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Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Abusive Customer Service From Government

Abusive Customer “Service” From Government

By Terry L. Brock

DUBLIN, IRELAND I’m in this beautiful Emerald Isle that today exemplifies energy, vitality and economic possibilities. This country has earned a reputation of being a “Celtic Tiger” for the economic growth it has enjoyed the past few years. When the government wisely dropped taxes to a maximum of 12.5% for corporations and reduced much beauracratic red tape, it unleashed a pent-up human spirit to thrive and be free. Now, this country is one of the leaders (after Estonia---read last week’s article) in economic growth in the EU.

There is a spirit of life and energy you see among the average person on the street, in the pubs and restaurants, in the shops and more. Yes, a good part of it is the Irish spirit that has been around for a long time. However, it is teeming with life and energy now more than ever.

Contrast this with the experience I had coming over here from Europe. My connection sent me through Heathrow Airport in London, England. Now, keep in mind that I’m on a world-wide tour hitting many airports around the world. I have found Heathrow Airport to be the most abusive, disrespectful, onerous, heavy-handed airport anywhere in the world. But I mean that in the nicest sort of way!

I started my journey in Amsterdam, Holland and flew BMI on a very pleasant flight to London’s Heathrow. Once inside Heathrow the travails began. I found that the normal roller cart and small bag I carry everywhere weren’t allowed. Government beauracrats made me leave a line I had been in for 15 minutes waiting patiently to transfer to the Dublin connection. I had to leave that line, go through passport control as if I were entering England for a visit, then go through baggage claim and back to the ticket counter to re-check one of the bags. Remember this is not done anywhere else but Heathrow. I was running late, rushing about and frustrated and then had to wait in even more lines.

This is the problem with governments. If a private company had some onerous ruling like this, we could go to the competition and smile knowing we are hurting the establishment with poor customer service. Relationship Marketing is about meeting the needs of customers and really caring. Governments don’t have to care as they derive their money from tax dollars regardless of how pleased the constituents are.

In this case the only recourse is to choose another city (or country) and avoid another entanglement with the onerous government.

Even after having to go back through the line, I found the people at BMI to be reasonable but still more concerned about complying with the current regulation than helping a distraught traveler (and customer). They told me I had to put everything into one bag and check the other through.

So, I packed everything I could into my roller cart and sent my hand-carry bag through hoping that nothing would happen to the very valuable contents which I couldn’t fit into the carry-on.

However, my travails weren’t over then. I went to yet another long line and after waiting (The British seem to enjoy long lines) they told me I couldn’t bring the roller cart through because it didn’t fit their regulations. It worked perfectly fine in many other airports around the world. But apparently, the British think that terrorists would only use a large roller cart and not one of miniscule size they have deemed appropriate.

I had to return to BMI once again, try to find someone available to help check in my roller cart, etc. etc. I ended up waiting for 2 hours due to a delay, carrying my computer by hand with nothing else. Remember if you choose a flight that goes through Heathrow in London you are subject to complete confiscation of your bags at any time. My recommendation: Avoid Heathrow Airport at all costs or be prepared to be abused and treated like a servant, not a customer. Somehow the concept of Relationship Marketing hasn’t made it to the British politicians who pass these laws.

Books could be written on the proper role of government worldwide and how they should treat their “customers,” the tax payers who support them. Beauracrats are not known for their customer care or devotion to efficiency. They have little or no incentive since they largely have no competition, can’t be fired and are guaranteed to receive revenue regardless of how customers are treated.

We can all learn from this type of abusive customer service from government. First, avoid it with our own businesses. Second, avoid it by not dealing with government services whenever we can. Third, vowing to be more human and kind than typical government beauracrats.

I eventually got to Ireland and yes, my luggage (scattered into many pieces) made it safely into my hands. As with many bad experiences, this one taught me lessons about how to deal with governments and what places to avoid wherever possible. We can always turn a negative situation into one that is positive. You’ll have much more positive experiences in your travel if you can avoid London’s Heathrow airport. Have you heard how wonderful it is in Dublin?


