Carbonite Online Storage Review

customer serviceBack in April, I got an email from my FTP software people offering a free 30 day trial of Carbonite Online Storage. I signed up and when 30 days was up, my backup still wasn’t complete but I signed up anyway. I had worked during the backup and hadn’t noticed any drag at all of either my system or my online experience.

On May 8th, I signed up for 2 years of Carbonite service. On May 22, I entered my office, turned on my computer and was greeted with the dreaded blue screen of death. My hard drive was dead.

I packed up the beast and dropped it off at my local computer repair shop. (C&W Computers in Stuart, Florida but the link provided to their website now loads some spammy site trying to get you to run an online virus check. UGH!)

Mark (my favorite tech at C&W Computers) went to work diagnosing the problem and I went home to a business that was now officially “on hold” until I could access my files.

But I had Carbonite! YEAH! I also had purchased an Alienware computer to serve as a business backup, so I installed my software onto the beastly monstrosity. Once the software was installed, then I tried to transfer my Carbonite backup to the new PC.

The process of transferring the subscription was fraught with problems. The password I set didn’t work… so I tried to retrieve my password using their system. They sent the password recovery email, but it included a code that wasn’t needed on the password recovery page… and didn’t send the code that was required.

PLEASE NOTE:  I TRIED TO NOT “BOTHER” CARBONITE AND USE THEIR AUTOMATED CUSTOMER SERVICE OPTION.  IT WAS NOT FUNCTIONAL AT THE TIME.  IT IS MY SINCERE HOPE THAT THEY HAVE WORKED THAT “KINK” OUT OF THE SYSTEM.

So, finally, I pick up the phone and call. I am greeted with a message that tells me

a) I am the first caller in line and

b) for another $20 a month, I can get my calls answered immediately.

I then spend the next TWENTY MINUTES on hold listening to beg notices to upgrade to VIP customer status which also lets me know that I’m the “first” caller in line.

IF I HAD NOT HEARD THAT THERE WAS NO ONE ELSE WAITING… I MIGHT NOT HAVE BEEN UPSET!!!

In the end, I did get through, I did get my password reset and I did backup the files to my other PC. However, I still have a really bad taste in my mouth over the whole VIP customer service deal.

A little more than 2 weeks earlier, I had paid a fee to use their service for 2 years. I had tried to use their “hands free” password reset option. I picked up the phone as a last resort… only to find I was being asked to pay MORE for customer service.

Carbonite, you should have offered me the priority service information BEFORE I purchased. Heck, better yet, why not include PRIORITY SERVICE for ALL of your customers!!!

Carbonite did a great job of backing up my files. Carbonite DOES NOT back up your software though. It doesn’t back up your email either. However, it did restore the backup of my data files to my new pc over the course of a week.

IT WAS – IN A WORD – A LIFESAVER!!!

In all fairness, the guys at C&W were impressed by the amount of data I have on my PC… which is why they set me up with an external hard drive AND Symtantec Backup Exec. It’s backing up EVERYTHING I need, not just the data files.

It cost $500 to have the guys at C&W Computers in Stuart, Florida replace my hard drive and set up the new backup option. Carbonite cost less than $90 for two years of service.

However, in the end I’m happier with C&W Computers in Stuart, Florida than I am Carbonite…why? Because C&W Computers in Stuart, Florida included VIP customer service in EVERY sale!

I want to be clear – I understand that customer service is a bitch!!!  Customers are unreasonable at times in their demands.  However, I don’t think I was being unreasonable in expecting to be able to retrieve my password without calling customer service.

POST SCRIPT NOTE:  This blog post is an example of “the internet never forgets”.  The date on this review is June 21, 2008.  Carbonite has had more than a year to address the problems outlined above.

It’s now more than a year later and I’m still getting comments and page view on this post.

Carbonite was johnny on the spot responding to this review and I hope they’ve “fixed” their automated password retrieval problem in the meantime.

I’ve left comments open on this blog post so that if you’ve had a GOOD experience with Carbonite, you can leave it here.

However, if you want to leave comments about this review, you MUST include a VALID email address to get your comment approved to appear here.  If you don’t use an email address that I can use to contact you – then your comment won’t see the light of day.

Blogs as a Means of Building Trust through Communication

BLogs are a great communication tool which is why they’re GREAT marketing tools for the business involved in making intangible sales.  Trust is a huge issue when you’re selling “nothing but air”… which is all you’re selling when you’re selling your knowledge and services.

However, in order to establish a rapport with your target audience, you must first demonstrate that you are indeed qualified to speak on the subject.  Which brings to mind a joke that recently appeared on Comedy Central.com:

A guy was seated next to a 13-year-old girl on an airplane. Being bored, he turned to the girl and said, “Let’s talk. I’ve heard that flights go quicker if you strike up a conversation with your fellow passenger.”

The girl, who was reading a book, closed it slowly and said to the guy, “What would you like to talk about?”

Oh, I don’t know,” said the guy. “How about nuclear power?”

