Warning: include_once(/home/gianna5/public_html/blog/wp-content/plugins/tweet-blender/widget-favorites.php): failed to open stream: No such file or directory in /home/gianna5/public_html/blog/wp-content/plugins/tweet-blender/tweet-blender.php on line 44

Warning: include_once(): Failed opening '/home/gianna5/public_html/blog/wp-content/plugins/tweet-blender/widget-favorites.php' for inclusion (include_path='.:/usr/lib/php:/usr/local/lib/php') in /home/gianna5/public_html/blog/wp-content/plugins/tweet-blender/tweet-blender.php on line 44
@Your Service » 2008 » December

Featured Posts

NSA Leaks: The Big Data Two Step for Businesses This post originally appeared on LinkedIn as part of their influencer program on June 10, 2013.  To see the original post click here. I expect we will be seeing a lot of dancing over the next few...

Readmore

Coming to an Agency Near You! This post originally appeared on LinkedIn as part of their influencer program on September 23, 2013.  To see the original post click here. I am often pondering what is next in the world in which we...

Readmore

Customer Service Week: Here's Your Call Center This post originally appeared on LinkedIn as part of their influencer program on October 7, 2013.  To see the original post click here. As we begin Customer Service Week I want to thank all those...

Readmore

Defining the Customer Experience Role This post originally appeared on LinkedIn as part of their influencer program on October 2, 2013.  To see the original post click here. Customer experience is a term growing in popularity within businesses...

Readmore

Apple's #Fail When Dealing with @MarthaStewart This post originally appeared on LinkedIn as part of their influencer program on September 30, 2013.  To see the original post click here. It feels like it was the Tweet heard around the world: "I...

Readmore

  • Prev
  • Next

The Lines are Blurry

Posted on : 12-12-2008 | By : Frank Eliason | In : Social Media

Tags:

8

The other day a Customer posted a comment to my blog about his Comcast experience. He did not realize that there were better ways to contact me or that it was not a place for discussing Comcast (for the record I prefer Customers email We_Can_Help@cable.comcast.com). I helped him out and we had a nice conversation on my ride home from work. I told him at the time that he inspired a post. He was not a blogger he just wanted help, and as always I am happy to assist. Based on the great work of my team I have been very much linked to Comcast. I realized this when I went to Blog World. The first night I was in Vegas I was invited to the TechSet party at Mirage’s Bare Club. I was really looking forward to have a good time with a few drinks. I walked in and the first person I met was one of the hosts Stephanie Agresta. I introduced myself and she immediately announced to the crowd around her how ComcastCares was in the house. This is when I realized I represent Comcast to many people.  I am not Frank but I am ComcastCares.

I still had fun that night talking with Brian Solis, Gary Vandurchuk, Tony Hsieh and many others.  At the same time I only had 2 drinks the entire night.  Not that I am the type that would have been running into the pool or doing anything crazy, but it is a weird feeling the moment you realize that everything you do not only represents yourself, but also the company that you work for, no matter the time of day.  I also tend to be working all the time because twitter makes it so easy to talk with great people about topics of interest, including the work that I do.   

The day that the comment was made on the blog, I already was thinking a lot about how blurry the lines are in social media spaces.  On my ride in to work I heard a news report regarding an appeals case involving Hermitage School District and a student who created a fake myspace profile for the school principal.  On the page he referred to the principal as a “steroid freak,” a “whore” and a marijuana user.  According to Philadelphia CBS 3, the student was suspended, put into an alternative education program and restricted from extracurricular activities for his actions.  This punishment is what caused the lawsuit.  The initial court ruled that since the activity was outside of school, the district did not have the right to offer the punishment.  What is really interesting is another case with the exact opposite outcome also in the appeals system.  It is another Pennsylvania case involving an 8th Grader who created a myspace profile of the principal.  The profile did not mention the last name, but it did have the picture of the actual principal and listed his job as principal.  I will not repeat all of the specifics, but he was described as having sexual activity in his office and hitting on students and parents.  The student was suspended and the court upheld the decision.  It is now being appealed with the help of the American Civil Liberties Union and a pro bono team from Drinker, Biddle & Reath.  They are claiming first amendment rights.

