Thursday, July 19, 2007

Value of a Word

If a person tells you he's going to be somewhere, or that he's going to call you at a particular time, usually I get in the habit of expecting that he's going to follow through with that commitment. In dealing with some people, in fact this is true for most every business person I have had association with recently, there is a gap. That's a gap between the explicit meaning of the words you choose to express yourself, and the reality of your actions.

This is not unusual, and I believe from a sales perspective it may actually be the norm in most businesses. When I am dealing with a web developer, I don't expect to hear this: "We're doing our best, however this or that feature will not work in Internet Explorer, Mozilla, or Opera," or "That sounds like something I should be able to do, but I'll have to check the API documentation for our particular framework." I have experience in the area of web development and software in general, and I understand that different platforms have different strengths and weaknesses.

Just as different implementations have different behaviors, to some extent different cultures have different interpretations of right and wrong, of good and bad, and so in your personal life as well as business, it is nearly impossible to please everybody all of the time. But from my perspective as a consumer, does that mean that I should lower my expectations? NO! Absolutely not. If your business model depends on lying to the customer, and if I catch you doing it, then you will receive a hard time from me, your humble customer.

However; if I'm at your door begging for a job, then it's a completely different story; you pay your employees because they are valuable to you. As a business, you have to consider the time and money that you spend to recruit your employees. Some people that you never hire will cost you money! This fact will influence your decision to either offer a job, or to circular file a paper application from a person who just spent 30 minutes of their own time in your business, perhaps even without contributing a single dime to the cost of rent!

Even so, we get experimental results like my experience earlier this week at the Verizon Wireless office. I walked in the front door and asked for what I thought I wanted (to buy a phone, and that's what I thought they were in the business of selling), and holding a contract in my name, it was perhaps an obligation on them as a good business to sell me what I really should have rather than what I think I want, or even what I say I need. So I walked right back out the front door, and no sales were made. Is that good business? Perhaps it is.

It's worth mentioning also that my visit to the Sprint store on the same day ended with a similar experience; these guys didn't seem to want my business as long as I had a contract with Verizon Wireless. They were aware that I might become unhappy with the Wireless Phone industry as a whole if I had a bad experience switching from Verizon to Sprint. Whether the experience is billed to Sprint or Verizon is immaterial to me, the disaffected wireless customer. They are in league together.

I haven't done the fact checking to support this, but I suspect that wire-line phones are still cheaper than wireless by at least a 2:1 ratio. If I spend my days in the office and my nights at home, and if I'm living in a relatively safe city where I can reasonably ask for the help of a stranger, for example, if I have a flat tire, then I can surely save money by dropping my cellular phone and living the hard-wired life. Fact!

Of course, I'm one of those who receives internet service at home as well as the office; the situation gets much more complicated when you consider Voice over IP as an alternative to traditional phone service. I'm still not completely sold on taking that route.

Also, If you're following my portfolio decisions in the Beat the Street stock market game, you will notice that I'm having a great week! Actually, I'm not any better off than last week. I won some, I lost some, but perhaps most important to note; Red Hat is still the biggest loser! I almost wish I had held on to my Sony stock, and sold Red Hat instead. Luke, I don't think you're a vampire... but the charts! Only kidding :) war is hell. By the way, did I pick up a subscriber somewhere?

1 comment:

Kingdon said...

Since the complaining I did about Verizon, I decided it was really time for a new phone and walked into their competitor's office with my old phone. They were more than happy to sell me a new phone, and not so interested to know whether my old phone had a contract or not: the new phone does not. I'm incredibly happy with my CricKet phone and the integrated reminders actually got me out of bed on time this morning!

As a consequence, I've got two phones. Unless I can negotiate out of my Verizon contract (maybe they'll pay my bill if I write some BREW applications in my spare time) I'm going to be stuck with an extra phone or an employee!

If I can be paid to sit in one place doing what I do all day, surely a different person can be paid to do what he does all day running around carrying a phone. Yeah? I'm sure you're right. But how do we make money? Unless one of us is cooking pizzas and the other is driving around delivering them to hungry developers, I'm not sure it can be done.

(Just Kidding, hey Microsoft is profitable, right?)