How not to do surveys – Verizon

As my FiOS bill has ballooned to twice the expected amount, I figured I should check to see what of the extreme bundle I got a year ago has stopped working. After all, I do not watch much TV, and the only premium channel I care about is TrueEntourageGameOfEnthusiam. I most certainly do not use a Verizon Security/Backup bundle which apparently cost me $10/mo for the last few months. After I tried to change my plan, and got confused a number of times, I spoke to a person via live chat about canceling some channels and keeping others, but that’s a whole other post in the near future.

To the survey, Batman! Without being a UX expert (and pretending I have not dealt with them over the years) I can tell right away – Verizon does not care about my feedback, and never did.

Verizon Customer Service Survey

1. Why are you asking me about Live Chat? I did not come to use the Live chat. I came to do something on the website and Live Chat is mitigating a failure of the site. If the site did its job I would not be even using the chat. If Verizon cared about my experience, that’s what they would ask about. Ask me about the experience, not a feature. 

Sidebar: I can see the meeting that drove this decision. “But we are chat division, we cannot be held accountable for the overall experience. This is to make us – live chat customer support – better.” said their manager in an important meeting. Other people in the room, most of whom probably live so far out of the city that FiOS is not available, nod sagely. Everyone in that room has built their careers by defending and growing their turf, not by thinking of their eventual customers’ experience with Verizon.

2. I have no idea. How does this question possibly add a value to me? I already told Verizon the service was poor or excellent. In my case the chat people are always well-meaning but useless. I would not recommend the chat service because to use it is to admit the website has already failed. I would recommend my friends use this service like the would use a fire extinguisher – a painful last resort that will add to the damage but might prevent a bigger loss. Not exactly a ringing endorsement. So why ask this? Because Verizon does not care about your time or getting useful data. They care about TPS reports.

3. I am on a website!!!! That’s clearly my preferred method. It is not any of the choices. And I cannot stand when you require me to answer a question. Are you seriously telling me that my feedback is useless without this answer? An answer to a question you could not even provide adequate choices for? Right… Remind myself again - Verizon does not care about your time or getting useful data. They care about TPS reports.

4. The only useful field on the survey. Maybe it should be the one required field. And the first one. Why not invite the user to tell you how they feel? That would tell me Verizon is willing to read what I write and think about it. But I know they won’t. They will relegate my survey submission to a disgruntled pile, find a way to exclude my ratings from their overall numbers and move on.

To summarize – if you have to give you users a survey, heed the lessons of Verizon. Ask the users in a manner that respects their time and opinion, else your monthly payment from these users will suddenly become $60 less.

If you liked this post, read the first one I wrote on “how not to do surveys“.


Posted in Entrepreneurship, Web | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Photos: St. Petersburg Dam

Well before it was finished, the place already had a lot of texture

As weather channel was predicting 20′-30′ rise in water level during Hurricane Irine around NYC, I was thinking, would not it be nice to have a dam that would protect the city from just such a storm surge?

Just days ago I read about St. Petersburg, Russia finally completing its gigantic dam which is supposed to do just that. And since I am on a mini photo-kick right now, I figured I will post some of the pictures I took of the dam before it was a gleaming achievement of russian engineering.

Thanks to @bornmw for taking me there in the dead of winter.


Enhanced by Zemanta
Posted in Personal, Photography | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

There is a metaphor in there somewhere…

tooth fairy by anne hazelwood

My Dear Daughter (DD) is very serious about collecting money. Right now it is for books, but that is not really important. In one of her musings she wrote, “I hope tooth fairy brings me $5, or may be $8, then I could buy the new books in the [her favorite books] series that are coming out soon.”

At first I was proud, “She is saving money for books!”, but a moment later I realized – that’s her plan – a tooth fairy will bring her the money.

My DD is still pretty small, but I am amazed at constantly seeing businesses and executives who are supposed to be running them having basically the same plan, hoping for a tooth fairy. It is not that they could not use the money in a good way, it is just that it is not a plan to works out after the first few years of your life, or your business.

There is no deeper point I expect to make. Nothing about how to get money from tooth fairy you need to have your teeth loosened and pulled, or that the money you get is not even close to covering the co-pay and deductible. There has to be a good metaphor in this somewhere, that’s all.

Enhanced by Zemanta
Posted in Entrepreneurship, Personal | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

The LeanLaunch Pad at Stanford – Class 7: Revenue Model « Steve Blank


Really really enjoying reading this series. This is the kind of class I think makes the best Universities worth the price.


The Stanford Lean LaunchPad class was an experiment in a new model of teaching startup entrepreneurship.

via The LeanLaunch Pad at Stanford – Class 7: Revenue Model « Steve Blank.

Enhanced by Zemanta
Posted in Entrepreneurship | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Business Models emerging – klout

As I spent a lot of time recently talking and thinking about business models, I was interested to see what klout was doing. They, along with peerindex try to measure and map influence across the social media space. If they can do it well, and as social permeates everything at some level, they would have valuable insight indeed. Still, how would they make money, at some point?

Klout seems to think that by giving access to product and marketing companies to provide samples or early access to whoever they consider “influencers” in their field, they would occupy a niche that is currently driven by intuition of marketers about the influence of specific people and heuristics – such as professional stature of someone in the field.


