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...


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...


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...


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...


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...


  • Prev
  • Next

Picturesque Service

Posted on : 17-01-2012 | By : Frank Eliason | In : Business, Customer Service

Tags: ,



It seems with all the technology we as Consumers are still growing frustrated by the service experience by companies. It seems to me many companies just created a patchwork quilt to meet the demands of their Customer. Of course many new companies, built from the ground up, are finding new ways to surprise and delight. Today I want to tell you about one of those experiences.

Our story starts with An email from a friend about a free picture book offer from Shutterfly. With the email we began putting together the book of 2011. What a year to watch the kids grow! Anyway, we complete the book and begin the check out process, but we realize the code was already used. No big deal, we check our email and it turns out we had the same offer, but the email went to junk. The friend that sent it to us was not as lucky. See the email was sent to her by another friend. So she emailed Shutterfly and within an they emailed her a code. She is now very dedicated to Shutterfly, because they could have said any number of things, including the offer was intended for select people, etc. They made it easy.

Today we have fairly low expectations of companies especially when it comes to the Customer experience. This is where Shutterfly differentiated themselves. Through the checkout process we decided to order a few more things, totally about $25. As we went through the check out process a $20 credit was automatically applied. It turns out we earned that credit when purchasing school pictures from Life Touch. Shutterfly did not put the onus on us to remember a code or that we even had it. They applied it automatically. The experiences you create are what lead to social media success (or failure). This is an @yourservice world!

Is Service Down the Drain?

Posted on : 13-01-2012 | By : Frank Eliason | In : Customer Service

Tags: ,


I am excited to report that in the coming weeks you will be seeing some changes to this blog.  First I will be updating the look.  But, more importantly, I will be focusing on sharing stories I read everyday regarding Customer Service.  I’ll share the good, the bad, and the ugly.  Hopefully as businesses improve we will see more and more of the good.  I will also be encouraging readers, as well as businesses, to share their stories or ones they come across on the internet.  I think that this will provide a well rounded view of the current state of Customer Service.

All this is in preparation for my upcoming book called @YourService.  The book will include many personal stories, observations and recommendations for the Customer Service field.  The simple fact is the Customer and the employee now control your brand image. Many want to win in social media, but if you want your business to have success you have to start with the basics: your Customer and your employee.  Social media simply highlights the culture you already have.  The Customer service world has changed dramatically over the past 30 years with a lot of impressive technology.  But is that technology designed for the Customer or the business?  The fact is that today Customers feel further and further away from your business, and often we are sending a message that we are not interested in their needs.  We are stuck on process and we provide limited room to move.

In the book you will find many stories about service, some of which I experienced personally.  We tend to make Customers jump through hoops to get things cared for.  Sometimes I wonder if that is intentional.  Are companies just hoping we will just give up?  Of course I like to be more positive than that and hope they are simple mistakes.  Of course they happen way too often.  Here is an example of a situation I just dealt with for a new faucet I purchased.  The final email to this chain, is probably the funniest since I am not sure why I received it.  Our story starts on December 6.  I send an email to Kingston Brass/EOD Faucet because the finish was coming off of the pull knob for the drain of a faucet I bought from Overstock on September 3, 2011.  The original email includes a clear picture, our address, a description of the trouble and a request for a new pull handle.  I do not receive any response, so on January 3, I emailed again.  This time I received a fairly quick response.  The first email asks me to provide proof of purchase, which I respond with.  The odd thing about the email is it cc’ed what appears to be the human resources email address for the company.  This continues through the remaining emails, so I make sure to cc them as well.   The next email asks me to take a picture of the entire faucet “so we know exactly what part to send you.”  My first two emails did include a photo and a request for the part, which was simply the pull.  So this time I respond with two pictures.  One was simply the damaged part and the other was the entire unit.  I then get a response asking me to attach the pictures instead of cutting and pasting them in.  For some strange reason when they received the email the picture were shrunk to icons.  They were full size when they left here.  Anyway I sent the photos with separate emails.  I then get a response asking for the address to send it to, which was included in the first two emails.  Again I respond with that information and we are done with this back and forth.  The good news is I received the part very quickly but now for the odd news.  Remember how I mentioned the agent included the HR email address in the chain?  Well today I received another one which was send from CS103 to Erik Chen at Kingston Brass, the HR email and one that appears to be for tech support at Kingston Brass.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Mr. Chen,

In the morning I answered phone calls and answered technical, order inquiry, and stock status questions. I wrote up warranty request forms and also entered them into Elliot. I entered orders from Kingston Brass Faucet and from SinksPlus. I answered emails from info@eodfaucet.com and techsupport@kingstonbrass.com.

