Proactive Support — Something from the comments

In my ongoing efforts to bolster Lenovo’s reputation among customers and prospective customers by fixing blogged problems and beefs about our products, our services, and our purchase/delivery process, I have built up a homemade, but very effective “listening post” using Technorati searches on “Lenovo” and “ThinkPad” RSS’d into Bloglines. That’s backed up by BuzzMetrics and BuzzLogic, and so far has been very effective at identifying cries of pain and unhappiness out there in Blogistan.

A week ago Friday, while shopping at my favorite Asian grocery store in Boston (Super 88) my cellphone rang. An unhappy customer had ordered a ThinkPad and was getting mixed signals about the delivery time. This is a common but difficult situation for Lenovo, one that the company is focused on fixing, but for now, remains a crucial pain point in our customer satisfaction.

I took the customer’s information, passed it onto our customer satisfaction team, and by the end of this week the customer had the product in his hands.

Then, this morning, as I ran my daily scan of Lenovo and Thinkpad hits, I found this post on Shel Israel’s Naked Conversations. That post led me to the original Shel post about his issues with his ThinkPad last May, where I posted my cell phone in the comments in reply to another reader’s plea for some way to bypass the usual machinery and get to me directly. Here’s Shel’s post:

“It’s ironic.  Despite my publicly proclaimed faith in my Lenovo Thinkpad, I’ve been feeling this angst in my belly as one, techcentric CEO after another these days shows off their new Mac Pros.  When using the Parallel Software, it runs OSX and Windows pretty close to seamlessly.

But two events have occurred today that will stop me from straying from my Thinkpad monogamy. First, Manish  Hira left a comment here, showing that he too received a new computer after registering complaints about the one he had and the support that at first he was not getting.”

I followed the link in Shel’s current post to this old one from June. There, the user, who apparently found my cell phone number while googling for some relief from Lenovo, had posted about his order and his dissatisfaction. That comment did not get detected by my usual scans. Shel even posted:

“Hey, Dave Churbuck! If you still read this blog, it sounds like a great time to jump in!”

Fortunately, the user took the time to cal me and was taken care of, and then was decent enough to post a comment with Shel noting his satisfaction, but I am very concerned that whatever blog search I deploy is not going to be looking at comments. I know I can subscribe to comments from a specific blog, but I need insights into random comment threads, not just hot ones like Shel’s.

I’ll take this up with the folks at BuzzLogic, which I’ve been beta-testing. Comment search is the next challenge and I hope they can meet it. Any suggestions from those more experienced in blog search, please weigh in.

Dave the ThinkCap Stalker

So over at Design Matters, Lenovo’s first and only official blog, we ran a poll using the WordPress Democracy plug-in. Wild success. Over 800 votes, tons of comments, all over the question of which TrackPoint cap do you prefer? The cap is the red rubber thing in the middle of the ThinkPad keyboard which is the signature design point for the otherwise black and rectangular notebook. I love the things from an usability point of view, and have grown accustomed over the years to the rough “classic” version of the cap which has the texture of rough sandpaper.

There are other versions of the cap — smooth, pebbled, and with a rim. So we asked the simple question of the Design blog’s readers: “Which one do you prefer?”

Anyway, I carry a supply of spares in my backpack and hand them out to ThinkPad users I run into at airports, on the plane, in the park, at the Starbuck’s etc. I include my business card as well so the people don’t think I am like one of those deaf-mute pencil people at the airport.

Yesterday I was in NYC’s Bryant Park enjoying the sunshine when I saw a guy pounding away on a T43. So I unzip the back pack, pull out a bag of replacement caps, walk over, hand it to him with my card and he does a classic New Yorker and tells me to “F-Off.”
I can’t blame him. Any approach out of the blue in NYC is generally a prelude to a panhandle, a religious discussion, and an otherwise unpleasant situation. The guy looks at the little bag — like there were drugs in it — then he looks at my card. Then he looks at the dirty trackpoint cap on his machine, and it dawned on him that the ThinkPad Fairy just landed.