Klout Perks

Klout Perks (beta)


Enhanced by Zemanta
Posted in Entrepreneurship, Web | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A review of Mia and the Migoo

A few weeks ago I went with my Dad to the children’s film festival. We saw ‘Mia and the Migoo’. It was pretty scary but it all ended well. Mia is the girl in the movie. She is searching for her father, or, as she calls him, ‘Papa’. The Migoo are silly creatures that are trying to help Mia find her father. There is also boy named Aldrin whose Dad is very mean. Aldrin’s Dad tries to kill the Migoo, not knowing that by the killing the tree that they guard he would destroy the whole planet.

Enhanced by Zemanta
Posted in Personal | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Looking for feedback for @startupweekend #swnyc

Our team is building a platform for helping people achieve their goals. We want to know if our approach – using social networks, accurate and convenient tracking of progress, combined with SHAME through TRANSPARENCY and REWARD of PERSISTENCE make sense.

Take this quick survey for iChallenge and let us know.

Enhanced by Zemanta
Posted in Entrepreneurship, Personal | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

The money has been sent! – PayPal

Slight post. I am not a UX expert, like kids @hyperakt [shameless plug for my friends], but I am sure that the way PayPal does things is not good. I can live with the busy design and small buttons, but do not they know that performance *is* usability?

I am sure it is hard to scale rapidly to 500 million people like facebook, or 5 billion visitors like Google, but PayPal has been stable forever. How hard can it be for an “internet-scale” company to actually scale to perform. It takes so long to login or to go through the three steps of sending money to someone that I constantly switch windows – and eventually time out because I forget I was in a middle of a transaction. Sure I am impatient, but that’s because Google taught me what proper response times are supposed to be – and it is not 15 or 30 seconds per click.

Clean up your act PayPal. You have had an incredible market all to yourself for a long time, and people are gunning for you now – and they will not make users spend a minute trying to send someone money.

Enhanced by Zemanta
Posted in Entrepreneurship, Web | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Online surveys – how not to do them


I get asked to answer a lot of online surveys, and usually ignore them. Once in a while a product I like will ask me to fill out a survey – and I will agree. Most of the time I regret that decision and abandon the process somewhere, because the marketers are just being rude:

  1. You are being rude to me – when you are asking too much personal information. I am eager to help improve your product or service, but not to the point of exposing my financial and personal history. If you would not feel comfortable asking your decidedly weird rich uncle for this information until you see his will – do not ask me.
  2. You are being rude to me when your questions suck. Questions are hard to understand and scales do not make sense. Please remember – I am not playing sudoku or solving the Times puzzle. I am not interested in thinking hard so *you* get something out of it. The amount of time and money you spend designing the questions shows. Lack of the time shows even more. It is rude to waste my time because you could not bother thinking of phrasing questions that make sense.
  3. You are being rude to me when you do not tell me where I am in the process. Today’s example, from American Express, did not have a progress bar. I did not know if I was almost done or not even close. Eventually, I just closed the window. It is rude to waste other people’s time.

I think the “weird rich uncle” is a good test subject. Do not send your customers anything you would not do to your rich uncle. Customers are fickle, and their good intentions do not last very long if you try to actively exploit them.

Enhanced by Zemanta
Posted in Personal, Web | Tagged , | 1 Comment

Enterprise Architecture – what is it good for?

Enterprise Architecture Process

Image via Wikipedia

I was at a meeting with a potential customer once, where we discussed moving forward with a social portal project. Their process – despite having some great people (!!) – compels them to spend months and years discussing how things would be done, if there were to be done, assuming they should be done. Or something like that; what they were unable to do is actually move forward. For 18 months. At the same time, we can read about Groupon‘s enterprise architecture here.

We spoke with Ryan Miller and Chris Bland from Groupon about how the company has managed to scale its business so quickly and with such agility. Rather than relying on its own complex internal systems infrastructure, Groupon uses tools like and Amazon EC2 and S3 to keep the site powered and deals flowing.

A company barely existed 18 months ago! And then I went back to this letter to Enterprise Architecture I saw yesterday:

Actually, we’re still burned from the last time you did that to us, when you told us that “multichannel integration” would give us all the competitive advantage that we needed. It didn’t give us anything very much, but we suppose you got some “cool” bits or architecture. Anyway, once bitten, twice shy.

But even more surprising than all this was the discovery that even if we agreed to everything you want, we will then have to face an Architectural Council who have the power to overturn everything and send us back to the drawing board. Considering the constitution of this “council” is anyone who has a view on anything, we’ve heard on the grapevine pretty much no decisions get made ever. Apparently you all argue for hours over definitions of things such as TOGAFs and whether your “strategic” statements are correct or not. Its all so very ivory tower. Herds of elephants must have been destroyed in the process.

There is a lot in the post that I do not like, but it is hard to argue with the feeling most enterprise architecture teams inspire in their business users and IT colleagues. This reflection prompted a thought,

what if that is the true meaning of Enterprise Architecture – something that lets the company scale as fast as possible with minimal costs. Period. Everything else is a red herring.

One organization had a series of meetings, and another went from start-up to a multi-billion dollar company with thousands of employees in hundreds of locations – all in a same interval it took Earth do 1.5 orbits around its star.


Enhanced by Zemanta
Posted in Entrepreneurship, Software & Team, Web | Tagged , , | Leave a comment