Archive for April, 2008

Good Customer Service

April 30, 2008

Washington Post article on customer service call center practices for Verizon and other telecom companies:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/04/29/AR2008042902886.html?wpisrc=newsletter

One thing the article failed to touch on is the reason for frequent transfer of calls.  I work in a call center collections department for a television provider (not one mentioned in the article) and it does frankly work best to have reps in different departments that specialize in different areas.  It would be overwhelming to try to adequately train phone reps in all areas a customer might call in or be called about.  And that is even moreso the case for a company that handles both phone and TV and internet service.  Its best to have reps that specialize and and are experts on one aspect, like tech support for cell phones, or past due billing, or retention so they can fully assist the customer in that area.  If the customer has multiple concerns, it really is best to handle what that rep can handle and then transfer to the next expert.  Ideally, what should happen is that companies would hire more reps so that hold times on each call or during each transfer would be smaller, or even non-existent.  Customers would be far less likely to mind the transfer if they knew it was only a momentary delay, and not another 10 minutes of listening to bad music and hold messages.

Wizards Survive

April 30, 2008

By winning Game 5 in Cleveland.  88-87 was the final.  Caron Butler hit a layup with 3.9 seconds remaining and after the Cavs called timeout to advance the ball they got it to Lebron who drove the lane and missed a very short runner at the horn.  Cavs wanted a foul call, but it looked to me like a good no-call as Lebron hit a Wizard at the top of the semicircle who seemed to have decent position, and it was not a hard collision.  So the Cavs miss a chance to advance quickly and get more rest than the eventual winner of the Boston-Atlanta series (has to be the Celtics, right?), but they are still up 3-2.  Game 6 will be Friday night in Washington’s Verizon Center.

Cheat Without Consequence?

April 30, 2008

Medical research has shown that 10% of caucasians, and an even greater percentage of Asians, have a genetic combination that guarantees they will pass piss tests for testosterone doping:

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/30/sports/30doping.html?th&emc=th

One wonders if there are similar genetic advantages others have to help them foil attempts to catch them with other forms of doping?  Just another example of how much of a sticky wicket preventing cheating is, even when Mindy McCready is not involved.

Pens Survive Rangers Best Shot

April 29, 2008

In Game 3 at Madison Square Garden the Penguins pick up the 5-3 win to take a commanding 3-0 series lead.  Pens had a 3-1 lead after one period on the strength of a huge unexpected goal from George Larrocque and a power play goal late in the period.  The Pens spent the first part of the 2nd period living in the penalty box as a sequence of 3 penalties in about 5 minutes gave the Rangers two lengthy 5-on-3 power plays; they scored on neither of them.  The Rangers did rally later in the period for two goals to tie the game and had all the momentum before Ryan Hollweg took perhaps the dumbest penalty in the history of hockey.  Not sure if the official call was boarding or roughing, but it was a dumb run from behind when his team had all the momentum and had the Pens out their picking their own asses.  A Rangers go-ahead goal was inevitable.  Instead the Pens get a power play and they  score on a perfect slapshot from Malkin and leave the 2nd period actually leading 4-3.  A Ryan Malone goal early in the 3rd gave them some breathing space again, more good penalty killing in the middle of the 3rd and perfect suffocation defense at the end lead to the win.  Pens will go for their 2nd straight sweep in Game 4 Thursday night in New York.  Go Pens!

More William Kristol Blogging

April 28, 2008

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/28/opinion/28kristol.html?th&emc=th

I don’t know we necessarily need more debates than what we’ve already had, but Kristol is correct to point out that Obama’s reason for ducking is rather lame.  And there is something to be said for it being people rooting for Obama that are asking Hillary to get out of the race prematurely, that’s its not exactly dispassionate analysis of the situation only informing that chorus.  As I have already blogged there is no reason yet to panic over Democratic Party disunity in the fall.

