Mis-information

One of the most irritating things is when someone tells you the wrong information in a bit to make a sale. This happens a lot, in a society where businesses want every penny they can. Every time you watch TV or open the newspaper there are advertisements everywhere. Companies fighting each other to gain a consumer’s attention. To get their money. This should be great for consumers. Get the best deals as the companies compete for customers. But it doesn’t always happen like that. Sometimes corners get cut, and the customer gets mislead, or feels let down.

As said previously, I sold my old phone through a mobile phone site, mainly because they did the best deal for my phone. They promised a quick turnaround and the money will go straight to my bank within days of recieving my phone. It sounded too good to be true. Well, they offered me £120 for an iPhone 4S and I was thrilled. So sent it away, and waited for a result. They said they phone had water damage, as had a ‘water damage’ indicator on the inside. Being me, I trust the company and was disappointed, when they offered me £90 instead, I accepted it. After all, that was the general price every other company was offering me. 4 days later, I am still waiting for anything about payment, and I’m getting frustrated. So, I googled the company and read a few reviews. This should have been something I did first. Many of the reviewers had experiences like mine. Where perfect handsets were voiced as having ‘water damage’. Phones that had been previously tested as undamaged, fail when they go to this company. So the company then drops the price, down to the level that other companies are offering to pay for your device. It has the appearance of a con, to get people in with higher than normal offers for devices, just decrease it.

After working in customer services previously, I feel that I should point out that people NEED TO read their terms in conditions. They are usually a tiny font, or available at the bottom of a website. You should always read these conditions BEFORE you agree to anything. If you agree to something, and it comes up later in your dealings with a company, you will be in the wrong. Never ever sign or agree to anything you don’t read. If you don’t read everything, you have nowhere to turn if it all goes wrong.

Flattening of The World (basic)

I am in the midst of reading a book called The World Is Flat, by journalist Thomas L Friedman. It is a book on how globalisation has flattened the world as we know it.

I know that, as an initial concept, most people think, but the world is round, Christopher Columbus was wrong. But I am not talking about how the world is geographically shaped. I am talking about how people and businesses can work freely, on a levelled out playing field. This does seem rather bizarre at first thoughts, because every country operates individually, no matter where it is in the world. Before the days of high speed internet connections and outsourcing, this maybe was true, but not so any more.

Internet connections meant that people could communicate with anyone, no matter where they are. Send someone an email, and within 5 seconds they have received it. To understand how this happened, you need to know more about the history of the internet, something which I may cover at a later date, but not right now. Billions of pounds was spent on running cabling from country to country, so that the world became interconnect, hence it being dubbed the World Wide Web. This connected people together from all corners of the world. You can be sitting in your house in Glasgow, and playing Call of Duty through your X Box with someone in Australia. It is crazy, when you think how easy it is to now contact people. Especially when we think of the little bubble of communication people had before the internet. Before it was free to talk to people all over the world and share ideas. People began to learn how others lived, and realised that maybe people weren’t all that different.

As well as allowing people to become closer to others, the internet also became a major assets to companies. Initially, in the early days of the internet, companies were able to put several computers and offices on networks, where they could easily transfer information from one place to another. It was more cost effective than physically sending the information to the required person, and it was easy to manage. As the internet became more wide-spread, more commercial, more global, rather than just communicate between offices, companies were able to communicate with people in other countries in the same way. This lead to countries like India and China being used to complete work for Western companies, for a cheaper rate than what would be paid in their home country. Everything from manufacturing to remedial accounting was outsourced. Whilst there has been a lot of negativity about outsourcing, in that it is giving away work to other countries, etc., it is not entirely negative. When a British company opens up a 24 hour customer service line, it may be a financial struggle, due to the fact that UK based workers would require extra pay for working ‘unsociable hours’. So by getting in contact with an international outsource agency, in say Bangalore, they can hire workers to work these ‘unsociable hours’ without costing too much money. This saving allows the company to expand in other areas, and focus it’s local workers on more taxing tasks, where the people abroad get the remedial work. To a company, that means they can get more out of their staff, and get their money to work for them more.

It also has educated people in countries where outsourcing is popular, so that they can start working for themselves. So it actually becomes beneficial for their country. And in manufacturing, where US and European companies send products to be made in China, the Chinese learn how to successfully manufacture, and can then do it themselves. They can then create their own companies, which can compete with their Western counterparts.