In the afternoon I answered phone calls and answered technical, order inquiry, and stock status questions. I wrote up warranty request forms and also entered them into Elliot. I entered orders from Kingston Brass Faucet and from SinksPlus. I answered emails from info@eodfaucet.com and techsupport@kingstonbrass.com.



After writing the book, and a chapter about an inside look at a call center, I immediately started putting together my own backstory to email, including the fact that the agent cc’ed HR on every response.  Is the agent in trouble for something and that’s why he was doing it?  I suspect that the different emails were not due to him but the process they have in place, including lack of history to identify the address.  All this is part of our Customer experience.  The key to winning in the social world is creating a good environment for agents where they can be empowered, such as possibly just sending the pull since the cost is so low, instead of the multiple emails creating frustration.  The book was fun but this will give you a feel for what this blog will be like moving forward.  Thank you for your continued support!  Please send your Customer service stories to frank@frankeliason.com  I’m looking forward to hearing your stories!

A Tale of Expectations

Posted on : 16-12-2011 | By : Frank Eliason | In : Brands, Customer Service, Social Media

Tags: , ,



A tweet says so much yet may not provide clarity. A few days ago I tweeted about two experiences over the past week with hotels. The more I think about the tweet the more I realize it is a tale of expectations. We tend to tweet or post to Facebook items we are passionate about or the extremes of our own expectations. This is the story of both extremes of my expectations.

When it comes to service I typically have very high standards and I am frustrated often by poor Customer handling. At the same time I have come to expect poor service. It is a sad state of affairs for the service industry. We were attending a wedding at a resort in Atlantic Beach, Florida (near Jacksonville). I had low expectations for the hotel. I knew it would be nice based on the Internet pictures, but I never expected to be wow’ed by the experience. I can count on one hand how often I was wow’ed by a hotel. Anyway the One Ocean Resort was not only able to wow me, they have moved to the top of my list for hotels. It all started upon arrival. We decided to drive down from New Jersey. The plan was a few days for the wedding and a few days in Disney prior to driving back. Due to a police incident in Virginia, we were stuck on the highway from 11:00 PM until after 2:00 AM. At that point stopping at a hotel seemed a waste, so we drove straight through, arriving at the resort around noon or 1:00 PM. We pulled up to valet, introduced ourselves to the attendant, and let him know we first wanted to see if the room was ready before off loading. He turned to us and said “Mr. Eliason, not only is your room ready, I have your key right here. There is no need to check in, let me take your bags right up”. It was a tremendous start. The hotel room had a beautiful view of the ocean and loaded with snacks to meet any tastes. The hotel, prior to arrival, also emailed asking snack and drink preferences. The room was loaded with our selections. What a great touch. During our two night stay we were greeted by name from many of the staff members. The wedding was beautiful and a brunch we threw for the wedding guests was perfect. I loved One Ocean!