I find it interesting that 2 very similar cases with 2 different answers.  I am curious how the appeals court views both cases.  But this just shows more of the blurring that is happening.  In these cases it is home, school and social media.  I have to be honest, I am not sure how I feel about these cases.  The activity was outside of school, so it is something that the parent should discipline.  At the same time there does need to be a certain amount of respect for the principal and I am sure both caused some disruption at school.  Are these cases defamation of character or a joke protected by the first amendment?  Should the schools discipline for this or should the individuals being defamed sue the family?  Maybe nothing should be done.  To me it is a blurry aspect of social media.  If this was the press, the principals would sue.  Is social media any different?

http://amlawdaily.typepad.com/amlawdaily/2008/12/free-speech-on.html

http://www.law.com/jsp/article.jsp?id=1202426654073&pos=ataglance

http://cbs3.com/topstories/MySpace.Freedom.Of.2.884534.html

Learn About Someone Through Holiday Traditions

Posted on : 10-12-2008 | By : Frank Eliason | In : Holiday, Personal

4

No matter your religion, or even if you do not have a religion, you probably have some traditions that you like to do this time of year. I celebrate Christmas, and I enjoy decorating the house with lights and putting up the Christmas tree. I also have other traditions, like ordering Chinese food for Christmas eve. That started because of a lasagna that burned one year. Now it is an annual event that I look forward to.
 

At the start of the season I always watch my favorite Christmas movie. Although I love Christmas Vacation and A Christmas Story, my favorite is the original Miracle on 34th Street. As I have stated in many posts, I am a big believer in Customer Service. This movie shows true Customer Service. The scene where Kris Kringle refers Customers to Gimbels to locate a certain gift is a favorite. I also love how this drove 2 big competitors to realize the benefits of doing business in this manner. Wouldn’t it be great to see businesses run like that? I know it is something done at Zappos when they are out of stock of certain shoes, but I have not heard of many other companies that realize this would be a great long term approach.  It tells the Customer that you should always try us first because if we do not have it we will help you get it.  It is this personal touch that would increase revenue and Customer dedication.  Unfortunately companies probably view it as a short term cost.  I wonder if some of these leaders watch this movie each year?  Go into Macy’s today, all I see is fewer registers and sales people.  It is the same as going into Walmart, except you have to go to more register boxes instead of sales people building a relationship.  No wonder they were not permitted to use the Macy’s name in the 1994 remake.

 

 

Another tradition I have is playing a song, usually many times over.  I have never heard the song on the radio, but to me it is the meaning of the season.  I am very family oriented and this time of year to me is all about family.  I think of our Angel Gia throughout the season.  I miss her everyday, but especially this time of year.  At the same time there was nothing as special as hearing our Lily call out “Night lights” as we were driving around looking at Christmas lights.  I also love how we connect with so many of our our family and friends.  My favorite song is sad to some, but to me it brings out the true meaning of the season.  The song is ‘Dearest Santa’ by Bobby Vinton.  Here are the lyrics:

Dearest Santa

Would you listen and lend an ear
‘Cause I only come around once a year?
And this is for a very special cause
My name is Santa Claus

One Christmas Eve, I visited a home
Where children lived who’ve no home of their own
And though I brought them gifts galore,
This is what one asked me for…

“Dearest Santa, I don’t want toys
Or choo-choo trains with lots of noise.
I want a home like other boys
Christmas day.

“Dearest Santa, I will be
Just as good as I can be
If you’ll give me a family
Christmas day.

“I’m so lonesome, I’m so blue.
Is there somethin’ you can do? oh…

“Please, dear Santa, don’t ignore
This little boy who’s begging for
A mother whom he’ll just adore
Christmas day.

“I would be so proud and glad
If I could just say, ‘Meet my dad,’ so…

“Please, dear Santa, heed my quest
And tell them I’ll behave my best,
That if they’d take me, they’ll be blessed
Christmas day.” 

So what are some of your traditions?  What do they say about you?

Redefining What People Think of Customer Service – Engagement

Posted on : 09-12-2008 | By : Frank Eliason | In : Customer Service, Social Media

Tags: ,

7

Engaging in Social Media is not redefining Customer Service, but rather what people think of Customer Service. To start lets look at what Customer Service really is. In an effort to do this I started by Googling the term “Customer Service Definitions.” Many of the definitions I found made me laugh. I am starting to see why Customer Service is lacking throughout the country. It is interesting that many of them were missing key components or focusing on sales, the company or other ancillary business aspect. To me it is simple. It is the manner that you build long term relationships with your Customers. This is done through every interaction a Customer has with your company, including use of the products, interactions with your systems (such as your website), reviewing marketing material or talking to anyone representing your company in any forum (phone, in person (even at a party), email, chat, etc). Even when the Customer is writing the check or using their banks online bill pay service, this is Customer Service.