It is giving more people the same opportunities. It is levelling out the world. No longer is the West were the power is, where the best manufacturing is. At the moment countries like America and the UK are the designers, soon, very soon, it will be China and India doing the designing, and what will we do then. I don’t know if the Western world is ready for such a shift in power.

Social Media Expert?

What is it that makes someone an expert at social networking?

It’s a thing that seems to be bounced around by an awful lot of people. They have Twitter and Facebook and think that constitutes them being an expert in all things social media. Well, just because you post 50 tweets since you started on twitter 2 years ago, doesn’t make you any sort of expert.

The thing is, businesses are starting to realise that social media is a perfect was to tout for business for free. Which is great, but if they put it in the wrong hands, it can do more harm than good. Spamming on Facebook may get you followers, but does it really get you more business?

I don’t think it does. If you spread yourself amongst various networks, and employ them well, they can all become interconnected. You can show all different aspects of blog posts, video posts, favourite pieces of the internet and more. By showing likes and dislikes, you can show some kind of personality to a business. Like I mentioned before on the blog about websites, not too long ago, if a business has personality, people are more likely to form an attachment with it.

So the more you employ various social networks to talk to other users, and show who YOU are, people will like what you say, and maybe give you business. But it is called SOCIAL network, doing ‘follow4follow’ is not being social and getting to know people. Social networking is about making friends and getting to know people. People become friends because they like where you’re coming from.

Maybe its just me. I have spent a lot of time learning to use networks such as Myspace, Last.FM, Bebo, Hi5, Flickr, DailyBooth, Twitter, Youtube, Livejournal, Tumblr and more. This is something that I do because I enjoy it. I love the idea of being able to get to know people all over the world. I don’t go on twitter because some I was told to as a designer to get work, it was something I used to as a way to get to know people I spoke to on other sites.

Maybe it’s because I do value websites I use as the people I know through these sites mean a lot to me. It always kind of bothers me, that businesses just use it for promotion. They don’t use the sites correctly, in my view, show no personality and don’t interact with people.

If you are a ‘master of social networking’, I believe that you should show the sites and its users with respect and love. It sounds stupid, but people can pick up when you love something, and if you a enjoy using a service, it will be picked up on by any potential client. If you don’t show care for a FREE website you have an account on, what’s saying that you’ll show care on any paid projects.

It’s Harder Than You Think!

When you decide on attempting to start your own business, you will find yourself inundated with warnings about how difficult it will be. Most people, will be like me, and think that the received advice is a little bit over dramatic.

But, after 6 months of trying to get money and collect a plan worthy of successfully lifting a business off the ground, I am not really any further forward. It is hard, without having someone help schedule things, to actually get a decent volume of work done. I think that is what I am finding the most difficult thing, being able to keep up momentum.

I think I also miss the contact that I received with people trying to also find a good channel for their voice. Apart from the obvious coursework that was at college, it was a good forum for discussion and friendship. I guess that’s what I hope that this blog will do. Updated regular it gives a good idea of what me, as an author and an artist, have to say to the world.

But, I will keep on trying. At the moment my blog is the only thing that is updated regularly. This is because it is something I can update easily, where ever I am. I have also started an actual paper journal, which is good for helping me sort my thoughts. This is something which I’ll be able to use as reference material for pieces of work. Hopefully.

The Internet: Social Networking

Social networking is undoutably big business on the internet. I mean, as of March 2010, there is over 400 million active Facebook accounts. Facebook is used as a free tool to contact friends and family, as are other social networking sites, such as Myspace, Twitter and Bebo.

Myspace, was the first to be used to promote services, mostly music artists. Where they could set up a free account and stream music to visitors to their site. This was music getting back to its routes, where you would pass cassettes of your favourite music on to your friends. And Myspace quickly became the best way to stay in contact with favourite bands as well, with being able to add bands such as My Chemical Romance and The Editors as friends. This improved contact with bands, made people become more involved in music.

And this concept has spread to other sites, and to other types of promotion. For instance, fast food outlet, McDonalds’ Facebook page as over 2,000,000 fans. This means that the groups can send offers to the people who like their business, and to the people who are their customer base. This reaches people, who may not read daily newspapers or don’t watch a lot of tv. And the best part is, it is free. Doesn’t cost McDonald’s a penny.