After the wedding we took the few hour ride to Orlando to visit Mickey and all the Princesses. This was my third trip to Disney and the other two were magical, so I had very high expectations. This time, using credit card points, we were staying at the Grand Floridian. It was just going to be one night, so why not. During the few hour drive and after reviewing the weather, we decided to extend our stay 1 night, if the hotel had availability. So we arrived at the hotel. The guard was exceptional directing us to the front of the hotel to leave our bags before taking the car to self park. The bellhop was really nice as I have come to expect from cast members. We then drove to self park, which was full. We then found ourselves in cast member parking, which did not seem right, so we drove back and did valet. As we went past the security guard again he did let us know we could have parked in cast member parking but I decided to valet instead. Finally made my way to check in. Again another nice gentleman greeted me. I asked about extending the stay. He checked me in then had to call the reservation desk to see if they could extend (why he could not do it seemed disjointed to me). He then informed me that the reservation was not done through Disney but he could add a night at a different rate. I was fine with that. That night we attended Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party. It was a magical, although wet experience. It was great being in Magic Kingdom with less of a crowd. The next day I got up and the first thing I did was work with the concierge for the girls to attend a dinner with Cinderella. I then went back to the check in desk because I realized our car pass had the incorrect date. The woman at the desk was confused by the reservation and was telling me it was not right. She made some changes and said that should fix it. It was at this point I started to expect problems ahead. Anyway it was time to head to Animal Kingdom to start the day. As soon as we arrived at Animal Kingdom I made a purchase at the gift shop (waterproof bag after the wet evening before) and charged it to the room. We then went in the park. I love Animal Kingdom, especially for the character access. After meeting a few characters we went to make another purchase. This time charging to the room was not going to happen. Our card was deactivated. I called the number on the card. The first person was very nice and listened carefully, she then had to transfer me to the hotels front desk. The next person seemed confused and had to connect me with someone in the back office. I am not sure what she did, but I found myself back in the queue and about 20 minutes later back at the front desk. I hate loops! Needless to say the new person had no clue, so I reiterated the story. Instead of reactivating the cards, she issued new keys that they would keep at the front desk. If I wanted to make any purchases, I just had to tell the person to key in the code at the bottom of the key and change the last two digits to 07. I would guess they can not reactivate existing keys. There system, to avoid risk, creates trouble for the Customer. Not uncommon but very frustrating. When we finally got back to the hotel, shortly before the scheduled dinner, I went to the front desk to pick up the keys, again explaining my frustration with the experience. Instead of getting the keys already cut, they printed new ones and handed them to me. I provided my wife her key and suggested she shop and I would take the kids back to the room. The hotel is spread over multiple buildings, so heading to your room can take time, especially with 2 girls. I finally made it there and you probably already guessed, the key did not work. This most likely meant my wife could not make purchases or get in the room if she beats me back. I made my way with the girls back to the front desk. I again explain the situation and my frustration. He seemed to think it was about charging back to the room an hands me back the key and says now you can charge. I said great, of course my goal now is getting into my room. He then reviewed a few things and said he had to go back and check with his manager. He then came back and printed another key and promised that one would work. All the other keys were now useless. I was fine by that. I was surprised that if he went back and relayed the story to the manager, I would have expected then to come out and apologize for the trouble, but none of that happened. Well the key did work, the bill seemed correct and the rest of the trip was as magical as I expect from Disney. I have seen similar key trouble in many hotels, but I had higher expectations for Disney, especially the Grand Floridian. I did not see the empathy from the staff as I would have expected. I loved the trip to Florida and I know I will be back to Disney but maybe next time my expectations will not be as grand.

Social Media Customer Service is a Failure!

Posted on : 06-10-2011 | By : Frank Eliason | In : Customer Service


I know I have been quiet for a while, but I am back with a vengence.  Today’s post is over at Brian Solis’ blog, so check it out here! http://www.briansolis.com/2011/10/social-media-customer-service-is-a-failure/

Hosni Mubarak was an Influencer!

Posted on : 17-02-2011 | By : Frank Eliason | In : Business, Customer Service, Social Media


Okay, I know the headline was to catch attention, but it still brings up an interesting point. I am constantly hearing about influencers, and I thought it was a topic we should further discuss. By all definitions, Hosni Mubarek, former President of Egypt, was an influencer. He held control over much of the media, and in some ways, the internet. Yet the overwhelming voice of the people were able to change that. Simply by banning together, and connecting on the web and offline.

I meet people who are probably smarter than me when it comes to marketing, or even social media, but they focus so much on the influencer. Many want to give product to the influencer, in hopes they will speak well of it and add to sales. This always makes me wonder if influencers always started to hawk these products, how long will they retain their influence? I know for myself, I would want to turn them off. I like to connect with people for their intellectual ability not selling abilities.