What I found most interesting is many of the definitions seem to focus on complaints, people interactions or sales. This is missing the boat. If you purchase from Amazon, one of the main Customer Service points is when the shipment arrives at your door. If it is damaged or late, you will consider it to be a poor service experience. But if it the shipping time exceeds your expectations you will be wowed.

This is why I am a firm believer that everyone in any organization is part of the Customer Service function. Do you feel that you are part of Customer Service? Or do you look down on people that work in this function? If you do it is time for you to adjust that attitude.

Now this brings me to the topic of the post. I have seen a lot of press and blog posts about the efforts of my team on the web. I have always been surprised by this because I do not see what I am doing as that special. If you review how I defined Customer Service, you will notice that I believe it is everyone’s responsibility to talk with Customers. I also believe that it is important to be where they are when possible. The internet provides that ability.

To me if I hear someone talking about the company I work for I always offer to help. I have done this at parties, on the street, and one time in a Verizon Wireless store. I never have done it in a negative way. I would just say let me assist, here is my business card. My business card has my email, office phone and my cell phone clearly listed on it. It is very simple. “Let me know if I can help.”

So now we look at engagement in social media spaces. In many cases I write simple messages, “Can I help” or “Thank you.” I do not use the time to sell which many marketers have tried to do. Yet these simple acknowledgements have led to many sales. The key is to be genuine and willing to sincerely listen and help. I never press, I simply provide the opportunity for someone to obtain assistance. For me if I saw someone who wanted or needed help anywhere, I would be happy to assist. As many of you know I have been known to do this many hours of the day, but that is because if I see someone that needs help, and if I can, I will.

So our online activity has caused a little buzz at times, but it is never redefined my definition of Customer Service. What occurred is some people never thought of social media and Customer Service so it appeared new to them. It redefined their thought on Customer Service. That to me is exciting and it is part of the overall shift I think we are seeing in the way people and companies view Customers Service. The definition is becoming more clear. What do you think?

A Rapid Response Culture – Just in Case You Missed It

Posted on : 08-12-2008 | By : Frank Eliason | In : Social Media

Tags:

3

So Much to Say So Little Time

Posted on : 07-12-2008 | By : Frank Eliason | In : Personal

2

I have had 3 posts I having been trying to get the time to put together, but it just seems to be tough finding the time to do it right.  I want to write about the automotive requests for bailout.  Sorry @ScottMonty, but I think bankruptcy is probably the only answer, especially for GM.  I also wanted to post a cool presentation on engagement in social media.  Of course that is an easy one to embed, I just have not gotten around to it.

So I apologize for being so busy.  Today’s post is really just a random vent.  Partially due to changes in society and the way sometimes people over react.  Now before I vent about what occured I want to say that I actually love the day care that we take Robyn and Lily too.  They are Children of America.  In the past we used Malvern School which we really found to be horrible.  After investigating numerous options we did come to the realization that Children of America was the right choice.  Even after today I still firmly believe that.  We also like everyone of the teachers, including the one that this post is about.  The director of the center is phenomenal, which is not a compliment I would pay to many people.  She is a strong leader and a Customer advocate.  She also is great at dealing with the parent, kids and employees.

Well the story actually starts a little over a month ago.  Back in October this one teacher told my wife she was concerned regarding 2 factors: Robyn was not crawling and when she is cold her feet get blue.  At the time my wife explained that the doctor was not concerned about the circulation (we already discussed it with the pediatrician and she laughed at it) and we were not concerned about the crawling.  My wife further explained the reason we were not concerned about the crawling because when our angel Gia was around that age she too did not crawl.  Gia had a great physical therapist who we loved.  At the time she told us crawling is not a milestone and how some kids go right to walking.  Now that I think about it, Lily pretty much did this too.  She went on to tell my wife how studies have shown that babies that do not crawl grow up as poor readers.  I know my wife was very clear with her thoughts on the topic.  The next day I firmly explained that it is her job to inform us of what she sees, but until she receives her medical degree to leave the medical advice to the doctor.  This coming from someone who absolutely hates doctors (no offense to anyone reading this that may be a doctor, but I can write a book just on that topic!).  Anyway like good parents we still discussed with the doctor.  You can guess, the doctor laughed at this too.

We provided the doctor’s update moments after the appointment.

So that brings us to Friday.  About exactly a month after the doctors appointment.  She begins to tell me that Robyn has been happier during tummy time but she is concerned because of the crawling.  I quickly explained that the doctor is not so she does not have a right to be concerned.  She then continued.  So I interupted her and told her until she receives her medical degree I am not interested.  She then continued.  I explained that the discussion was over.   She tried to continue but I just walked out.  I did immediately bring this to the attention of the director, and I know she will care for it.

