Brands not respecting my time, and how to fix it (Updated)

I’ve a few experiences recently where I found very frustrating, and think it’s important to share with others. One, so others are aware of potential pitfalls, and secondly, hopefully brands can be improved in the future. Rather than just rant, I’ll provide some analysis and make some recommendations how things could be done better.

Real Player:
Recently, I downloaded Real Player to my new business laptop, it was required for a specific media format. I was disappointed in all the ways they tried to embed themselves as being the default player, adding different features, and trying to ‘spider’ itself across my PC. Most of the options required a savvy user to opt-out, rather than opt-in for these unwanted features. Despite my being careful (this is not time being spent productively) apparently I missed one and a Weather Channel desktop widget was deployed in my system tray on my desktop. I did not want his tool, and removing it became equally as painful.

As a user, I don’t feel that Real Player has respected my rights, and I recommend they make these extra features (most laden with marketing and advertising) as an opt-in, not a opt-out. Instead, build resources for your community that they actually want, and have asked for, rather than pushing it on them.

Update (A few hours later): Ryan Luckin from Real Networks has left a comment, suggesting that the recently launched upgrade will solve these issues, including the removal of popups in the current player. Thanks Ryan for the prompt and helpful comment. I’ll check out the product when I get time.

Delta Airlines:
I almost didn’t make it to Barcelona last week, as I wasn’t able to get my printed tickets in hand on time. I thought it would be ok to check in using my confirmation numbers, but they required printed tickets (which were at home). The gentleman at the desk, without even looking at me, said he couldn’t help me, and I’ll need to get my printed tickets. Unfortuantly, I was in Las Vegas, the tickets were in San Francisco and the flight was leaving in 2 hours. Needless to say, not a good situation. He didn’t offer any suggestions to help me but encouraged me to contact my travel agent, and reiterated “I can’t help you”. That really pissed me off (as well as made me panic a bit), I had to collect myself, and then after a few minutes request to purchase new tickets (which he didn’t even suggest) and then he asked another attendee to help me, he didn’t even want to deal with me. Obviously, things got sorted out, as I purchased new tickets, but had to leave 16 hours later, and be bounced from three planes from Vegas to Barcelona.

What could have been done better? The customer service folks can always help me, don’t ever tell customers ‘you can’t help them’, yet where there are options to help them. Ultimately things worked out, but the customer service reps that go the extra mile win the adoration of their customers.

Recently, I had to use this enterprise software to input my travel expenses, it’s a long and tedious process, with a cludgy user interface, and non-intuitive controls and buttons. I always know enterprise software when I see it, as it comes with a manual, and often a training class. Products on the world wide web that I frequently use are often so easy to use –respecting my time. As I completed entering in dozens of entries, I would continue to ‘save for later’, and the system acknowledged these changes. Apparently this was not sufficient, as you exited the system you needed to do one more save in order for the previous saves to go into account. I didn’t do this, and was surprised to find the next day the hour (or more) of data entry input was reduced to only 4 entries. Frustrating to say the least.

How can enterprise software be fixed? I’m not sure, I’ll bet it’s complicated, but let’s try to put users first, when they press ‘save’, let’s really mean it.

Update (A few hours later): Jake from Oracle Mix labs left a comment suggesting I join their online community to provide feedback. In the spirit of social collaboration (that’s what I’m all about) I signed up, my user profile is here, if you’re already a member and want to connect.

It’s rare that I criticize products and companies in public, but I’ve highlighted my experience, and was thoughtful enough to provide recommendations, rather than just rant.

What should brands do to get back in my good graces? Acknowledge my situation and strive to make improvements. I’ll be gentle (having been a community manager) so don’t feel intimidated, I’ll treat you with professional courtesy I would expect in your situation. Curious to see which brands respond first.

By the way, that was great therapy, I feel much better.

Special Note, on being a responsible blogger
I’m keeping this post updated as the companies respond. It’s the right thing to do as a responsible blogger, as when a company embraces a customer back, the blogger should point out responses. So far, we’re setting a good example between social collaboration between customer and company, and living the benefits for both parties –let’s build better products and services.

Update: (A few days later) This post has inspired me to give some practical ways you can give feedback to brands, please read: How to give Feedback to brands using Social Software.