Every time I think of influence, I always remember a conference in Atlanta where a telecom marketing person spoke about how she rewards people for saying nice things about her brand. As soon as she said it, I immediately thought ‘thank you for telling me that, now I do not believe good things said about that brand. Now I do not kid myself, I know that companies have policies for press and others so they can use product for reviews or articles. But for the most part press tend to work on ethical rules regarding gifts and free product. Companies also have similar rules limiting what they offer. There are also rules for disclosure for bloggers which should be enforced by the blogger, as well as the company who provided the product.

My favorite is when people start talking about giving preferential treatment to influencers when they need Customer Service. I personally feel everyone is an influencer and would be happy to share examples where negative or positive experiences by everyday people who have shared the experience and the content became influential. I know many will say companies provide preferential treatment to those who buy a lot of product or take advantage of multiple services. That is true and to me that makes sense. They create the revenue for the company and are very dedicated to the company based on their actions. Companies may provide them a dedicated team, or even other discounts. I think many understand that. I should point out that my first management role was in one of these service departments for the Vanguard Group of Investment Companies. My opinion is if you start to treat those with high Klout scores with preferential treatment, you run a number of risks. First if I regularly buy your product, have a lower score and find out, I will be irritated that you do not value me and you may lose me as a Customer. You are sending a message to other Customers that they are not as special as an influencer. The opposite can also cause trouble. People love to know they receive preferential treatment, but what happens if they feel a ‘regular’ person received a better Customer experience? Could they be loud regarding what they perceive as their poor treatment?

I also think this type of trouble could cause us to we see another Mubarak moment directed at the brand providing this ‘special treatment.’ I can see ‘regular’ Customers banning together and becoming the major brand influencer in a major negative way. Personally I would like to see brands realize every Customer can be an influencer and treat them in a way the builds them as advocates. What do you think about special treatment of influencers?

Twitter is Not Your Answer to Service

Posted on : 15-02-2011 | By : Frank Eliason | In : Business, Customer Service, Social Media

Tags: , ,


Fortune Magazine has an interesting piece by Anne Vandermey comparing Customer Service by channel, including phone, website, and Twitter.  They provided the same question to each channel and measured accuracy and speed of response.  What they found from most of the interactions was phone was still the best way to receive service.  I was not surprised by the findings, but there are a few other key points that should be made.  Here are a few:

1)   Customer Preferred Communication Style – Not everyone is going to prefer Twitter, the same way not everyone prefers phone or email.  My preference is email when I do not need an immediate response or I know a proper response will require research by the company.  If I have an immediate need, I will still call, although that is not my preferred means of communication.  Someone requesting a response via Twitter may not care if it takes a few hours to obtain the information.  They simply may like the fact that the answer will come to them in the place they are already hanging out.

2)   Customer’s Now Own Your Brand Message – Not just with Twitter, but also Facebook, YouTube, blogs, forums, user reviews and so many other social websites, the Customer now owns your message.  They can be very loud regarding a bad or good experience with a product or service.  They take this message to any of the websites they can.

3)   Speed of Information – Depending on the nature of your business, Twitter can highlight an area of concern faster than other internal communications.  The reason for this is the way Twitter is designed.  Twitter asks a question: ‘What’s Happening?’  The answer to this question can provide insight prior to a Customer even calling.  Many times they state why they are calling a company before they even finishing dialing the number on the phone.  Ultimately listening is key, but I would say the same regarding all communications methods

Overall Twitter is not for everything.  It is difficult for many firms to discuss Customer private data in a public forum, so there are times conversations must shift to other communication methods.  The power of Twitter and other social media is the shift to the Customer.  It is raising the importance of Customer Service, and many companies are now scrambling to fix broken service departments, or ones focused on inaccurate goals.  In this new world order, the Customer is gaining the upper hand (and so is your front line employee), whether you are on Twitter or not.  Twitter is not the cause, nor is it the solution.  There has been a Customer revolution going on; are you ready for the evolution of your business?  To me this is the more interesting conversation instead of speed of response.  At the same time I enjoyed the article because it did show how some are focusing Twitter more on the PR side of service and not improving all channels.

