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@Your Service » 2009 » February

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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Being a Personal Brand

Posted on : 26-02-2009 | By : Frank Eliason | In : Brands, Business, Social Media

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Groundswell can be positive or negative for any organization, or for that matter an individual.  This is what makes social media so unique, and in my opinion so special.  Over the past few weeks I have seen a swell of discussion regarding my friend Scott Monty.  There were some critical of Scott, but to me it was a good chance to have further conversation on the topic.  First of all we all represent our employers whether we are at work at the time or on Twitter.  If you were a sales person, and you made a comment that was questionable, and a client saw it, do you think anyone would say oh he was on twitter at home so that is ok?  Another aspect to this discussion, as David Armano pointed out in his post, is the fact that Scott Monty already had a personal brand prior to joining the Ford team.  It is probably part of the reason why they selected him to lead their social media effort.  Beyond all this, I thought I might be able to add some personal perspective to the conversation.

Over the past year I have developed a personal brand , not intentially but it has still happened.  I have been weirded out by all the discussion over doing what seemed to be natural;  helping people who were looking for assistance.  A side effect was being a part of the conversation of businesses in social media.  Throughout the process of learning about social media, I was provided feedback.  I utilized this feedback when I could.  One piece of that feedback suggested using my own picture instead of the Comcast symbol.  This made sense to me, because when I service Customers via the phone I always strive to add a personal touch.  Why would I not do the same in social media?  This was really common sense.  Some people may have difficulty with this, and for that matter businesses too.  Now the brand and the individual are tied together in many ways.  Scott Monty and Ford are closely connected in the same way that I am connected to Comcast.  This changes the playing field a bit.  A true partnership develops that strengthens both the organization and the individual.

This may cause organizations to try to remove some of the personalization with their social media efforts.  I would warn against that.  Social media is not about selling, dictating, or marketing.  It is really a great place to build a relationship and participate in a conversation.  Relationships are better 1 to 1.  The best approach in my opinion is to educate all your employees on using social media.  This is what I like to refer to as the Zappos model, mainly because they have made this a standard for others to live up to.   Lately you may have noticed that I have not been on Twitter as much during the day.  This is because I have elected to build a team structure.  I want to provide @ComcastBonnie, @ComcastGeorge and @ComcastBill the opportunity to build their brand and demonstrate that this is not a one person effort.  My goal, similar to many, is to continue to grow in my career and continue to challenge myself.  I also want to build something that will live on and continually evolve in this ever changing world.  There is nothing more special than building something that is sustainable for the long haul.  My team is doing just that.

There is another side to being a personal brand associated to a business that is not always seen, and one of the reasons it is not for everyone.  I have had great success that has been recognized by numerous social media websites and traditional media.  How many people have the opportunity to be in articles like “Comcast’s Twitter Man” for Business Week online?  At the same time, what I do not discuss as much is the personal attacks that sometimes happen.  These occur in comments for articles, blogs or directly to me on Twitter.  Now I understand most of the time it is really meant for the company but that is not how they are worded.  How would you feel if you did a google search and you found a story that you have a small penis?  Well this has happened to me.  A Customer posted a blog that he could not do something on the Comcast DVR.  I wrote a response explaining how to do what he was trying to do.  The next day he did another post saying I was right, but you cannot do something else.   I responded with directions on how to do it.  The next day he followed it up with a post titled “Frank Eliason Probably has a Small Penis.”  This post was explaining I was right.  If this happened to an individual they might post a reponse that attacks the writer, but since I am associated with a brand, I posted a response thanking them for the feedback.  I remember the first time I saw this post on a Google search, my first thought was “I do not get paid enough to deal with this!”  As we all know the web is a permanent place.

The groundswell has been good to me, and generated a lot of positive discussion.  Many aspects contribute to thus.  First and foremost I think it is the outstanding work of my team.  Without them I would not be writing this today.  It also has to do with the friendships in social media, including Customers that I have helped.  At the same time, it also comes down to hard work.  Gary Vanderchuk has talked about passion and hard work to achieve his status in social media and the business world.  I am not sure if the countless hours I have spent helping Customers, even at night or the weekends, are even recognized.   In contrast, this hard work is respected in the world of social media and has contributed to the groundswell of support.  If I did the basics, I am not sure it would have been noticed.   Working hard always has the long term benefits.  Passion is another key ingredient.  My passion is creating the right experience for Customers.

