Being on vacation and shooting a lot of pictures and video has brought some things into focus for me (excuse the pun).
I really wanted Flickr to be the place to post everything – photos (snapshots and more thoughtfully considered photos) as well as the videos that I’m making with the footage from our Sony Action Cam.
It turns out that Flickr’s Facebook integration is a little less than stellar, and then there’s the little issue with video length. Flickr only allows clips to be a maximum of 90 seconds.
No worries, you say. Post everything to Facebook. That seems like a decent idea at first, but going Facebook to Twitter is a pain (and the privacy settings on my Facebook posts would limit the audience to my Facebook friends only). Plus, Facebook has this awesome thing where they delete your videos because of bogus automated copyright warnings even when you have music that is from iMovie and totally okay to post.
Here’s what I settled on:
Photos: I’ll still post everything to Flickr because I like how they maintain the quality of the photos and I can live with the limitations of the Facebook integration. For the snapshots, I’m going back to Instagram which is a service I’ve not used in a few months. I’m not a fan of filters and having to crop everything square, but for quick shots that I want my friends to see, it’s a good choice. Plus it pushes content to Facebook nicely and I can archive the full, uncropped image on Flickr for safe keeping.
Videos: These belong on a proper video hosting service and for me that is Vimeo. They have HD quality (far better than Facebook or Flickr) and I don’t have to use YouTube. Given that Picasa recently went away in favour of Google+ Photos, I can see Google making me use a Google+ account in the future, so I don’t want to mess with them.
I guess the lesson is that there is no single service that does it all and picking the appropriate service for the content you are posting is the best way to go.
What we’re up to in Hilton Head Island this week. Mostly fun family stuff.
Hilton Head Biking from James Koole on Vimeo.
On Tuesday, March 26, 2013, I’ll go back to not having any metal plates or screws in my body. Eighteen months after getting drilled by a car while riding my bike, I’m headed back in for a surgery to get my elbow fixed up (I hope). Suffice to say, multiple open fractures of the left humerus with fixation (aka a smashed up arm above the elbow on the left side with bone through the skin requiring pins and plates to fix) isn’t something you want.
It’s been a long journey already. Right after the accident, I figured it would be three months until everything was back to normal – that’s what they told me, at least. Six months later they said things were coming along slowly. A year later I was still doing physio twice a week and things were not back to normal. It turns out that bones don’t always heal the way you want them too. Sometimes they grow into places they don’t belong…like in the middle of a joint preventing proper movement of that joint.
But this time should be different. The first surgery was a mental and physical battle from the very start. One minute I was riding to work on my bike, loving the cool wind and enjoying a nice early autumn morning spin down Queen’s Quay. A second later I was on the ground and my arm was pointed in the wrong direction and that was just the beginning.
I wasn’t prepared for any of what happened next. Not prepared to be loaded into an ambulance for a short drive to St. Michael’s Hospital. Not prepared for a three hour surgery. Not prepared for three days in the hospital. Not prepared for the pain afterwards. Not prepared for physio and a whole new world of pain. Not prepared for dealing with any of it.
Now I know what to expect. I know how shitty it might be. I’m much stronger mentally. I know how much pain I can handle (a lot) and I’m ready for it. I know what getting off the pain killers is like and how to do it. I know it’s going to suck. But I know I’ll get through it okay and things will be better afterwards.
One of the most difficult things to do in life is to disappoint someone. But sometimes you simply have no choice – you can’t do everything and please everyone.
When it comes to customer service, disappointing customers is something that needs to be taught or you’ll end up in trouble. If you give in to every customer demand, you’ll end up hurting the bottom line and sometimes you’ll fall victim to fraud.
A few scenarios and how to handle them:
- A prospective customer wants you to waive a sign up fee: Your company occasionally provides discount or coupon codes that waive a sign up fee, but in general, you require customers to pay to join your club. Telling the potential customer that they have to pay is tough for a customer service agent to handle. Arming them with a good explanation makes it easier to teach them how to do it without feeling like they’ve failed. Real world example: try to get a free Costco membership.
- A current customer wants a discount on pricing: You might discount for some customers who do a significant volume of sales with you. Sometimes customers ask and they simply don’t qualify for a discount off the regular price. In this case, having some tangible guidelines for the customer service person helps to get them over the hump of saying no. Real world example: try to get a discount on a MacBook Air at the Apple Store.
- A customer wants a refund or wants you to cover their mistake or loss: If someone drops their brand new phone in the toilet a week after they get it, that’s a drag. But should you eat the cost of a new phone for them? No. But it’s natural for the customer service person to empathize with the customer and they will want to help them out and make it all better by providing a replacement phone for free. That replacement costs you real money. The solution is to have firm guidelines for replacement of damaged phones. Real world example: buy a new Ford, scrape the side pulling out of the dealership, and see what they say when you ask for a new one for free.
Take Emotion Out of the Equation
The common thread here in terms of helping the customer service agent disappoint the customer is to take the burden away from the agent and put it at the company level. When the customer service person is left to decide who to “help out” they will generally end up helping everyone. That’s likely not financially viable for the company.
Instead, take the decision away from the customer service person and give them the excuse they need to take their own guilt away when they are stuck disappointing a customer. Create firm guidelines for when to replace a product, or when to provide a discount and then don’t deviate from them. The customer service agent can still play the hero when the customer’s demand satisfies those guidelines, but when they don’t, the agent won’t be the one who is disappointing the customer and that will help them do what needs to be done in that situation.
If you aren’t hosting your own content, you are playing with fire. It’s not a matter of “if” the service you rely on to store your stuff will shutdown, but “when”.
Bye-bye Posterous-hosted content
Word spread quickly today when it was announced that the popular blogging platform Posterous was shutting down effective April 30th, 2013. All blogs will go dark on that day and the content will be deleted. Users of the service have the option to grab an archive of their data before then that they can use to switch to another platform.
The loss of the Posterous service is one thing – a lot of people liked the easy posting system that Posterous provided. But I think the the real story here is that a ton of good content will simply be deleted come the end of April.
Free vs. paid
Fact: Paying for a service is no guarantee it’ll stay up forever (the company I work for ran a paid blogging service called Blogware and shuttered it last year, deleting many blogs and a ton of content).
My suggestion that you self-host extends to those currently using paid services like Squarespace or WordPress.com. Sure, Posterous was free and that created some additional challenges for the company, but even if it was a paid service, there would be nothing to prevent them from shuttering the service and leaving you high and dry.
Self-host is the only way to go
Here’s my suggestion – switch to your own platform and use your own domain name. Use WordPress or some other content management system (CMS), and host the site yourself for a few bucks a month. Don’t rely on service providers like Tumblr or even WordPress.com to keep you online forever.
Honestly, if you value the content you create and put online, then you need to be in control of your own stuff.