This site functions as an archive of Conner's Blog, which was a blog from 2006-2014 located at http://connermccall.com. Images and links are likely to be broken.

Customer Service Rules

I've been having some horrendous customer services experiences as of late. In frustration I've written down my 11 rules for sales.

  1. Smile - Nothing dampers my mood to buy faster than a sales person who looks like he's about to go on a shooting spree.
  2. Listen and pay attention - Do not assume you know what's going on. If you hear someone talking about cell phones and cameras and whether something works on one when it's labeled for the other one, don't assume it's a memory card. They could be talking about LCD screen protectors.
  3. Don't lie - This should be obvious, but I've had it happen.
  4. Don't make things up - If you don't know the answer either find someone that does or look it up. If you cannot figure it out let the customer know. I'm more likely to come back if I know you’re willing to admit you don't know.
  5. Don't just read the box - I've had several experiences where sales associates didn't see Linux written on the box and just said it wouldn't work. I've asked them to do a quick Google search for me and have always been denied. Google is your friend; just tell the customer that unless the manufacture supports it, you can't provide any support. Chances are, if they were willing to purchase it unsupported by the manufacture, they wouldn't come to you anyway.
  6. Know your co-workers - When I used to sell computer components, I knew which one of my fellow employees would know the answer to certain types of questions. Everyone has their area of expertise, don't hesitate to use them.
  7. Never ignore the low cost items - Your customers usually want to spend as little as possible. Show them the lower priced items, and then tell them what benefit they get by spending a little more. No one enjoys looking at a $400 laptop and having the salesperson push a $1200 laptop.
  8. Never answer the phone - Ok, maybe never is a bit much, but if you have customers in the store let the phone ring. The customers in the store can buy something now, the person on the phone is most likely price shopping.
  9. Learn to handle more than one customer - This may seem like bad service, but if done right you can do it. Pay attention and know when to say "I'll give you a minute to think about it” or similar. Walk over to the unattended customer and let them know your there. Just acknowledging the customers presence goes a long way toward making them happy.
  10. Know your competitors - This does not mean you should go wander through their stores on a weekly basis, but you should know who would have something you may not have or be able to get. Also knowing things like who has the best cable prices will earn you repeat business, even if it is not for cables.
  11. Break the rules - If your customers aren't walking out the door happy change something up. What worked yesterday may not work today.

Wednesday Where #17

It's Wednesday and another edition that follows the normal rules is up. So who knows where this was taken.

This shouldn't be too tough for a certain portion of the population. Come on give us your guess, even if your wrong at least your presence will be felt.

Customer Service Failure

I’m going to share a story with you. It is also a rant so if you want to avoid it I won’t blame you. You should know I get a car for my job. It’s owned by the company, has the company named on the side, and maintenance is taken care of by the company. It’s a perk that I would have a hard time giving up, and I appreciate it a lot. I get it because I meet with customers all over the metro. I never really know where I’m going as I don’t schedule appointments myself, but I pride myself on being on-time. I feel terrible if I’m more than 10 minutes late.

The company car I drive developed a giant crack last week. I called it in to the appropriate office in the company and they scheduled me in a four-hour block with Auto Glass Specialists & Safelite Autoglass from 8-12 this morning. I spent the morning working on a few projects and around 10:00 I received a call from the repair guy letting me know he would be there around 11-11:30. I wasn’t exactly happy it was happening so late during the window, but it was within the window. Around 11:45 not only had the guy not shown up, but I hadn’t received another phone call. I called him back at the number he gave and left a message asking where he was and telling him that I need my car by 1:15 for work.

I understand appointments run long, traffic slows you down, and a million things can cause delays. I’m more than willing to forgive tardiness if you keep me informed, especially since I deal with those things in my job. I would not be writing this post if I had received a phone call before 11:30 or a few minutes after. He finally showed up without a phone call at 12:45. I told him I needed my car at 1:15. Unfortunately, after all of this we had to reschedule since the windshield needed to sit for an hour after install.