Is the personal brand a bad thing?  In my opinion, no.  In fact it is really priceless recognition.  I know Scott Monty has lived up to this recognition, I just hope I can too!

P.S.  Here is a great example for a business in how not to handle social media:  Consumerist:  “Ryan Air Employee Calls Blogger “Idiot” and Their Spokesperson Publicly Agrees”

Everything is so Amazing and Nobody is Happy…

Posted on : 23-02-2009 | By : Frank Eliason | In : Technology

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Ann Handley shared this video on Facebook.  It is an appearance by Louis C.K. on Conan O’Brien on 10/1/08.  This is worth the watch!

Economic Pulse: Saturday Errands

Posted on : 22-02-2009 | By : Frank Eliason | In : Business, Politics

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I have a background in investments, and I like to keep up on the topic.  One of my favorite authors was Peter Lynch from Fidelity Magellan fame (before people that know my background say anything, I still love Jack Bogle too!).   Peter had a simple investment style to “invest in what you know.”  It was this style that caused me to pay close attention to traffic in certain stores, or common discussion about certain businesses.  These observations can be telling whether using for investment purchases or trying to get a pulse on the economy.  That is why I am very confused by my observations today.  I think we are all concerned about the economy and we would like to have the insight as to what the future will bring.  Working off these observation can sometimes help, but today I noticed some mixed signals.

We started off with a little ride, for what was meant to be a quick trip, and turned into an all day affair.  The first stop we made was to the Children’s Clothing Patch, a small boutique.  My wife ran in for a few minutes (actually 4 games of sudoku on the blackberry).  When she came out she said that the selection was not as vast as it normally is.  I explained that is probably prudent and they are trying to minimize the need for clearance at the end of the season.  Many retailers are limiting their selection now.  We then drove to a neighboring shopping center to visit Starbucks.  On the quick ride over we past a closed Giant Foods supermarket.  The location was purchased in September, 2006 from the now closed Clemens supermarket chain.   I never did understand why they purchased it in the first place.  The store was too small and was right across the way from a larger competitor.  Giant also had a location a few miles up the road.   I did not see the closure as economic related, but I was noticing that building and those near it were not in good shape.  We were heading to the other building and it had only 3 stores still open out of about 7 to 10 spaces.  There was a restaurant, Starbucks and a bank.  What was really interesting was the parking lot was full.  The bank was closed at the time, so either Starbucks or the restaurant were doing very well at the moment.  It turns out the store we were heading to, Starbucks, was doing very well.  At least at that location.  My wife said that a woman in line was buying big bags of their deserts.  Now I like their deserts, but if I needed that many I know a number of great bakeries I would go to first.  That was an interesting observation for a Saturday afternoon trip to Starbucks, especially with all the conversation about their closing of store.

So the kids were asleep in the car this whole time, so we went for our driving to house hunt and our dreams of being able to afford a home on the Philadelphia main line communities.  This is areas like Villanova, Bryn Mawr, Ardmore, Haverford, Wynnewood, etc.  Very nice, usually older homes.  The best part to the area is the short trip into Philadelphia.  Unfortunately the negative is the expense to purchase these homes, even in today’s economy.  But it is nice to dream.  After our little drive we headed out to King of Prussia to grab a quick bite at Baja Fresh.  Not much of an observation.  We were in there with only 4 other people but the time of day was odd.  It was around 4:30.  Using the Peter Lynch approach I liked the food, but before investing I would have preferred greater foot traffic.  After we ate we ran over to pick up a few items at Costco.  Now this is one of my favorite stores.  The store uses a very consistent formula for marking up items and they strive not to go above that.  So prices are reasonable.  But they also do this really cool thing where they strive to have a certain percentage of the store to be items that make you say “Wow, I have to get that.”  They usually do get me too!  We entered the store around 5:30 and the first observation was the parking lot was packed.  We went in and there were people everywhere.  I have usually found it to be the best time to shop, but not today.  We picked up our items on the list and nothing more.  Oh wait, my wife did find they had Baby Lulu clothes for the girls so she did get them.  We then had to wait in long lines with almost every register open.  It was a lighter than normal trip for us, with a bill around $250 (this includes 2 boxes of diapers and wipes which is close to $100).   Costco seemed to be doing okay.  I did not think that people would buy bulk when they were out of work or were concerned about job security.