Then Twitter, which is now being actively used in offices, where people can send each other short messages to discuss information. It means that rather than having long distance calls, which can cost a fortune, they can ‘tweet’ each other, and it costs nothing. Twitter is widely used to promote businesses or offers, where again, if someone follows you, you can send them out new updates or offers. Which again, closes the gap between customer and business. And the more involved the customer feels with the company, the more likely it is, that they will use them for work purposes.

And yet, when doing online advertising, too many companies still overlook the power of social networking. Some think it is just for teenagers, some think it is a fad. But fad or not, free advertising is free advertising, and businesses should learn to uses this new media.

If you run a business and considering social networking to advertise, think of this: More people under the age of 25 use the internet and social networking sites, than they use any other type of media, including TV.

Crazy that isn’t it. If that is the case, how benifical is it to still spend so much money, advertising on TV and in newspapers?

Updateez

Ok, this week has been a bit of a minefield, with my brain wanting to explode on me.

I have been left with the dilemma on whether I should finish college this year. I mean I have already decided that I am not returning to the world of education this year. Why? Because I hate it.

To put a few things straight here, I don’t hate everything. I hate my work being in direct comparison with others, when whether its better or no, makes no difference.  I hate the atmosphere. The college seems to be such an uninspiring place at times. Because everything is in an open enviroment, as in one big room, lots of classes within that room,  and if one person decides to fuck around, it distracts everyone.

Well, I’ve spent my last few weeks of bloggie silence to think about what I want to do. Because I have been so uninspired at college, and I work every night, I have fallen behind in my work very easily. And it gets to the point where I was wondering whether I should rush everything, just to pass, when I know that passing grade won’t get me anywhere, due to me not continuing with education. Is it not better, that I take time over my projects, do a good job, and use them to build my portfolio? I think that is a lot more beneficial to me.

Now don’t get me wrong, I liked the course, and I love the people at the college, it’s just everyone gets to the point where that can no longer work in that enviroment. To me, in the overall task of getting my business up and running, this is the best decision.

Its kind of taking a step backwards, before you can go forwards.

Calm before storm

I am at work and I am so chilled out.  I work on the phones, for a television company (who shall remain nameless), and I have been getting technical training, so that I can help more of our customers sort out their problems, rather than transfering calls.

What happens is we get this training in a classroom, much like school, and then we spend two weeks taking nothing but technical calls. And right now, I am in the middle part, as I have just finished the training about 20 minutes ago. 🙂 So I am on the phone, for the last hour of my shift, taking my normal Customer Services calls, and to be honest, it is totally dead.  And I am really excited about starting to take tech calls tomorrow 🙂 , as in really cannot wait. I guess its just because I am trying something new, so it is always exciting. I am just happy its not billing, because I like techincal, but I cannot do billing for the life of me.

The one thing that is important with working on the phone, and even moreso with tech, is how you explain something to a customer. Which is how graphic design works, its how you communicate  the information. Its one of the things I have learnt, working for such a large company, customers only take in what they want to. So I suppose an important thing in what I do, is finding a way that all the important information will be taken in by whoever looks at it.

Because of the industry I am planning to go into, I am very big on reading the small print, but that is something I have learnt working here, as well as creating my own advertisements.  People absorb what you tell them to, and people use that power against the very people they set out to have as customers.

By not displaying information as clearly as they should, people don’t even read important things such as contracts and small print, because they are boring. They just want to watch their new tv, not sit and read through a book of terms of their contract.  As a business who serves the public, is it not important that we tell customers EVERYTHING, and not just the good bits to make a quick sale.

At the end of the day, if you are honest and upfront, a client or customer will respect you for giving them all the facts. Just because there are conditions to your free broadband, does not mean that is anyless of an offer if we tell you of the conditions.

I believe that the public should be given as much information as possible, by us, as in businesses, so that the can make the best decision. And people who withhold information, should get charged, as we need to defend the public. They have faith in who they deal with, too many people take advantage of that faith.

**sorry for rambling, but its a thought which has been in my head a long time, and I think that it is something that should be openly discussed. **