WordPress for i-phone – part deaux

Thank you to all of you kind souls who are sending me all sorts of helpful links:

Q: I get an “XML-RPC Service for you blog cannot be found” error but I have XML-RPC enabled, what do I do ?
A: First ensure that you’ve typed in the URL correctly. If it’s correct, and you are on self-hosted WordPress, verify that xmlrpc.php is functioning properly. Locate your RSD meta tag by viewing-source on your blog. It will look similar to this:
<link rel=”EditURI” type=”application/rsd+xml” title=”RSD” href=”http://example.com/xmlrpc.php?rsd” />
Next follow the link, http://example.com/xmlrpc.php?rsd, and make sure it resolved to an XML file. Locate the WordPress api item:
http://example.com/xmlrpc.php
And lastly, load that apiLink value into your browser. If everything is setup correctly, you should see this message: “XML-RPC server accepts POST requests only.”

Q: I followed the XML-RPC verification steps above, but I get a different message, now what ?
A: Check with your hosting provider or sys admin to see if permissions or other issues are causing the error. If you receive a “Precondition Failed” that is most likely a mod_Security issue discussed here: http://wordpress.org/support/topic/130095

Q: I checked the RSD and XML-RPC and everything is fine but I still get error and/or can’t add my blog, now what ?
A: Another common issue that can cause errors with the App is invalid characters.  The easiest way to check is to go here: http://validator.w3.org and type in the URL of your WordPress site.  If you get a response such as “… one or more bytes that I cannot interpret as utf-8″ that is most likely what is causing the iPhone App to have trouble with your site

None of these are true but my goodness me, I did the validator thing – look at this scary thing.

http://validator.w3.org/check?uri=http%3A%2F%2Femmamulqueeny.wordpress.com%2F&charset=(detect+automatically)&doctype=Inline&group=0&user-agent=W3C_Validator%2F1.591

Anyone out there who understands all this, please do explain.

Oh and by the way: THIS IS NOT FUN!!!

I got all excited, and then…

… here look at this: http://iphone.wordpress.org/

Well, when I saw that I got terribly excited and downloaded the app – thinking this is the answer to my blogger’s block (aka having nothing at all worth saying) – I can just chunter away whilst on the move and it will all be marvellous.

The next post – this one – was going to be from my iphone.

Any road, as always happens to me ‘n technology/apps/cool stuff, I entered my blog url, username and password as requested and bang:

We could not find the XML-RPC service for your blog. Please check your network connection and try again. If the problem persists, please visit “iphone.wordpress.org” to report the problem.

*sigh* usual feeling of disappointment

Right, check the network – all cool.

Best just go and report the problem, could be teething issues. Hit the Support pages: Page fail. Try again. Page fail.

Patience and love for all things WordPress and iphone: Kaput

Moan moan moan moan

It is a good idea though

I count stuff

Continuing in the vein this week/month of reducing information clutter – and adding to my hardware clutter – more later – I decided to go one step further and try to make my Google Reader more effective. I had subscribed (if that is the verb) to so much that I could no longer bear to look… except as an insomnia cure, when quite frankly I will do anything!

Having this rather weird fixation with numbers – no not in a clever way, I wish it was – rather I just find myself counting, and I have often counted into the hundreds before I notice. (It is often the case that on dog walks I count the number of steps I take, and only when I get home do I realise what I was doing… I know, seek help :))

Any road, I also use my counting fixation to manage stuff, make decisions, picking a random number, and pontificating using many and varied (usually barking) tools of measurement stopping at that number and plumping with the associated choice. Er, this might make me seem rather slapdash to future employers, sorry – I try to keep this to the trivial, say Mac or PC? – or some such demotive argument. *Emma grins wickedly at all Mac bullies*

So, I decided to pick a random number to manage my Google Reader… I came up with five, and immediately told myself not to be so ridiculous. Then – the children being asleep – I chose to see if I could do it. Just five feeds, five people without whom I would not be able to do my day job, either for entertainment value or education.