The next leg of this trip was to the Cheesecake Factory (we were in King of Prussia anyway).  We like to pick up 3 slices of cheesecake to go and split them over 3 nights.  As is usually the case they had a line out the door.  Where the takeout counter is you can hear the people putting in their name.  At 6:30 PM the wait time was 2 1/2 hours.  They seemed to be doing okay too.  From there we started to head home with plans to stop by the supermarket and target.  On the ride we started noticing that virtually every restaurant parking lot was packed.  Some were chains, while others were just local favorites.  Some of the parking lots were the fullest we have ever seen.  This is really where we started talking about the economy.  Well we made our way to a Giant Supermarket near us.  Normally this one is not very crowded, but today it was.  Maybe because they closed the other location.  We then went through the parking lot to the Target Greatland.  Now this is almost always crowded.  The first observation was how few cars were in the parking lot.  We went through the store to pick up a few items.  When we went to look at girls sneakers, we noticed the selection was minimal and the styles very plain.  No Dora or Princess sneakers at least (I know we should have went to Zappos!).   So we picked up our few items (without the sneakers) and left.  We were discussing the small amount of traffic for the store, so we decided to compare to Walmart.  We ran to Walmart expecting larger crowds, but to our surprise I parked in the first spot after the handicap spots.  That was a first for me.  I am always happy when I am within 50 spaces of the entrance.  So we ran in and shopped for a few more items.  We went to look for the sneakers because that is where we purchased them up in the past.  We went into shoes and what is normally 2 sides of an aisle, was now less than half of one side.  They really did not have any selection.  We did find a pair, but it was without a box in a small part of the aisle.  It looked to be more odds and ends.  Where are all the sneakers at?  Kids feet still grow.  

Anyway, I do not know what all this means for the economy, but I thought the observations were interesting.  Have you had observations in your travels that tell the future?

Will Twitter kill the Forum Community?

Posted on : 20-02-2009 | By : Frank Eliason | In : Social Media

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So video killed the radio star, VHS beat out beta, but was later killed by DVD.  Now online download is taking its toll on DVD.  We see it in many areas where new technologies start to take over older ones.  We have also seen it over the years in the online spaces and the community spaces.  Newsgroups shifted to forums for many topics or download services for file sharing.  Chat rooms are rarely seen now in favor of spaces like MySpace, Facebook and Twitter.

So while I was at the Omniture conference, I heard someone say, “oh not another space.”  It really started to make me think.  Are there too many spaces?  Will we see things shift from some space like specialized forums to a space like Twitter?

Over the past 5 years (or longer) companies have looked to create communities for their Customers to participate and have conversations within their web properties.  Many of these forums, like the Comcast Help Forums, are a place for support and discussion regarding a companies products.  Sometimes the communities are not within the company’s web server.  As an example, for internet service providers, one of the most recognized is Broadband Reports.  Forums are great because topics are broken up and it is easy to search for something of interest.

It may be time to rethink the importance of forums.  Although I have not seen a decline in participation in such areas, isn’t it just as easy, if not easier to ask your question in a place like Twitter?  What we know about Twitter or Facebook people tend to gravitate to others with the same interests, very similar to what we see in a community forum.  Just like a forum, besides asking the question you can search for others that may have asked a similar question.  You can even write to them and ask if they found a solution.  You can even make a new friend that way.

