Yesterday I became a case study. One of my responsibilities at iCommons is to co-ordinate its IT/IS function and that includes sourcing a new Internet access service provider. JC, our techie until the end of March, was dealing with DataPro (I think I even suggested DataPro in the first place) so when JC left, I picked up from where he left off and tried to move things along. Because iCommons is a non-profit we are mindful that we are dependent on donor funding and need to make decisions based on that. Anyway, without getting into details I reached a bit of an impasse with our DataPro sales rep yesterday morning about an issue that was a concern for us. I wasn’t happy with the tension that had entered my budding relationship with the DataPro guy and reached out to my Twitter community for help and asked my community if anyone could recommend someone at IS or MWeb Business that I could speak to about an alternative quote. It also didn’t help DataPro much that my colleagues were also a bit put off by this unforunate development.
I quickly received responses from Andy, Jason and Marc (and shortly afterwards, Jacques) and started making enquiries about alternatives to DataPro. While I can understand that people have bad days and are not always polite, we are under some pretty intense pressure back at the batcave and need a reliable solution pronto. I didn’t have (and still don’t have) a meaningful relationship with DataPro and when I experienced that tension, I felt no hesitation look at other options.
I started discussions with a great referral from Andy about possibly moving to Mweb Business (yes, in spite of Jason’s caution) as the next best of a somewhat dubious bunch (although if I had seen his post about MWeb Business I probably wouldn’t have agreed to consider them so readily) and then headed back to the ongoing session at Nomadic Marketing where I was due to speak in a couple hours. I was listening to Mike Stopforth’s talk an hour or so later when I received a series of calls from DataPro about a complaint that had found its way to DataPro’s CEO who passed it down to the sales director who routed it to the sales guy I had been talking to. Anyway, the sales guy was most apologetic and we were able to reach agreement on an arrangement that works for iCommons once we were passed all the tension.
At first the sales guy thought that I had called the CEO and was confused when I told him I hadn’t spoken to anyone else at DataPro. When he checked back with his director he was told that the complaint was “on a website … Twitter …”. I confirmed that I had posted my gripe and explained that where I receive good service, I can be almost fanatically loyal and when I don’t, like most people, I reach out to my community for alternatives. It turns out that all the wonderful people on Twitter I am connected to are a pretty responsive bunch and often my first port of call. I wasn’t sure how the message got to DataPro and was, quite frankly, stunned that someone actually heard what I said and then conveyed that to the CEO of DataPro. This is the stuff of presentation case studies for goodness sake! I found out this morning that Pam Sykes knows DataPro’s PR people and passed the message on to them. Pam was sitting about 5 meters away from me in Nomadic Marketing to boot! If it weren’t for Pam, I wonder if my tweet would have been noticed by anyone connected to DataPro and dealt with. The emphatic response from DataPro’s CEO is a clear indication of how important it is to them to give better service and they deserve some credit for making an effort to respond to my indirect complaint about them.
(In the event I still have their attention, they may also want to do something about the page http://datapro.co.za resolves to – it isn’t the home page and “www” is so 2007!)