Snapshots of Lutetia – Les Sous du Pont de Bercy

Pont de Bercy

There are many words in all languages that you hear quite often, but will never be taught in whatever language lesson you take. No, I am not talking about the obvious obscenities, but more about colorfull ‘street’ language. The French have not only a very rich official language, but they also like to play with it. Verlan is only one of the examples. Another word you will hear quite often is sou (or maybe sous). It indicates money. As in “J’ai pas des sous”. While I was looking for some information on the pictured pont de Bercy, I learnt that the current bridge replaced a suspension bridge, for which the payment of toll was required. The price was “one sou (5 centimes) for pedestrians, 3 sous per two-wheeled cabriolet (including persons transported) and 5 sous per car with four wheels attached to two horses.” And there it is, the origin of the use of Sou, which apparently is similar to a nickel, or stuiver in Dutch.

Speed Up Your Service, Please

Always a fan of doing things in a new way, I really liked 2009 so far. Thanks to an explosion in web2.0 services, or at least in the number of services I came to know this year, I have been rather active on Twitter, Yammer, Posterous etcetera. It enabled me to find cool and interestng new things to know and do and to do some impressive presentations at work. That thanks to Prezi, Animoto and Qipit. I like them, and like to use them. But their various functionalities and uses – often free to a certain degree – are not the only thing that is impressive. What might be a game changer in a far larger context, is their service.

As an early user (never the first, but not that far behind), sometimes I find things that I think they could improve. Not only do these guys give you an opportunity to send your feedback, they actually respond to it. Super fast. Sometimes even with a suggestion to play their product developers into prioritizing your suggested improvement. Their open, transparent, service minded, and did I already say Super Fast? As a user you are not only happy, but you are actually willing to send them more suggestions, providing them with valuable ideas to perfect their product or service. A win-win situation. Plus, you get to show off your voluntary work in an easy way, because you are enabled to easily share your thoughts on social networks like Twitter. Which is a free commercial for them. Again a win-win situation.

But, there will also be losers from this. Although I am a very patient person, my tolerance for slow service is getting lower and lower. Because these cool companies prove over and over again that slow service is not necessary and disrespectful. And my tolerance levels are sinking to the point that I switch to a different provider earlier. One that can give me the same good feeling as the Animoto’s and Prezi’s of the world. And although a one person sample is not really significant, I bet I am not alone. This could lead to the fact that companies that don’t get their service up to standard, will lose out in the end. Their processes and employees are just not respectful enough of the needs and requirements of the customers. So, a free piece of advise here: slow service companies, please take the example of Posterous, Qipit, Animoto, Prezi, Yammer and many, many others. Put us, your customers first. You might lose out otherwise.