As we relook at the “Groundswell,” companies may no longer be about building a specialized place but using existing spaces in larger communities.  It will be in their best interest to meet Customers where they already are.  There will always be some topics that will be a little taboo or private for a place like Twitter (although probably happens there too) that forums will be useful for some of those discussions.  At the same time as we look in the crystal ball, do we need all these seperate forums or can it just happen naturally?  To make this easier Twitter may want to better group followers, that way I can have my “Techie” friends and those that like shows like “Dexter.”  This is available today through different apps, but if that was an option on the native app it would be helpful.  At the same time, I am willing to bet it is already happening.  What other things may change if places like twitter continue to have momentum?

I Was Shocked Today!

Posted on : 17-02-2009 | By : Frank Eliason | In : Personal, Social Media

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Nobody seems to want me to blog about “Maggots in our Mushrooms.”  I have been planning that post yesterday and today, but tomorrow is another day.  Normally I am up on the blogs mentioning Comcast but today someone beat me to it.  I received an email with a link to a TechCrunch blog:  “Survey of Insular Media Elite Says Twitter is Better Than Facebook for Business.”  First let me say that I am not shocked that Twitter is better for business than Facebook.  We are in both spaces and we definitely know Twitter is a better space to engage with your Customers.  There is an easy reason why Twitter is so good:  “What are you doing?”  Think about all the market research that goes into answering that very question.  Now you can go to Twitter Search and get the answer to the question.  As a business you can easily learn how people use your product or interact with your company.  

This TechCrunch post was about an Abrams Research Study of over 200 social media leaders.  There were other interesting, although not shocking, tidbits in the survey.

1. Which social media service would you be most likely to pay for?

  1. Facebook 32.2%
  2. Linkedin 29.7%
  3. Twitter 21.8%
  4. YouTube 13.4%
  5. MySpace 1.5%
  6. Digg 1.5%

2. What social media service would you advise a business pay for?

  1. Twitter 39.6%
  2. Linkedin 21.3%
  3. YouTube 18.8%
  4. Facebook 15.3%
  5. Digg 3.0%
  6. MySpace 2.0%

3. Which social media service will be the first to die?

  1. ImInLikeWithYou.com 41.1%
  2. Bebo 12.4%
  3. FriendFeed 8.9%
  4. Meetup.com 8.4%
  5. Flixster 6.9%
  6. Digg 5.0%
  7. Last.fm 3.0%
  8. Other 14.4%

None of the information above was shocking to me, but certainly interesting.

Now to the “shocked” part of my day.  I know it seems that we have been mentioned with regards to our social media efforts.  Recently Mashable labeled us one of the the top big businesses in social media, and I was wowed by that.  I have always been shocked by any press or blog posts.  I never considered myself to be a “social media” person, just a simple service guy talking to Customers.  I tried to learn as people provided feedback.  But this report was based on a survey of top social media people and for them to label the work of my team with the likes of @Zappos, @BarackObama, @CNN, @JetBlue, and @ScottMonty is amazing.  There are such great people representing companies that are on the list as well as others that are not.  I am just amazed and thankful for such recognition.  It is a credit to all those that helped me and the amazing team I work with each day.  I do not think I will ever be comfortable with all the discussion about me but being on this list really made me feel very special today and I want to thank everyone for that.   This has been a wild ride and it is really my team and all of you. Sorry for the wordiness but I am actually lost for words today.  Thank you.

Here is the complete list:

4. Which corporation has done the best job of using social media? (Respondents were asked to choose

one; these were the most popular choices, ranked accordingly)

  1. Zappos (online shopping site)
  2. Obama (campaign and presidency)
  3. CNN
  4. Comcast (“Comcast Cares)
  5. Jetblue
  6. Dell
  7. Burger King
  8. NPR
  9. New York Times
  10. Ford

Making the Brand. Social Media for the Long Haul

Posted on : 16-02-2009 | By : Frank Eliason | In : Brands, Business, Social Media

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What do you get when you add together Ian Schafer, Brian Morrissey and Gary Vaynerchuk?  A lively discussion on social media and business participation.  Immediately when I viewed the video on Friday I knew I wanted to take the opportunity to share it here.  Not only are they great minds when it comes to social media, they make points that every business needs to hear.  A few weeks ago I did a presentation about business blogging and the person that represents that to me?  GaryVee.  Not that every business should act the same way he does, that is not the point of social media.  We should not try to be someone we are not.  In my opinion the key to Gary’s success is his passion.  That is what it is all about.  I have a passion for Customer Service, and that comes out in everything I do.