Well you would think after being so late that Auto Glass Specialists and Safelite Autoglass would work with me to make sure they got this fixed immediately. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case. I told the guy I could have my car there by 8:00 tomorrow. I was told this wouldn’t work since they don’t leave the shop until 8:30 and that it would be 9:00 at the earliest even if he could schedule me as his first appointment. I told him I would block off my Monday morning for him and he should call me with a time. About a half hour later, he called back and instead of giving me a specific time, once again said it would happen between 8-12.

To sum things up; first, they give me a four-hour block that includes an hour that has no potential for an appointment. I receive a phone call two hours into the block telling me they would be there in an hour to an hour and a half. They then proceed to show up 45 minutes after the initial period I was given and an hour and 15 minutes after the actual repair person said. They then proceed to schedule me in the exact same four-hour block four days later. To make things even better, when he was there in person he took the time to say, “Do you know you talk fast.” Something that I do in fact know and generally am able to control when I’m not incredibly irritated.

I usually don’t write about negative customer service experiences here because I generally just take my business elsewhere. In this case though, I’m stuck with it. Yes, I know I’m not paying anything for the service, but I am still the reason you’re getting the business and I’m your customer in this situation. The company lost any potential business I may have given them for my personal vehicle and I’m not going to be shy with telling my story.

Wednesday Where? #16

Here's a photo that will keep you guessing. I bet no one can figure out where this was taken.

So what do you think, any guesses. I'll give you one hint, it's located west of Minneapolis.

Ok, I'm kidding April Fools everyone. This photo was actually taken in Virginia City, Montana from Boot Hill. The real Where? is below, though it's a bit different than usual to.

This week I'm posting two photos that I took recently, but don't remember where I took them. I'm looking for help identifiying the location.

The first is a church somewhere west of Delano. I don't remember much about the town other than it has railroad tracks going through it. Also two highways cometogether here, the north/south highway turns into a city street and runs under a bridge after it crosses the east/west highway. The church is in the north half of town.

The second photo was taken off of Highway 13 west of Prior Lake. It was a frozen fountain near a small office building. It was outside of town but I can't remember the exact location.

Let me know if you have any ideas. I'm learning to write down the locations or take photos of street signs and such, but photos like these still slip through the cracks.

Nerdscale Post One

Last week, Emily, Art, and I were out at the Herkimer having a few adult beverages. Of course, as the evening progressed we fell into conversations about our blog endeavors, and started giving Art grief over his lack of posting. After a bit of prodding, we finally convinced Art to finish writing his Nerdscale post, which had been promised weeks ago. I went home with no expectations of seeing such a post, but lo and behold, the next day Emily send me a tweet informing me that Art had indeed published his Nerdscale.

I had warned Art I would likely be posting a rebuttal, and this is it. First, there are some very good points to the Nerdscale. Art has come up with the ingenious idea of a common unit of Nerdiness. Unfortunately, I cannot agree with Spaceballs as the unit of measure. Here are my reasons.

  1. Spaceballs can be viewed as a stand alone movie, but to truly appreciate it's humor, you should watch Star Wars.
  2. To relegate a Mel Brooks movie to a score of one is insulting.

Instead of using any individual movie as a measuring stick will not work. Instead, you need a set or elements that earn a movie 1N. 1N is a movie that is so not nerdy it would be scoffed at, yet without the single element of nerdiness its plot would be undone. Adding additional elements increases the nerdscore and therefore the nerdiness of the movie or television show.
Is there an single element of Science Fiction or Fantasy in the movie? Using this criteria, Big is a 1N movie.