Guess what? I did it

Do you know how many people I had subscribed to before I did this? 236 – I kid you not…

I am eager :) well, eager and also I added people because I could, every time I read a good post, or someone commented here, I would subscribe to their blog etc etc… news blah. Or searching for a subject that I was into and subscribing to the blogs with the most posts… madness.

Resulting in this horrific cacophony of digital noise: everyone talking at the same time, different subjects, random thoughts.

When I moaned, as I may occasionally have done, friends would tell me to file this stuff, streamline it… I don’t even file my nails, as if I am going to go in and actually manage this information flow! I know that I can, and easily too, but when you have that many feeds, even insomnia is more attractive to filing. (May just be me).

Deletion was the only answer. And so now I have five, and I have five feeds that I will be watching intensely. I will not bore you with my decision process, it is and should be deeply personal! But now my Google reader is a thing of beauty, and I am really quite excited about tomorrow morning…

In other news tonight

Emma has a Mac – get over it

My iphone is working, and I am so in love with it (would blog the last hurdle of getting to this point but really, you don’t want to know – it works, O2 head of customer services sorted it out for me, and was good, but it took blood, sweat and tears on his part and mine), just waiting now for the reimbursement… any time now… yip… I will just put the kettle on…

Bye-phone

I know you are all gagging to hear about the latest update on the i-phone saga. I got back from Kenya and received a call from O2 saying that my i-phone is now clearly broken so they need to look at it. I am not about to schlep to anywhere so they promised to send me an SAE for me to send it back.

This was last Wednesday… nothing yet. UPDATE 15/4/8 SAE turned up – phone dispatched

You know what? I really do not want this thing any more. I will send it back – eventually – get my money back and breathe a huge sigh of relief.

Now I need to wrench back my i-Touch from my sister, or get a new one.

Never again.

This is not a considered post at all – wait for the proper one on validation :)

As a working mother of two girls, one cat, a dog and 26 fish (long story) – I write, but sometimes it might not have as much thought as one who does not have quite so many responsibilities – the fish are a ‘mare, they are tropical.

This is one such occasion. I want to tie up the iphone story, but it does not sit naturally with my ‘brand’ whatever that may end up being. So I will explain what has happened, with no moral, no value to the story, however perhaps you will be better informed the next time someone says: iphone or N95?

Justin Kerr-Stevens very kindly dug out the number of the Director of Communications for O2, Europe. As soon as I had the details I contacted him, and within minutes received a response. I must admit that I emailed from my FCO account… hmm. Anyway, he responded and by the afternoon I had some chap – sorry Alan Chapman – a very good chap – from O2 customer services, dealing with ‘my case’.

He sorted my iphone, well nearly, it should be working tomorrow sometime (27th March 2008). He sorted the fraud, he accepts that I have not tried to defraud O2. It is all so perfect, well kind of, I am still smarting about the fraud and inconvenience to be honest… and then:

‘Emma, I need to speak to you about your iphone’.

Tentative: ‘Uhuh’

‘I know we have sorted your original complaint of the iphone not working’ … well sort of… ‘ and fraud… ‘um yes, if I were to commit fraud I hope I would be sensible enough to do it to SAVE money…’

‘… well I have just looked at your account and you upgraded two months ago’

Me: ‘Yes, I did, it was due and I made a good saving on the tariff’

‘… thing is, you signed up for 18 months’

Me: ‘Yes I did, it was a good deal and I knew iphone would obviously override that as I was buying one at some point v soon’

‘… thing is, the 18 month tariff you signed up for is now defunct (or equivalent word) because you have chosen an iphone tariff’

Me: ‘Er yes because that is all that was on offer, the one on my Sony was better can I have that one?’

‘… there are three options, and you have chosen the middle one… so we now need you to pay us either – and we are being kind here – the full amount of your original contract… some £400 plus OR… we will be lovely and let you only pay £269′

Me: ‘Right… so the cost of the iphone again?’

‘… yes, because only two months ago we gave you a very expensive phone free, and now you have bought your own’…

Me: ‘Might be an idea to introduce this charge at the point of sale? And you can have the Sony back now…’

‘… did they not tell you? Where did you buy the phone?’

