From 1992 thru 2004 I helped change the world

I know I did – I helped invent and productize WiFi.  It was an exciting time – we literally went from a world of wires to a wondrous wireless world in a few short years.  Almost every bar/restaurant I go into now has WiFi.  I won’t even stay in a hotel that doesn’t.  It was absolutely amazing, even if it wasn’t very absolutely gratifying.

Don’t get me wrong – I was well-treated and well paid. I loved what I did.  I took care of customers, and I had bosses that let me do that.  I was a superstar – I rose from a lone tools developer to managing both Quality and Customer Service for the [then] largest WiFi manufacturer in the world.  I built the first WiFi Quality lab in the world.  I built up from a group of me to a group of engineers, customer program managers and quality engineers in three countries, multiple States, and totaling over 50 people.  More if you count the Field Applications Engineers who worked closely with my group.

It didn’t make me rich.  It made me comfortable, certainly.  But for the last 8 months or so I haven’t had a full-time job.  I’ve been searching for something.  I’m looking for my next calling.

I know that The Learning Locker is going to be part of that, but it won’t be all of it. 

See – I want to help change the world again.  But this time I want to do it differently.  I want it to be a more positive change (yes, WiFi is cool, but it didn’t cure cancer or anything) – I want it to be a more equitable change – I want EVERYONE involved to be equally rewarded.  I don’t want a few people making millions (I was NOT one of those!) while others make a car payment.

I want to work for a company (or more likely start one) that really changes the world – in a significant way.  And I want everyone who helps to be equally rewarded for doing so.

But I guess that is what everyone probably wants – I’m determined not to settle for less though.  I honestly believe that when it comes to taking care of customers it would be difficult to beat me.  I know that’s arrogant.  But I am just arrogant enough to NOT go back to the corporate world unless it is for a company that truly believes that they exist because of their customers, and that they cannot spend enough money retaining a customer.  It’s cheap to gain a customer, and difficult to keep one.  Keeping them is what I am interested in.  It’s what I “do”.

Sounds like a simple goal.  T-E-A-C-H companies how to treat customers.  Teach them the value of customers.  Teach them to revere customers.  Teach them to appreciate customers.  Teach them to learn from customers.  Teach them to talk to customers!

That last point is the key – learn from your customers.  If you think you can’t learn from them, then you have probably already started to lose them.  Of course to learn from them you need to listen to them, and you need to talk to them, appreciate them, revere them, value them.

You would not believe how many companies just don’t care about their customers though… and that’s where my “change the world” brainstorm breaks down.  Over the next few days I’ll share some of my experiences with companies that just don’t care about customers.  I imagine I might get sued, but I won’t lose, because these stories will all be true – and I know them all first hand.  Examples:

  • A John Deere dealer that breaks the hood on my riding mower and charges me $1.59 for the glue they used to “fix” the hood.
  • Verizon, who I bought a Treo 650 from and paid over $100 a month in fees, yet used only 26 minutes of call time because the phone was a piece of crap.  And now they want me to pay $150 for “early termination”.
  • IBM who sold me a laptop with a crappy hard drive that failed 6 times in 2.5 years – and now they want to charge me $700+ dollars for failing to “return their shitty product to them”.
  • A national hotel chain that sells me a premium room in a beach-front resort and literally boards up the windows while we are eating dinner – because a hurricane was approaching.  Yet they didn’t think I deserved any discount for this (or the fact we couldn’t swim shot, etc)

These are a few examples.  Half of these companies did the right thing – and met me halfway – the others lost a customer for life — and more importantly gained a negative customer for life.  Believe me, I spend a LOT more time trying to talk people away from crappy businesses then I do talking people into good businesses.  That’s just human nature.

So I’ll start a new tag/category called “Customer Care” and I’ll flag my future posts on this subject with that tag.  I’ll probably also add the tags “shitty” and “wonderful” and “adequate” just so I can combine them as needed 🙂

Rob

Comments

  1. James Randi (The Amazing Randi) .. complained about pretty much the same stuff today .. little things:
    Okay, this is more about ignorant employees and not so much about ignorant executives, but still … it’s important, usually your employees are your first link to your customers.

    http://randi.org/jr/2006-09/091506remembering.html#i12