Thursday, 29 October 2009

Call (312) 416-9980 and talk to our CEO

I like this. 37signals is clearly not a boring software company.

Disagree? Phone their CEO and tell him.
Have a suggestion for a new product feature? Do the same.

Jason Fried, 37signals' CEO, takes calls at (312) 416-9980 from 3pm to 5pm central time every Tuesday and Thursday.

Taken from their website:

'Every Tuesday and Thursday from 3pm - 5pm central time, our CEO (Jason Fried) is standing by to take calls from customers, prospective customers, or anyone who has a question about 37signals.

Note: Unsolicited sales calls will not be taken during this time.

What can we talk about?
You can call and ask product questions, pre-sales questions, suggest feature requests, lodge complaints, offer praise, share ideas, discuss recent blog posts, or talk about good or bad experiences using our products. Anything that’s on your mind is fair game. Jason's here to listen, share, and be available to help in any way he can.

How long can we talk?
In order to accommodate other callers, we ask that you keep calls to 10 minutes or less. Thanks.

If I can't get through, can Jason call me back?
Jason is only available for direct calls on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 3pm to 5pm central. If he's unable to take your call he won't be able to call you back if it's outside these office hours. But you can drop him an email at jason at 37signals dot com and he'll try to get back to you as soon as he can.
You can also contact Jason via Twitter

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Glaswegian interpreters (rubbery gubs?) required

We've worked in and translated from 21 languages but have just become aware of a new translation service required in Glasgow, just a few hundred miles from our UK HQ.

A translation firm is recruiting interpreters to help visiting businessmen understand the Glaswegian dialect, which some consider the most impenetrable in the UK.

Normally this company translates documents but it seems there is a genuine demand for this service.

See the full BBC article here. Some examples of the dialect are:

  • Beezer - (something good)
  • Bingo Bus - (police van)
  • Boudo - (money)
  • Connie - (candle)
  • Donner - (a walk)
  • Dreich - (bad/wet weather)
  • Fae - (from)
  • Geeza - (may I please have)
  • Heavy Scran - (good food)
  • Melt - (face)
  • Naw, Nae - (no)
  • Piece - (sandwich)
  • Rubbery Gub (big mouth)
  • Shoot the craw (leave in a hurry)

Everyone's a Critic But They're Not Very Critical

Apparently online reviewers are not nearly nasty enough, tending to leave positive reviews - the average is around 4.3 stars out of five.

Interestingly, negative reviews seem to be trusted more; on the basis you can't please all the people all the time companies with some negative feedback will be perceived as genuine and worth dealing with.

Paid or company reviews make a mockery of review mechanisms; added to this there is a lot of online discussion concerning sites removing or making it difficult to add negative reviews. Not easy to police.

I think it's time for a score of 3 to be seen as good; 5 as excellent, or even better for a 10-point scale to be used.EBay does not like sellers with average feedback of less than (on a 5-point scale) so we have a way to go.

Go on, get real with your online reviews, not every transaction can be 5-point-tastic.

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Huge numbers in just a few seconds - Gary’s Social Media Count

Well done Gary Hayes for creating this; volume is not the same as value however some of the numbers are simply mind-boggling. This table puts social media into some sort of context, even if it's just comparable.

Thursday, 1 October 2009

Philips - half-right social media strategy is not good enough

Meet Mathias Thorell, known to me and the other 11,690 members of Philips Streamium Café as 'Tias'.

We've never met, emailed or spoken but it's clear Tias is an interesting guy. Originally from Sweden he was a Senior Flight Test Engineer on the Saab Gripen but now works as a Systems Engineer and IT Manager in Santiago, Chile.

In his spare time Tias contributes to Streamium Café , a user group for a range of wireless multi-room music players from the consumer electronics giant, Philips.

To say Tias contributes is somewhat of an understatement, 2,651 helpful posts to date which equates to over two per day.

It strikes me that Philips is treating their 11.5k members as an outsourced R&D and Customer Support team, offering virtually nothing in return other than a place to 'talk', either oblivious to the reputation-management issue coming its way or arrogant enough to think it can
do as it pleases.

At least they have got it half-right; to date Philips has enabled conversation among its customers and kept a very low profile other than removing spam and offensive (to members, not about products) comments. Commendable but not nearly good enough.

Unfortunately Streamium is not iPod-simple, nor is it inexpensive. The challenge for Philips seems to be how to move this technically-advanced product from the smallish early-adopter geek market to the mass consumer market.

Most Streamium users get the 'story' - the way products can change the way we live, some Café members are not only willing to put up with the glitches and idiosyncrasies, they are actively trying to solve the bugs and improve the product.

Take the software; if you have ripped 200 CDs onto a Streamium (slowly - plate tectonics will have moved your Streamium a few inches closer to Africa before you have finished ripping the latest Chili Peppers ' triple album) it's not something you would wish to repeat any time soon. The backup software supplied by Philips is lame and not open-source thus will remain so.

Back to Tias, he (with assistance from other members of the user group) has spearheaded the creation of the vastly superior track managing software (WACHandler), available to all, for free (donations welcomed).

Think about the cost of the forum and the benefit to Philips; 11.6k members helping each other and providing product roadmap ideas for an item with an average price tag of around $350 per room, that could either be returned to the stores, or worse.

Just think what Philips could achieve with:

  • Technical support given to Café members (a different entry point, not an additional cost)
  • Product idea competitions
  • Notification of firmware and product updates
  • A chance for Tias and others like him to review new products
  • Factory tours
  • Biogs of the developers
  • Streamium stories with photos - real case studies

Enthusiasts and user groups are powerful, I don’t believe Philips understands how fortunate it is - this is a response to members asking why its moderators remove spam but will not 'engage' more fully.

'The purpose of StreamiumCafe is creating a community for Streamium users. It is a community where Streamium users can help each other out with problems they are facing or where people can discuss about improvements that can be made etc. Unfortunately this is not a support forum where Philips engineers or technicians are available to provide support. This is the logo you see, when entering'

Just think what you could achieve with that number of engaged advocates, or just a few guys like Mathias Thorell.