Me: ‘An O2 store, and this telephone call from you is the first I have ever heard about a charge of at least £269 to get my number migrated to my iphone’

‘… I shall go and listen to the recordings of your conversation when you upgraded last’…

Hmmm, OK – do I have to spell it out here? No, you can do the maths… equals me introducing head to wall

I want my iphone… what on earth, and more importantly who on earth do these companies think they are dealing with?

I will blog a far more constructive post about this customer behaviour shortly… but for now? Do NOT buy an iphone unless you are loaded – or want to pay for mine – currently a pile of junk on desk.

I HOPE that by posting here and gathering insight, we will be able to have the iphone and not be fleeced! Hurrah :)

If you cannot get the basics right…. what hope do we have?

*By ‘you’ I mean any service provider, by ‘we’ I mean the user of those services*

The Easter break has been an exercise in restraint. Not from mass chocolate chowing, rather from posting here every awful minute of the transfer from my perfectly beautiful and working Sony Ericsson to the delicious and hedonistic iphone.

- before you read on, I have no religious affiliation so please do not be offended by my own earthly frustrations -

Believe you me, it has been a painful journey; rather like leaving a comfortable and working marriage to living with a strutting, pony-esque lover. I did not expect it to be easy – but I did not expect Customer Services to be the stumbling point, reducing me to mono-syllabic mutterings, not suitable for the ears of anyone under the age of 18.

However, rather than indulging in a rather tempting moan-fest I am just going to concentrate on communication in this age, and basic customer satisfaction.

We are faced with an overwhelming number of channels to reach intended, or current customers. Every focus group – yes I say this lightly – will tell you that they have simple needs, just address and meet them, and all will be well.

In all avenues of interaction between any business and its customers, there are brief touch-points of direct contact:

  • when the product or service is being interrogated for value
  • when the product or service is being purchased
  • when the product or service goes wrong
  • when the product or service needs clarification/attention

It matters not whether we are talking about something that costs ten quid, or one that costs tens of thousands… or more. These are the four basic points of contact that any business should concentrate on.

Why these four points matter so much more in this age of social media

People/customers talk. I was ‘tweeting’ my pain whilst I was on the telephone to a certain company that shall remain nameless (unless you click the link… sorry I am human). That led to direct contact from someone who works in marketing for this company. It might not have done my need for seamless mobile contact any good, however it has meant that what I went through is documented and may have an impact on the experience of future customers.

I am sure, absolutely sure, that I am not alone in sharing my frustrations immediately online, with no compunction about naming and shaming a company – especially when reduced to staring blankly at a wall, utterly blindsided by the line: it is against company policy.

So, stepping back from my own experience, let’s take the four touchpoints and address them in this age of social communication (I am not going to include the obvious Internet value in research etc, this is just looking at social media comms and how businesses/service providers need to consider this):

When the product or service is being interrogated for value

Social media will play a part in evaluating a service of product. People will research on the Internet, but will look for endorsement of their decisions in the social networks, accepted both on- and off-line.

Online, there is a less biased group of opinion-makers, as in people not influenced by the knowledge that you have saved and set your heart on that pink parasol with wi-fi and teleportation coming as standard.

In the main, businesses have sussed this one and there is enough out there to endorse any product that will probably calm any concerns raised by friends and online advisers. Let’s face it, you really want this product/service, you will over-ride warning shots from mates/online forums – you WILL find the one article from a respected author that refutes all criticism.

So, businesses have this one sorted at very little expense: perhaps a carefully placed piece that addresses commonly held misconceptions or experiences will do the trick at research stage.

When the product or service is being purchased

Point of sale is important – and that is retail 101. Of course you have sales staff who will flog the product and its benefits, calming any remaining nerves with a promise of full refunds etc etc. This is not limited to shop floors, let’s take this pink parasol with built in wifi and teleportation. The customer is buying this online; online reassurance is easy to achieve – the provider knows your concerns as a consumer (extensive customer research will have been built into the cost of producing the parasol). Before I lose any more of you, I could just as easily be talking about your policy on equipping everyone with energy-saving lightbulbs.

I am pretty sure that any business or service provider that loses its customer at this point, does not deserve to be in business.

