Monday, July 30, 2007

Your Boss Is Not Your Friend

I was recently alerted to a couple posts regarding whether or not you should link your boss as a "friend" on Myspace or other social networking site. Apparently it all stemmed from a Wall Street Journal article, "OMG -- My Boss Wants to 'Friend' Me On My Online Profile." Lisa Barone then posted her blog, "Your Boss Is Not Your Friend."

As a boss, I can certainly understand the fear that this would have with some employees. I have worked for a few companies myself where the boss is certainly not my "friend." But then, those bosses wouldn't ask to be my friend and most probably wouldn't be on a social network to begin with. I also live by a golden rule my mother beat into me that states don't write anything I wouldn't want her to read. Therefore, that eliminates the pictures of me doing keg stands or other graphical representations or writings that may give a potential employer/employee a bias against me should they google my name.

Googling people is prevelent and it is amazing what you can find out about people with a little search. Of course, my background as a Private Investigator gives me a little insight as to where to search as well. Maybe employers shouldn't be worried about a picture of a keg stand as much as they should be validating education and past employment backgrounds.

In todays technological society, college students and people entering the job market or working for technology companies are fully aware of the power of the Internet and how nothing is sacred. Unfortunately, that Spring Break in Cancun where you ended up on the "Girls Gone Wild" video is going to follow you around forever. Regardless if your the girl or the cheering guy.

All Web Promotion is a fairly small company with only 10 of us. Because of our small size, we tend to be a bit more personal. We often go out together and know quite a bit about each other. Me being the "boss" is included in that. Employees know as much about me as I know about them. I don't think twice about what the employees do and don't feel it's my responsibity or my even my place to question what is done outside working hours. I feel I've done my job by hiring qualified people who will represent All Web positively and professionally.

Don't forget the employees should be googling employers as well. The emplyee should be looking to see if the potential workplace is agreeable to there beliefs and standards.

The whole purpose of the social networking scene is to network and be social. It's not all work. Don't be afraid of rejection. I don't have everything in common with employees and if they don't want me as a friend, they should feel comfortable in rejecting me as I might reject them. I want my Myspace account to reflect a business type atmosphere and will not accept friends for the sake of bulking my friend list.

Who to accept as a friend and what you post online should be based upon your own personal beliefs and be based upon what you want portrayed. If you feel proud to be selected as the covergirl for "Girls Gone Wild," stand up and be proud. But remember to live in the real world. That image may not fit with the job you are applying for or the people you will be around. Some things that might fit your lifestyle don't fit others and when multiple people have to be side by side for any length of time, some things are best left to the appropriate time and place. You don't have to be an open book at work. That what makes us all different and exciting.

So in closing, keep everything about you in the closet. Just kidding. Everyone has skeletons and different belief systems. I'll leave you with a golden rule of your own, "If you don't want to know the answer. Don't ask the question."

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Friday, July 13, 2007

Should you use Hackersafe? ControlScan?

The question of whether or not you should use the Hackersafe or ControlScan type security logos on your Yahoo! Store has always been a mystery to me that I've been fighting with for some time now. On one hand, they claim to make users feel safe and secure and thus increase sales. On the other hand, Yahoo Stores are already scanned and already secure. Why pay for a service when I can create my own logo and link to a page describing Yahoo! Store Security?

I've recently had the opportunity to meet two wonderful people. Cresta Pillsbury from Hackersafe and Savannah Finney from ControlScan. By "wonderful", I really mean "wonderful." You won't find two nicer, more professional people anywhere, who bend over backwards to help you. My life has improved just by knowing them. Yes, they are that great. Unfortunately, this is business and my clients expect me to make and save them money.

HackerSafe Test

Hackersafe allowed us to run an A/B test on one of our clients. Half of the visitors saw the Hackersafe logo, the other half didn't. I felt the Hackersafe A/B data was a little skewed as they tagged duplicates by the same IP address. I fixed this by manually removing repeats who didn't have an order number. What I found was Hackersafe counted 112 legitimate orders as repeats and thus weren't included in the results they provided. In actuality, these 112 orders were repeat customers and should have been included. I have 25 days of data comprised of 1831 orders.

