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Telus recently lost a class-action lawsuit in Quebec, and has been ordered to reimburse customers for text messaging fees. Between 2008 and 2011, Telus started charging 15 cents per incoming text without fair waning, the court ruled.
Although damages will only amount to about $15 a person, 177,425 customers were involved in the lawsuit, meaning Telus will have to cough up $2.6 million. The Vancouver-based carrier is reviewing the court’s decision and may file an appeal.
Telus argued that customers were notified of contract changes “well in advance” and even offered bundles with new rates that included unlimited incoming texting. However, under Quebec law, consumers must know exactly how much they are paying under the contract they signed.
A handful of wireless handset makers and service providers have pledged to add a remote kill switch to their devices by 2015 in an attempt to curb theft. Companies such as Apple, Samsung, HTC, Motorola and Google, along with AT&T, Verizon, Sprint and T-Mobile, have all signed on to CTIA’s Smartphone Anti-Theft Voluntary Commitment program.
Under the program, all handsets manufactured after July 2015 will include a “baseline anti-theft tool” that is either preloaded or downloadable. It will only apply to devices sold in the United States.
According to CTIA, the anti-theft tool will have the following capabilities:
1. Remote wipe the authorized user’s data (i.e., erase personal info that is added after purchase such as contacts, photos, emails, etc.) that is on the smartphone in the event it is lost or stolen.
2. Render the smartphone inoperable to an unauthorized user (e.g., locking the smartphone so it cannot be used without a password or PIN), except in accordance with FCC rules for 911 emergency communications, and if available, emergency numbers programmed by the authorized user (e.g., “phone home”).
3. Prevent reactivation without authorized user’s permission (including unauthorized factory reset attempts) to the extent technologically feasible (e.g., locking the smartphone as in No. 2 above).
4. Reverse the inoperability if the smartphone is recovered by the authorized user and restore user data on the smartphone to the extent feasible (e.g., restored from the cloud).
The program’s launch comes on the heels of growing demands from state legislators who want to see the smartphone industry play a more active role in combating theft. In February, California State Sen. Mark Leno (D – San Francisco) introduced a bill requiring all new smartphones to have a built-in kill switch by next year. Washington, D.C.’s chief of police has made similar requests.
According to the Federal Communications Commission, 30 to 40 percent of robberies in the U.S. involve a mobile device.
The war over copper-to-IP is heating up, and accusations are flying that Verizon is deliberately neglecting its traditional infrastructure to force customers into unreliable Internet-based service.
Verizon is denying the claims made last month by The Utility Reform Network (TURN), which filed an emergency motion with the California Public Utilities Commission.
In its request, TURN asked the Commission to “order Verizon to repair the service of copper-based landline telephone customers who have requested repair or wish to retain the copper services they were cut off of.”
A Verizon spokesperson spoke out against the filing, stating the transition to IP-based networks actually improves the quality of service in areas plagued with copper infrastructure issues. All customers are asked for permission before their services are migrated, and if they’re unhappy, they can be transferred back, said Verizon’s Jarryd Gonzales.
However, a former Verizon copper repair center employee told a contradictory tale at a recent public hearing, stating some customers are not being given a choice and are being forced into its Voice Link product. Those who refuse to transition are left without service.
Voice Link has been highly criticized for its unreliability, especially during power outages, which puts 911 service in limbo. It does not support DSL, medical alert or alarm monitoring.
In less than a month Air Canada passengers will have the chance to surf the Internet while cruising to their destination. The Canadian airline says the service will be offered on all North American flights starting in May.
Like other American carriers, Air Canada plans to use the Gogo Wi-Fi system. In the U.S., the service usually runs $5 an hour, $14 for 24 hours or $39.95 a month for a single airline. Frequent travellers can pay $49.95 a month to use the service on all available airlines.
Though Internet connectivity is permitted, voice calls or other communications through cell phone networks are still prohibited.
Flying with Wi-Fi is becoming the norm. While Air Canada stands to make up to $5.2 million a year by charging for the service, it may not last long – analysts point out other airlines, including JetBlue, are now offering the service for free.
Canaccord Genuity’s David Tyerman notes many hotels used to charge for Wi-Fi, but are now offering it for free since it has become the industry standard.
