Archive | August, 2008

We tried to make it work, you in a cocktail skirt…

26 Aug
say hello goodbye.

say hello, wave goodbye.

Last week, a friend and I were engaged in a conversation after a long anticipated wait for a table at a new-ish coffee spot in the burbs of Melbourne.
Now, I don’t normally trek that far away to find decent coffee, I know my sources, stick to them and enjoy them as they are. But this time, I was up for a challenge, and could no longer fight the rave reviews of this new little hot spot.

So open mind, empty cup and a sure a 25 minute wait (not necessarily a bad thing), we sat down.

The context was minimal and warming; the staff polite enough and the coffee? Fantastic, fresh and accompanied with swift delivery.

-But-

And there seems to usually be a ‘but’ lately.

The ambience took a plunge; the sound around us seemed to drop to a silent whisper as the waitress abruptly requested for the two women sitting adjacent to leave.

“Can you please clear up your bill and leave, we have got customers waiting for this table and you’ve had it long enough.”

And as she snatched the cash from the unwilling and embarrassed patron, she flicked her neck towards us and said, “We don’t usually ask our customers to leave, its just they’ve been there for 2.5hours on 2 coffees. You know?”

No. I don’t know.

Are we all on a timer here?

Now I have done my fair share of customer service, worked in a few cafes around the city. Never have I seen this form of customer service. I mean, we’ve all seen the soup Nazi on Seinfeld and laughed, but this was just plain ‘real life’ ignominy.

Which draws me back to a point Seth Godin makes about value of customer service:

“If you treat a customer like he’s wrong, he’s going to leave, and probably tell a bunch of other people.”

Calling new businesses.
One irrefutable way to market yourself is by word of mouth.

People trust personal experience. If my friends tell me it was a good coffee, I’ll bank on that, they tell me it was a horrible experience – I won’t waste a minute of my time. And I’ll be sure to pass that on for them as well.

Basic knowledge. These women were offended. Hell, I was offended. And they sure as hell won’t be returning with friends anytime soon.

And for those of you still unsure about the value of customer service?
Please. Do us all a favour and look at this.

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Can we design the client too?

24 Aug

    Because we all get a little lost sometimes underneath the heavy Monday mornings, the 3rd cup of deep, dark, black coffee and an evil client that fails to surprise with emails asking:
    “Errmmm… can you make the logo just a little bigger? …ok ALOT bigger.
    And by 9am. Good? Great.”

    • Imagination is more important than knowledge.
    • Designers are meant to be loved. Not to be understood.
    • The best designers are the ones who find the good clients.
    • Design must seduce, shape, and most importantly, evoke an emotional response

    Amazing, I know.
    Available as limited edition poster art from here. So be quick.

    Amen.

    You woo me, but can you really win me?

    24 Aug
    So... Where are we going?

    So... Where are we going?

    Media has always been inherently social.

    A few different blog spaces over the last week have me reflecting on the issue of ‘Social Media’ – where it’s come from, going to and the whole aspect or intent of it in the first place.

    Stripped bare of its fundamental essence, media is quite simply a form of information communication.

    With traditional media offerings, however, that communication process is typically one way. Product to person.

    Nonetheless, it achieves a social dimension by providing a conversational context for audiences, and in this sense media is not only able to shape aspects of society, it becomes part of the social processes and norms too.
    I mean, a leading headline for the day becomes a topic of gossip over breakfast. Popular dramas and movies spark discussion amongst the water cooler. Documentaries, events and books are topic for discussion and debate over dinner now.
    Many a social acquaintance, friendship or relationship were even created through mutual interests in music, art, theatre, entertainment or topics of discussion that then became a mutual interest.

    Media is social.
    In a world which consumers have millions of content options, we are increasingly reliant on friends and associates to help us idenify and choose the media we consume. Our social interactions from this are playing a key role in our selection of entertainment choices; what we do, where we visit and what we use from then on. We want what we trust, naturally.

    Secondly, socialisation is becoming an inherent feature of the entertainment product itself. A YouTube video becomes more valuable when a work colleague passes it on with a comment about how funny they found it. – A cancer awareness email campaign is more solemn when a friend of a friend adds a note about how the disease affected their life. – And then videos about social media and objects of discussion resonate more when you watch it on the blog of a friend who unravels the topic and identifies it throughout their own social experience.

    Entertainment media has always relied on word-of-mouth promotion, which is something i find intrinsically valuable. Uncontrollable and interesting though, content has always been influenced by the manner it was selected for consumption.
    What is different is that it is becoming increasingly rare to consume entertainment content in the absence of any social interaction. This, in turn, is changing our perception of entertainment; if my friends aren’t doing it, I’m not going to either – right?
    Or more to the point; if you don’t draw me in enough to experience, talk about and share with my friends, you’re going nowhere fast.
    This poses some real issues for those entertainment options which remain locked with dim, brassbound distribution channels, impervious to an audiences’ attempt to socialise them. …So what happens next?

