Archive for 'update'

When Sought Out Criticism Fails Miserably

Yesterday, I noticed a television ad for a local Tex-Mex chain named Tumbleweed that is based here in Louisville promoting a website (Tell Terry What You Think) to tell their CEO (Terry Smith) what you think. A couple of months ago, I had a rotten experience in one of their restaurants simply trying to place a carry out order when I dropped in on my way home one night, and I wanted to tell someone higher up within their company in hopes they’d do something about it. I decided to tell the CEO about my experience via his new website. I figured if the guy was willing to shell out the money to generate a television ad, he must be serious about fixing the company’s many problems.

Tumbleweed’s Main Problems: Tumbleweed used to be a thriving chain that packed customers in every day. There have been several upper level management changes over the years, and the chain has struggled mightily due to Authentic Mexican restaurants sprouting up all around in addition to the fast casual Mexican segment including Q-Doba, Moe’s, LaBamba, etc. I used to LOVE Tumbleweed, but their customer service has been consistently poor, and their chips (always stale tasting) and salsa pale in comparison to their top competitors. Their burritos are good, but that’s not enough anymore. Anyone can make a pretty good burrito–it’s a lot like pizza. Even when it’s bad, it’s still good enough.

Back to the story: my e-mail outlined my experience in pretty good detail and even offered to help by consulting with the company since that’s what I do. I tried to offer solutions to the problems, but it’s apparent that all the money spent advertising the website is in hopes that the complimentary e-mails come flooding in because the complaints will be dealt with much like this:

Thank you for making use of my new website and for providing comments on your experience at our Springhurst Tumbleweed. I will pass your comments on to our team in Springhurst and know that they will be disappointed to hear of your experience. It does sound as if one of our team members “dropped the ball” during your carry out order and for that I am deeply sorry and apologize for the inconvenience that it caused you.

If you were to visit one of our restaurants today you would find a guest comment card asking that you request a manager’s presence at the first sign of a difficulty in one of our restaurants. We have a new management team in Springhurst and the performance at this restaurant has been well above average over the past few months.

Again, I appreciate your comments and hope you have an opportunity to try Tumbleweed again and tell me what you think.


First off, how does his recommended solution of trying Tumbleweed again (on my dime I might add) benefit me in any way? Obviously, in spite of his website and TV ad designed to welcome feedback, the guy doesn’t get it! I have little desire to go back, and that’s why I e-mailed him in the first place about my unpleasant experience and to offer consulting help. The place needs someone that understands placing the customer first, and this guy is out to lunch if that’s really his genuine recommendation and not some detached assistant’s. I sincerely hope a CEO doesn’t think that’s a viable solution to a customer service problem!

I don’t like Tumbleweed enough to tolerate rotten service and a brush off from their CEO that basically says to me “get over it” and “visit again because we have new management.” Who gives a damn that you have new management? How does that help me with my daily decision making when it comes to choosing a place to eat? I don’t choose eateries based on their management team! There are far too many quality competitors out there to lower my expectations to help some self serving organization that doesn’t give a rat’s ass whether I tell you about my bad experience or not.

Guess what? I’m now telling anyone who will listen in the most public of forums because they neither listened nor cared enough to pay attention. I honestly could care less if they take me up on my consulting offer–I have plenty to do without having to educate this chain that customers pay the bills, and poor customer service is a sign of poor training, poor management, and/or poor hiring practices. In Tumbleweed’s case, I vote for all of the above. Add to that: lack of committed leadership.

Lesson to be learned: if you’re going to give people a forum to tell you what they think, be prepared for people to take you up on it by telling you exactly what they think–good and bad. If someone complains, take the time to listen and try to provide a legitimate solution as quickly as possible. Don’t waste people’s time with some canned response that shows you don’t really read the complaints. If you only want compliments and positive referrals, it’s best to selectively target only those folks which will tell you what you want to hear. Those that tell you what you need to hear are obviously of little value to you anyway so why bother opening up the lines of communication to everyone?

Tumbleweed, you let me down. I honestly thought you might be trying to recapture some of your past glory by welcoming feedback of all sorts this time and actually doing something about the poor customer service that has marred your chain for years now. Oh well, have fun filing for bankruptcy within the next 3-5 years. It was good knowing you!


I just received another e-mail from Terry (or is it one of his assistants?)



Here’s what’s in it for you; a juicy USDA choice ribeye steak aged 21 days and grilled over a superhot mesquite wood fire until it’s juicy flavor is just right for he your palate. Get this with two great sides and you have one of the best meals for the money found anywhere in Louisville.