To throw another wrench into the test, this client sends an email blast out about every 2 days. Apparently, email can skew the results because existing customers already trust us and the HackerSafe logo has less of an impact. Because of this, I went one step farther and looked at each of the 1831 orders. Yahoo! gives me the ability to track if they are new or repeat customers so I looked at the days where new customers placed more orders than repeat customers. Of those days, it was a fairly even split of orders placed whether they saw the HackerSafe logo or not.

In aggregate, in the 25 day test period, I noticed an increase of orders of 4% (as opposed to the 12% HackerSafe claims). Because of the increase, I'm still skeptical, but we are willing to continue the tests. We'll run the HackerSafe logo on a full time basis for a few months and see what happens. Until then, I'm afraid I still haven't answered the question of whether or not you should pay for the HackerSafe logo. You should though, test it and be sure to look at the data file provided and review that data yourself. If you need any help or find any flaws in my methodology, give me a call.

ControlScan Test

ControlScan was going to let us do an A/B test but they use a third party software package that isn't that compatible with Yahoo. Because of that, we had to go by sales alone. In a 3 week period, the sales after ControlScan was added were fairly level with the 3 weeks prior. We think we could squeeze a 1% increase to ControlScan. Certainly not enough to justify itself.

This was actually very surprising to me because ControlScan consisted of tall skyscraper banners as well as a banner on the top of the website and check-out pages. HackerSafe was only a tiny little banner on the top of the website. I really thought ControlScan would outperform HackerSafe. Needless to say we removed the ControlScan banners and will follow up with a HackerSafe A/B test.

Final Word

Test, Test, Test. Results will differ on everyone's website. The websites we added the banners too already had a link to Yahoo security. We were really testing whether or not the name recognition of the banners would increase sales. Everybody I spoke with at the client site hadn't even heard of HackerSafe or ControlScan and nobody cared or said they would click on the banner to see what it was. The Marketing Director recently went to a site and noticed the HackerSafe logo but only because she knew we were testing it with her site. Is a commercial logo really better than just writing that your order is secure on the website headers? Does a customer really recognize "HackerSafe" or "ControlScan" as better than, "Your order is Secure" or a homemade "Site Security" banner linking to a descriptive page on your own website?

I can't show you the client banners we created and I'm not sure if I can copy the HackerSafe logos, but what would mean more to you:

  • Hackersafe Banner reading:
    "HackerSafe tested July 13, 2007"


  • ControlScan Banner reading:
    "verified July 13, 2007 - Verified Secure"


  • Client A:
    "Secure Shopping - learn more"


  • Client B:
    "Site Security - Yahoo Shopping"


  • Client C:
    "ECommerce by Yahoo!"
  • I guess I still have to fight with myself on whether or not we want to recommend this product or not. Certainly bigger companies are using it, but does that make it right? If anybody has any information on these or other site security services, please comment or let me know.

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    Tuesday, July 10, 2007

    PayPal Customer Service Update

    Woo-Hoo! I got the name changed on my client's Paypal account. If you haven't heard my dilemma, you can read all about it here: PayPal Customer Service.

    Thanks very much to Alex with PayPal Australia and Mike with Yahoo who both contacted Jen at PayPal. She called me and changed the name while I was on the phone.

    While talking with Jen, we both realized that the problem was not handled as well as it could have been. I should have been able to talk to someone higher up when needed. I'd like to know what happened to the supervisor who was supposed to escalate my situation though. I don't see any evidence of him following through.

    This still leaves the question of what to do when you need help. Should you blog about your one bad experience and not talk about the numerous positive ones? I am not one to blog about everything that doesn't go my way but this seemed to drag on and on. Had it not been for my blog post, I probably would still be fighting with customer service trying to get the account changed. That is just not right.

    Fortunately, Jen is high up enough with PayPal that not only can she see my challenge, but she has the power to do something about it. Hopefully this can lead to certain changes and future problems can be resolved faster and smoother.