Chances are many people will be willing to pay for Wi-Fi on a flight to break up a long, boring plane ride. But it will be interesting to see how high the fees stay, and for how long.
The importance of networking is well established. We know it is something we must do to live fulfilled and successful lives, both personally and professionally. While relationship building comes naturally to some, others continue to struggle. Even worse, some think they know what they are doing yet go about it in all the wrong ways.
Some people mistakenly believe that networking, by definition, is nothing more than showing up at a staged event to trade business cards. In reality, it’s anything but. Virtually all of our relationships are built on networking in one form or another. While business groups and service clubs may set the stage for an interaction, how you behave and what you have to offer is what really counts in the end. It’s about gathering, collecting and distributing information for the mutual benefit of everyone in your network.
It is important to remember that our power as individuals comes not from independence, but interdependence. Our interactions, and the way we relate to people and opportunities around us, truly allow us to reap the greatest rewards. Be prepared to contribute but expect little to nothing in return – there is no keeping score in networking. Helping others achieve their goals will help you achieve your own, though it may not happen overnight.
We have a basic mantra in our business – Network, goal of one: I will find one person to help with something.
Let’s take a look at some dos and don’ts that can help you get the most out of networking.
Networking Do #1 – Do Be Prepared
Take some time to do your homework and plot out your purpose before attending an event. Do you want to get introduced to specific people? Are you more interested in fostering existing relationships? Identify potential contacts beforehand and do some research to learn more about them. And when you do head off to an event, make sure you’re armed with the most important tool of all – a pen. You’ll want to jot down information on the back of your card before you hand it to a person, or make some notes of your own to refer back to later.
Networking Don’t #1 – Don’t Make it All About Your Business
The hard sell doesn’t have a place in networking. Though you should be prepared to share what you do with people – a concise, conversational and well-rehearsed elevator speech is always best – you shouldn’t focus on closing a deal. Pitching your business directly makes friends, neighbours and associates uncomfortable and less likely to engage you. Some consider it downright rude. Instead, keep your focus on the other person and ask thoughtful questions to learn more about them, their interests, and what they do. If the spotlight is always on you, chances are you’re doing something wrong.
Networking Do #2 – Do Make Your Own Luck
How many times have you thought that something happened because you were in the “right place at the right time”? By learning how to network effectively, you can create your own “luck” that puts you in the right place every time. The most successful people usually have small, tightly connected networks of people they know very well. And it isn’t grown by chance – the best networkers carefully select contacts with common ideals and similar personalities from a variety of fields, then work hard to nurture those relationships.
Networking Dont’ #2 – Don’t Focus on Quantity over Quality
We’ve all seen them at events: the guy who is more concerned with running around the room collecting business cards than having a genuine conversation. When he does stop, he does a lot of talking but doesn’t listen. Whatever you do, avoid this tactic. A handful of good conversations will do more for you than dozens of meaningless business cards ever could.
Networking Do #3 – Do Share Information and Contacts
Whether it’s making an introduction to another individual, or recommending a book, website or tool, think of ways to help that person. In turn, accept the same from others. We all have a natural desire to assist each other, and making and receiving these contributions are at the heart of true networking. Don’t hesitate to ask your contacts for help or advice. To ensure you’re offering your contacts the most value, first define your expertise. This will allow you to hone in on what kind of a resource you can be for others. Remember, this doesn’t have to directly relate to the specific product or service you offer professionally since our skills are often transferable and our interests diverse.
Networking Don’t #3 – Don’t Fail to Deliver
We’ve established that making recommendations to others is crucial, so be sure to always follow through on any offer you’ve made. If you promised to send over the name of a business book or to connect with a person on LinkedIn, make sure you do it. If you discussed your mutual love for tennis and tossed around the idea of meeting on the court, give that person a call to set up a match. Always come through on what you’ve promised to deliver – and more – so they know you are thoughtful and reliable.
The one thing we often forget when it comes to networking is the importance of self-confidence. If you don’t believe in yourself or your skills, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to offer anything of value to others. However, if you accept, acknowledge and trust yourself, the possibilities are endless.
Perhaps this Chinese proverb summed it up best:
If you want to be prosperous for a year, grow grain. If you want to be prosperous for ten years, grow trees. If you want to be prosperous for 100 years, grow people.
