This Week's Ma.gnolia Bookmarks

My Ma.gnolia bookmarks for this past week.

Thermometer Chart in Excel

Thermometer Chart in Excel

Create a Thermometer Chart in Excel

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Mahoney's Garden Centers in Winchester Center – Winchester | CitySquares

Mahoney's Garden Centers in Winchester Center - Winchester | CitySquares

Mahoney's Garden Centers 242 Cambridge St Winchester ma 01890 home & garden nurseries & garden centers winchester winchester center

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Online Invitations, party planning and event management from pingg

Online Invitations, party planning and event management from pingg

pingg offers consumers, professional and
businesses stylish online invitation creation, event management, guest list
creation and event reporting services. With pingg you get the look and feel of
traditional print invitations with the convenience and utility of an online
invitation and event management service.

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:{Custom 52}: Playing Card Design Competition

Playing Card Design Competition

Welcome to Custom52. We are an online design community using playing cards as our canvas. Entries will be graded by your peers and the strong will survive.

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20×200

20x200

20×200: art for everyone

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BlueFlip Art – Buy prints. Save cash. Help charities.

BlueFlip Art - Buy prints. Save cash. Help charities.

BlueFlip Art's mission is to get great art into the hands of the public at low prices, and help some charities along the way. Browse our prints today!

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Award winning luxury Bicycle tours in Europe | Bike Tour | Bicycle Tour | Bike trip| Bike trip France | Bike tours in France | bike tours in Italy | bicycle tours Tuscany | bicycle vacation tuscany | biking tour Ireland | cycling tour Switzerland | biking

Award winning luxury Bicycle tours in Europe | Bike Tour | Bicycle Tour | Bike trip| Bike trip France | Bike tours in France | bike tours in Italy | bicycle tours Tuscany | bicycle vacation tuscany | biking tour Ireland | cycling tour Switzerland | biking

Unique and personalized bike tour in France, Italy, Ireland, Spain, Switzerland, Napa, Chile, New Zealand; biking trips traveling with DuVine Adventures in Provence, Bordeaux, Burgundy, Tuscany, Loire, Tour de France and more of Europe. Enjoy a bicycle tour in Europe while staying in deluxe chateaux and sampling great french, Italian, Spainish wines and cuisine, bicycle tour in Tuscany, offering incentive travel and corporate travel incentive groups guided biking trips europe mountain bike tour, biking trips europe, France bike tour,
european bike vacations, european bike tours.

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The New York Times > US > Image > Shifting Religions

US > Image > Shifting Religions”/>

More than a quarter of adult Americans have left the faith of their childhood to join another religion or no religion, a new survey of religious affiliation says.

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Marketing Your Way Through a Recession — HBS Working Knowledge

Marketing Your Way Through a Recession — HBS Working Knowledge

In a recession, consumers become value oriented, distributors are concerned about cash, and employees worry about their jobs. But a downturn is no time to stop spending on marketing. The key, says professor John Quelch , is to understand how the needs of your customers and partners change, and adapt your strategies to the new reality.

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Coolidge Corner Hub – Home

Coolidge Corner Hub - Home

The latest news, events and information for Coolidge Corner and Brookline, Ma, In response to the growing need for quality pre-K child care in the area, Brookline's Little Children Schoolhouse recently expanded its program to include this age group, offering both full and part-time slots., The Brookline Recreation Department is offering outdoor fun for kids from toddlers to teenagers., This winter, the Brookline Arts Center opens its doors to the father and son photographers B.D. and Ben Colen., Harvey Bravman, Coolidge Corner Hub Founder and President of Advanced Digital Replication, Inc. was among those recognized in by the Brookline Tab in its TAB 10 of 2007., Coldwell Banker's Arts and Community Show continues this month featuring local artists, Lola Baltzell and Robin Lippay., The Brookline Education Foundation's Annual Win-a-Mini Raffle is underway., For people with busy schedules who cannot commit to a long-term visual arts class, the Brookline Arts Center is now offering one-day workshops and short evening courses on a variety of topics, The Brookline Chamber of Commerce has a full schedule events over the coming weeks.

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YouTube – Keeping Austin Weird with the Multiplier Effect Episode 4

YouTube - Keeping Austin Weird with the Multiplier Effect Episode 4

Fiercely independent Austin Texas came up with a formula to shield its independents from an unfair playing field for Borders Books. And they come up with a …

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CitySquares on Boston Pedicabs

CitySquares on Boston Pedicabs

Video of Boston Pedicab's Official Launch with CitySquares as the official sponsor.

