then legal immigrants from every country will rejoice! If only Obama recalled his immigrant past (he ancestry is immigrant versus slavery) and took a hard look at what critics of the broken immigration system have been saying for years about the process of becoming a permanent resident or a citizen.

This is neither a racial nor “American competitiveness” issue, but is rather an issue of strengthening the “patchwork” of America. While you can argue till you are blue in the face about if legal immigrants taking jobs away from Americans or not, the fact is, in the words of Mr. Obama, “For we know that our patchwork heritage is a strength, not a weakness”. If his words are true, then this heritage will remain strong for future generations if America continues to introduce diversity in it’s populace.

Do you think he will listen?

Quote from WhiteHouse.gov

“The time to fix our broken immigration system is now… We need stronger enforcement on the border and at the workplace… But for reform to work, we also must respond to what pulls people to America… Where we can reunite families, we should. Where we can bring in more foreign-born workers with the skills our economy needs, we should.”

— Barack Obama, Statement on U.S. Senate Floor
May 23, 2007

Brilliant quotes for today

Posted in Big Thought, People, Pulpit by Harsha on January 22, 2009

A big thank to you to my friend Rajesh Setty for his post on quotes from Steve Jobs.

The 3 quotes that really stood for me and made my day better were:

# The only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it.

# …Almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure — these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart

# I didn’t see it then, but it turned out that getting fired from Apple was the best thing that could have ever happened to me. The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again, less sure about everything. It freed me to enter one of the most creative periods of my life.

If you, like me, felt like you either have thought of these things or have said it before, then you will agree with me when I say that the difference between him and us is that he believed it. Not only that, he believed it and internalized it in his thoughts and actions.

How to make money on PDFs

Posted in Big Thought, Business by Harsha on January 20, 2009

I just read the TechCrunch post on how Adobe is pulling the plug on an idea that planted ads in PDFs. TechCrunch says:

First, who wants to click on ads in a document? It is an unnatural act. Second, unlike a Website where advertisers at least have some sense of who the audience is, PDFs get passed around and downloaded willy-nilly. There is no good way to track who receives them, or who ultimately might click on those ads.

Adobe’s PDF and Flash are ubiquitous tools. I think both are as popular and as employed as the other for vastly different uses, which is great because you now use Adobe when you watch stuff on YouTube while you’re sending out a document to colleague.

I suspect one day we’ll hear about the great scandal in ads and how they never worked for anybody but the platforms (i.e. Google). Until then, I think there are plenty of other ways that Adobe can monetize PDFs.

If Adobe can deliver PDF ads, then they can deliver PDF apps. There are plenty of ideas like dictionary, translator, synonym lookup, on-the-fly spelling-‘corrector’. They can also open up formats – allow me to quickly convert to Word, for a small fee of 99 cents.

What software is discovering today, thanks to Apple, is something you’ll find prevalent in Asia in consumer products. The big guns like Proctor & Gamble and Uniliver understood that they will stand to penetrate the market only by cutting the volume and price of their products. I think that’s a great lesson for IT as well. Make bite-sized products at bite-sized prices.

Funny

Posted in Big Thought, Business, People by Harsha on November 25, 2008

I found this funny ..

suckerberg

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Bank of America Customer Service Issue – Update

Posted in Big Thought, Business, New, People, Reviews by Harsha on September 4, 2008

Someone has been listening at the Bank of America corporation.

Last night, I got a call from Tara ***** (last name blanked out to protect identity), from the Executive Relations and Office of the Chairman. She read my blog after receiving the email from the PR/Communications team and called me to profusely apologize for the issue. She said that the 0% APR reinstatement and the $39 fee are unrelated, i.e., just because the 0% was reinstated, it doesn’t mean that the $39 fee cannot be refunded. She also said that the representatives (the one that threw me off the line and the other who would only give me 1/2 fee off because he was not “authorized” to refund the whole fee) AND the manager who never called me back, will be coached. Apparently, representatives are permitted to refund this fee.

Not only did Bank of America refund the other half of the fee, but it also has extended a $50 Amazon gift card as an apology for the inconvenience. Of course, Tara also made sure that I understood that I will need to make payments after the 22nd, which believe me, I will not forget! And if I do forget and end up committing the same mistake, then shame on me.

Here are some take-aways from this situation and I think it applies to both small and large businesses:

1. People generally at the top (either as pure managers or as owner/managers) care about what others say.

2. Everything is radically transparent: Information on LinkedIn helped me contact Bank’s Communications team

3. Don’t be a brat when trying to solve a problem – remember the person at the other end is just like you.

4. The web is POWERFUL!

I say the take-aways are similar for large and small companies because I faced a similar situation a month ago. A client of my employer’s wanted us to make good on a consulting engagement that was not completed as promised. While they had approved the work after it was done, they soon realized that it was actually incomplete. Now, I could have hemmed and hawed like a colleague of mine did when she heard this news, but my focus was crystal clear – we have to do what it takes to satisfy this client because it is about the overall relationship. It is never about this one transaction so while in the short run we lost some money, in the mid to long term, we have generated extremely positive brand recognition.

