Posts Tagged 'Involvement'

February 2, 2012

Avoiding Apocalypses Like SOPA and PIPA

I've always enjoyed SNL's satirization of those infomercials where a guy is slightly inconvenienced by a product that just doesn't seem to work to his satisfaction. As a result, it shows him getting frustrated and pulling his hair out ... But it doesn't stop there. He then gets into his vehicle, drives recklessly down the one-way street going the wrong way and ultimately crashes into a cable tower, knocking out the "big game" for the whole town. Of course, this causes a riot among the angry football fans who then ravage the whole town. Havoc is wreaked because this guy was using a standard toothbrush instead of the all new, Electric Brush-a-thon 2100.

The funny thing is, I don't think SNL is too far off on how these infomercials represent real life. I can't help but think of these parodies when I think about the effects that SOPA would have had if it passed as law:

The first business to die a slow, horrible and expensive death as a result of the legislation might have been Google. Because it's connected to virtually every website on the planet (legitimate and non-legitimate alike), the amount of time spent severing connections to sites in any way related to a site that was merely assumed to be performing illegal activities would stall Google's growth and innovation endeavors. This would cause thousands of people to lose their jobs ... And it's not out of the question to think one or two of those people might start a riot.

Small- and medium-sized businesses would not have escaped the legislation ... Theoretically, a single anonymous comment that linked to a site with pirated versions of Pirates of the Caribbean (*fitting title as an example*) would make that site subject to being shut down if proper actions weren't taken. All these innovative companies would spend their time playing big brother instead of creating the next new technology that will make our lives easier (or at least more fun) ... And along with stifling innovation, don't forget the riots.

To wrap up our "what if" scenario, we'd have Google failing and SMBs going out of business. The Internet would become a wasteland, and it would be like World War 10 in the streets (we skipped 3 through 9 because all of these riots would make the resulting "war" so momentous).

How's that for a satirical worst-case scenario?

I bring this up in the wake of SOPA and PIPA being tabled because the legislators who proposed those controversial bills merely stopped pursuing their goals in the form of those bills ... We can't let the idea that "we've won the battle" distract us from potentially losing the war.

Many technology companies, including Google and Wikipedia, publicly spoke out against this bill by "blacking out" their sites. Due to all the negative responses from the tech community, the bills' sponsors in Congress decided they didn't want the blood from World War 10 on their hands.

We need to continue the momentum from the Internet's response to SOPA and PIPA — not only to pay attention to attempts at similar legislation in the future but also to proactively help create and shape laws that protect intellectual property and copyright holders.

Also, anything we can collectively do to prevent riots in the streets is a good thing. :-)

-Philip

Categories: 
September 21, 2011

UserVoice: Tech Partner Spotlight

This is a guest blog from UserVoice CEO Richard White. UserVoice offers a complete customer engagement solution that gives businesses a simple process for managing customer feedback and support functions all from a single, easy-to-use environment.

What NOT to Do in Support

The fact that you're reading this blog post means you probably understand social media. You probably also understand why providing great customer service is important, so I'll spare you that as well. What you may not know is that there are much better tools to provide outstanding customer service than the ones you're already using. Here are four big tips for you as you're planning your support channels:

1. Don't build a custom contact form.
Building a custom contact form on your website takes valuable time and resources away from your core business. Instead, sign up and get a widget from UserVoice (or one of our competitors) and in less than 30 seconds you'll have a contact form that supports any number of custom fields you want to add, allows you to append your own customer-specific metadata, supports attachments and, most importantly, will auto-suggest relevant FAQ articles even before the customer submits the form.

2. Don't use shared email for customer support.
It's true that you can take managing customer support via a shared email inbox pretty far. You won't really feel the pain until a couple of issues slip through the digital crack because it wasn't clear who on your team was responsible for following up with the customer. But why go through that? These days you can choose from a number of inexpensive, purpose-built tools, like UserVoice, targeted at companies that want to provide better customer service. Starting at $5/mo you can have a complete support solution that will grow with your business when you are finally ready to add that 2nd or 3rd support rep to your team.

3. Don't waste time gathering feedback on message boards.
Scanning message boards to gather user feedback sounds like a good idea, but it's really painful. Forums are both noisy and insular. Someone posts "I want you to add X" then a few people reply "+1" but then someone else says "I think X is good but only if you do Y to it." Very quickly you don't know what anyone really wants. And you especially don't have an easy way to follow-up with people directly. Worst of all, you're only hearing from a vocal minority. Casual users won't go into your forums and won't wade through 10 pages of +1's to add their voice, they'll just give up.

UserVoice Feedback gives you a better way to harness customer feedback and turn it into something useful. It starts with a simple prompt: How can we make ___insert_your_company___ better? Customers give their feedback and vote up the best ideas. It's easier for customers to get involved and give you feedback, and it's much easier for you to follow-up and keep these important customers in the loop.

4. Don't hide from your customers.
This really should be the first recommendation. The sad fact is, people still don't expect great customer service, and they certainly don't expect you to be ready and willing to listen to their feedback, especially with that small gray "contact" link buried in your footer. Show customers that their experience and their feedback is important, nay, vital to your business. Put a big link at the top of the page, or a widget on the side of it. Something that tells people you're not "business as usual." Show them you really care.

I started UserVoice because I wanted to make doing all of these things simple so that companies could focus on what really matters: building their products and communicating with their customers, not setting up all this stuff. I hope you'll find it as useful as our thousands of existing customers have in getting you back to work. :)

-Richard White, UserVoice

This guest blog series highlights companies in SoftLayer's Technology Partners Marketplace.
These Partners have built their businesses on the SoftLayer Platform, and we're excited for them to tell their stories. New Partners will be added to the Marketplace each month, so stay tuned for many more come.
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