This really just brings me to some of my random thoughts for this post.  I am not that old, but when I was a kid I never remember seeing people overly worry about children meeting different milestones.  I never remember anyone that would act this way, whether at a day care or in life.  Yet over the years, mainly with Gia, I have seen numerous people provide their “insights” and thoughts on how a parent should handle things.  It seems like we have become overly involved sometimes in other peoples business.  I also wonder if we sometime over concentrate on some these medical concerns.  Did you know many schools and day cares do not allow peanut butter due to allergies.  I know these allergic reactions can be very bad and support the restrictions if it even helps prevent one incident.  I just find it interesting that this was never a problem when I was in school and now all of a sudden it is such a big problem.  I m guessing the allergy existed back then, but I do not remember anyone that had it.  Yet now I know a number of people that have it, or had it but then grew past it.  I have always found it interesting.  Is it just that I am a parent now and notice these things more?

Sorry for the random thoughts in today’s post.  Just wanted to take a little time to vent

How Does Your Expectations Influence Your Opinion?

Posted on : 02-12-2008 | By : Frank Eliason | In : Brands, Personal

Tags: ,

1

As I stated in yesterday’s post, this weekend we did go out a few times.  This included out to dinner on Friday and Saturday night.  Nothing fancy mind you, but that is still exciting because with a 2 year old and a 10 month old it does not happen often.  On Friday night we were driving back from Koziars Christmas Village and we needed to eat something.  As we were driving in the middle of no where, making our way toward civilization, Allentown.  Yes Allentown at that point was reaching civilization!  We were reading billboards of different places to eat.  Many we never heard of.  Then we saw Cracker Barrel, which we have never been to but we joked about.  Well we said a few jokes and then we saw an ad for Perkins.  Okay I could go for some breakfast food so that was perfect.  As we were driving past the exit for Cracker Barrel my wife joked that I was resistant to change.  Of course this is a dare, so I immediately got off the exit and Cracker Barrel was chosen.  Yes I do fall for “I dare you!”

 

On Saturday we were out again looking at the lights at Peddlers Village, we then decided to do a quick run to WalMart.  Afterward we were hungry and it was a little later so there should not be a wait anywhere.  For the longest time I have wanted to try a new “chain” restaurant in our area called 99.  Every time we tried to go it would have a long line out the door.  I could not really see a difference to TGI Fridays or something like that, but there were crowds.  We actually saw this at 2 locations so we were looking forward to giving it a try.

 

So let’s review, I had limited or low expectations for Cracker Barrel and rather high expectations for 99.  Here is a quick review of each based on these dinners:

  1. Cracker Barrel – We walked into Cracker Barrel in Allentown, and instead of a restaurant it was a cute little general store with many items.  We walked around for a little while and checked it all out.  When we did get seated we reviewed the menu to find home style cooking options.  We were sort of in the mood for breakfast but the choices were good.  They did not have alcoholic beverages, so I decided coffee was good for the moment.  The coffee was not the greatest, but not bad.  We placed our order.  The waitress immediately brought over corn muffins and biscuits.  I ordered a sample platter which included chicken dumplings, meatloaf and ham.  I have to say it was really pretty good.  It was just like home made.  The only negative with my food was it was colder than I would expect, but I ate it anyway.  After dinner instead of having dessert we decided to order a pie to take home.  We picked an Apple pecan crumb or something like that.  I have to say I was impressed and now I am looking to go back and try their breakfast.
  2. 99 – We went to the Warrington 99 Restaurant on Saturday.  The place was structure with a bar that was boxed in with walls and window, segregating that space.  There were signs expressing the different reasons for 99.  One cool thing was that they try to tie in with the community, including pictures of older local high school sports team.  The menu reminded me of Fridays or similar place.  They had many beers on draft, so I had a Sam special winter beer.  There seemed to be an emphasis on steak.  My wife had a crab cake sandwich.  It was good, and included 2 crab cakes.  I had another combo.  The only reason I had this was after I ordered the Prime Rib, the waitress came back a while later to say they were out.  So I ordered a combo of steak and salmon on cedar plank.  The salmon was good, but it is something I make at home so it was really not that special.  The steak looked like it was cooked with a weight on the top of it.  It was flat as can be.  Needless to say it really did not taste like anything.  The funniest was the biscuit.  It was hard as a rock.  It would break apart but made a good clink sound when hitting it against anything.  During the meal we asked for another milk which did not come until after the check.  They were kind enough not to charge us for the 2nd milk.  I did ask the waitress if it was normal for the biscuits to be that hard.  She did say no.  The bill was about $50 for 2 adults, 1 kids meal, 1 milk and 2 beers.  Overall I was not very pleased with the experience.  I did not see it much different than other offerings.  Basically if I want an inexpensive steak meal I think I would go to Outback.  If I want burgers (which they seem to also have plenty of), I think I would go to Ruby Tuesdays or Chili’s.  I have no plans to go back because it really did not differentiate itself. 
So that is a summary of the 2 places.  After leaving Cracker Barrel I immediately started to plan to go back to try breakfast.  This was from the person that was joking about it minutes before going.  At 99 I immediately decided I would not be back.  What is interesting about that was it was not that different than what I might see at Fridays, yet I would go back there.  I think I built up an expectation that it would be good and it did not live up to that expectation.  Cracker Barrel on the other hand I had no expectation, or maybe even a negative one.  The okay experience I had is causing me to go back.  Have you ever had a preconceived opinion influence you like this?  How does a brand set the right expectation to create an environment you want to come back to?