So, thank you Tara for the pleasant call last night and acknowledging that there was no logic behind what transpired. You are the right person to call in such situations because you could have been nonchalant about it, but you were not. You said the right things and hopefully learned a little from this situation as well. Please feel free to send in a comment on the issue.

A hearty thank you for everyone who commented on the previous posts – I believe in the power of us.

Bank of America Customer Service Tragedy

Posted in Big Thought, Business, People, Reviews by Harsha on August 27, 2008

I thought about writing this post for quite a while. The incident is still fresh in memory – it happened just last week. But I think the Bank has had an acceptable window of opportunity to respond and they still have not.

First up, as a generally creative but grounded-in-processes kinda fellow, I really appreciate how complicated it is for a large organizations to work well. I’ve never been in one, but as a pioneer in most of the stuff I’ve done at my current small business gig, I can imagine how much planning and management goes into developing a customer service process at a bank. Think about the meetings that managers would have had in the past and in the present as well, about what happens when a customer calls into the 800 line. Now that process must adhere to their internal Service Level Standards (SLA) where they might say that 98% of issues must be resolved in one call, or something to that effect.

They must also deal with a myriad of types of calls, all being funneled through the same system and routed accordingly. The complexity amazes me. So whenever I call into any such organization with an issue or complaint, I generally approach it with as much respect as I can. I am never that irate caller who will jump down the throat of a poor little representative. I adopt a much more consultative approach.

But all that got thrown out the window when I called into Bank of America last week.

Here is some history on the problem, without going into too much detail: I opened a 0% APR American Express card with Bank of America less than a year ago and transferred a large loan balance to it and have been paying it off $1000 a month. The statement closes every 22nd and the minimum is due by the following 11th. I’ve always made this payment well in advance of the 11th deadline. This time, I ended up making it even before the 22nd statement close so basically my payment got tagged to the previous month.

When I called to clarify this, I was rudely informed by the representative that it is my fault for ‘paying late’ and that I will lose the promotional 0% APR. Then I asked her to check with her supervisor and she came back a little while later saying that they have decided to reinstate the 0% APR as a courtesy. I was delighted and thanked her and realized after I hung up that I had not asked about the $39 late fee. To me, it makes sense to roll it back because they ‘forgave’ the ‘late payment’ by reinstating my 0% APR, so why should I pay the late fee? Mind you, I absolutely agree and understand a late fee for late payments – no argument there.

When I called back, I said that if the Bank has rolled back the 0% APR because I am forgiven for the ‘late’ payment, then why would I pay a late fee? The representative talking to me couldn’t for the life of her understand my logic. So we started arguing back and forth and she said the same thing repeatedly and so did I – classic stalemate situation. So I asked her to connect me to her supervisor. What she did next was appalling – she actually threw me off the line and I ended up at the beginning of the call where you give the machine your card details to find the best route for the call. You’d think I would have given up, but I did not.

When the next representative came on the line (now I’m angry and my voice is louder) I told him about the way in which I got bumped off the previous call and said that I realize none of this is his fault but, come on! getting kicked out is just unacceptable! Since I was angry, after hearing why I called, he offered to cut my fee down to half but no more because representatives are not authorized to do so. In fact, he said that he was not even supposed to offer me half off on the fee, but was doing it because I was upset. I was unable to wrap my head around the fact that half of the fee was being refunded as a ‘courtesy’ but the other half wouldn’t be. So I asked him if he was being half courteous and half rude. Of course, such rhetorical questions only incite the flames of anger, and it did. We started arguing and I said that if he could roll back half my fee while not technically supposed to, then why not roll back the entire fee? Why partially commit the crime? And so on and on we went… Finally I said to him that half off was not acceptable and asked him to connect me to his supervisor. Thankfully he did. I left a message, in a super angry mode, hoping to evoke a response, but I have none so far.

My issue is NOT with the $39 fee. My issue is with the LOGIC of this whole situation. First of all, I did not make a ‘late’ payment. I ended up making two payments in the same month, a day early. In this tough economic environment, I am making multi-thousand dollar payments on-time (except this once), have a checking and savings account with Bank of America and am poised to buy a home next year. Despite all this and the threat of me switching to Discover (which is flooding my mailbox with offers), I am unable to fathom why the fee and worse still, why half the fee? If there was ANY logic to this, and I was indeed a payment too late, then for sure, I will not argue if the Bank starts charging me a high APR and fine me $39.

But when they have reinstated the 0% as a courtesy, why should they charge me $39 or even half of that? A pissed off customer with options is the worst kind of customer. Or am I too small for a large Bank like Bank of America to give a rats ass about? To add insult to injury, they are yet to respond to me.

Check out Bank of America Sucks. I am not that mad at the Bank – all I want is my fee refunded because it is illogical to charge it in the first place. Will someone from the Bank PLEASE respond?

Starbucks

Posted in Big Thought, Business, New by Harsha on August 19, 2008

Here is an article about the coffee giant’s latest investor-related woes. I had written about some ideas for ‘bucks here.