“Aren’t you in China?” he asked.

“Looks like Bryant Park to me,” I replied.

My colleague Matt Kohut spent a day in airport terminals up and down the East Coast last summer doing the same thing. He reported the hardest part of handing stuff out was approaching women, all of whom thought he was hitting on them.

Lenovo Ranked No. 1 for Notebook Customer Satisfaction

Lenovo Ranked No. 1 for Notebook Customer Satisfaction | The Business Edition

Normally I don’t honk my Lenovo horn on this blog, but TBR issued its customer satisfaction report yesterday and I was especially gratified to see this:

“Lenovo’s customer complaint management was identified as a strong differentiator for its proactive approach to remediate customers’ technology-related concerns.”

Our customer satisfaction teams and service crews have embraced the proactive blog support concept wholeheartedly and the proof is in accolades like this one.

Rolling access – EVDO on the Accela

Four months with the X60s and I’m falling deeper in love with the Verizon EVDO service that comes bundled with the ultra-portable.

I write this on the 5:50 am Accela out of Providence. I commuted to NYC post-9/11 on the Accela and always rued the lack of access, wondering why some smart person didn’t figure out a way to offer Wi-Fi for a fee. Last week’s news that Boeing was dropping its airborne Connexion service (which I had one chance to try in July on SAS, but declined because the bandits wanted $20 for the privilege) is proof that no one has cracked the code for providing rolling connectivity.

In 1995, when Forbes.com officially launched, a press event on the Forbes yacht the Highlander was planned, replete with tons of demo machines running the website so the press could play around with it. I spent over a month looking for a way to get live data onboard, but alas, there was nothing short of a military satellite system that would have set the company back $100,000. So we ran the site on local caches.

It’s nice to be able to keep up a running IM conversation with a colleague, catch up on my Bloglines reading, run my usual Blogistan filters for Lenovo+Thinkpad, work on a big presentation for the week after next. My book (David Foster Wallace’s A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again) is going untouched. The newspaper is unneeded. And even the normally awesome coastal scenery is going ignored.

My colleague, Glen Gilbert, says always-on connectivity is a good-thing/bad-thing. I put it in the mostly good-category.

So, NYC today, RTP tonight, Washington on Wed. or Thursday — back to Cape Thursday night.

Delusions of Adequacy » David Hill – Chief Lenovo Designer, a Man Who has Created Much, and Touched Millions

John Simonds blogs on my buddy David Hill, the man behind Lenovo’s first “official blog” Design Matters and the heart and soul of the Thinkpad:
Delusions of Adequacy » David Hill – Chief Lenovo Designer, a Man Who has Created Much, and Touched Millions

:If you’ve ever touched a Lenovo or IBM Personal Computer or Server product, David has touched your life, I’m guessing many hundreds of millions here. As you’ll read below, his design reaches out to you rather than you looking at it.”I always try to bloggerview interesting people, and this is as interesting as any I’ve done. While being quiet spoken, his thoughts and creativeness speak loudly. Go to David’s Blog to be informed. That was what I did and why I asked him to be a guest here.”

Design Matters launches

Last Friday Lenovo launched its first “official” corporate blog (there are countless Lenovo employees who blog, some of whom can be found in my blog roll). This one is called “Design Matters” and its blogged by David Hill, Yao Ying Jia and Tom Takahashi — the three global leaders of Lenovo’s design group. I’m the cheerleader in the background.
We’re taking a slightly different approach to corporate blogs, eschewing the notion of a single monolith because we believe we need to segment the conversation down various niches — leading with design because design is what distinguishes us from the market. In the future we’ll roll out more on everything from promotions and coupons to philanthrophy and evangelism.

This is only phase one. Phase two gets very interesting. Stay tuned.
Design Matters

Design Matters