“OK,” she said. “That could be an interesting topic. But let me ask you a question first. A horse, a cow and a deer all eat the same stuff… grass. Yet a deer excretes little pellets, while a cow turns out a flat patty, and a horse produces clumps of dried grass. Why do you suppose that is?”

The guy thought about it and said, “Hmmm, I have no idea.”

To which the girl replied, “Do you really feel qualified to discuss nuclear power when you don’t know shit?”

Your blog readers are asking the same question…. what basics do you need to demonstrate your understanding of before you engage in the real conversation with prospective clients or customers?

One thing about blogging… it’s hard to hide what you do and don’t know over the course of hundreds of blog posts.    Blogging is great when you’re open to engaging in the Art of Transparency.  However, if you don’t know shit… then blogging can be a real pain.

Trust Building Business Practices

The letters on the soap box I stand upon frequently around here read “Building Trust”.  Blogs are great trust building tools.  They offer businesses the opportunity to begin the difficult process of building TRUST with potential clients and customers.

Trust is so hard to gain and so easy to lose, which is why business owners must pay careful attention to follow trust building business practices.

Building trust is such a HUGE part of marketing and advertising, yet I don’t hear anyone talking about trust and marketing in those terms. Marketing is just an invitation to your business. Advertising is paying to deliver those invitations.

However, if you aren’t engaged in trust building business practices… how can your marketing invitations build trust as well?

Trust is a HUGE deal for anyone engaged in making Major Sales.

5 Essential Trust Building Business Practices

1: Under promise… over deliver

Trust is established when behavior matches expectations. Set the expectations too high and you’ll destroy the trust you’re trying to build with current and potential customers.

The easier software way of creating marketing messages is to scream “Bigger Faster Stronger” . However, the dirty little secret that marketing professionals know is that when you set expectations too high, return rates can run 25% and higher for products marketed in that fashion – for services, those rates can run even higher.

However, when your marketing messages set realistic expectations and you end up delivering more than your marketing messages promise – well, that’s what it takes to ignite the holy grail of marketing… word of mouth advertising!

2: Transparency = Trust

If you’re transparent with your customers as well as with your employees, then you’ll be laying a foundation for building trust.

Transparency’s hard when you’re not being authentic.

For example, I have a friend who works in sales training for a large company. The company has been calling for employees to make sacrifices for the good of the company. They’ve had to turn in their corporate credit cards and they’ve had to share hotel rooms on trips. Imagine their surprise, not to mention disgust, when the CEO drove into work one day in his brand new Bentley.

Word of the CEO’s new ride spread like wildfire throughout the company. Within a few weeks, sales had taken a dramatic downturn and suddenly, the sales training department was assigned the task of coming up with outlining a new marketing campaign to increase sales. (Don’t you LOVE how corporate works!)

Oh, did I mention that the top 6 sales reps left the company in the three months following the CEO’s new car purchase?

Transparency’s hard when you’re not being authentic. Losing trust almost always hurts the bottom line.

3: Focus on meeting your customer’s needs.

When your customer does business with you, it’s because your customer expects you to provide a product or service for them. They are not patronizing your business merely to fatten your wallet or improve your bottom line.

Your customers are doing business with you to meet their needs – to satisfy their wants – to solve their problems. When your focus is upon meeting your customer’s needs… you’re automatically engaging in trust building activities.

4. Make it easy for customers to buy….

I am AMAZED at how hard some companies make it to do business with them. If I, as a potential customer, have to chase you down to get you to take my money, how hard is it going to be to reach you when I have a problem AFTER you have my money and I’ve become your customer?

Trust me, if customers are having to chase you down for the opportunity to buy your product or service… you’ll soon be facing competition that will make it easy to buy the product or service you’re offering. PERIOD.

5: First Impressions Mean a Lot!

Trust is so hard to gain but so easy to lose and little things mean a lot, especially in the beginning.  Dead links on a website… a typo in the sales letter… a forged testimonial…. all can destroy the trust needed for a potential client or customer to make the move from potential to paying.

The obvious point to make here is make sure all your marketing materials make a GREAT first impression.  The old “design vs content” debate doesn’t apply.  Design + Content = Professional Presentation!

For example, I was visiting a blog about business blog consulting.  The design is less than crisp and professional, so that should have been my first clue.  There are 6 different business blog consultants who publish articles on this blog.  They’re great articles… but when you click to learn more you get broken links and error messages.

If you’re in the market for a business blog consultant, you’ve got to ask yourself… are you willing to trust these people with your business blog?  If the links on their own blog don’t work – links which promise to lead to you to the information you need to go about HIRING them- how can you trust them to build links on your blog that work?

Hey, believe me, I know that broken links happen ALL the time.  However, this wasn’t just one broken link – it was several.  One was simply the result of putting two sets of [http://] in the link.  The thing is- these people claim to be blog professionals and that’s a rookie mistake!

Blogs are great trust building tools.  When done correctly, they offer businesses the opportunity to begin the difficult process of building TRUST with potential clients and customers.

