Chris Pirillo
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Archive for March 16, 2005

Customer Service Conversations, II

Okay, Gnomedex registration is open - and I know we're opening ourselves up to a flurry of feedback by doing so. Given that the price is somewhat higher than in years past, we're also offering you more - for much less than other conferences would. Remember, the venue only has space for 300 registrants this year. “So, why didn't you choose a different venue, Chris?”
The reasons are manyfold: because we didn't want to chance the Wi-Fi sucking, because we've had horrible experiences with hotel management in the past, because that's just what it costs us to do, because we lost money with Gnomedex last year (but had an AWESOME time with it), because it's not cost-effective to do Gnomedex any other way this time around, because… a couple of close friends (and past Gnomedexers) poo-pooed the idea of splitting the audience and teleconferencing mainstage events to another room of 200 at the same location. We're aiming to make this year's event a great one for those of you who come. To do that, we have to make certain sacrifices and decisions that aren't universally “awesome.”
But what attendees get is certainly awesome:

  • A Three-day, full access pass
  • All breakfast, lunch, snacks, beverages
  • Unlimited Wi-Fi, professionally managed
  • Their own electrical outlet for power
  • Seating in the main hall
  • The official Gnomedex 5.0 t-shirt
  • A single-track conference with quality content
  • Business networking opportunities
  • Truly, so much more

FWIW, some of the best parts of Gnomedex happen in the hallways.

Customer Service Conversations, I

A few years ago, I was interviewed for Creating Customer Evangelists - and the somewhat-dated dialogue is still online. Back then, I saw Jackie Huba and Ben McConnell as sitting on the fringe of their industry. Today, I view them both as contemporaries. How so? The conversation is approaching the mainstream - if it's not already there.
Jackie is in town for a conference, and invited me to a small dinner tonight at Coastal Kitchen (which was quite a pleasant, eclectic experience). For what? Conversation with a small group of customer evangelists. Scoble was there with Maryam, and we were joined by a Pete Winemiller (VP of Service Development for the Seattle Sonics &amp Storm) and Paul Williams (Manager of the Customer Care Department for Starbucks). We talked about all sorts of ideas and comment-worthy events, but nothing specific. I could tell that Maryam missed Ponzi, who's been hard at work on the Lockergnome taxes in recent days.
Yes, we're THAT small.
Customer service is important, but it needs to evolve. Traditional customer service organizations are still living in the '70s as far as communication goes. Hell, I'm still working with folks who rely on… FAX machines?! No, that's not customer service - it's lip service. I don't want to see a generic customer service email address, I want to see that the customer service is really ready to engage the customer. BTW, Ponzi's finally reading The Cluetrain Manifesto after hearing so much about it; we'll see if it makes any difference in how she views our current role in the marketplace. We're publishing all sorts of content every day (Lockergnome), moving our conference forward every year (Gnomedex), and disseminating our conversations regularly every week (The Chris Pirillo Show).
Yes, we're THAT proactive, but not without our share of headaches.