IT Customer Support & Relations

Customer service is becoming a thing of the past.  In today’s market many companies claim to provide great customer service but the cold hard fact is money is more important to them than the consumer.  We buy a technology product and the first time we have issues we are on the phone with the help desk in India.  You try to explain and all they do is say “sorry”, offer no real solution or resolution.  If you manage to talk to someone who does understand and can assist you then you have more than likely spent hours on the phone repeating the same thing over and over.  To me this is happening at more and more companies.  I have to say ANY company that subjects their customers to these call centers just doesn’t care or value that customer.

Help desks and call centers are not the only places I take issue with.  The other day at a popular electronics store I witnesses one of the “Nerds” who should be an expert having to get a supervisor because she didn’t know how fast PC3200 memory was.  I thought really, it says it right on the back of the package 400MHz.  I guess I will really think twice about EVER buying one of the store warranties or allowing them to work on my PC/MAC.  In fact I was buying my iMAC at the time and they wanted to load Norton AV.  I declined to allow it.  I said “just give me the key I can do it”.  I know I’m just a lowly MCP but I will manage over your “Qualified” people, um “Nerds”.  I ended up buying my firewire drive and memory from another reseller because the techs were much more knowledgeable.  I paid more but the service was worth it.

The corporate world is no different.  Customer service managers are now called “Service Managers”.  No room for customer in that title.  They are all about fix what is under contract and not making it right for the customer.  You might hear “we can’t load that document reader even thought you paid for it because it is not covered in your contract”.   Followed by “we can’t give you rights to load software again because that is not in your contract”.  It is this foolishness and lack of respect for the customer that drives me crazy.  I have been in the IT field for over 15 years and it gets worse and worse when companies outsource support.  Outsourcing companies have no respect for the customer and make the customer wait on them sometimes for hours just because the “contract” allows them too. To them it all about money not about the customer.

I have been in customer relations and service for over 30 years.  I consider being in IT support the same as customer service.  I don’t understand why companies think customer service doesn’t matter.  If you take care of your customers they will come back.  Do you need a quick lesson?  First, have a call center in the country that the product is sold.  If the hold times are too long then provide a call back system using outside resources to “log calls only”.  Next train your “Nerds” and make sure they have at a minimum basic “industry” certifications.  In store product training is for sales people not professional  technicians.  Only certified tech’s with customer service training and experience should be allowed to work with customers directly.  It is just that simple!

Finally take care of the customer.  The customer support person should be fluent in the language of the customer and understand the culture.  Customers you are NOT always right but it is the job of the customer service and support person to resolve the issue in a calm manner.  Customers you should not take out your frustration on customer service person but calmly ask for a manager and start by saying “your customer server person tried very hard to resolve my issue but I felt I needed someone with more authority”.  No point in taking poor company policy out on the service person, especially if they tried to help you.  If the company, be it retail, support or corporate doesn’t respect you and take the time to understand what you want or need then go to a company that does.  If you are a business reading this take note that you better have trained people.  As a customer you have many options so use them.  Post on social media be experiences.  That tells 100’s of friends not just 10.  File a complaint with the better business bureau because companies have to follow on these or loose ratings.  If we don’t stand up and expect, no demand better customer service it will become a thing of the past.

Thanks for reading.

The Art of Stop Motion – MAC fun with iStopMotion

The Fly Empire - Bug Wars

This is a follow up to a previous blog post on iStopMotion. I thought I would look into what it takes to produce a short video. So let’s start with the basics. First you will need some sort of concept. Just because these are not live actors doesn’t mean you don’t need to create a script and plan out the movie before shooting. The concept for this short is “Bug Wars”. We will be using some plastic bugs and creating a battle. The concept is simple enough. There isn’t a script but we will need to plan this out so we know what to shoot and what to do. This can be done by making a shot list or creating a storyboard so that everything in organized.
Step 2 would be to assemble the characters for the movie. In this case I have picked up several packages of fake bugs. Looking at the storyboard I will need to cut a few of them up so I can have some parts for the splatter scenes. I also need some additional items for props. I got some chunks of paper, plastic, wrappers and an old plastic cup. These will make great objects for my bugs to crawl over and add to the overall look and feel of the film. Now that most of this has been collected I need to build a location. Using dome old cardboard boxes I constructed a crude set for this fun film.

Clone Roaches - Bug Wars

It is time for the fun and hard work to begin. I had to make sure my lighting was even. I chose to use overhead lighting for this. It does make the image a little flat looking abut it is also easier to film. I have also used key lighting (main light to one side) but this will work best for this adventure. Setting up is important as well.

 

Look at the stage and the props through the camera. Get them all in place and make sure everything is how you want it. Once it is set you need to lock the camera down. You need to make sure that the camera and object don’t get moved until filming is complete. If you plan to have different camera angles the I suggest shooting everything you want at each angle then assemble it all in post production.
Don’t expect to be a fast process at 12 frames or more per second you will be taking a bunch of images. I also would stress that your finished size will be 1920X1080 max (in most cases) if not smaller so don’t think you need to set your camera on “full” or “raw” size images. You should get great results on smaller jpegs.

The set of Bug Wars

This is also important so you don’t fill your memory card and risk moving the camera to change it. Another item to point out is to keep in mind your depth of field. You can do some amazing effects like shooting a close-up at f2.8 to put the background out of focus. Just remember when you pull back to change the f-stop to f5.6 – f11 if you want more of the objects in view.

 

As I created this movie I used the onion skin so I could make sure I didn’t move items too much. I think this is a feature that really makes a difference. The only drawback is you have to accept the image and if you forget to do that you loose the frame. I also setup the grid to 16 squares. This is something you don’t really need to do but it helps direct the motion the way you want. In closing just remember this is a long process and the results vary but it is fun creating this type of animation. Next time I’ll talk about how I import iStop Motion into iMove and complete the post production work.
Thanks For Reading!!