Getting War Emblem to Stud

April 28, 2008

According to today’s New York Times, breeders in Japan have been having a devil of a time trying to get 2002 Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes winner War Emblem to cover mares:

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/28/sports/othersports/28emblem.html?_r=1&th&emc=th&oref=slogin

Now, the first thought I had, and one the article never covers, is “maybe the horse is gay”.  I mean, that has to be possible, doesn’t it?  But mostly I couldn’t believe I was spending the time to read an entire article centered around trying to get a horse to screw.  Of course, its very profitable business if they can get more foals (the ones that War Emblem has sired seem to be promising race horses), but its something I’m probably happier not thinking about.

Cavs Take Commanding Lead

April 27, 2008

3-1 series lead after stealing Game 4 in Washington this afternoon 100-97.  Difference in this series is that the Cavs have been able to win both games wherein both teams were trying to win (Game 1 and today).  Hopefully the Cavs can close this out at home in Game 5.  I’m sure TV execs hope for a quick closeout here as well; assuming the Celtics win in 5 as well they can start that 2nd round series on ABC next weekend.

Pirates release Matt Morris

April 27, 2008

Yeah, that trade last July didn’t turn out so hot.  He simply was incapable of getting guys out, and it was becoming pretty obvious it wasn’t just a slump.  His fastball had no zip on it anymore.

So, where will that acquisition now rank on the list of lousy moves of the Sucko Era (1993-Present)?  At least Morris was trying until the end, unlike Operation Shutdown Derek Bell, and he didn’t refuse surgery to try be able to play again like Pat Meares.  But the trade would still have to be considered not entirely successful, even by Pirates standards.

At least they beat the Phillies today behind a 2 hitter from Paul Maholm to improve to 10-15.  Momentum!

Just Sick

April 27, 2008

A man in Austria has been arrested for holding his own daughter captive in his basement for 24 years and fathering six children/grandchildren by her over the years.  The case broke when the eldest daughter/granddaughter, 19, fell ill and was taken to the hospital:

http://www.cnn.com/2008/WORLD/europe/04/27/austria.cellar/index.html

I don’t think the English language has words adequate to describe that heinous an act.

Steelers 2008 Draft Report Card

April 27, 2008

Rashard Mendenhall fell to the 23rd spot in the draft and the Steelers said, “kickass!” and fitted the Illinois star running back for Black & Gold.  I like the pick; he should compliment Parker well and allow for a two back offense of Mr. Outside (Parker) and Mr. Inside (Mendenhall).  Parker got over 300 carries each of the last two seasons, and I don’t think that suits him best, and nor did being expected to get the tough inside yards.  In the 2nd round the Steelers got Ben the tall receiver he wanted in Texas’ Limas Sweed.  For the first time since 1990 no wide receivers were picked in the 1st round, which meant the best of this class were still left in the 2nd round, and Sweed was one of the better; his 2007 campaign was cut short by a wrist injury that should not be a long term problem.

Sunday saw the Steelers address needs by taking a DE/LB out of UCLA in the 3rd round and a tackle out of Texas in the 4th round.  There are apparently some questions about the tackle’s technique, but hopefully the Steelers can coach him up.  Interestingly the Steelers used their 5th round pick on Dennis Dixon, the quarterback from Oregon whose last season was cut short with the ACL.  Its an interesting pick as Roethlisberger is obviously the Steelers quarterback hopefully for a long time to come.  But I think the Steelers might be taking a long term view looking at the fact Charlie Batch is getting long in the tooth and they would rather stab themselves in the eye with a pointed stick than have to trust Brian St. Pierre in a key situation.  Maybe they can groom Dixon to be Ben’s backup 2 or 3 seasons down the line.  Another possibility is they are looking at drafting an athlete that they will look to get on the field in other ways, maybe the 5th wide receiver used in gadget plays, or as a kick/punt returner, sort of our answer to Josh Cribbs in Cleveland.  We shall see.

Overall I would grade the Steelers draft in the A- or B+ range with the detraction being they didn’t get a better offensive lineman than what they apparently got with that being their area of greatest need.  But I can’t argue with the guys they did get, especially in the Saturday rounds, so its a high grade.  Of course, time will tell.