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Customer Service: How To and How Not To

The cover of this week’s BusinessWeek is all about customer support. The subheads read, “Consumer Vigilantes” and “Customer Service Champs.” Meanwhile, CitySquares just got done tabulating our 2007 customer renewal rates: 80%. We’re an extremely customer oriented business – and I can’t stress that enough. These three points make the subject of this blog entry more poignant, I think. Here’s how not to do customer service – from my own personal experience in the past few days. If you don’t want to read my angry rants on two bad customer service experiences, go to the bottom.

First story – Jennifer Convertibles: Ali and I moved into a new home just after the holidays. Our new home is quite spacious and our existing furniture just ain’t cuttin it. Amidst all the excitement we got impulsive and decided to buy a couple chairs at Jennifer Convertibles in Porter Square. Truth be told, Jennifer Convertibles is a publicly held company based out of NY – they’re not a customer and they’re not local. I was actually a bit disappointed in myself, giving them my business. Anyway, we ordered the chairs and put the purchase on a 90 day interest-free payment plan – very handy indeed. Then we waited – we waited a month for these chairs to arrive. Three weeks ago, on a Thursday evening around 8pm, Jennifer Convertibles called us to tell us the chairs would be delivered the next day, between ….. 11 and 5. Well, thanks for the notice, first of all, and thanks for such a specific window of time. Well, I worked from home that next day and they showed up and delivered not one, but two busted chairs. That’s right – after waiting a month both chairs arrived broken. This could be a longer story, because there are other priceless details that I’m avoiding, but, long story short, they removed one chair, left the other. After dealing with the folks at Jennifer Convertibles’ Porter Square store, which in itself was a test of patience, I managed to get a couple new chairs delivered a week later. Now, we’re about 2 days before the anticipated delivery and I get a phone call – they can’t make it. I have to wait a few more days. I’ve had it – cancel my order, cancel my financing, forget the whole damn thing. They complied. This past week, however, I got a bill from Citi Financial. A bill? For what? For these two chairs. Yesterday morning, I placed literally 20 phone calls or so to a variety of Jennifer Convertibles stores in the Boston area, as well as their NY headquarters. I could not, for the life of me, and with all my trickery, get a human being on the phone. Finally, later in the day, I got someone at the Burlington, MA store. Apparently he’s circulating emails around the “higher ups” to ensure that Citi Financial is notified of the cancellation and my account is closed.

(last weekend Ali and I went to Gardner, MA to the furniture stores there. What a difference! In quality, in service, in guarantees, and sure, in price. But that’s where we’ll be buying our furniture.)

Second story – Comcast: When we moved into our new home on Dec 27th, we had Comcast come out the following day to wire up our much needed Internet and television. The technician was super nice, and did a nice job – even went above and beyond. But since then we’ve been getting strange tiling effects on our tvs. In the middle of a TV show, like um, the SuperBowl, the feed would stop – it’d freeze and we’d get these digital-like tiles all over the screen. One of our TVs became so bad a couple weeks ago that we just stopped watching it. The other one was bad too, but it was at least tolerable. Last week Ali called Comcast to have it looked at. We were told we’d have to wait a week for someone to come out. OK – fine, whatever it takes. A week was yesterday. We were told that a tech would be here between 3pm and 6pm. Ali was willing to leave work early and be home for them, so she did. At 11:30, I was at work and got a call on my mobile. It was the Comcast technician! He was outside our house – apparently it was more convenient for them. “Sir I appreciate your earliness, but no one will be home until 3pm, as scheduled.” He was totally cool and said, “Oh no problem, we’ll just come back then.” And that was that. At 3pm, Ali was home. At 4pm, Ali was home. And at 5pm and 6pm, Ali was home. No one came. We were very annoyed, to say the least. So, I called Comcast and ripped them a new one – they wasted Ali’s time and that’s enough for me. They gave me a hard time but I managed to schedule something for today, Saturday. So I snow blowed the driveway, did some work, read a little bit, and basically waited around for Comcast to come between 12 and 4. At 3:35 I called Comcast to be sure they were still coming. They assured me someone would be here by 4pm. At 3:53 my phone rang – it was the Comcast technician:

Hello
This is Comcast, you got a problem with your tv?
Yeah, is this the tech?
Yeah
You on your way?
(pause) Yeah, tell me about the problem.
Why don’t we just talk about it when you get here?
(pause, sigh) What’s the problem with your tv?
Look, I got my hands full – if you’re on your way why don’t I just show you when you get here.
Fine.
Bye.

After the call, I went to check my TVs. Guess what – working fine. I’m confused. At 4:01 my doorbell rang – Comcast. I open the door.

