h1

You’d think they’d try to match what was there before

October 28, 2014

Spotted in Houston…. Not only is the lower case ‘g’  wrong,  but its size has altered the kerning between the first name and middle initial. Maybe they thought no-one would notice it on the upper concourse between the hotel and the convention centre.

image

h1

You can now purchase T-mobile SIM cards in Australia

October 16, 2014

I’ve previously blogged about how I’ve purchased and used T-mobile SIM cards when in the US (search this blog for T-mobile). Well, things have moved on since then and today I was able to purchase a 30-day T-mobile SIM  at Sydney International Airport,  which gives me the usual ‘pay per day’ services I’ve previously had (unlimited US calls,  text,  and data) PLUS free texts to Australia AND free calls to Australian landlines. And for less than the pay per day rate ($80 AUD compared to $90+ USD).

As I’ll be away for about 31 to 32 days, the chap at the SIMCORNER stand in the mall at Sydney airport (near the escalator to the Qantas lounge, as at October 2014) said he’d set activation to happen tomorrow in the US, but normally he’d activate there and then and I’d get my US phone number within 20 minutes. All before leaving Australia.

So, all going well, within a few hours of landing at my final destination in the US, I should get a text that my phone is activated and letting me know my US phone number.

Here’s hoping it’s all as simple as that…  I’ll report back in a few days’ time.

Update: The activation worked fine. BUT I’ve hardly been able to use the phone as I’m staying in a rural area though only some 30 miles from a state capital and there’s NO T-mobile coverage here… Not happy. I thought they were everywhere. And I thought all major cell companies had coverage over much of the US. I’m not in a sparsely populated state (Michigan) and am only 30 miles from Lansing.

h1

Off air for a few weeks

October 9, 2014

I’m traveling for several weeks so my posts to this blog will be non-existent or limited, except perhaps for the first week when I’m attending (and speaking at) a tech writing conference in New Zealand as part of my trip.

I  may post my notes from that conference, but the rest of the trip is pure holiday!

h1

Fix typing mistakes, only to make more

October 8, 2014

Oops!

Read the last item first, then the second last one…

typo I think they meant ‘metric’.

It’s all about trust. How can I trust them to have ‘removed typing mistakes’ in the app when they make another one in their list of changes?

Did I download the app? Nope, for several reasons, but this one was the clincher. That, and the overuse of capitals for words that aren’t proper nouns.

(Seen on a developer’s summary of a Google Play app.)

 

h1

Example: How documentation can save money on support calls

September 30, 2014

Background

I have flights back to Australia from the USA in November. I leave from Salt Lake City (SLC), fly to Los Angeles (LAX) on American Airlines (AA) landing at Terminal 4  (T4), then have to transfer to the Tom Bradley International Terminal (TBIT) at LAX to catch my Qantas flight to Sydney and my connection on to Perth.

Everything was fine until I got a message from Qantas that my AA flight from SLC had been cancelled and they’d put me on another flight. My original flight left SLC at 4:25pm, getting to LAX at 5:30pm, leaving me plenty of time to make my Qantas flight at 10:20pm. If you’ve never traveled through LAX, you may not realize that having PLENTY of connection time there is a MUST. Too many things can go wrong if you don’t — late arrival of your flight, time to transfer from one terminal to another, long TSA security lines, etc.

My new flight leaves SLC at 6:50pm, getting in to LAX at 7:45pm, which in my opinion is cutting it fine for making that connection, even though the Qantas staff said that the connection time was within their guidelines. (The only other flight out of SLC is at 12:50pm and that would mean a very early start from where I’ll be staying — some 2 hours out of SLC — and then a horrendous 8+ hour wait at LAX, all before another 14+ hours in the air, 5+ hours at Sydney airport, then another 4+ hour flight to Perth, followed by a 2-hour drive home.)

When I check in at SLC, I’ll be checked all the way through to Perth, so I’ll get all my boarding passes then and I won’t see my bags until I get to Sydney, where I have to clear Australian Customs before transferring to the Perth flight. So I won’t have baggage or check-in to contend with at LAX — just me and my hand luggage.

So what does this have to do with documentation and reducing the cost of support calls?

As so many things can go wrong to delay my AA flight out of SLC (weather: snow, storms, high winds over the Rockies — it will be mid-November, after all; delays: in take-off because of other flights, late arrival from wherever it’s coming in from, etc.), I’m skeptical that I’ll make the connection to my Qantas flight. So to mitigate some risks, I decided to find out if there’s some sort of transfer system for people connecting to international flights at LAX from one terminal to another without going through the TSA security lines again.

I searched on the internet but found mixed information (some dated information indicated that there used to be a tunnel between T4 and TBIT for international transfers, but it’s been closed for several years now). I also found some information on the Qantas website (http://www.qantas.com.au/travel/airlines/airport-guide-los-angeles/global/en#transfers). Although this web page told me that there was a shuttle between the two terminals after 4pm, it didn’t tell  me two important bits of information — whether I’d have to go through security again (thus carving off 10 to 45 minutes from my already tight connection), and how often the shuttle buses run. Both factors are really important for me in deciding whether to take the shuttle or run the risk of walking the 10 mins from T4 to TBIT and facing the potentially long TBIT TSA security lines, oh and going through Customs and Border Protection too.

