Thursday, October 13, 2011

Yes, Of Course: You’re a 10

An irksome downside to the Digital Economy we’ve created is the need to keep the data-tanks full.  That means we’re being asked incessantly for our opinions.  At any moment we can be sure that some service vendor somewhere desperately wants our rating.

It’s getting to be one of hidden costs of doing business in what was supposed to be a frictionless world.

For instance, I love Amazon, and I love to purchase things on-line much more than shopping in a mall.  But every time I buy something on Amazon I’m asked to rate the vendor.  If I forget, I am sent a reminder email.  One of the charms of the mall turns out to be that I can buy something and walk out of a store unmolested.

Consider: I need to opine if I use Amazon to purchase two boxes of ink cartridges for my printer.  More than that, what the vendor really wants is my endorsement.  What can I say; you did a marvelous job shipping me two boxes of ink cartridges?

On ebay, I have to rate the vendor.  If I don’t, the vendor writes me to ask if something went wrong.  

Here’s a good rule, my Vendor Friends: If you’re somewhere between a 3 and 8, chances are we’re aok.  I don’t know if I can register much more enthusiasm for a transaction involving ink cartridges than a 5 or 6 anyway.

If you’re a 1 or 2, I’ll contact you. Trust me.  If you’re a 9 or 10, I’ll tell my friends.  Trust me on that, too.

That’s my global rating scheme for the Digital Economy.  You really don’t need to ask me any more than that.

And Amazon and ebay are nothing--and I mean nothing--compared to my local new car dealer.  Toyota, GM, Ford—they’re all the same.  Relentless.  It makes a sham of analytics.  Was my stay in their lounge while my car was being serviced a “10”?  Really?

Well, they did serve little blueberry muffins and hot coffee in the lounge, and if that’s done to get a “10” then I endorse it wholeheartedly.  But truthfully—having little blueberry muffins and watching Matt Lauer on a wide screen TV could only really ever be—what?—a 6? 

Now, if you had offered me a huge morning glory muffin with my name across the top drizzled in icing—in calligraphy—now we’re talking “10.”  But that’s what it would take to get a “10” from me in your service lounge.  You don’t have the money or energy to bother, and I don’t want you to bother.

In other words, the things in my life that rank “5” in importance probably only need a “5” in delivery and I’m happy.  A car service lounge: 5.  Just give me a clean place to work.  A $2.00 cup of coffee: 7.  Hernia surgery: 10.  You see?

One time my local car service manager pulled me aside and said, “You’re probably going to get a survey by mail or phone after you leave.  If I receive anything less than a ‘10’ it’s considered ‘failure’ around here.  I’d appreciate your help.”


OK.   You’re a “10.”  Really.  But please, just stop asking me.   


Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Why San Francisco Is This Century’s Boston

From time to time someone will tell me that Boston and San Francisco are alike.  I’ve been to both and I know the truth.  Each is near water and each has buildings, but after that it seems to me like a pretty weak resemblance.  

In fact, I would call Boston a great national city; people visit to see Paul Revere’s home, Fenway Park and eat lobster.  Then they go home.  

However, San Francisco is a great world city that sucks people in when they visit and holds onto them.  Its gravitational pull is very strong even here on the East Coast; I myself lost two brothers to the belly of the beast.

In fact, I believe that San Francisco is the great, iconic American city of the 21st century.   And it’s all wound tightly into my emerging theory of American Exceptionalism.