We all know that relationships play a large role in our personal and professional success. In fact, if you ask business leaders and authors Andrew Sobel and Jerold Panas, they’ll tell you those relationships aren’t just important – they’re everything.
Though technology has made it easier than ever to reach out to someone, simply adding someone as a connection on LinkedIn or subscribing to their newsletter isn’t enough to establish a valuable long-lasting relationship. You need to step it up to make sure you rise above the noise and stand out.
In their new book, Power Relationships: 26 Irrefutable Laws for Building Extraordinary Relationships, Sobel and Panas outline steps you can take to engage others and cultivate meaningful relationships that help you, and others, get ahead.
“In our business, at home, and among friends, relationships touch our lives in wondrous ways,” write the duo. “They are the threads that weave through the fabric of our entire being.”
Let’s take a look at the Top 7 laws that Sobel and Panas say will help you engage to your fullest, excel professionally and establish lasting connections.
Enthusiasm is Contagious
Whether you are briefing clients or interviewing for a new job, bringing a high level of enthusiasm to the meeting will make you stand out and brighten others’ moods. Sometimes someone who is down can be inspired to hang in there by simply infusing enthusiasm into the conversation. If you’re viewed as a dynamo in your social network, you’ll have an attractive aura and people will want to work with you.
Treat Your Prospects Like Clients
There is no better way to illustrate to a prospect what it’s like doing business with you than to treat them like a client. No one really likes being sold to, so by getting to know their business, meeting with them regularly, bringing them new ideas and introducing them to people in your network, there’s a good chance that prospect will become a client. Giving people attention and building trust will make them want to do business with you.
Be Unafraid to Ask
Have you ever wanted to connect with a powerful leader but thought they were out of your league? It’s time to get some confidence. Interact with them on Twitter, comment on their blog, attend events where they are speaking or drop them an email to compliment them on one of their achievements. If you are pleasantly persistent and work to cultivate the relationship, it could open doors to something more. But don’t expect it to happen overnight – building these types of relationships can take years.
Make Them Curious
Some people make the mistake of assuming the more information they give another person, the better. In fact, it’s more beneficial to leave some things unsaid than tell them everything they need (and sometimes don’t need) to know. Try to have a fresh perspective on issues and say unexpected, honest things. If you are telling someone about your business, stick to talking about what you do and the results rather than droning on about the process. By giving brief answers and hinting at things, people will hang on your every word instead of becoming bored with what you have to say. Know the Right Questions to Ask
By asking thought-provoking questions, you can shift the focus to the other person and ensure you stick to important topics instead of going off on a tangent. Well developed questions can help you learn more about a client’s business and their career challenges, allowing you to offer valuable solutions and expand their perception of what you can do for them. Here are a few examples of quality questions, be sure to rephrase and present them in a way that's natural to you:
- How did you get your start in your career? - What are you most excited about right now? - What are the most important things you and I should discuss in the next 10 minutes or so? Relationships Require Engagement
There are no shortcuts when it comes to relationship building. Sometimes the more eager a prospect sounds on an initial call, the less likely it is they’ll end up buying something from you. Don’t be afraid to slow things down to build a sustainable relationship. Make sure you have taken the time to build trust and have learned enough about their challenges and goals to move forward intelligently. It also takes time for them to learn, and appreciate, your true value.
Change the Environment
There is a reason why so many professionals hit the golf course together – getting out of the office into a new environment can have big benefits for relationship building. Whether it is a team building retreat or an afternoon at the ball game, you will end up getting to know each other better and discussing things that wouldn’t come up in a stuffier setting. Shared experiences can intensify and deepen a relationship.
Though you ultimately benefit from power relationships, it’s important to remember you shouldn’t be the sole focus. To establish rapport, you need to learn more about the person and they need to learn more about you. It is essential to build real bonds, ones that extend far beyond exchanging business cards at a mixer or an unsolicited email that’s never followed up. Quality of contacts always trumps quantity.
“The other person’s agenda – as long as it is consistent with your values and ethics – is your true north when it comes to building relationships,” writes Sobel and Panas. “It’s your starting point for adding value. Know the other person’s agenda and help them accomplish it.”
