Jeff the Great takes control of Charles Schwab!

You gotta love the instant gratification the internet provides. One minute you're being ticked off by a company you were thinking of doing business with, then 2 minutes later you are writing about your bad experience on your blog for all to read!

I was jumping around the internet today, doing some research on a new firm to invest my retirement savings with. I'd seen the ad's on T.V. for Charles Schwab and thought I'd check them out. After clicking through 8-10 pages on their site over a 5 minute period, a pop-up window (that wasn't blocked by my Google toolbar for some reason) asked me if I'd be interested in chatting with a Charles Schwab customer service professional. I had a few questions, so what the heck...might as well. What a great use of technology! They noticed I was on the site for a while, probably a prime target as a new customer.

Well, Schwab does it all wrong. After clicking the button to accept the chat I was put in que waiting for someone to help me out. Wait a minute, they asked ME to chat...not the other way around. The chat window said I was next in line. Little did I know that next in line meant a 12 MINUTE WAIT! After the first few minutes the only reason I kept waiting was to see what the final time would be.

To make matters worse, once a customer service person finally came online to help me out, he closed our chat after my first line of text which expressed my frustration with the process. You call that customer service? I mean these people's slogan is "Talk to Chuck" yet I found that nearly impossible.

What a perfect example of a poor use of technology. They had the capability to target me for a chat, but failed to follow through with proper customer service. While some businesses use the internet to gain customers, Schwab is using it to turn them away.

Charles Schwab, you failed to get my business. Congratulations.

-Jeff the Great


Jeff the Great ousts Oprah!

For some reason I have never really gotten why so many people love Oprah. They don't just LIKE Oprah, they LOVE Oprah. So much different than your average celebrity...or any celebrity for that matter.

With the extra time on my hands I've tuned in to see what the big deal is. I've watched about 5 episodes in the last 3 weeks am more confused than every.

Frankly, I hate the lady. Watching the show the past few weeks has done nothing but fuel my feelings. I guess it's just because she tries so hard to let everyone know she's not average...not like the rest of the world. Seems weird, since most celebrities work hard to do the opposite.

One scene I couldn't believe was this last Tuesday. The show was something about Oprah and Gayle's road trip. Apparently Gayle loves the movie "Wedding Crashers" and thought it would be fun to do some crashing of their own on the trip.

So in Tulsa, Oklahoma they check into their hotel and invite themselves to 2 weddings being held in the building. Oprah walked right in, camera crew and all, up to the bride and says "Hi, I'm Oprah." The wedding instantly became a circus with the focus 100% on Oprah rather than the bride. Then they did it again at another couples wedding.

Who does she think she is? Why does she think that any stranger would welcome her in their wedding? More importantly, why does she think she's that important? Heaven forbid she goes somewhere and the spotlight isn't on her. And don't get me started on her failure to marry her longtime boyfriend.

It gets worse when they next day they drive to a small town and attend Sunday morning church. It's not that she attended church, but her attitude while there. Just about every sentence started and ended with thank you Jesus/praise the Lord/God is good. Have you ever heard her talk that way? I haven't. So what, it just comes out when she goes to church with the cameras rolling? Talk about being a Sunday morning Christian. If that is truly how she feels, I challenge her to say those things all the time...on every show.

Why does this woman think she is so special? Why do other women believe this too? Is it just that normal American women want to be her? Rich, worshiped, and unattached? Please, wives/mothers/daughters, don't become her.

Try crashing my wedding, Oprah. Try taking over my church on Sunday morning.

-Jeff the Great


Jeff the Great says "Customer Service is King!"

On Monday I witnessed one of the best examples of true customer service. Being an independent consultant and working out of the home, I had some free time to accompany my wife to the salon for a cut and color this last Monday. While waiting in the lobby area reading my book I overheard a conversation with a customer and the receptionist.

The customer had come in for what she said was her 10am appointment. I could see the confusion on the receptionist face as she searched the appointment book on her computer screen. She then excused herself and came back shortly with another employee. The next employee warmly greeted the customer, offered her some coffee, and took her back to get her hair washed in prep for color.

What amazed me is was what I found out next. The woman was a customer, but didn't have an appointment for that day. Despite a full house and the obvious mistake, the salon employee's greeted this customer just as if she was the queen of the world and promptly began to service her just like anyone with an appointment.

Most employee's I deal with in my day to day activities would have been quick to say "no, you don't have an appointment" which would likely embarrass the client and cause an argument. Futher more, most would have said they just didn't have time that day.

These people went above an beyond by making the client feel welcome and cared for. There first class service is an example to the rest of 'em that just aren't doing it right. If only everyone did things like the Justin Hickox Studio, the world would be a much more friendly place.

-Jeff the Great


Jeff the Great says "Think like me!"

I was at the post office yesterday and overheard a comment that sums up the United States Postal Service in a nut shell. It's things like this that are fueling the success of FedEx and UPS.

While waiting in line at the Hillsboro central post office, I heard a postal worker say this to a customer:

"You have two options, the less expensive one sends the letter up to Olympia Washington, then back to Portland, then to the recipient in 3 days. The more expensive option sends the letter to Portland, then delivered to the recipient in 2 days." (I deduced that the letter was going to another Portland area recipient)

What?!? Are you Kidding me!?! So let me get this straight, the letter travels farther, with more stops, over a longer period of time, and it costs less? Then the more direct and simple route costs more? It's like they go out of their way to make sure the less expensive option takes longer. Even worse, they actually transport the letter to make sure of it!

Here's a thought. Keep clients happy by saying "It's your lucky day, ma'am. Since this letter is staying in the metro area, we can deliver it in 2 days for a low, low price."

Or, just say you don't offer the less expensive shipping in-town...It's 2 day only.

At the very least, don't bother with actually transporting the item! If they must have a ridiculous set up like this, just let the letter sit in a Portland warehouse. What do they accomplish by transporting an envelope up and down I-5?

The USPS provides an amazing opportunity for Supply Chain, Customer Service, and HR consultants. In fact, I think the BA101 class at the local community college could probably redesign the organization to operate better in no more than a few class sessions.

If only everyone thought like me. The world would be a great place.

-Jeff the Great


Jeff the Great names Mark Cuban 'Under Boss'.

I've always liked Mark Cuban, I think he is great for the NBA. If the league had more owners like him, they probably wouldn't be in the trouble they are. If only the Blazers could get someone like him....hum.

Cuban has a great blog, in fact one of the best I've read. He tackles a lot of business issues and in a recent post he explored the Oklahoma/Oregon football game that we all know so well. He makes some great points about management and is one of the few people that truly understands the implications of the blown calls in the now famous Saturday afternoon football game.

I'll let him do the talking, check out the post here: Blog Maverick

-Jeff the Great