Twitter Can Be A Natural Fit for Car Dealers, but…

Posted on : 07-02-2011 | By : Frank Eliason | In : Business, Customer Service

Tags: ,


I decided this week it was time to get a new car for my wife.  We have had the same Volvo for 9 years and it has served us well, but with upcoming inspection which would cost a lot, it was time to think of a new car.  We have done well with a station wagon and wanted to find something similar.  I debated a Volvo, but I wish they were still owned by Ford.  In reviewing the current offerings I decided it would be between a Toyota Venza or Audi A4 Avant.  I think both are nice cars with many features.  So I decided to contact a few dealers.  Audi of Willow Grove shocked me when Brett Pomerantz, their Internet Sales Manager responded to my email on a Sunday.  As many of you are aware, I believe a key part to service is speed of response.  We had a nice dialogue, even though the basic part of the response was a team member of his would contact me Monday.  We even discussed social media and car dealers.  So on Sunday I contacted 8 dealers and all sent auto responders with follow up calls today.  The funny thing about the calls, none recognized my preference is email, and no I do not want to come into the dealer if I can avoid it!  Old school sales techniques do not always work.  Contact me the way I prefer to be contacted.  My wife stopped by the dealer at lunch today, test drove the car and they assessed the trade.  I have yet to visit the dealer and we have a signed purchase order.  The sales manager called me with the numbers, and within a few minutes of conversation we had a deal.  I would bet it was inexpensive sale for them as well.  Of course I had numbers I was comfortable with prior to reaching out, so I do think the internet helps with the overall experience.  I still doubt we would be at this stage if I did not build a connection to Brett last night with a few email exchanged.  Simply put he earned trust which helped the dealer close the deal (even though he was away at a conference today).

This is not why I am writing this post, although it does fit in what I look for in Customer Service and sales. Last night I twittered out a question about what car I should get.  After doing so I had a number of car dealer accounts follow me.  This is a great way to possibly drum up sales, but then I looked at their feeds.  They basically twittered out info on the cars and deals.  They are really missing the boat.  Imagine if they had sales people out here?  Just like the speed of Brett’s email shocked me, they could have engaged in conversation.  With the right speed and approach they could have easily won me over.  It is not saying come buy from me, or following someone that matters.  They could easily engage in a helpful dialogue regarding the buying experience or even say something like ‘let me know if you need any help with the car buying process.’  The key is this comes better from actual people not the generic dealer twitter account.

Have you seen a car dealer take this approach?  I think this would be a good experience but other may disagree.  I look forward to your comments.

Connecting Customers from Around the Globe

Posted on : 25-01-2011 | By : Frank Eliason | In : Business, Customer Service


I try not to use this blog for work related items, but I thought I would share the video below.  It is a CNBC interview with Manuel Medina-Mora, Citi CEO of Consumer Banking for the America’s.  You get a feel for the direction of Citi, but also where I see many businesses going.  Today companies are structured based on products and not necessarily how the Customer views the business.  Now is the time for businesses to start to integrate these systems and create a culture centered on the Customer.

If you have trouble with the video loading, please visit the URL directly on CNBC’s website: http://www.cnbc.com/id/15840232/?video=1764683291

So What is a Chief Customer Officer? More than a Title!

Posted on : 15-01-2011 | By : Frank Eliason | In : Business, Customer Service



I have heard debate over the years about the Chief Customer Officer role.  Some have debate whether it should be that, or Chief Culture Officer, or Chief Ethics Officer or many other names.  In my mind it does not matter what you call it, but there is a change going on in business that is driving this.  This change is impacting employee relations and the overall Customer experience.  Right now there are many hot terms in business.  A few years back Apple and other tech companies inspired other businesses to look closely at innovation.  Prior to that the other areas were Centers of Excellence, which we still hear mentioned in relation to Social Media.  In the 1990’s many companies were embracing things like Six Sigma, and university style centers for employee education.  In my mind the next hot focus will be Chief Customer Officer.  Let me explain why.