  1. Are there spaceships? This actually puts Apollo 13 as a 1N movie.
    1. Do the spaceships go faster than the speed of light?
    2. Do the spaceships appear to hold more than 30 people?
    3. Do the ships have any of the following, lasers, photon beams, photon torpedoes, ion cannons, force fields, or cloaking mechanisms?
  2. Are there any of the following species in the movie, gnomes, trolls, elves, dwarves, orcs, or other such creatures?
    1. Two or more?
    2. Five or more?
    3. Fifteen or more?
  3. Was the home world of any main characters destroyed in nuclear holocaust?
    1. Are they still living there?
  4. Are there cyborgs/cylons?
  5. Can any of the characters do magic/move things with their mind?
  6. Do any characters come back to life after a deadly battle/crash/mugging?
  7. If a character loses a limb is it replaced with a fully functional prosthetics?
    1. Does the prosthetic look exactly like the characters original limb?
    2. Does the prosthetic have more functions than the original limb?
  8. Are there Aliens?
  9. Do any other the characters possess unexplained superhuman strength/endurance. (Jason Vorhees is a perfect example)
  10. Does anyone hack into a large government computer installation?
  11. Are there robots?
    1. Do the robots speak a human language?
    2. If the robots speaks in a series of beeps, can non-robots understand them?
  12. Do any inanimate objects come to life?

This is only a partial list, I’m still working out the details, but you can see how this works. Each item on the list is worth 1N. Sub items only occur if the main item occurs but are worth 1N as well. So let’s start out with the two shows that started this debate. Star Wars and Battlestar Galactica (BSG).
Star Wars scores under 1, 2, 2-1, 2-2, 2-3, 6, 8, 8-1, 9, 12, 12-1, and 12-2 for a total score of 12N. BSG scores under 1, 2, 2-1, 2-2, 2-3, 4, 5, 7, and 10 for a total score of 9N.

As suspected, Star Wars is nerdier than BSG. As I stated above the list of scoring opportunities is a work in progress and I hope to have a complete list in a few weeks. I would love to here your comments, and especially additions to the list. As with Art’s list, I write this with the full expectation that things need some tweaking. The goal is to get it out there and see what develops.

Concert This Sunday

So I've decided to continuing plugging the Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra here. I have no idea if it has attracted any new audience members, but it would be great if it did. If you do go to the concert, please let me know what you think in the comments.

This month the orchestra is performing in Stillwater. Along with the usually wonderful musical lineup, this Sunday's show will contain a small tribute to the late Bill Holm. The Orchestra is debuting a piece by John Tartaglia, which contains vocal text from Bill Holm's last book.

So come over to Stillwater on Sunday, enjoy some wonderful music and enjoy works by two Minnesota artists. The concert is free, though donations are welcome.

Info:
Time: 3/29 at 4:00 p.m.
Location: Trinity Lutheran Church 115 4th Street North, Stillwater, MN

If you have any questions, please contact me at conner@connermccall.com, and I'll be happy to answer them.

Wednesday Where #15

After a one week hiatus, Wednesday Where? is back and better than ever. Well maybe not better than ever but it's at least going again. So how many of you have seen this building, yet can't remember where you saw it.

Just a quick note, I still don't have email working on the new server so if you guess and select subscribe t comments you won't get any followup emails. I'll try and email you the hints or a response if you are correct. Happy guessing and happy hump day everyone.

Fajitas, Tacos, and Burritos

I've decided to put this in writing. Too many times I overhear conversations at bars and restaurants on the difference between tacos, fajitas, and burritos. I'll admit, I didn't know the difference until my sophomore year in college when some co-workers and I got into a debate and consulted Wikipedia. So here is your educational post for the week. (Note: All info has been gleaned from the web so may not be 100% accurate, but I trust it for this.)

First, we are going to define taco, According to Wikipedia

A taco (IPA: /ˈtɑːko/) is a traditional Mexican dish composed of a maize or wheat tortilla folded or rolled around a filling.

So basically anything that is put inside of a corn or wheat tortilla and folded up prior to eating can be called a taco.

Next Wikipedia define's burrito for us.

A burrito (IPA: /bəˈriːto/), or taco de harina, is a type of food found in Mexican and Tex-Mex cuisine. It consists of a flour tortilla wrapped or folded around a filling.

This is an awful definition so let's go to the wonderful world of the web. via Dictionary.com

Origin:
1940–45; < MexSp (Guerrero): stuffed taco, Sp: young donkey, foal, equiv. to burr(o) burro + -ito dim. suffix

From what I can gather the difference between a taco and a burrito has nothing to do with fillings but how it's folded. Basically a taco is not enclosed and burrito is folded in a while to fully enclose the fillings on all sides prior to eating.