    Ideas anyone?

    Image thanks to Matthew Strong and Flickr Storm

    Are you hearing what I’m hearing?

    19 Aug

    Writing is a talent or so they say. – But not just any old writing.

    I have loaded up my iPod with four Springsteen albums that have gotten some serious continual airtime.

    Music, and music writing, is like breathing to some. Music allows people to find peace when stomachs are churning and emotions are lost. It pulls everything out of your head and folds it all back into place with a disconnected understanding, a little nurture and some storytelling to follow.

    I remember ‘back in the day’ when we would find two or three bands and just go through the lyrics and music over and OVER until I had each beat, word, melody memorised in my heads. Because naturally, I thought it was truly beautiful.

    Now listening to the story artists tell, I don’t ever seem to want to stop searching for music that has the ability to make my jaw drop and press replay just a few more times.

    The way an artist writes their lyrics is an amazing talent, when an artist tells a story, it is something else altogether. Of course I am not talking about Britney Spears and her masquerade of reverberations or what have you.

    You cannot channel emotion with that.

    But the true artists that write, sing and sweat through every ounce of their own soulful artistry.

    Listening to artists from the past, its interesting to see where influences are from and how much music itself has evolved and how much more music can change.

    What makes Springsteen unique when it comes to music is the story and life behind his lyrics. This isn’t just some 70’s era flowery string laden sound – it’s the real world with bumps and bruises as well as the power of love and experience to back it up, integrated into a song that keeps me wanting to hear more.

    We just love clients so much.

    17 Aug
    You know it.

    You know it.

    It’s a down-and-dirty dog-eat-dog world we live in, you’ll be sure to find the worst.
    Let this be a lesson. Do it their way, then do it your way.
    Designer: “But, look, Comic Sans is the most de-”

    Client: “I SAID, it looks quirky and fun; use it!”

    Designer: “But I ref-”

    Client: “Do it.”

    Designer: minus 1 soul.

    digital killed the radio star…

    16 Aug
    on air or online?

    On air or online?

    I have been paying a lot of attention to music the past few weeks …more actually about the source of music and what I want to hear.

    My shiny, tiny ipod touch has been integrated nicely into my hectic lifestyle, with the music I want to hear selected by a touch and played when I want to hear it. No advertisements, no irritating generic house music or fluffed out promo segments. Everything I want and need, without the excessive add-ons of radio.

    It’s this kind of refinement in everyday life now that has people expecting and asking for more, and I’m afraid radio, well just isn’t cutting it in the real world.

    Bigger, better things are moving on in and shipping you out of my speakers… thank you very much.

    Thats right I’m talking ’bout Last.fm.

    The very first time I tried last.fm I thought wow, radio is actually dead.
    No longer will we have to listen to what commercial networks, funded by major labels, decide is in our taste. Instead I can just simply log on to Last.fm, type in the names of some of my favourite artists and my lovely internet radio station can suggest similar music to try out. Better still, the system can learn from our picks and refine our playlists on the fly depending on how I rate or skip music.

    Any system that relies on user recommendation and interaction rather than the dull drip-feed of traditional broadcasting and the simulation of repetitive ads, has to be an advantage.

    Last.fm now has deals in several major labels, which will expand its catalogue significantly. Im hoping, despite these arrangements, Last.fm listeners will still be fed new tracks based on preference and taste – not on the bias of any commercial arrangement. Otherwise we might as well turn the radio back on.

    While your in the mood for Digital Radio… check out ‘Creative is Not A Department’ for an insight that actually inspired my thought on this one.

    The grass is greener (or not).

    4 Aug

    I am writing this blog, as this all too common citation or whatever it is, has been a subject of perspective and conclusion for this week. So far; considering its only Tuesday.

    “The grass is greener on the other side.”

    There it is.

    Before we all go running off to what we think are greener fields, lets be sure they really are greener now.

    I have started to think, whilst the grass looks greener, it may just be getting better care. And while we’re busy looking at another’s ‘grass’, someone may undoubtedly be eyeing off ours.

    This idea ties directly to the certainty that it isn’t necessarily greener on the other side, just different. It’s the chase and the challenge that create such a glorified silver lining.

    It’s all about something else, something rebellious within and the unattainable things just out of reach.

    We might usually find the riches we seek without knowing, whether intangible or fiscal, it’s all a matter of perspective (Ahhh there’s that lovely word again), and discovering what we really need and want out of it all.

    “Just because you don’t see shooting stars, doesn’t mean it isn’t perfect.”

    Realistically, the grass, it isn’t always greener on the other side. But there will always be that regret thing again. …Burning little questions in to the back of your mind.

    If you don’t push the idea, the reality just that little bit further – you’ll always wonder, will you not?

    Now for another question.

    What came first – the chicken or the egg?