Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Apple Customer Service Rocks!

I've been reading about the importance of customer service lately. Patricia Seybold makes the case in "The Customer Service Revolution" that we're currently undergoing a business revolution that is more profound and long-lasting than even the rise of ubiquitous internet access, and this is the rising influence of the customer on businesses. 

In these days of instant world-wide communication using Twitter and Facebook, one customer's bad experience suddenly becomes known by millions of people around the world. Last year United Airlines experienced the bite of bad customer service when its baggage handlers broke a passenger's $3000 Taylor guitar, and United arrogantly refused to replace. (Google "United Breaks Guitars" for the YouTube video record of United customer service nightmare.) Estimates of the cost of United's customer service FAIL are in the hundred's a millions of dollars. All over a $3000 guitar that their employees smashed.

Despite decades of corporate blowhards telling us how customer service is "job one", now it really is becoming true. I'm currently reading "Flip the Funnel" by e-marketing whizkid Joseph Jaffe (http://www.amazon.com/Flip-Funnel-Existing-Customers-Gain/dp/0470487852). In it, Jaffe makes the point that companies have been doing marketing "wrong" for years -- instead of sweeping in mass quantities of consumers by making them aware of your product, they ought to be using those who have actually used the product to market it for them to their friends, relatives and associates. 

Which brings me to Apple and my iPhone. I think Apple has been on to this marketing secret for years. Over the past several years, their market share has grown steadily from people who first bought an iPod, then moved on to bigger and more expensive products like the iPhone and now iPad. Apple's customers almost invariably become "Apple fanboys" or fanatically supportive of the company and its products.

I oughta know, since prior to the purchase of my first iPod I'd never owned anything made by Apple -- despite being an avid technology buff and a former IT professional. My first iPod Shuffle, led to my buying an Apple Mini, followed closely by an Apple MacBook and finally last Christmas, the iPhone 3GS. Within the space of just about 3 or 4 years, I've moved from someone who was completely indifferent to Apple's products, to a fanatic. I love the company and I love their products. 

Today, I dropped my beloved iPhone. (Really -- these things are the greatest inventions I've ever used. No kidding.) Although I didn't notice it right away, later I noticed that the touch screen was making an almost imperceptible click when I pressed it. A closer inspection revealed that the case had separated just slightly from the phone's bezel.

Stricken, I immediately called my local Apple Store and made an appointment to have them look at my phone -- within the hour. Upon arriving, the Apple Genius (that's what they call their support staff) looked at it and said, "I can try to put it back together, or I can replace it. Which would you prefer?" Honestly, I hadn't even considered that they might replace the thing. Having quickly realized that my phone was backed up only 3 hours earlier, I chose the "replacement" option. Literally 5 minutes later, I walked out of the Apple Store with a brand-spankin' new iPhone 32 GB 3GS phone. Cost: zero. Took it home, plugged it in to my MacBook and restored the entire phone -- apps, music, settings and all. No problem.

As a gadget nerd, I have to say that I've seen the HTC Droid Incredible phone (the latest in a long string of putative "iPhone-killers") and it's nice. Shiny, even. But customer service is the reason that these "iPhone-killers" will never succeed.

Apple, you definitely rock!

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Sunday, April 25, 2010

Marriage Encounter Weekend: a Review

Back from OKC where Tracy and I spent the weekend at a Marriage Encounter weekend. It was a mixed bag, I think.

On the one hand I do think it is good to stop and focus on the the reason you got married to your spouse in the first place. ME does a really good job of helping couples reconnect and rekindle. And you know that can't be bad, to quote the Beatles.

Another salutary practice is the recommended daily practice of "Dialoging" -- where a married couple each write each other a "love letter" on a specific topic. I cannot help but think doing something like that would have a wonderful effect on a couple's intimacy and connectedness. In these days where marrieds barely find the time to say hello and goodbye each evening and morning, the effect of a daily exchange of love letters between them could not help to revolutionize any marriage.

But it wasn't all wine and roses, either. Or if it was, it was like ripple cut with sugar, and Bette Midler's sappy song, The Rose -- which they actually played at one point to set the mood or something. (Seriously -- they did that.)

Much too much time was spent on finding weird ways if describing your feelings, e.g., "When you bounced that check dear, I felt angry and my anger was the color of winter sunset in the Rust Belt after there's been a big layoff at the Caterpillar plant. It left a bitter taste like Brussel Sprouts that have been reheated in a microwave oven once too many times." Yeah, I kid you not. It was just like that for hour after droning hour.

