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Customer Service -- If Not Sincere, Don't Brand It Strategically

When I started in contracting, I used to brand our company and work with "we have the very best service in the world, we'll do whatever you need to get things right."

Eventually, I got away from that. While I liked solving client challenges and working really hard to get a great ROI for clients, it didn't ring correctly to me. Something about how we said it, and how we did it, made things not quite right.

We always liked going the extra mile, and we offered a 100% guarantee on our work (sometimes even 100%+) to take the risk away from the client. We priced our services aggressively below market and looked to demonstrate results, in order to get repeat business. And indeed, we did -- it was just a few clients that provided the huge bulk of our revenue by coming back to us with orders for 5x and 10x larger than their original, and eventually getting to a trusted point where they'd ask for work over email and say "just bill me whatever, you guys have always been fair." That's a nice feeling.

How to jump into data mining (short version)

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Data mining (sometimes called scraping) is a mysterious technique that still hasn't caught on much in the IT world. It's kind of an art form, and if you learn it from textbooks, you won't likely find much use. That's because like just about everything, the power isn't in the technique itself, but it lies in what you do with it.

I suppose to start, I should list off a bunch of things I have done with data mining.

I've automated a business school project for a friend by getting a list of every stock's opening quote on every day in the history of the NYSE.

I've compiled medical texts into one and sorted each sentence by subject to analyze the occurance of various key words.

I've built an autoblog network that writes about the top trending news stories of the day every hour on the hour, without me having to touch it.

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