When the product or service goes wrong

Oh it starts to get a bit iffy here, and we all know it starts to get iffy here. The salesman, whether that be person or website, will have uttered every word that the lawyers have demanded in order to conclude a safe sale. So you can be assured that in the first instance you will be faced with an – I am sorry sir/madam, you did agree that in buying/signing up… etc etc

(Minor human moan here – you don’t expect to be threatened with having just committed fraud – but that is another story)

We all know and recognise the feeling of despair, when you know that you will face an immediate ‘It wasn’t me…’ attitude from your business/service provider, followed by days of arguing and high blood pressure before the situation is resolved.

  1. We weigh up the pros and cons before making the call
  2. We decide to make the call, but are very nice – of course it is not the fault of the poor lass/lad at the other end of the phone
  3. Sometimes it works at this point – often more to do with the humanity of the member of the customer service department than company policy!
  4. If it does not work, then the personal decision to be nice starts to slip and you try to apply reason
  5. Reason is failing, blood pressure is rising, but you knew this would happen – and you possibly have friends or partners who will look in disdain at your herculean effort to address the grievance – making you more determined to win
  6. By now the service provider/business faces an incoherent, normally ranting, customer who quotes everything they have read in the Daily Mail and threatens to sue/have a heart attack
  7. At this point social media steps in
  8. Ranting, furious customer sits on hold on the phone whilst the legal team are taped into the call, and starts to open up all avenues of ventilation: Twitter, Facebook, Pownce… EMAIL!!
  9. Eveyone on the receiving end of your shout for help – especially those who do not know you but perhaps recognise the company or the angst – spring to attention. Someone knows the head of marketing, someone knows a supplier, someone has been here before and talks you through what you have to do or say – within minutes you have an army massing behind you. How long before the managers or head of customer services are aware of this civil uprising?
  10. In this day and age of everyone having to work at least the normal working hours to bring in enough money to live, we tend to deal with these personal frustrations during ‘out of hours’ when most businesses/service providers have skeleton staff, often underpaid and more than often slightly put out that they are working these hours… not a good combination with the frustrated and ranting/incoherent customer. It does not take too many brain cells to understand how any communication between these two bodies will end up in one or t’other losing… badly. Unfortunately, it seems to be the customer who will be cowed by the immortal words: ‘my manager says you need to put your complaint in writing to our Post Office Box, address to follow on the automated service…’

Note to Apple: O2 only allow complaints in writing – snail mail – to a Post Office address… not exactly bleeding edge social technology!

When the product or service needs clarification/attention

Now we have a customer who is frustrated, has possibly gone through the pain of the above three steps and slept for 48 hours (and worked) before re-approaching the customer services department.

In most cases, before they do so they will check in with social media: Am I right to think this? Has enyone else experienced the same? Once again a battle line is being drawn within minutes, and without the knowledge of the business/supplier. Is that baying crowd silenced by a solution from you the business/supplier? Absolutely, these people are just human and are behaving in a human way when faced with validation of their frustration. Once validation is granted, you have a fierce and supported opponent in your customer.

How did you get here?

  • You ignored follow up from point of sale
  • You put poorly paid staff on after-hours work
  • You failed the people that you are trying to serve
  • You looked for the quick win

Trust me… apply this to any supplier/consumer analogy.

Online apology: Karen Dickson from O2 – I was rude and patronising… I am sorry

In the age of social media, you will not win this battle, because you do not realise that for us, your customer, as soon as it goes wrong, it is full on war.

Note to Apple/O2

Our Father who art in Apple

Hallowed be thy brand

Thy Kingdom *might* come – if you are careful with your partners

Thy Will be done – because we know you are brilliant

On O2 as it is in Apple

Give us this day our mobile and other communication opportunities

Forgive us our trespasses into Blackberry or the like

And forgive us our rantings against your chosen delivery partners (O2)

Lead us not into temptation – we REALLY WANT the iphone

But deliver us from the evil of O2 customer care

For thine is the iphone, the power and the glory

For ever and ever

Amen

Moral

Do not even begin to look at how social media can attract more customers before you look at how social media already works with your business or brand. The weak spots that were there before, are now magnified.

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