I've written before about the feminization of the Roman Catholic Church, and here's another example. Worldwide Marriage Encounter fairly screams of the feminine worldview and the all important topic of one's feelings. A huge portion of the weekend was given over to how to discuss, analyze and describe precisely how something makes you feel. The materials have an entire appendix devoted to suggested similes and adjectives to be used to describe feelings.

I'm a Roman Catholic too, but one adhering to a different rite -- the Extraordinary form of the Latin rite, also known as the traditional Latin Mass. Our liturgy, our sacrments and our practices harken back to the way the Church was before the revolution imposed by the aftermath of Vatican II. The difference between the two liturgies is as far as the East from the West. One of the things that jumps out at you is the masculinity of the pre-Vatican II rite when compared to the way Mass is celebrated today at most parishes each Sunday. 

The new Mass is feminine in so many ways. Long gone are the controversies over whether girls should be allowed to serve as altar boys, and the typical Novus Ordo (trans. "new order") Mass is shot through with lay women serving in every possible role except that of the priest -- the alter Christus.  There are women cantors, women reading Scripture, and women assisting at the altar, and even women handing out the Body and Blood of Christ, Himself -- all of which was completely unknown and actually prohibited for the 1,935 year history of the Mass prior to Vatican II.

So too, the feminine touch is evident in nearly everything the Catholic Church does these days. From marriage prep to offices of the chancery -- if you removed women from the day to day management of the Church, virtually every chancery in America would be a ghost town of empty desks not to mention ringing telephones. Though Marriage Encounter is put on and run by married couples, the feminine touch of the program is unmistakable and for me, off putting. 

Ben Callicoat
(918) 409-2462

They're making a movie of your life story, here: http://www.catholicscomehome.org/epic/movie.phtml

Bonum, Verum, Pulcrum.

What you do every day matters more than what you do once in awhile.

Posted via email from fbcallicoat's posterous

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Easter, 2010

The tomb is empty and Our Lord is Truly Risen!

We attended Easter Vigil last night at the Parish of St. Peter with Fr. Angelo Van der Putten, Fr. Eric Flood, and Deacon Rhone Lillard -- all FSSP. Wow. 

I feel so incredibly blessed and fortunate to have been led into the Traditional Catholic movement, where the Latin epigram "Bonum, Verum, Pulchrum" (The Good, the True and the Beautiful) have such significance and impact.

After a Parish rosary a little after 10 p.m., the Easter celebrations at our Traditional Latin Mass began with the New Fire ceremony outside the doors of St. Augustine Catholic Church in North Tulsa.

It begins with the congregation surrounding a wood fire outside the doors of the church, where the year's Paschal Candle is blessed and inscribed with the Alpha and Omega and the year, and then blessed grains of incense are inserted into the candle in cruciform. The Paschal Candle will be burned during the holy sacrifice of the Mass throughout the liturgical year. 

Once it is blessed, the candle is lit from the fire and the entire congregation processes into the darkened church, pausing three times -- once at the entrance, then in the middle, and finally at the sanctuary -- for the traditional sung chant "Lumen Christi!" (The Light of Christ!) and response from the congregation "Deo Gratias!" (Thanks be to God!)

Arriving at the sanctuary, the holy fire is passed to the acolytes who then pass the fire to the congregation's candles and the entire church fills with the warm glow of the holy light of Christ. 

From there the Easter Vigil begins and the next two hours are filled with the sounds of the Holy Prophecies -- readings beginning from Genesis and throughout the Old Testament, prophesying the Birth, Passion and Resurrection of Christ.

During the liturgy the lights of the church remain off and the only light is that of the Paschal candle and the candles held by the parishioners as they worship in reverence and attentiveness (excepting the little ones, who invariably fall fast asleep in the pews.)

The culmination is the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, and the reception of Communion. But for some reason I particularly love the Litany of Saints -- which dates from approximately 590 A.D. The litany is done in call and response with a cantor intoning for example "Sancte Michael" and the congregation responding "Ora pro nobis".

Here's a link to a YouTube video containing the litany: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KiM9uJIN64g

A blessed and wonderful Easter to all! Remember that Easter began today, but lasts for the next 40 days. Let us go forth and transform the world through the light of Jesus Christ, who loved us so much that he willingly endured the pains of torture and death to rescue us from Hell.