Terry Brock is an international marketing coach and regular columnist for Business Journals who helps businesses market more effectively, leveraging technology. He shows busy professionals how to squeeze more out of their days using the time-honored rules and the right technology tools. He can be reached at 407-363-0505, by e-mail at or through his website at

Copyright © 2007, Terry Brock, All Rights Reserved Internationally. No portion may be reprinted or used in any way without prior written permission.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Essential Traveling Tools

Essential Traveling Technologies

By Terry L. Brock

Dateline: Dubai, United Arab Emirates I’m in this hub of business for the Middle East having completed a couple of presentations at a conference here. This is a great city teeming with life and energy and, for business, it can’t be beat. If you’re not doing business in UAE, you want to consider it for future expansion.

With all the traveling I’m doing I wanted to share with you some tools that I’m using now that have helped me thus far on this round-the-world trip. You might be able to use one or more of these tools in your own travel.

The key reason we have any of the technologies is to help service prospects and existing clients better. This is the prism through which we filter all decisions. So, as I mention those that are helping me, filter that through your own, highly-individualized prism with the question, “Will this work for me?” as your guide.

Here are some tools that can help you enormously:

  1. Mobile Phone Which Is Unlocked. Most mobile phones today use a SIM (Subscriber Identity Module) which locks you into a given service. As long as it is locked you are locked into that carrier. However, if you have one that is unlocked, you can remove the SIM card that tells your phone to use a given service and use another. This is particularly useful when traveling outside your own country. You can install a SIM card for that country and purchase just enough minutes for your stay. You pay for what you use. If you use up the minutes purchased, usually you can dial a given number to add more minutes as they are charged (often in blocks of $25.00) to your credit card. This gives you a local number to make calls in the country you’re visiting and not pay exorbitant rates calling other places.
  1. Wi-Fi On Your Portable Computer This is common with most laptop computers today. If you can Wi-Fi you can access the Net without a hookup. You’ll want to use it extensively when possible. You can make calls using Skype a lot easier and far cheaper than with the outrageously-priced services which are provided in most hotels. Getting Wi-Fi built into your computer and the ability to receive signals like Verizon’s EVDO give you the ability to do business from just about anywhere you are. Check with the country where you are traveling to see what you can do without spending a fortune.
  1. Skype. This service I’ve talked about many times and highly recommend. It is billed as free for Skype to Skype calls. Yes, that is nice but this tool is great for many features in business. For US$30/yr you can get unlimited calls to regular phone numbers in the US and Canada. You can also have a service called SkypeIn which allows you to have a local number in one of several countries. The video element makes business more personal and relationship-based. When you get down to it, business is about establishing, building and maintaining relationships and what better way to do it than seeing someone? I use Skype video regularly to help clients in many countries around the world. Get it and use it regularly. You’ll be glad you did.

  1. Good Web-Based Email Service. This is essential today. Make sure you can check your email from any Net-accessible device anywhere in the world. This will give you the ability to send and receive email regardless of the computer you have. You can use an Internet Café or a friend’s computer. Also, tap into services that allow you to keep an address book as part of your email. I find that when traveling it is a nice touch to send a hand-written postcard. If you need the address you can access it from your web-based email quickly.

  1. Sanyo Xacti HD2. This is my recent acquisition for capturing life. This marvelous camcorder and digital camera lets you create HD quality videos and pictures at 7.1 Mega pixels (can adjust to go to 10 MGP). It has an external microphone slot which dramatically improves your sound and makes videos much more professional. You can see the quality of what it can do on my website at

  1. Plenty of Vitamins, Bottle Water and Protein Bars. In the real world, you don’t always get 3 square meals a day. When you’re on the road, it is tough to get good food and quench that hunger pain. I’ve found that I can get through just about any day with the right vitamins (check with your health care professional for the right kind for you), lots of clean, fresh bottled water and those wonderful protein bars. If you aren’t doing well physically, you aren’t going to do well in business. Stay at your peak and have plenty of water to refresh and flush your system. Keep health as your number one priority and concern. Bonus: I also carry several green tea bags when traveling. I often don’t get enough sleep so I’m running on green tea and gobs of gumption. It is healthy, tastes great and keeps you going strong!

There are many more good choices for traveling. These are a few that have helped me and if they help you---good for you! I’m leaving UAE today and heading to Russia where it will be most interesting to experience what they think of average Americans today. I’m sure these tools will help me and make the trip smoother. Let me know how these tools work for you and what essential tools you find are right for you.