Since invention of radio, and the implementation of one way marketing that we are used to today, Customers and prospective Customers were told by the companies which products were the right ones for them.  In the 1950’s and 1960’s marketers truly honed their skills and success was very easy with the right marketing campaign.  Today marketing is still an imperative aspect of business, but its effectiveness in selling is more limited than ever.  With DVR’s, many commercial are not seen by many as they fast forward through it.  Since I do not receive much mail anymore, I tend to throw out the junk mail without even looking.  There has been some success with product placement in TV and movies, but lets face facts, this is limited in opportunities to be effective.  If a show or movie becomes an infomercial, I have many other choices to change to.  Online ads can have some success but again, I have other choices of websites for virtually anything, so if I want I can easily ignore them as well.  There are many who believe the key is enticing influencers to speak about their products, but my opinion is an influencer uses the influence to tout products, they can easily lose their influence.  Everything is a balance.  Now do not get me wrong, I still believe marketing is an important aspect to business, and will remain that way.  But the key is how do you best reach and expand your Customer base in this new environment?

Before we answer that question, we should then look at other changes in Customer behavior.  Today we trust opinions of our friends and online networks we have built over the years.  We even trust anonymous opinions posted on review websites like Amazon and Best Buy.  As you review ratings you will see there are a few key aspects to the review.  First is the product itself.  It must meet the Customers need, and the best is if it meets an unexpected need.  If you really look at Apple over the past 10 years, it has had more to do with meeting an unexpected need in needs designed for the user.  Apple introduced the iPod and iTunes and today they are the leader is music sales.  Since that introduction they moved on to the iPhone.  The iPhone was entering markets with existing phones that were well liked, such as the Blackberry.  They did it differently, focusing on the screen and user experience.  Although many still like a real keyboard, their design and the apps, which have easy access, make it easy to forget the missing keyboard.  The next interesting thing was the iPad.  Tablet computers have been around for a while, but there was no success until the iPad.  Why?  Well unlike others, they focused on the user experience and not requiring a pointer of some sort.  They also concentrated on making it thin and easily usable by the everyday person.  Customers do want to be wowed by the user experience!

Many developers and engineers love to focus on building cool things, but they sometimes focus on their personal needs or the ‘cool’ factor and not the end user experience.  We have seen this often with websites that have every new widget under the sun, yet you can not find what you want.  These artist are then so excited by what they created, they are not always successful in listening to the feedback of others, especially Customers.

There are many other aspects to the Customer relationship that have impact.  One key aspect is trust.  Some might say marketing has impacted trust, but I think that would have been minimal.  I think larger impacts have been companies in the news.  For all the good things companies have done, the news, and what we tend to focus on is more negative.  Enron I am sure helped add to this distrust.  BP is an easy example.  Government bailouts, and a ton of bankruptcies have impact on how we feel about the business world.  I also think outrageous pay and discussions regarding lack of disclosure also impact our trust of business.  I thought about stating how trust comes from individuals, not logos, but there are companies who have had, or still do have, a strong trust quotient.

Finally since the inception of Customer Service, most companies have not fully embraced the benefits of this, or at least felt sales were more important than the experience of existing Customers.  Now this did not matter as much when Customers would tell a few friends, but now they can easily tell millions.  I have known many CEO’s and I have not known any who wanted their Customers to have a bad experience.  The challenge has been internally people have not always shared the truth regarding the experience, and service leaders were not always good at sharing the negative upward.  This is what makes the show ‘Undercover Boss’ so amusing, since part of the formula usually is to show a negative experience, with the CEO acting shocked by it.  We also relate to the show because we feel most CEO’s are not in touch with the Customers or employee experience.

Sorry for the long winded explanation, but these are the parts adding to this role.  Now I should be clear that Chief Customer Officer is not a new role, and many smart companies, mainly technology firms have had it for a few years.  Social media, and this changing Customer will force companies to have this more often.  The Chief Customer Officer Council (yes, there is one), has a great post explaining the role.  Here is a link, but I will provide a few quick quotes:

“an executive that provides the comprehensive and authoritative view of the customer and creates corporate and customer strategy at the highest levels of the company to maximize customer acquisition, retention, and profitability.”

“The CCO must be the ultimate authority on customers, understanding customers better than any other individual in the company and perhaps better than some customers may even understand themselves.”

