Friday, September 30, 2016

Podcast Listening: Note to Self's "Digging Into Facebook's File on You"

Working my way through my weekly backlog of podcasts and I finally got to one of my favorite's, WNYC's Note to Self. This week's podcast focuses on Facebook's algorithm and what Facebook really knows about us (maybe even more than we know about ourselves).

With all of the information that runs through Facebook, they are literally sitting on a gold mine of customer information and data about our habits and everyday life. As a business, this allows you to be extremely precise when marketing to a particular segment of Facebook users, including people who got married last week or people who bought a car in the last 90 days. This ability to hyper-target users is almost unheard of in the context of the true marketing power at our fingertips these days.

But with all that data comes the questions of what is being done with it, who's using it and how it can actually influence our lives. To analyze this all, ProPublica has created a Black Box Data Project as an extension to Google Chrome. This extension will allow you to see what data Facebook has about you and whether it really matches up to who you are.

With all of this data out there, it's really interesting to see what the data says about you and whether it's truly accurate...

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

The Importance of Customer Service

For a variety of reasons, I have spent a good portion of my non-legal research time today on the phone with a variety of customer service departments. Each one handles things a little differently, which made a big difference in the way I reacted to the calls.

One of the departments fed me through an automated phone tree for an entire call. While it was the shortest of the three calls, it was also the one that left me the least confident that my issue had really been resolved. While it resulted in an automated voice giving me a confirmation number at the end of the call, I will have to watch the mail for a few days to see if it was truly resolved.

The second call seemed rather straightforward from my end, but somehow ended in a dead end. The customer service representative could not figure out exactly how to solve my problem, gave it her best guess, and then gave me another telephone number to call to hammer it out (which ended up being the wrong number).

The final call seemed to hit all the right notes. The customer service representative took down my number for a possible call back if we got disconnected, went through her system as best she could, and when she hit the wall on her end, put me on hold to speak to someone else. When she came back on the line, she re-directed me to a website that could hopefully solve my issue. Instead of just hanging up, she stayed on the phone until I had completed the process to ensure that it was all taken care of and showed up on her end as well. It wasn't the longest of the three calls, but it was definitely the most thorough and dedicated to ensure my issue was solved.

When approaching your clients, it is important to remember that your business exists to serve your clients and each interaction you have with them has to begin with that thought in mind.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Estate Planning for Young Couples with Kids

It's back to school time, which means a whole new set of parents to meet at the various welcome functions that September brings. After the usual pleasantries about what class is your child in, the next question that arises is, what do you do for a living? 

The other night I was talking to another father (a financial planner of all things) when the topic of what we do for a living came up. He told me how he is a financial planner and manages assets for people with significant portfolios. We continued to talk and agreed on the importance of people like his clients having a well thought out estate plan.

The conversation turned a bit at this point when I asked him if he had an estate plan. His response, based on his advice to his own clients, surprised me. He didn't have an estate plan because he and his wife were a young married couple with two kids and didn't need to have one yet. Based on what we had just talked about, I was floored that he didn't think he needed an estate plan. 

Here is a young couple, they own a house together, they have other assets, they have children, and if they were to be hit and killed in a car accident on the way home, they would have no say in what happened to their children or their assets. The only thing standing in their way was a surprising and mistaken belief that they didn't need an estate plan yet.

As we wrapped up our event, the other father made sure to pull me aside before we left and get my card. He and his wife are very wisely coming in next week to get started on their estate plan.