Terry Brock is an international marketing coach and regular columnist for Business Journals who helps businesses market more effectively, leveraging technology. He shows busy professionals how to squeeze more out of their days using the time-honored rules and the right technology tools. He can be reached at 407-363-0505, by e-mail at or through his website at

Copyright © 2007, Terry Brock, All Rights Reserved Internationally. No portion may be reprinted or used in any way without prior written permission

Skype Demonstrates Employee and Customer Care

Motivating Employees and Boosting Customer Productivity ---My Visit to Skype in Tallinn, Estonia

By Terry L. Brock

Dateline: Tallinn, Estonia. I’m in this Baltic country that can boast the fastest growing economy in the EU – 11% last year. They are doing a lot of things right such as cutting taxes and reducing regulation at the government level. At the same time I visited a company today that is doing a lot right to keep employees happy and committed while boosting the productivity of their customers.

Today I visited the largest office of Skype with 300 of the company’s 500 world-wide employees. Skype is the Internet service that allows people to talk for free, make video calls for free and chat for free. They are the undisputed leader in Internet telephony. They have earned that position in only three years by doing some important business functions right.

Here are some of the things they do that you can also do to keep employees and customers delightfully involved with you. All of this contributes to the bottom line for business growth.

Skype Makes Work A Fun Experience. This might seem like “so 1990’s” but it still is important. Happy employees stick around longer, are more productive and help boost your bottom line. Skype makes work fun. They provide a game room complete with pool table, PlayStation 3 and more. They also provide a sauna for employees right on the premises (this is a Nordic country, after all).

See these principles and more in video by going to: This way you’ll see the actual location and rooms of Skype’s offices in Tallinn.

Skype Makes Employees Responsible. This is a critical flip-side of the above “Fun Experience” admonition. Yes, it is good to have fun. But in true hard-working Nordic style, employees must get the work done first. They don’t punch a clock. Employees can be at work under a very flexible schedule. The emphasis is on responsible adults getting projects completed successfully in the time period agreed upon in advance. No more watching over their shoulder by bosses. No more “you’re on company time” kind of 1950’s mentality. And yes, these employees are productive and very profitable for the company.

The average age of employees for Skype at their Tallin office is 28. These people are not going to put up with the traditional way of doing things. I was out of place with a coat and tie! They wear very casual clothes---but again, they are extremely productive and profitable. That is what matters in a brain-driven, ideas-matter-most world. Focus on people being happy and hold them responsible to get the job done. Then let them choose how they want to get that job done.

Boost Customer Productivity. This is where dazzling technology and products come into play. Skype does this by providing absolutely free communication from one Skype use to another anywhere in the world. I regularly use their audio both in the States and out. I can make calls from my hotel room on this trip back to regular phone lines in the States for about 2 cents per minute. That is unbelievable compared to the outrageous fees from before. I called a client of mine in England, from Russia 2 days ago for the same rate. Years ago, I remember paying $54 to call Hong Kong from Japan for a 6 minute call. Times have changed---a lot!

As you can think of ways to boost your own clients’ productivity, they will reward you with their business. They would be foolish not to. Work hard to make business easier and more profitable for your customers and you’ll always have a good job.

Villu Arak, the chief of Public Relations at Skype in Tallinn, told me that they use a lot of multi-chats. This is more productive than regular email for serous projects. People who are significant to solving a problem or working on a project can have their comments inserted into the multi-chat where appropriate. This service (of course it’s free---it’s from Skype!) lets users track what has happened in a multi-chat over a period of time. Productivity is increased and profits increase.

The benefits of video deepen relationships in business. More than just a voice on the line, you can now see the other person, watch their physical and non-verbal reactions and respond. I use it to help clients assemble certain technologies, show new tools for business and more. Video Skype is a secret weapon for the relationship marketer who wants to help customers and get results.

These principles can help you and me in our businesses. Skype is doing a lot right and helping over 200 million customers. We can all learn a lot from them.

Remember to see these principles and more in video by going to: You’ll love it!


Terry Brock is an international marketing coach and regular columnist for Business Journals who helps businesses market more effectively, leveraging technology. He shows busy professionals how to squeeze more out of their days using the time-honored rules and the right technology tools. He can be reached at 407-363-0505, by e-mail at or through his website at

Copyright © 2007, Terry Brock, All Rights Reserved Internationally. No portion may be reprinted or used in any way without prior written permission