Next to tackle the food that started it all. I tweeted this earlier and then realized I was mistaken.

Fajita as defined by Wikipedia

A fajita (pronounced /fəˈhiːtə/) is a generic term used in Tex-Mex cuisine[1], referring to grilled meat served on a flour or corn tortilla. Though originally, specifically only skirt steak[2],

So a fajita is the same as a taco, but originally it was only supposed to refer to a taco filled with skirt steak. As the word evolved it changed. Once again, via Wikipedia.

Regardless, use of the word fajita has evolved from the term for a cut of beef to include the cooking method (thus chicken fajita) and also to define the grilled strips of peppers and onions that usually accompany the meat.

So here is my uneducated opinion. Tacos are served in a folded or rolled tortilla that is open on both ends. Burritos are served in a tortilla that has been completly sealed. Fajitas are tortillas filled with grilled meat and are served with peppers and onions.

Does anyone want to correct me?

A Microwave free Life?

Before I moved I tentatively decided I didn't want a microwave. I used to own one, but for most of my college years I didn't need one because someone else had one. I gave it to my parents when their microwave died at one point. When they moved last year they didn't need it because they had one built in so I just told my mom to donate or sell the one I donated to them. So now if I want one I have to purchase a new one, as my new apartment does not come with one.

Before I get any comments about how easy it would be to find a cheap or free microwave somewhere, I need to make sure that everyone know this isn't about cost, it's about trying to live without one and see if I miss it. I don't think I will, I've been here for a week and haven't noticed the lack of it, other than not having a clock in the kitchen, which I will be remedying sometime soon.

I've been trying to think of any situation where not having a microwave would be a terrible inconvience. Yeah, it's takes a little longer to reheat things on the stove or in the oven, but things usually are a lot better when you don't use the microwave so the inconvience is outweighed by the taste factor. Baked potatoes are no longer a quick five minutes, but I don't eat them that often, and you can always prebake them and then throw them in the oven for 5 minutes or so.

One of the best things about not having a microwave is that I can't just pop something in for 5 minutes and get instant gratification. Making processed foods requires the oven, which at 11:00 at night or 2:30 in the morning after the bars generally isn't going to happen.

So what do you think, is there any situation where not having a microwave would be a horrible thing?

Dissapointment Amidst a Great Week

I'm sorry to disappoint everyone, but there isn't a Where? this week. What happened? Well I moved, drank to much on Monday, and felt like crap all day Tuesday. On top of that I don't have an Internet connection at home yet so I can't dig through my archives from work. This means no Where? this week, but I promise a return next week, and it will be better than ever(maybe).

Even though I didn't get a Where? up I'm still sharing a few things with everyone. First, I'm trying to cook once again. After hardly touching a frying pan in months, I am attempting to cook myself meals on a daily basis. Last night I made tacos. Nothing too exciting, I did try out Doniree's tortilla recipe, which was good but not great. This wasn't because of the recipe but due to the fact I used whole wheat flour. I made beef taco meat and fresh guacamole. The tacos were good and definitely worth the effort.

Of course the best news is that Thursday is tomorrow The next four days are some of the best times of the year for a sports fan. Of course everyone knows March Madness starts tomorrow which is the one of the best sporting events of the year every year. I love the first two rounds because you never know what to expect. Too make things even better, there are two local angles. First the Gophers made the tournament. Second the NDSU Bison made it and are playing at the Metrodome. Now, I am a UND grad so I have a bit of a bias against these two teams, but I still wish them well.

On top of the NCAA basketball tournament kicking off, the best hockey tournament also comes to St. Paul this weekend. It's the WCHA Final Five, and the Fighting Sioux are scheduled to play on Friday night. They will be playing either the Golden Gophers or Duluth, depending on who wins the game on Thursday night. I'll be honest, I despise the Gophers, but I almost want them to win so I can see the Sioux beat them on Friday night. I won't be cheering for them out loud, but a little piece of me will be secretly happy if they score. I'll be at the game on Friday night and know the Sioux are not going to disappoint me like they did last year.