Monday, August 30, 2010

Notes from Internet Marketing Purgatory

You'll laugh at me but on a lark I signed up for, the "free" (heh!) finance aggregator from Quicken.  It was seductively easy to add accounts and I can be mesmerized by gazing at all those transactions on one page.

Only one trouble--it seems not to work with all banks--in my case, one bank, my main bank.  I say "seems" because Mint.Com is terminally coy about all this.  Last time I looked, there were 500 complaint messages about this bank in a single thread--and a few other threads making the same point.  And what's the problem?  That's the trouble, I haven't a clue. Are Mint and the bank at war?  Is the bank having a snit?  Is there a mysterious software issue that the best geek minds are so far unable to solve?  You 'd really thing it would be worthwhile for somebody to come forward and say, "okay folks, now here's the deal...."

My own best guess: this problem is in the hands of low-level support staff who, whatever their geek skills, have not been schooled in the basics of customer relations..  Their solution to the problem of mass attack is to hunker down in the trench.  Specifically, my guess is that they haven't had the nerve to to tell the boss that they've got an out-of-control brush fire.  I can feel their pain: if and when the boss finds out, he's likely to be pretty ticked.  But what they don't seem to understand is that the thing a boss likes least is an unhappy surprise.  At some point, he will say--you mean this has been going on for weeks and nobody told me?   And then there really will be  hell to pay.

I know, maybe I'm wrong.  Someone else on the thread seems to believe that this is some kind of deliberate scheme to destroy the business.  I don't follow that, although I admit that for all my pretensions, my mind is really not very Byzantine.  Still...

BTW Mrs. B has run into a seemingly similar problem trying to port stuff from ITunes U to her IPod (sic, not Pad or Phone).  Evidently, she learns, they aren't supporting that function for the IPod any more--they're concentrating their efforts on the Pad and the Phone and letting this Pod function go.  Not sure quite what might be the strategy here--could it be that the IPod is on its way out?  She concedes that maybe they told her and she just didn't listen--or maybe she was supposed not to listen.  But it's another one of those cases where you can accomplish a lot if you value the customer's time at zero.

1 comment:

Ken said...

Do you have any guess as to the ratio of customers with your bank compared to their overall customer base? This may be a classic example the "Long Tail". (I prefer the older and more colorful expression, "sucking hind teat".)

I've seen situations in the past where management will choose to deliberately ignore some small group of unhappy users and spend their development budget on some new whiz-bang feature that will please the masses. Obviously, there's no telling if that's the case here, but it wouldn't surprise me.

I think it definitely covers the situation with the iPod as well.

Maybe the real issue with Mint is that they're still training the high school grads that they hired as programmers. By the time they finish their training and start digging into the technical issue, they've been there too long and get replaced by the next crop of kids!