Sunday, February 9, 2014

Press 3 for Common Sense

A “Tone Only “ Beeper. It would beep, and the client would have to call an answering service to get the message.

It is 8:28am EST on a Sunday and for some reason, is not working. I don’t know why it is not working. The world cannot read my blog and I am NOT happy.

Flashback to 1983

I started in business when there was no Internet. Fax machines were VERY expensive, and less than 1% of the population even knew what a fax machine was. “Beepers” and radio pagers were common in 1983, but cellular phones (car phones) were just starting to be installed (drilled, wired, mounted) into cars and calls from the car would cost over $1 per minute. Many people still had rotary phones (no touch-tone) so there was no “Press 1” for anything.  

Back to 2014

My website (well, my domain name) is down. It does not resolve to my blog. If anyone clicks on it, they will get an error. My main website is up, but my blog is down.

Back to 1983

Ah yes, performing customer service in the 80’s. There were no websites, no email, no voice mail. Calling an 800 number was reserved for companies like 1-800-Flowers and they were trying to sell you stuff (toll free was not used for customer service) and it was around $0.25 per minute to own such a toll free number. Yes, you could use an answering machine for your business, but leaving a message on a machine for customer service felt like lighting a signal flare on a ship at sea. God only knows when this message is going to be received.

Back to 2014

My domain name  is still not resolving to my blog. I sent the email to “support”. I opened the trouble ticket. I realize that it is a Sunday, but they (we?) are supposed to be open 24 x 7 x 365. Everything was working fine just the other day. Here is the kicker: I sell this stuff. I am in “the business”. I am my own customer. And on this glorious Sunday morning, my customer service stinks. The world cannot read my blog and I am sad.

Back to 1983

If you had a broken pipe on a Sunday morning in the 80’s you would reach for the “Yellow Pages”.

The name and concept of "yellow pages" came about in 1883, when a printer in Cheyenne, Wyoming, working on a regular telephone directory ran out of white paper and used yellow paper instead. In 1886 Reuben H. Donnelley created the first official Yellow Pages directory, inventing an industry.

Today, the expression yellow pages is used globally, in both English-speaking and non-English speaking countries. In the United States it refers to the category while in some other countries it is a registered name and a proper noun. The term Yellow Pages is not a registered name within the United States and is freely used by many companies. Telephone directories using the official internet address "yellowpages.xx" exist in 75 different countries. They are edited by many different phone companies and directory publishers.

Back to 2014

I have opened my trouble ticket. I have sent emails to my staff. The problem seems to be specific to my region; people around the world can see my blog just fine. I have sent a text message to my son, who knows more about this stuff than I do. The world “possibly” cannot read my blog and I am pissed.

Back to 1983

If you did have that broken pipe in 1983, you would reach for the Yellow Pages. You would review ads for “Plumber” and you would find one. Or two or three. You would pick a plumber where the Yellow Page ad spoke to you. Maybe this one had a “beeper” number in the ad, and you would “beep” ‘em. And then your kitchen phone would ring, and some guy named Vinnie or George would tell you that he would be right over - and that was at $50 per hour on a Sunday.  *That price was 1983, remember.

Back to 2014

My domain name still does not resolve to my blog. My world is crumbling. No one who wants to read my blog this Sunday will be able to do so - or can they? Everyone who ever followed my blog is now going to leave me - or will they? I will be a laughing stock. I will have to change my name. Bankruptcy shall certainly soon follow. And no one cares! I am over here bleeding from the eyes, and no one cares about me, or my blog. Even my dogs are giving me the skunk eye. Oh, the humanity.

Back to 1983

If the plumber promised you to come within the hour, and it has now been 59 minutes, you beep ‘em again. And then you might beep ‘em again. Or, you leave a message on the plumber’s answering machine (knowing that he will not get the message) threatening to call the next name in the Yellow Pages if he does not appear in your driveway within minutes. And then, you wait. And you wait some more. And then two hours later he does show up, using the excuse that he could not find your house, and that there were no “Pay Phones” to be found in the area, so he could not call you. Sorry.

Back to 2014

My domain name is once again working properly - I think. is once again properly resolving to my blog, maybe. It seems to depend on where you are located. The free world can once again read my blog, and millions of people can be enriched by its wisdom. Maybe. Slowly, world order is being restored. There will be no bankruptcy. Funny thing: no one knows what was (and still is) wrong, it just started working again (for some people).

2014: smartphones, Internet, texting, Twitter, Social Media, websites, toll free numbers, 24 x 7 x 365 call centers, voice mail, GPS.

1983: Yellow pages printed once a year, beepers with bad coverage, outdated printed maps, undependable tape driven answering machines.

Broken pipes, or broken websites. 
Technology has changed. People have not. 

The world has changed, but customer service has not. The plumber with the beeper will get the call; the plumber without the beeper may not. The technology company who claims to be open 24 x 7 to service your needs sounds great, until it is not. 

When you send an email to and within seconds you get an automated email reply that says “your trouble ticket is open” do you breathe a sigh of relief, or do you now feel even worse? If there are 30 people working in technical support and thousands of people are sending such emails and receiving such robotic email responses, how does this make you feel? In the 80's, the plumber with the beeper who does not return the beep was hated; the plumber without the beeper never promised a return call. He is absolved. He never promised anything. The plumber who is trying to do better by carrying a beeper was punished. The guy who paid for a beeper and paid for an answering service has upped his game, but that comes at a price. It is not the getting of the message, it is what you DO with that message - that is everything.

In the 80’s if you carried a beeper - you better call right back when you get “beeped” or you basically lied to your client. Today, if you have a customer service department, you better not rely on automated emails. If you do not have the ability to have “hoomans” engage quickly, do not pretend that you do. Don’t put your “beeper” number in your Yellow Page ad, if you are not planning on returning that beep with great alacrity.  

Seinfeld - The Car Reservation


I sell a service called Awayfind. If a client needs me, if they really need me - I make myself available. I place the link right in my email signature and on our websites. I have been in business since 1983. What I have found is that no one wants to contact me at 2am, no more than I want to be contacted at 2am. But, if you need me, I am making myself available to you. And, my staff will do the same. It is our culture. I am willing to pay for a service that helps you to find me anywhere in the world, at any time. I might not be able to do anything about your problem, but you will never wonder if I care. 

Press 1 for Sales, Press 2 for Customer Service. Press 3 for Common Sense.

Thomas A. Capone
973-616-2600 x111
Urgent?  <<< this will track me down!

An Early Answering Machine - 1958

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