Reading between the lines in the information on this web page (see screen shot below), the implication is that I won’t have to go through security again, but this isn’t explicitly stated. The first highlight in the screen shot states that you have to go through security in the first scenario, but the second scenario — the one that applies to me — doesn’t state whether you have to go through security again or not.

qantas_tbit_security

As I needed to know this information to make an informed decision, I called Qantas. It took at least 5 minutes for the Qantas rep to confirm who I was and to understand my question (she thought I was arriving from Santiago, not SLC!!). However, she didn’t know the answer to my question, so she put me on hold while she went to find out. Some 10 minutes later she got back to me and said that she spoke to ‘someone who’s familiar with LAX transfers’ and said that no, I wouldn’t have to go through security again as the shuttle bus is airside. After asking her, she also said that the shuttle was every 7 minutes.

Now, that’s pretty simple information but it’s NOT available on the Qantas website.

So what’s the cost of not having these two simple pieces of information on their website?

  • 15 minutes of a Qantas representative’s time on a support call that I wouldn’t have needed to make had it been written on their website in the first place; this 15 minutes includes her having to go off and ask someone else, whose concentration is also interrupted for some minutes
  • 15 minutes of my time on hold or talking to the Qantas rep
  • 30 minutes of my time trying to find information that didn’t exist on the Qantas website (nor, to be fair, on the LAX website or the AA website, both of which were even harder to find information on than Qantas’ website), and puzzling over whether the line ‘Proceed to your departure gate’ meant that I had to go through security again or not.

Two simple pieces of information could have ‘saved’ at least 30 minutes of wasted time (15 + 15), and possibly up to an hour (15 + 15 + 30). And that’s just for ONE person.

Extrapolate that out to the potential numbers of people who might need this information, and you can see how that time would add up very quickly. Let’s say only 500 people needed this information in a year (hundreds of thousands of people travel on Qantas from LAX to Australia each year so this is a very conservative number), and let’s say that they all spent 15 minutes talking to a Qantas rep (that’s a combined 30 minutes for the person’s time and the rep’s time), and finally let’s say that a Qantas phone rep’s hourly rate is $30 (I’m guessing all these numbers). That’s about 250 hours in one year spent on just this one question. Some 125 hours of that (i.e. $3750 at the $30/hr rate; $6250 at $50/hr) is for the Qantas reps’ time, so even if you just cost it from Qantas’ point of view (i.e. ignoring the cost of their clients’ time — and frustration), that’s starting to add up to a bucketload of money. All for two missing pieces of vital information to a person connecting from an AA flight to Qantas at LAX.

And now extrapolate out all these ‘little’ support calls they get that could have easily been answered on their website, and you’ll start to see how relevant and comprehensive documentation could save Qantas lots of money in repetitive and unnecessary support calls.

Bottom line: If it’s not classified information and if it helps your customers make an informed decision, stick it on your website and make it discoverable. Free up your support reps to deal with important calls, not annoying little stuff like this.

 

Further to this… I’m on a codeshare flight to New Zealand (Qantas and Emirates),  which was a ticket purchased direct from Qantas. Nowhere on the ticket that I could see does it tell you that you have to check in at the Emirates counters not the Qantas counter! I didn’t find this out until I got to the front of the line and was told to go to Emirates to check in. Fortunately,  the Qantas line I was in was short as was the Emirates line,  but had I waited in line for 30 minutes to be told this I wouldn’t be happy,  especially if I had to wait another 30 minutes in the Emirates line. And if I had a pack of kids and / or was running late,  I’d have been very unhappy. A simple note next to the terminal number on the ticket that said to check in at the other airline’s counter could have saved a lot of frustration for the customer… and the Qantas check-in staff who would be the brunt of customer frustration. Another case of good documentation saving money and customer and staff frustration.

 

h1

Proofread before publishing

September 22, 2014

I stayed at the lovely Sydney Hilton when I spoke at a conference held there last month. When I was checking the hotel’s website prior to my trip, I clicked a link to a spa business on (or very close to) the premises. The link is so tied into the Sydney Hilton’s website that I initially assumed it was part of the hotel’s services.

This spa business promotes itself as high-end and their prices reflect that. Their alliance with the Sydney Hilton also attests to that.

However, I didn’t try any of their spa treatments. Why? Well, cost was one reason, but the main reason was the lack of care taken with their website and its content. While there may be no correlation with the quality of their website and the quality of their services, in my mind lack of care in one equates to potential lack of care in the other.

So what was so wrong with their website? Here are a few examples (screen shots below):

  • spelling errors, typos, and duplicated words
  • sentences that didn’t make sense
  • placeholder text instead of real content
  • photos that showed dirty fingernails.

How could they have fixed this before their website went ‘live’? Well, having someone proofread every page, every heading, every caption, and check every photo would have been a good start. And if there’s no-one in-house who felt comfortable doing this, then they could have hired an editor for a couple of hours to do it for them. A small price to pay to NOT turn potential customers away.

A sample of screen shots from this website — there were many more examples I could have used as the site was littered with them.

spa01

Typo in heading, and use of irrelevant placeholder text

spa03

Repeated words (‘for for’), one word split in two (‘I deal’ versus ‘Ideal’), and a sentence that just doesn’t make sense

 

spa02

Spelling errors and typos (‘form’ instead of ‘from’)

spa04

And you promote facial treatments by people with dirty fingernails? Ewww! If this was a stock photo, get another one. Better yet, get your own photos taken by a professional photographer.

 

h1

Yep, punctuation matters

September 19, 2014

Seen in my Twitter feed yesterday — an announcement from the company hosting a conference that a session is underway:

punctuation_mattersUnfortunately, without quote marks or other identifying embellishments such as bold or italics, the message is not to get stuck in the localization Bermuda Triangle with Susie Winn! I’m sure she’s very nice, but I’m also sure that isn’t the message they intended.

Yes, punctuation matters. Why? Because it removes ambiguity and prevents misinterpretation.

See also:

[Link last checked September 2014]

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 348 other followers