Building Trust with Blogging

Marketing wisdom teaches that it takes 8 “touches” to build enough trust with a stranger (a.k.a. a potential client/customer) for them to contact you for more information. This is just another way of saying that you have to build trust with potential clients/ customers before they will consider doing business with you.

Trust is built through communication.

Blogs and blogging are the buzz words of the day and with good reason: Blogging is a GREAT way to communicate and communication is essential to building trust.

The question that has plagued business owners for generations is HOW do you get the opportunity to make those touches or build that trust up front.

In the old days, small business owners would rely on using traditional media to make those touches. It was strictly one way communication, by the way, but it was all that was available at the time. Business owners would buy ad space in newspapers, magazine and air commercials via radio and television to establish a basic level of “trust” with their potential clients. If nothing else, spending the money to air those ads assured potential customers that the business being promoted was a legitimate business…. the first brick in building the wall of trust.

Using traditional media to reach a large audience is still a GREAT way to begin the communication upon which trust is built!

I strongly encourage my clients to consider using “off line” media to promote their businesses. Traditional media is a GREAT way to introduce your business to a wide array of strangers. When you use traditional media to promote your business, be sure to set the “call to action” for them to visit your blog. Think of the radio, television or newspaper ad as an “introduction” to learn more… via your blog.

However, before you issue such an invitation, be sure that the your blog is doing what it needs to do: BUILDING TRUST!

That means your blog posts will need to be written with your customer/client in mind. The chiropractor who blogs about how a song speaks to his soul is NOT going to be inspiring trust with potential patients. The chiropractor who blogs about how chiropractic helps relieve back pain will find that his blog is indeed inspiring people to call for an appointment.

If you have a blog… then take a fat felt tip pen and a piece of paper. Write the following in big letters and put it where you can see it as you blog:

I’M BLOGGING AS A WAY TO BUILD TRUST WITH MY POTENTIAL CLIENTS/CUSTOMERS!

What do you know? Why should I trust you? Can you really do what you say you can do?

Those are all questions running through your blog visitor’s mind. Make sure you keep that in mind as you post to your blog.

Blogs are better than traditional static websites because…

You may have heard the “buzz” about blogs. However, what may not be immediately clear is WHY blogs are better than traditional web sites, especially if you’re looking at a blog as a potential marketing tool for your business.

  • What is a blog?
  • How is a blog different from a static or regular web site?
  • Are there times when you’d be better off WITHOUT a blog?

As for What is a Blog…. blogs are just another type of website. They’re as diverse in look and content as “regular” websites. Chances are that you’ve visited blogs and didn’t even know that it was a blog.. This web site is an example of a blog and this is an example of a blog post.

Blog posts are simply short (or not so short in my case) articles which are easily posted to the web site.

A blog is really just a CMS (Content Management System). The most recent articles are listed first, in reverse chronological order.

Blogs are MUCH, MUCH, MUCH easier to use and maintain for “regular” people than a traditional website. Heck, blogs are much, much, much easier to use and maintain for “geeks” as well! In addition to being easier to use… blogs allow visitors to interact with the blog owner. Visitors can leave comments and express their opinions via comments on the blog. Other blog owners can reference content on other blogs and in the case of WordPress blogs, you can see those incoming links. WordPress will even create trackbacks for you! (Trackbacks are also known as “reciprocal links”…. except you don’t have to beg, borrow and steal them. The other blog just has to approve it and VIOLA! LINKAGE!)

While blogs are great, and WordPress is the best of the bets…. there are times when ‘Yes, Virginia… tis far nobler to have a static web site. As a general rule, if you’re making a Minor Sale, then your business would be better served with a traditional web site. What is a Minor Sale? According to Rackham in his book Spin Selling , your business is making Minor Sales if:

  • There is a single decision-maker
  • The buyer’s financial or emotional investment is low or insignificant
  • The purchase does not warrant the time/energy necessary to research alternatives
  • There is little interaction between you and the customer
  • The consequences of making a purchasing mistake are inconsequential or insignificant.

Sound like what you’re selling? Then skip the blog and hire a web developer. YOU my friend are the lucky owner of a business which is engaged in making Minor Sales!

On the other hand, blogs are simply communication tools which means they are really the web presence of choice for the business that is engaged in making Major Sales. Your business is making Major Sales if:

  • There is more than one decision-maker
  • The buyer’s financial and/or emotional investment is significant
  • The purchase warrants significant time and research into alternatives
  • There is the potential for a long-term relationship between you and/or your business and the customer.
  • The consequences of making a purchasing mistake are high.

Sound like the kind of sale YOUR business is making? Well, congratulations because of the nature of your business YOUR potential customers need a LOT of information before they make a buying decision. This is important. It requires time, thought and research. A buyer has to have a certain level of trust established before they make the leap and complete the Major Sale.

Lots of information…. TONS of information… no such thing as too much information. The more check marks you can make beside the factors listed above, the more trust you have to build BEFORE the sale.

THAT is the biggest reason for a blog. You need to provide TONS of information… some of it over and over again… you need to educate your customer…. they want to know more… and a blog is a great way to deliver that information to your potential customers.