Monday, November 14, 2005

Customer Service: Compare and Contrast

Way back when I posted about sending a note to the Bloomington newspaper about adding an RSS feed to their website. I did that again this week, at the site Macadamian.com, which has a regular column called Critical Path, tips for software managers. Got almost an identical response, actually, with a quick response from an editor saying they were considering it, followed a few hours later with a link, and now I'm subscribed to it in my feedreader. Very nice; great customer service.

Now a month or so ago, I sent not the exact same question, but a similar question to the Indiana University School of Informatics, where I think I might be an alumni. (I was for a while, and then I wasn't again, but now I hear that the IU Computer Science department has been assimilated, and so I must be again. Unless I'm not. Anyway.) The school has an RSS feed, which is good, but the unfortunate bit is that the feed is just old-school marketing, PR stuff. IU Research in Spotlight at Seattle Supercomputing Conference. Now, by no means do I object to reading that stuff; a lot of it is important and interesting. But if this is a cutting-edge school, I want a cutting-edge web page. I want to read student and professor blogs, with comments, utilizing new technology to block spam. I want to see wikis, and web pages with Ajax components. I want podcasts of lectures and symposiums. I don't want a bunch of static web pages that no one is ever going to look at, except for the one time a month they need to look up an email address.

So, on their comment page, I wrote up my request.

No response. At all. My comment was ignored completely.

So what's the deal here? Does the industry just change too fast for universities to keep up with? Is it a problem specific to Indiana University? Or is it just that they're not a business and therefore have no interest in responding to customer requests?

I don't know. I'd like to know.

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