So what is the key to hiring for social media?  It all comes down to that passion.  Most likely you already have that person within your organization.  Instead of hiring that expert, tap into this passionate person to represent the brand.  When I hire for positions on my team I am always striving to hire the most passionate people.  They are always successful and they do a great job at representing the brand.

The key for any business to understand is people will be talking about your brand whether you are there or not.  If there are flaws within your organization they will be magnified in social media.  So it is important for the organization to identify and work on these issues.  I will say , from experience, social media is a great place to learn the pulse of your Customers.  It is not a statistical sample of opinion but it is certainly a sample of the loudest opinion.  My favorite part about the space is how well it brings the Customer story to life.  If you work for an organization that is looking to improve, gathering feedback from blogs and other social media spaces is phenomenal.  People may like to look at numbers, but when they relate to a story things really change.

The converse is social media will reward organizations that have a positive way of doing business.  The way to measure this is simply do a search for Zappos.  Their model is about allowing and teaching social media to their employees.  It is the model to build from.  It comes down to their policies and how they are so well liked by their Customers, such as 2 way shipping. 

Another fun topic that is brought up is the famous sleeping tech video impacting a company I know.  This is a great lesson for companies and why it is so important to listen to your Customers through all channels to improve the experience.  Ultimately something like this can come out.  The reason I actually love the example is it was a driver for my company to listen closely to social media.  It then led to the work my team and I have been doing over the past year or so.  In the video there was some discussion about my own worth to Comcast, but I want to say a few things on this.  My worth is really because of the great team of people I work with.  It is also why I am a big believer in having a team involved in social media.  This allows everyone to take part in the conversation.  Also if one person does leave there are other great people to step up to the plate.  At Comcast we have a number of great people involved in social media, include @ComcastBill, @ComcastBonnie and @ComcastGeorge.  We also have many other great team members involved in other social media spaces or working behind the scenes to ensure we are successful.  That is how you can build a social media Customer advocacy team to last.

What Can Tabora Farm & Orchard Teach Us About Business?

Posted on : 15-02-2009 | By : Frank Eliason | In : Business, Living in Philadelphia, Politics

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Recently the economy has hit home for me.  Many of my friends lost their job at my former employer, Advanta Bank.  The company due to a variety of factors impacting the credit market is downsizing from about 700 people to around 400.  When I was there it was about over 1000.  I am really sad because it was a great place to work, mainly due to the people.  There was a rare atmosphere where most people in the company were actually friends.

As I have thought about the current environment and all those that have lost their jobs I have wondered how many companies and individuals have thought more short sighted, whether it be through layoffs or cuts in expenditures to meet lower expectations for the market.  Is the right move trying to make the number today or for years to come?

For Valentine’s day I decided to make a special dinner, including crab cakes from a little place we have grown to love. the Tabora Farm and Orchard Country Store.  This little place has all kind of goodies, including great baked goods and a nice selection of fresh foods.  So what can this little store teach us about doing it right in an economic environment like this one?  Well this store has been around since 1990.  It is very cramped and in need of a little clean up (although I love it the way it is).  I am sure the company, just like all businesses is hurting right now, but walking in there was no sign of that.  Actually there was a sign, one that caught my eye.  It talked about how they are going to be closed on Tuesdays for the next month or so as they renovate the place.  Wow, they are actually not pulling back, but investing for the future.  That is the way it should be done!  I am sure this is not their busy time so it will not impact their Customers too much but as things rebound they will be so ready.

How many businesses are busy closing locations or downsizing due to the current environment?  Now I agree closing poor performing locations, especially when in the past there was over expansion (think Starbucks), that does make sense to do that.  At the same time how many retailers are pulling back on planned renovations.  Wouldn’t now be the perfect time, especially as there is less foot traffic?  Now is a great time to redefine your business.  Layoffs may still be inevitable in some areas, but maybe it is time to rejuvenate other areas of the business.  Maybe look for some of the best minds that can add immediate value to your long term planning.  Instead of cutting Customer Service, revamp it and create the best experience.  As the economy improves your Customers will remember being treated right.  Are the tools your company uses outdated?  Work to improve them and use added resources to further train your employees.  This may not help companies make the number for the current quarters, but it will add to the profit margins for a long time to come.  It will also assist the overall economy in expanding therefore making prospects for future growth even sooner.