It’s true that charity begins at home, but should it end there? The answer is simple: absolutely not. Long gone are the days when profits were the lone focus of the business world and charitable involvement was nothing more than a tax break. Today’s consumers expect companies to actively and genuinely contribute to causes both close to home and around the world.
In fact, a 2013 Cone Communications study found 93 percent of consumers want businesses to support worthy social issues, including international economic development, access to clean water and eradication of poverty. About the same amount of people say they are very or somewhat likely to switch to a brand that is associated with a good cause.
Undoubtedly, your level of corporate social responsibility can play a huge role in your success. One needs to look no further for proof than TOMS founder Blake Mycoskie, who launched the shoe company with the intent of giving back.
It was on a trip to Argentina when Mycoskie’s concept of “philanthropic capitalism” was born. After spotting locals wearing a unique style of shoe he’d never seen in the U.S. – and witnessing many children running around barefoot because their families could not afford to buy them shoes – he came up with the idea to launch a shoe company based on paying it forward. For every pair of shoes purchased, the company would give a pair to children in need in developing countries.
Though it hasn’t been without criticism, it’s clear that Mycoskie’s “One for One” strategy has been a smashing success. The company celebrated its 10 millionth pair of shoes donated – or 10 millionth pair of shoes sold, depending on how you look at it – a year ago. His shoes are carried in thousands of stores in countries around the world, and he has launched a complementary eyewear line. Not bad for an entrepreneur in his 30s.
TOMS is a dramatic example of how corporate philanthropy can work, but every company needn’t go to such extremes to experience the benefits of getting involved. Many businesses opt to make financial contributions to charity on a regular basis, while others choose to support their cause of choice in other ways, such as donating staff time or services, helping raise awareness, or gifting real estate.
Each company should choose its cause carefully and avoid firing off checks to every organization that reaches out. Strategically selecting a cause that resonates with both your business and customers can open the door to many new opportunities, from building a platform for launching new products to creating a conversation with customers. It’s also a chance to develop new partnerships with non-profits, vendors and investors. But be authentic, remembering it doesn’t take long for consumers to sniff out a false or fraudulent commitment and call you on it publicly.
When you launch a new campaign, start out small and ensure metrics are in place to properly track how much money is being directed to the cause and how much staff time is being spent on related projects. Depending on its success, you can ramp up or cut back involvement. Keep an eye on your budget and the benefits that your involvement are bringing to your business, and re-evaluate if needed.
Charitable involvement can have another positive, and sometimes unexpected, impact on a business. Many companies that throw their support behind a cause find it creates a sense of community in the workplace and infuses staff with a sense of pride. It also may give staff the opportunity to tackle tasks and projects outside their regular responsibilities, which could improve and diversify their skills. Happy, engaged workplaces not only attract the best talent, but retain those bright minds for a longer tenure.
Overall, we should remember the ultimate reason for getting involved is because it’s the right thing to do. Just as we pride ourselves on the quality of goods and services we provide to our customers and clients, we should pride ourselves on our community involvement as well.
As Winston Churchill said, “We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.”
The Walking Dead. World War Z. Zombieland. There is no denying zombies have invaded pop culture. You may be surprised to learn their reach extends beyond a post-apocalyptic wasteland on your television screen – there are lessons to be learned from these horror movie creatures in the boardroom as well.
Steven Spear, a lecturer at MIT’s Sloan School of Business, warns our response to issues that arise can literally make or break our business. In fact, it has a lot in common with how heroes battle hordes of the undead.
“The zombie-like organizations are constantly plagued with working around the same problem every day, continuously, so there’s nothing but aggravation in those work spaces,” says Spear. “There’s something else which happens, which is that occasionally just enough of the right number and combination of problems coalesce to cause catastrophic failure.”
On the flip side, companies who take a heroic approach – containing the issue and learning what caused the failure so it doesn’t happen again – have more dynamic workplaces and deliver more value to their customers.
Schooley Mitchell is the largest independent telecom consulting company in North America, with offices from coast to coast. Our Telecom Consultants deliver telecommunications expertise to companies large and small from all industries. We offer a broad range of services that include analysis of existing and future telecommunications needs, assessment of best alternatives and implementation of cost-effective telecommunications solutions.