The Holiday Spirit

Posted on : 01-12-2008 | By : Frank Eliason | In : Holiday, Living in Philadelphia, Personal

Tags: , ,

1

This weekend we had a lot of fun doing family things to get in the holiday mood.  For those that do not know me well, the holidays are a blah time for me the past few years.  But as Lily and Robyn get older I know that will change.  In a way it started to already this year thanks to Lily, our 2 year old.  So on Friday we had our family holiday picture taken and we went to Koziar’s Christmas Village.  On Saturday we did a little shopping and we went to a place called Peddlers Village to see the “night lights.”  Finally on Sunday I had the opportunity to cook my own Thanksgiving meal.  This Thanksgiving we went to family, which was fun, but in recent years I have cooked so new traditions have been developing.  It is funny how you miss some of those, so we decided to have a mini-version on Sunday with my wife, Lily and Robyn.  It also means we now have leftovers!

 

I realized this weekend that we sometimes forget the meaning of this time of year.  I do not mean the religious connotation that comes from Christmas or Hanukkah.  I mean the giving spirit and togetherness before the winterfest really takes place.  Most people in the winter spend more time in the house and not as much visiting family and loved ones.  From November to December this is really about family and friends.  Unfortunately when I was driving on Friday and I heard a few news reports that certainly did not have this meaning.  Most of you have heard of both of the incidents by now:  The trampling to death of an employee at WalMart and the shooting at Toys R Us.  Have we truly lost sight of what this time of year is about?

 

On Thanksgiving we watched a pay per movie movie called “Fred Claus.”  My wife and I were looking for a way to get into the holiday spirit.  We enjoyed the movie, and it started to help.  While watching the movie there was a part in it that talked about how the amount of gifts increased over the years.  It really had me thinking.  While we were driving on Friday, my wife was talking about the candy as Christmas gifts on Little House on the Prairie.   That brings me back to the incidents on Friday.  I still am not sure why the shooting happened at Toys R Us.  Indications are that it was not about a toy, but I am sure it was something just as silly.  At WalMart it was very obvious.  It was a crowd of people rushing in to get some stupid gift that years from now no one will care about.  How stupid is that?  Dr. Judith Rich wrote a good post over at the Huffington Post called “Black Friday At Wal-Mart: The Cost Of Crazed Consumerism.”  In the post she makes a number of recommendations for giving this year.  Here they are:

 

1) Give an authentic acknowledgment to the people you love. 
2) Look them in the eyes and tell them who they are for you.
3) Open up communication with someone with whom you’ve had a misunderstanding. 
4) Apologize to someone you’ve unfairly judged.
5) Extend kindness to a stranger or offer support to someone and expect nothing in return.

 

I will add to that (although it fits with #5), with the economic conditions the way they are, consider giving to a charity in the name of someone or group.  Charities are struggling because people are concerned about the future so they are withholding their giving.  You never know when you may be in need of the charity, so choose something close to your heart and try to give something, even if it is small.  On this topic I heard another report this weekend that disturbed me.  It was regarding financial planning and preparation for the end of year tax giving.  It was recommending not giving to charities but doing other things with your funds to maximize the tax benefits.  If this is why you give, it is time to look into your own heart.  Seems like the Scrooge like reason for giving to a charity. 

 

So this weekend we developed new traditions in our household, do you have any traditions?  How do you show the holiday spirit?