94 Additions to the 365 Project for 2012

Whoops. Two things happened today.

First up; Today I did my “every once in a while” check for SmugMug Windows Phone 7 apps and low and behold discovered one was released around about the time of the birth of my second son – that might explain why I’d not noticed it. This is GREAT news as it means I can publish dailies directly from my phone vs. these insane bulk updates. However I’m mildly surprised that after all my tweets to @SmugMug on the matter that they didn’t have a note to ping me (and others?) who had been braying for it.

That leads me to the second thing… a bulk update of photos. Now the advantage of the bulk update is I was able to swap out some camera phone photos with photos taken with my DSLR… I guess I can always have temporary or stand in photos from my phone for dailies and if there are photos I take with my DSLR that I love, process and publish then I can swap out a day here or there.

After three months of not publishing I am quietly happy to realize I didn’t skip and days. Both photos link to the 365 Project for 2012 gallery.

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One Dead Samsung Focus, One Challenging AT&T experience

My Samsung Focus died yesterday. It crashed for the first time on Tuesday, a forewarning? Then yesterday is froze up. I left it for a while (15 min or so) before taking the battery out. It tried to boot, crashing at the AT&T screen a few times. Then it loaded, default tiles, theme etc. “Oh No!” I exclaimed. I rebooted it to be on the safe side. It never started again.

It’s under warranty so I will get a replacement. These things have a bath tub failure curve so I’m cool with that and it’s why we have warranties. Certainly not a smite on Microsoft as the OS didn’t seem to be responsible. Nor on Samsung, stuff fails. My guess is a component on the system board or in the memory.

As far as use goes I’ve been a power user. Dozens of apps. Some came, some went. Games trialed, purchased. Heavy social media and geo-location usage. So if anyone’s phone was going to ‘burn out’ just from normal use on that bath tub curve it would be me. I’ve noticed my phone is slower than my wife’s identical device e.g. 5 vs. 60 seconds to update the People Hub. I put it down to more apps, pics, music, contacts (if so then that is an opportunity for MSFT to improve), however now I wonder if it was something going wrong with my phone.

AT&T’s Customer Service Experience

Score: 3/5 Stars

I’m always impressed with how many people I deal with when I have to call AT&T for support. What is even more amazing is how un-empowered they all appear to be. I dealt with no less than nine AT&T employees yesterday. Nine. Over a period of about three hours. Both on the phone and in person. I’m guessing an analysis of efficiency is done? What about efficacy?

This is the first time my call to AT&T support also involved a real world wild goose chase…

In Summary

AT&T are working to make this right. My issue is under investigation with promise to look into and resolve for the future (I expressed how I wished this on no one, OK on very few people). AT&T have credited me $135 in total through the day. Still I’m left with a bad taste in my mouth and as such the rest of this post is intended to document for two reasons a) to help you as an AT&T customer navigate such issues ,should you come across them and b) to provide AT&T with insight into their customers’ experience should they wish to use it in their ongoing efforts to improve customer service.

Some recommendations;
  1. Only send customers to a device service center if a device is confirmed to be there and you can have it set aside.
  2. Over Invest in overnight shipping / devices in store to enable resolving customer issues over holiday weekends.
  3. Reduce number of employees involved in decision making. Empower the knowledge workers/technicians. If you need ‘approval’ you could do via phone with “central approval command” to prevent local abuses.
  4. Save your money by doing small things that fix it for the customer vs. escalations which cost you more in time and actual dollars (example below is $30 vs. $100 cost to AT&T)

Perhaps consider optimizing the issue handling process to reduce your costs and improve customer experience (less people, deeper ‘relationships’)

In Detail

AT& #2 (the second “611” person I spoke to) informed me that they couldn’t get a me a phone overnighted – it’s a holiday weekend and I have plans. My dead phone is my only phone but luckily I had Microsoft Lync on my laptop to call the 800 #. She said I could go into a device service center and located two “with phones”. I agreed to do this vs. having a device shipped. To their credit she did reimburse me $25, I guess for the hassle of dealing with the situation, and the eventual rebuild and reconfiguration of my phone.

AT&T #5, 30 Min later, downtown Seattle, $10hr parking and AT&T #5 informs me there are no devices. Yes #3 & 4 are various stages of handling me in the service center. Note: No warranty devices. They have devices for sale ~$500. Again a very polite man, very “understanding” and “sorry”. He fetches #6, his manager.

AT&T #6, “Manager”. Now the purpose of this employee in the chain of command baffles me. He has no authority to do anything for me. Not even give me a “$30 basic unlocked phone” (keep this number in mind for later) to get me through next week. He spends his time asking #5 under his breath if there is “anything else we can do?”. I’m not sure who he’s hiding it from as I can hear it. Other customers? Suggestion; Maybe just give #5 the authority as he knows the systems and the lay of the land. #6 does say they can approve reimbursement of my parking ($10) but it’s A#5 who finds the person who’s responsible for helping, let’s call them AT&T #5b “Customer service rep” who approves and logs it in the system.

Some time later, back at home on my wife’s phone. 611 again;

AT&T #8 Was doing everything her script said. She too was “understanding” and “very sorry”. By this point those words had lost their meaning. She quickly credited me some hours to my account for my wasted time, roll over minutes we never use up any way. I did have to explain everything to her again. At this point I simply wanted to flag a complaint with AT&T to how this was handled. About seven minutes later she got a supervisor on the line.

AT&T #9. A supervisor who will “investigate” the issue for me. She credits me $100 to my account. $70 more than it would have cost AT&T to just give me that cheap phone in the store to get me through the next week, that $30 I mentioned above.

And that’s the end of my tale…

Windows Phone + Zune

I love having access to my Zune subscription on my Windows Phone. Today’s big find was that after discovering ‘press and hold’ enabled me to not just stream but download an album to my phone that after a wireless sync last night (no effort from me apart from plugging in my phone to charge for the night in my bedroom) the phone synced over wireless with my PC and hey presto both the Tron soundtrack and The Kooks album I downloaded onto my phone yesterday are in my PC collection as well. Sweet.