If that’s not reason enough to visit Tumbleweed you’ll just have to guess at what you are missing.


WTF?!? If he actually is the one reading and responding to the e-mails, he’s more out to lunch than one could ever imagine. This is getting downright comical!

The Basics of SEO

What is SEO anyway?
Search Engine Optimization (SEO for short) is a highly involved, somewhat lengthy, process designed to elevate an internet website’s major search engine ranking and/or positioning. The major search engines (Google, Microsoft Network (MSN), and Yahoo) make up greater than 70% of search traffic on the internet. This is a common way for people to find others, information, companies, potential business partners, etc. by entering a “keyword” or search term. Typically, the searcher will seek information on their keyword or search term and click on the top results. Thus the higher a site ranks for a given keyword or search term, the better its chances of attracting more visitors to its site.

Why Should I Care about SEO?
If you run a business and have a web presence, don’t you want the most people possible knowing about that business? Wouldn’t it benefit you if your website was able to bring you new leads or develop new customers every day, 24 hours per day? Research has shown that nearly 95% of all search engine users rarely read past the first page of search results. Because of that, it behooves you to have your website on the first page of search results for specific keywords and terms.

Can’t I just Pay for a High Ranking?
No! Organic (or “free”) search listing rankings cannot be purchased. These are “earned” over time via links, content, keyword relevance, page and site descriptions, titles of pages, etc. You can pay for clicks to your website based on specific terms or keywords however these are separate results from the free results people commonly click.

What is Pay-Per-Click?
Pay-per-click is a form of internet advertising where you pay a certain amount for each “click” or “hit” to your website as a result of a person searching for a certain keyword or phrase.

What is Click Fraud?
Click fraud occurs when a person or automated computer script imitates a legitimate search for a keyword or phrase yet clicks on the pay-per-click result for the sole purpose of generating revenue for the search engine or affiliate.

What is a Linking Partner?
A linking partner is a website which provides a link to your site. Some will require a link on your site to theirs in return (a reciprocal link) while others will want to have a link on a third party’s site in exchange for the link to yours. Reciprocal links aren’t as valuable as unique one way links but the more links you have pointing to your site (link popularity), the more “important” the search engines will consider your site.

What is Page Rank?
Page Rank is Google’s proprietary algorithm for determining a site’s importance. It’s expressed as a value from 1-10 with 10 being the most important and most desirable. The algorithm was designed by Larry Page, Google’s co-founder. Page Rank is affected by things such as the number of links pointing to your website, and the amount of unique and relevant content on your website.

What is a Keyword?
A keyword is a typical word or phrase you’d expect people to use when searching for your site. That’s about as simple as we can explain it.

What is Keyword Density?
The number of keywords you use on a particular page in relation to the number of total words on that page. The more keywords you have peppered throughout the page and site, the better your site may rank for that particular term. You must be careful not to load a page with too many keywords, however—that is considered keyword “stuffing” or spamming and is frowned upon by the search engines.

What is a Sitemap?
A sitemap is basically an inventory listing of all of the pages on your site. It tells the search engines how to get around your site and also how many pages there are on your site. It can be made visible to your visitors, but it doesn’t have to be. Uploading an XML file directly to the search engines is a generally accepted best practice for optimizing your search engine rankings.

What is a Spider?
Search engines utilize small programs to surf and inventory sites all over the internet. These are called spiders, and they follow links from site to site to gather their inventory to report back to the search engine. They are also referred to as crawlers or bots from time to time.

What is a Meta Tag?
A meta tag is an HTML piece of code which provides information about that particular page or document. These don’t provide formatting information or any actionable code—they are there for the search engines to catalog your site and the pages contained on your site.

What is a Blog?
A blog (short for weblog) is a news or journal type of site which is frequently used more for opinionated type of entries and is typically updated frequently. It is intended for general consumption but has become a valuable tool for all types of users to spread information and awareness of their websites.

Why Should I Write Articles for my Website?
Articles are a great way to increase the amount of unique content on your site as it pertains to the keywords you desire to rank well. There are numerous websites that publish articles, and it is common practice for the authors to include a link in their by-line back to their website. This creates an inbound link to the author’s website which in turn increases its popularity. It’s also a good way to increase awareness aside from the linking benefits.

What are Directories?
Directories are databases containing listings to websites based on categories and sub-categories. Many of the search engines access directories to crawl their links to learn of new sites. Directories are an invaluable resource for search engines and can often serve to improve a site’s ranking depending upon how important the search engine weighs the directory in question. Directories may provide a link to your site often without requiring a return or reciprocal link on your site.

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