Volkher Hofmann is boycotting Sony BMG, Blue Note, and EMI. Why? Because he is sick and tired of paying to be disrespected by those labels and their intrusive Digital Rights Management (DRM) schemes. And he’s not alone. The audiophiles and film buffs who spend the most on music and movies are the ones who are most insulted and turned off by DRM. As media conglomerates push DRM more and more and technology companies that produce computers, DVD, CD, and MP3 players build DRM support into their products consumers are growing more aware of DRM. And the more they know the more they bristle at the restricted playback of legally purchased music and movies, incompatible hardware and software, inability to backup […]

Hating Life a Little Bit Less

PDF files are the bane of the web surfer. Often unmarked they stall your browsing for a virtual eternity while Adobe’s kludgy Reader fires up. In the meantime your browser freezes and sometimes crashes, your computer slows to a crawl, and you start to hate life. Well, I’ve found a way to hate life a little but less — the Free Foxit Reader (via Lifehacker). PDF files are still terrible for web users most of the time, but at least this makes them less of a hated annoyance when they are encountered. QUICK TIPS: If you are responsible for posting PDF files to a web site please mark them clearly. Use an icon and indicate next to any PDF links […]

Tell the Truth Upfront

I had a terrible experience today with DIRECTV. I recently ordered a Phillips DIRECTV DVR with TiVo. On the website it described all of the wonderful features available and I had been happy with the service at my parents’ house where they use an old RCA UltimateTV. I have setup my new DVR and started using it only to find that the software is outdated and the hardware is crippled. The software is TiVo version 3.1, which would be fine if the current version of TiVo wasn’t 7. DIRECTV says on their website that they are rolling out upgrades to version 6.2 but they shipped me a new box without the upgrade, f’ing brilliant. They also failed to mention that […]

Rethinking Customer Relations

There are some really great ideas out there on how you interact with your customers. Some companies survive because customers have no choice but to rely on them. The power and gas companies tend to fall into this category. However, most companies have competition, often fierce, that is actively trying to crush them and take their market share. These companies have to work hard to keep their edge and draw customers. There are some people out there with truly original, innovative, and sometimes radical ideas on how to do this (we are of course among them but today I want to point out some additional resources).

Pondering the Ponderous

Inertia makes it difficult for large objects in motion to change direction. Large organizations suffer from an institutional inertia that makes it difficult for them to adapt and conduct business in new ways. This can apply to the way mail is delivered, phones are answered, files are stored, supplies are purchased, and a multitude of other areas large and small. Change is hard, changing how hundreds or thousands of people do their jobs is very hard. People are uncomfortable changing how they work. They may not like everything they are doing or understand it, but at least it is familiar and they know what to do at each step. People are often afraid of making mistakes and losing their jobs. […]

How do you say hello?

Coudal Partners prefers to use a conversational tone in their work. That works for them but is not for everyone. The tone that you adopt in your advertising, website, brochures, e-mails, and phone calls should be a conscious decision. Your organization should be actively deciding how you will talk to people. Are you formal, conversational, informal, respectful, abrupt, curt, glib, irreverent? Do you know how you come across to others? Actively employing a consistent style of communication changes your brand and corporate identity in the eyes of your customers and business partners and can even effect how well your employees do their jobs.

The Cost of Bad Labeling

My brother called home the other day to say that the check engine light had come on in our Mazda 626. He brought it home and we took it to the dealership. The service people looked at the car and called this morning with the verdict: the gas cap hadn’t been tightened all the way. Price: $110. So why is this a problem? Well for one thing the gas cap really isn’t a part of the engine. So when my brother saw the light he checked the oil and coolant, and various other things that are found in the engine of the car. But he didn’t think to tighten the gas cap. That cost $110. $110 dollars because someone at […]

Reducing the Steps to a Sale

E-commerce sites that sell products or services online are regularly faced with a dilemma: collecting lots of information from customers we can target our marketing and sales better, but collecting that information creates a barrier to sales. Every extra form field adds a little bit to the already imposing psychological barriers to a sale in a potential customer’s mind. We are faced with balancing the need to gather information with the need to ease a customers path to completing a purchase.