Sunday, March 25, 2012

Take the money and run…

That was the title of an old Woody Allen film and it had a lasting effect on the psyche of business in this country, they take your money and run.

Don’t believe me; have you ever tried to get service for a product or service you paid for?

Computer support has become the joke of the service industry. If you can find a working number for support, you’ll find the support center located in some other country. Now I have no objection to giving folks from another country a job, but I do wish they’d be able to speak understandable English.

Trying to help someone who is not a computer nerd with a problem over the phone is a challenge worthy of Hercules, and that’s if both of you speak the same language.

Then there’s the lurking hook of whether you have paid for that service and if you haven’t you are out of luck and if you have you’ll have to prove it because the bookkeeping skills of the computer support industry leave much to be desired.

I can’t say I’m a big fan of the automobile industry, they make cars which use too much gas, selected on the basis of what an eighteen year old thinks is neat and filled with unnecessary stuff so that the curb weight is just a pound or two less than the Titanic, and you know what became of the Titanic.

But they have gotten the message, they have been scrutinized, sanitized and penalized by the government to the point that they jump on a flaw and get it out there before the junior senator from Nebraska can call a press conference. They do recalls right and they work at making sure the customer gets some of what they paid eighty thousand dollars for so that in three years that sucker, customer will come back and buy another car from them at only one hundred and twenty thousand.

If a computer ran like a car we’d all still be using our Windows 98 systems. Microgreedy brings out a new Operating System every two years filled with nothing new or interesting and they charge a coupla hundred dollars for it and they tell you they’ll drop the old system and you can just upgrade or go whistle.

Wow! Some customer satisfaction model.

But wait there are the airlines. They seem to think that if they hold you hostage, after forcing you to pass through the time consuming and pointless air port screening at the hands of untrained minimum wage personnel, keeping you on the plane for sixteen hours without food, restroom facilities or access to your medication they have done a bang-up job.

They gasp and shake their heads when a customer complains and then they reluctantly offer you travel vouchers for trips on their air lines under the same intolerable conditions like that is fair compensation.

Ever have to call the local cable company? Better be for a channel line-up brochure, cause if it’s anything else you are in for a marathon treat. They’ll spend hours on the phone asking you the same questions in several different ways, then they’ll schedule a service appointment which they have no intention of keeping and then they’ll huff and puff and tell you it will be at least six weeks if you have the nerve to cancel it because of something silly like a death or illness.

And we not only put up with this treatment we support it by returning time after time to the same places which have abused us to buy more of their services so we can get some of that good ole indifference.

Why do you care? You are an artist, you don’t have time for television, can’t afford a car, don’t travel cause the TSA strip-searched you when you tried to board with an easel and box of brushes, couldn’t care less about cable and if you have any spare time left after getting the house cleaned and the kids fed and bedded and watered and schooled and the spouse managed and the bills paid, you spend it working on your art.

Good, cause that's what I want to talk to you about. How are you dealing with your own customer service?

Do you gloat and dance the happy dance with glee at a new commission and then go off and ignore the client’s wishes and do something you had in mind anyway?

Do you work on subjects which have no interest for the typical buyer cause you have better taste and more refined sensibilities than they do?

Do you follow all of the rules when you submit to a show and get the entry in on time and in the proper format?

If not then rejoice you are doing business the natural way, take the money and run.

But as an artist shouldn’t you give just as much consideration to the interest of the client as you do to the care with which you make your own art? Shouldn’t you work with that client to provide the best, closest, most satisfactory product you can produce? You should.

Remember the Golden Rule, no not that one although that is a good Golden Rule and it wouldn’t hurt you a bit to do unto others as you would they do unto you, but the one I mean is the old business saw, “Happy clients tell everyone they know; unhappy clients tell everyone.”

How do you want to want to show up on Twitter?

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