Hey
Hey
So come on in but I’m really confused now. As far as I know we were still having problems. My wife waited at home for a few hours yesterday and nobody showed. I’ve been here all day waiting for you guys and I just checked and the TVs seem fine now.
Oh yeah, when we were here yesterday we climbed up the pole and rewired you – there was a bad connection.
(my turn to pause)
Yesterday?
Yeah
What time?
Like 3. We rang your doorbell and waited for a while but no one was here so we went up the pole to see what we could see.
At 3?
Yeah
Funny, my wife was here from 2:30 and onward. You sure it wasnt earlier in the day? Didnt you call me?
No.
OK look, I dont care anymore. Our TVs seem to fine now – so you think its fixed.
Yeah
Thats what was causing the tiling and shit? Something up the pole in a box?
Yeah it’s all rewired. We’ve seen this before and it should be fine now.
Alright, thanks. Off you go.

Can someone please explain to me what just happened!? I called Comcast back and explained myself to a customer service rep becaues he said he might be able to do as much for me as a manager could. I bought that and explained my case to him, quite calmly too. He could offer me a $20 credit. $20! That’s what our time is worth! Twenty clams! I don’t think so pal – put your boss on.

The boss didnt even understand my story and decided she’d rather argue with me and make excuses. She didn’t understand her own title – “Customer Service Supervisor.” She offered me $40 – for my time yesterday and my time today.


OK. All that aside – what the heck is going on? Where is the customer service!? How can these companies neglect us like that? Not answer their phones!? Blow us off? Disrespect us? Waste our time? It’s really unbelievable to me. Strangely enough, this customer service is so bad that I actually am left scratching my head, wondering if I’m just too demanding of a consumer!

There are, of course, the rare companies that exceed in customer support. Many are named in the March 2nd issue of BusinessWeek. In my experience, some of the best customer service I’ve ever received has been from local businesses, of course. Local businesses need their customers, need loyalty, need favorable opinions of their customers more than the usual publicly traded company. This is not news to you of course.

A few weeks ago Ali and I were painting the walls in a few rooms. We wanted Benjamin Moore paints – only the best. We didn’t go to Home Depot, or Lowe’s, we went to a couple local hardware stores, including Hillside Hardware and Modern Hardware, both in Medford. The customer support that we received at both places, over the course of numerous weekends, was unparalleled! They were gentlemen, they were accomodating, they went above and beyond each and every time we stopped in. I will be a customer for life and I will recommend them to anyone, anytime!

The impact of bad customer support is largely diluted these days because it happens so often. We’re used to it. We’re totally used to it! And this whole consumer review trend we’re seeing is a reaction to it. Greg Sterling has blogged about this quite a bit.

CitySquares is all about the local business – not so much the consumer. We want to give consumers a voice, but we’re first and foremost about the businesses – letting them demonstrate their goods and services and giving them a platform. Consumers have enough platforms – let’s give the local businesses a real platform and let’s highlight the best of them. Let the worst sink to the bottom and let the best bubble to the top.

This Week's Ma.gnolia Bookmarks

My Ma.gnolia bookmarks for this past week.

Building a Wireless Home Media Network Server: PVR/Media Streaming Software – Guide to the Unwired World by PC Magazine

PVR/Media Streaming Software - Guide to the Unwired World by PC Magazine

What's the point of having a speedy wireless network if you don't have any interesting bits to push over those airwaves? In this week's Go Wireless installment, we'll show you how to assemble a “media furnace” that can serve up content, to both your wireless and wired clients.

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Venture-backed companies taking longer to pay off – Silicon Valley / San Jose Business Journal:

Venture-backed companies taking longer to pay off

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techPresident – How the candidates are using the web, and how the web is using them.

techPresident – How the candidates are using the web, and how the web is using them.

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Glassbooth – Quiz to help you choose best 2008 presidential candidate

Glassbooth - Quiz to help you choose best 2008 presidential candidate

Discover which presidential candidate you really line up with – in theory anyway…

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Mahalo Daily » Blog Archive » MD045 – State of the Union Address (in 60 seconds)

Mahalo Daily » Blog Archive » MD045 - State of the Union Address (in 60 seconds)

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Thermometer Chart in Excel

Thermometer Chart in Excel

Create a Thermometer Chart in Excel

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Giant Killers, by Larry Sullivan

I got myself into this, and now it’s time to pay the pot. A bet is a bet! Larry and I placed a friendly wager on Superbowl XLII. Larry won. I lost. Hear me? The Patriots lost and therefore I lost. (Damnit) So anyway, below is Larry’s post on my blog.

………..

I need to thank Ben for this little piece of real estate.