We can be our own stimulus package, just in the way we approach these tough times.

So Should a Business Be On Twitter?

Posted on : 13-02-2009 | By : Frank Eliason | In : Social Media

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This is a question I have been asked numerous times.  My answers have almost all the same.  I simply ask 2 easy questions:

  1. What are you trying to accomplish?
  2. Are your Customers on Twitter?

Before deciding to venture into social media, it is important to understand your own audience, where they may be located and have clearly defined goals.  For Comcast my team has been involved in numerous social media spaces.  Our goal has been 2 fold:

  1. Meet the Customer where they already are
  2. Try to assist when we can

I have always found Twitter to be a great space.  The reason for this is we know our Customers are there and Twitter has a strong searchability that is also timely.  When we look at spaces we do look at the searchability and how quickly we can obtain the information from our Customers.  For this we can easily use Twitter Search.  There are 2 other benefits to Twitter that can be used for any business.  First and foremost is the ability to build relationships.  Nothing is more powerful than the relationships with Customers, or prospective Customers.  I have built relationships in this space and now also work with the companies involved.  Now that is because they had a good product, but I will say it is great knowing that they are there if I need them.  The other benefit to Twitter is when people are responding to the question “What are you doing?” many times they are saying how they use a product or interact with a business.  That is useful intelligence.

It does seem more and more people are turning to social networking, such as Facebook or Twitter.  According to a recent Pew Research Report , as of December, 2008 11% of “online” American adults have said they use a service like Twitter.  Now as @criticalmass asked me “if I would walk up to 100 people on the street, would I expect 11 to have heard of Twitter,” I would not expect that.  But I think if you were to ask a broader question involving other social media, such as Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, or MySpace I think you would find the numbers even higher.  The other aspect is not so much the number but the actual trend.  In May, 2008 Pew found 6% were participating on spaces like Twitter and in November, 2008 that number was at 9%.  That is a very fast climb.  

Another interesting piece to the study was the breakdown of the age ranges.  Unlike other social media spaces, Twitter has an older crowd, with a median age of 31 compared to 27 for MySpace, 26 for Facebook and 40 for LinkedIn.

Beyond these stats the report talks about how Twitter users are more connected  via electronic devices.  This is not shocking given the amount of early adopters in the space.  The other discussion in the report is how Twitter users gain their news information.  Not surprisingly it is via electronic means.

As we have seen, more and more people are joining spaces like Twitter.  I know in Facebook I have been meeting more and more people, many of whom I never expected to be in an electronic space.  As social media continues to become more mainstream, it will be important for companies to view this as another channel to communicate with their Customers.  Where are your Customers?

Just When I Thought Airlines Would Start to Turn the Tide…

Posted on : 10-02-2009 | By : Frank Eliason | In : Brands, Customer Service

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First I want to applaud the crew of US Air flight 1549.  The calm and cool demeanor of this hard working crew really came through in this incident.  It is the type of crew you hope for during any flight (and truthfully the type of crew I have usually seen on flights).  They did a fabulous job in saving the lives of the passengers and the crew.  I have enjoyed the opportunity to see their accolades, especially when they came on the field for the Super Bowl.  They are the ones that truly deserved a standing ovation.

A few weeks ago I started to recieve the Wall Street Journal print edition.  Years ago when I worked for an investment firm I received the paper each day and enjoyed reading it.  I forgot how much I missed it.  The funny thing to this is I received the paper because of Skymiles from Delta Airlines.  I am actually now receiving a number of magazines due to an offer from the airline.  My wife told me I would receive a number of blog posts by reading it each day, and she was right.  The trouble I have had was narrowing what I wanted to talk about.  I hope to do a better job in the future.  This brings me to an article I read today:  “Why Fliers Can’t Donate Unused Tickets.”