    So what can you do? Follow up. If the first call doesn't seem to solve the problem, call back and ask to speak with a higher up. Apparently, higher ups are able to receive calls. Stay on the phone until you get someone who can assist you further. Also, get names. I wish I had all the names of everyone I spoke with. Not to slam them, but to allow PayPal to give proper training where needed. For all I know, I got some newbie who had good intentions and tried to help me, but didn't know the correct path to take. By allowing PayPal to train them, this wouldn't happen to the next guy who had a problem.

    As Alex from PayPal Australia pointed out, Change takes time and PayPal is a large company. However, not so large that he didn't know who Jen was another Continent away.

    All in all, my problem got solved and hopefully some good will come out of it. I've been a fan of Paypal for several years and this was my first major bad experience with them. Not too shabby when you look at the big picture.

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    Monday, July 02, 2007

    PayPal Customer Service; or Lack Thereof

    I have written several articles on the need to accept Paypal as a payment method. People want additional methods to pay and Paypal seems to be a great method. And it works! Unless you need something changed on your account. PayPal Account Management is awful.

    I have a client who needed the account name changed as the employee listed was no longer with the company. Seemed easy enough. On May 29, 2007 I faxed a copy of the new drivers license and utility bill along with a statement of what we needed changed. This was faxed over and I thought I was done.

    Apparently PayPal needed more information and sent an email requesting this. Since all email from Paypal goes in the spam folder, we never received it. I found out after I called to follow up that they also wanted a copy of a bank statement. Fine, I re-faxed all the information to them.

    Am I done now? Nope. Apparently PayPal needed more information, but don't plan on getting the email request they send as it gets filtered as Spam. You have to call them and funnel through the automated system to get a live body to check on the status. Apparently they need more information. This time they want a credit card statement, copy of paystub displaying social security number and a letter on company letterhead stating we wanted a name change. Keep in mind, we aren't changing the company name but only wanted to change the name of the employee listed on the account. This was faxed over on June 21, 2007.

    Am I done now? Nope. I called PayPal again after a few days wondering what the status was and they tell me they now need a copy of the signature card from the bank. Interestingly enough, this employee also tells me that it's easier to set up a new PayPal account rather than try to change the name. He told me exactly what I needed to do. I find it nice that employees are telling customers how to get over on the system because even the employees know it sucks. I'm determined to get this changed though. And I don't want to loose the history with the existing account.

    Funny though, On June 25, 2007 I received an email from PayPal asking for me to answer a survey about my experience with PayPal. The letter reads, "As part of PayPal's commitment to excellence, I want to make sure I met your needs in my response. Would you please take a minute to answer a few questions to let me know how I did?" Well, I told them how my needs were not met. Apparently that was all they wanted because I haven't heard back from them. Apparently "Commitment to Excellence" means something different to me then it does them.

    Anyway, Today, July 2, 2007 I call again wanting to know the status and the PayPal guy tells me they sent me an email today wanting more information. I can't wait to see what they want now. Unfortunately, I can't tell you because the guys computer is running slow and he can't pull up the information. I give him my email address and he assures me he'll send it within a couple minutes. He actually follows through with his word and I get an email several minutes later. Apparently, now they want a copy of the Social Security Card as well as a paystub. What, the paystub displaying the Social Security Number isn't enough?? Here's what they wrote:

    "Please submit a clear copy of your Social Security card and a recent pay stub displaying your SSN and the address matching your PayPal Account. Please ensure that your Social Security number is clearly displayed on the documents you send.

    In order for us to complete the verification process, please print this email and complete the fields of the Social Security Affidavit below. Once completed, please fax or mail the information to:...."

    You have got to be kidding! So, I call them one more time. After sitting on hold for 32 minutes, I ask to speak to the verification department and as usual get told they don't accept phone calls. I then request a supervisor. I get a supervisor who I tell my story to and he assures me that he can see that they have all the documentation and I don't need to fax anything over. He will contact the verification department and explain what I told him. He then says to wait a couple days and the name should be changed. I won't hold my breath because I want to live long enough for this change to go through. As I hang up the phone, the PayPal supervisor tells me to have a nice 4th. Is he being sarcastic or just trying to be nice? Who cares, just get my account fixed!

    My next step is to start some tests with Google Checkout. Perhaps Google Checkout will generate similar positive results and I can suggest all my clients stop using PayPal and switch to Google. This is ridiculous.

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