Super Bowl XLII was one of the most incredible games I have seen in my life. It was a great Super Bowl, not just because my team won, but because it was a close exciting game. Yes blow outs are nice and definitely necessary some times (depending on your perspective) but close one always keep you glued to your sit. My thoat is still sore from yelling at the TV.

I want to congratulate the Patriots on a great season. They are a very talented team and I know this is a very disappointing lose, trust me I have been there.

The thing that I love about the New York Giants being Super Bowl XLII champions is that no one ever dreamed it to be possible. No one, I mean no one, gave them a snowball chance in hell to win anything and look what they did. Look what they did. It is incredible.

Since Ben and I are both involved with local search, we know that many times the small business owners can have a defeatist attitude…

“I can’t compete with the big guys..”
“I can’t afford that…”
“We are out of our league..”

If Eli and company had come in with that attitude, they would not have paraded down Broadway the otehr day? Plaxico predicted a win, Tom laughed. Yes small business do get laughed at and many times do not get the respect they deserve but local small business can survive and thrive online.

We want to encourage the local business owner to get online and be active. Get your business listed in CitySquares. Have a local search marketer review over your website and help you set up a realistic online marketing plan. Just don’t sit on the sidelines while your competition is in the game.

Local search marketing is growing daily and the opportunities for local small business to promote themselves online and increase their visibility are also growing, so take advantage of them. After a little while of promoting online, you might be just as surprised, as we Giants fans are of the 2007-8 season.

Larry Sullivan

LocalbizBits.com

———-

Thank you Larry. Maybe we’ll do this again come baseball season. Met’s are looking formidable this year already…

A Friendly Wager with My Friend Larry Sullivan

As the founder of a local search company I’ve gotten to know a broad variety of people and experts in the space over the past couple years. From experts like Greg Sterling to fellow entrepreneurs and insiders like Andrew Shotland, I’ve built a network that I can tap for perspective, knowledge, and in many cases, for friendship. I’ve always said how different and cool it is to be a part of such a great community of people. One gentleman I’ve had the good fortune of getting to know quite well over the past year or so is a well respected local search blogger named Larry Sullivan. He’s in Georgia, but like me, his roots are in NY. We get along well and recently our relationship took a sharp turn down a bumpy road – we started talking about sports – at length – about basketball (Celtics and Knicks) and about football (Pats and Giants). Thankfully, he’s a Mets fan and we can have a conversation about baseball. (Yankees fans don’t have dialogues about baseball, they have monologues, right Rich?) So Larry antogonized me enough through Facebook the other day that I agreed to place a friendly wager with him on the outcome of the Superbowl.

So Larry posted on his blog last night about our wager, but I’m going one step further. Larry stated that the Giants will win – of course he’d say that. He’s just happy to be rooting for a team that’s actually in the postseason. Being a Bostonian now, I’m getting kinda used to winning but this is all very new to Larry.

The wager is as follows: When Larry loses, he has to allow me to post something on his blog about either the Superbowl, or about local search. And in the strange and rare possibility that I lose the bet, I have to allow Larry to do the same on my blog. I can’t imagine having my blog polluted in such a way, but that’s the price of losing a bet I suppose. I look forward to talking about the Patriots, at great length, on Larry’s blog, early next week. Maybe I’ll start drafting it now.

For the record, let it be known now that the 18-0 New England Patriots will be 19-0 Sunday night, and will prove once and for all that they are, in fact, the best team in the history of the NFL.

Go Pats!

This Week's Ma.gnolia Bookmarks

My Ma.gnolia bookmarks for this past week.

Cat Scratching Solutions

Cat Scratching Solutions

Cat Scratching Solutions by a Veterinarian

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Local Papers' Web Scramble – WSJ.com

Local Papers' Web Scramble - WSJ.com

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Ask George Zimmer | Printer-friendly version

Ask George Zimmer | Printer-friendly version

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I Refuse to Become an NMDB

No Really. I found myself heading that direction about 8 months ago and starting to become one, and I hated everything about it. I refuse to become one! I know a few of them and they drive me crazy. In fact, I'm thinking of going the other way. Reducing the amount of time I find myself doing NMDB kinds of things. So without further ado, here's what I'm talking about:

This Week's Ma.gnolia Bookmarks

My Ma.gnolia bookmarks for this past week.

What does [sic] mean?

What does [sic] mean?

I've always wondered and finally learned what it means.

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YouMail

YouMail

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ClickZ: New Players Build Local Niches With Local Sales Efforts

New Players Build Local Niches With Local Sales Efforts

Local newspapers, yellow pages publishers are challenged on their own turf.

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