This article points to a number of flaws within the airline industry.  First and foremost is the various pricepoints for most flights.  The article in summary states that you can not donate unused non-refundable tickets for charities like, the Make a Wish Foundation (one of my favorites).  There are a variety of excuses that the spokespeople use, such as costs (like they would not have a fee for that), security concerns (TSA says no problem), fraud, hording of tickets, potential resale of tickets (oh no, someone else could profit off of the various rates for airline tickets).  Ultimately this would all be solved by having single prices for routes and not have cheap prices one day and expensive prices another day.

Now truthfully I do not anticipate the airline industry to change their pricing model immediately (although I would love it if one did).  But this was not a difficult piece to differentiate yourself from competitors and put a nice foot forward.  I am sure there was much discussion regarding what would be said to the reporter regarding the issue of donating unused tickets.  Instead of these variety of excuses, wouldn’t a brand have done wonders in differentiating themselves by saying something like “that would be a great way to help some charities that can benefit from our services and we are working on a program to do that easily with certain approved charities.”  I know if I would have read a quote like that I would be much more likely to select that airline.  It would have even been better if they said, “hey that makes sense and we will implement that.”  Okay I am pushing it with that quote.

After my last post on airlines, I started to notice minor things within the industry that I was thinking we were on the brink of something changing.  After the crash of US Air flight 1549 and the reaction to the crew and US Air toward the crash victims, I thought things would change.  In fact I wrote a post but never published on how great US Air was trying to make sure the passengers of that flight were cared for.  I actually wanted to write kudos to them for a job well done.  I was comparing the handling of that accident to one from another airline in Colorado.  It was a definite improvement.  Unfortunately this article took an already battered industry down another notch.  And, in my opinion, that was their own doing by the manner they responded to the question.  Now I would anticipate some backlash regarding donating tickets, and then eventually companies changing policy one by one.  How long do you think that will take?

UPDATE:  Just as I was going to bed, I noticed a link on the Consumerist regarding United Airlines discontinuing their India call center for complaints in favor of written complaints.  Okay things might be going a different direction.  Check out this Seattle Times Story:  “United to Stop Taking Complaints by Phone.”  That is one way to make complaints go away.  Now to be fair they will take complaint from their largest Customers.

So is it Time to be Frank?

Posted on : 05-02-2009 | By : Frank Eliason | In : Personal

18

This is a post of the kind of luck I have.

I thought my drive home yesterday was an adventure.   I had to stop at Wawa to pick up milk, so I also picked up  a family soup.  Well I drove the 5 minute ride home.  I got out of the car and went around to the others side to pick the bag of milk and the soup.  To my surprise the entire container of soup spilled all over the mat in the car.  Yes a very large container of potato soup now completely empty.  I was so happy that I purchased rubber mats.  Of course that was dinner, so it was time to find soemthing else.

I made it through that, but I did not even realize what a nothing event that really was until this morning.

So today I had my normal routine.  I get up around 6:00 AM.  For those that know me I am not a morning person.  I am very happy staying up all night, but not all too pleased to get up in the morning.  I enjoy my coffee, reviewed emails and updated Twitter.  Lily came down too so she watched TV.  Finally around 7:15 I went up to take a shower and finished getting ready for work.  Of course this is after my 3rd cup of coffee.  So I take a quick shower.  When I got out I heard Lily talking to Robyn on the monitor.  I was okay with Lily waking Robyn because it was time to go anyway.  I got dressed and went in to visit my two precious girls.   I just did not realize how precious Lily (Our 2 Year Old) really was.  I opened the door and to my surprise this is what I saw:

"Hi Daddy!"

You may not recognize the material that is on Lily, but it is Desitin.  Yes the same cream that is used on the cabooses of little ones.  Actually to be precise this is 2 tubes of Desitin.  Well it was more than just what you see.  It was on other furniture, throughout the floor.  Oh and it was even…

Our Precious Robyn

Our Precious Robyn

…all over our precious Robyn.  Do you know how hard it is to get Desitin off?

So this is a glimpse into what it is like to be Frank.  So how is your day going?