There are other key components such as advising the senior leadership regarding the Customer and creating a strategic plan to drive this focus through the organization.  I want to be clear, this is not necessarily the service leader, and in some cases this person may not have direct authority over the service world.  I view the role as a necessary balance to chief financial officers, general counsel and others who make high level decisions that have direct impact on the Customer experience.  Unfortunately many times decisions are made in these silos, and as the message works it way down, there is a direct, unexpected impact to the Customer.  As an example scripting came about in call centers for a variety of reasons.  The most common cited is the misguided belief that it creates a consistent experience.  Actually it may do that, but usually it is a consistent bad experience.  Actually the main reason it started was a means to limited liability and ensure regulatory compliance, and then morphed as companies outsourced service and looked to cut costs.

I have spoken to many senior leaders in varying industries.  Some see the need, while others consider it a joke.  The challenge to the business world and business leaders is they, just like each of us, work more off their own history and what they learned.  Most when asked think their Customers do have great experiences, but as we know, most Customers feel differently.  For the past few years, I have heard companies talk about improving the Customer experience.  Only time will tell if this is just talk, because change can take time.  I see this becoming the trend, but I hope to see it be more than just words to add confidence, but a true shift in the advisors to the CEO.  Some CEO’s have even added this to their title, but if they truly are looking to do this, then they must take the focus of the definition above and ensure it is reality through every Customer touchpoint.

Moving Forward! Enjoying the Ride

Posted on : 13-01-2011 | By : Frank Eliason | In : Customer Service, Leadership, Personal

Tags: ,


The past few years have been very transformative for me, as they have for many of us in the social media space.  This transformation, like all others, has had many ups and downs.  I tend to always portray an upbeat, positive view on where I am and where I am headed, but I will not say it has not been tested at times.  Overall I feel very lucky to have had recognition for doing work that I truly love.  I also feel lucky to have had the opportunity to connect with so many of you.  I learned from you everyday and look to do that even further.  Recently you have seen an increase in the number of posts, and I hope to continue to that for a long time to come.

I have had a debate in my own mind regarding where I was headed in life and how I would get there.  I am not going to tell you that I have everything pegged but I do know where my focus is.  Recently I had a conversation with a dear friend and advisor regarding my career.  We spoke a lot about technology, changing business environment and key decision points that need to be made at times.  Rich will probably never read this, but it was an extremely helpful conversation.  Right now social media is the hot thing, and I strongly believe it will change businesses, especially how they deal with the Customers and also their employees.  I plan to help lead this change in many fronts!

The past year has been an amazingly successful for me, but one of the reasons I have not blogged as much is I had much on my mind.  As any reader here knows, Customer Service is my passion.  To me, social media has simply been a tool I could use to express that passion.  There have been points where I lost some of that passion due to interactions I rarely talk about.  I have had my share of negative interactions, including threats to myself and my family.  One reached the level of requiring a restraining order.  When things like that happen, you naturally question the paths you have chosen, no matter how successful they are.  If you want to understand me better, know that I tend to want to share everything (I am not good at giving surprises), so when you notice I get quiet here, there is probably things on my mind, that are not easy or appropriate to share.  It is hard for me to do that, but we all must recognize there are times that is the best approach, no matter how hard it is.

So back to my conversation with Rich.  We were discussing how people who move fast, especially driven by technology or unique knowledge tend to have career paths with ups, followed by downs.  Then when they adapt to the next big thing, they ride the roller coaster back up, at least until the next dive.  There are others who plan out their career in a manner that it keep climbing.  Usually this is much more methodical.  Part of this is knowing what the end game really is.  Where do you want to be.  For me when it comes to career, someday I may want to work on my own as a consultant, but that day is not today.  My career aspirations are simple.  I want to attain the role of Chief Customer Officer.  This is not a role that exists in many places, but as companies realize the changing world environment, they will learn that the Customer experience is the key to success in the long term.  It can not be buzz words but a complete transformation of the business approach.  It also requires new leadership in the Customer Service world to grab the seat on their own.  This has not typically been the type of leader within that world.  Times are changing, and Customer Service must move forward.

So how do I plan on moving in this direction?  First I do believe the transformation aspects of social will help lead the way in this career path.  The interest in the space provides many unique opportunities internal to an organization, but also external.  I will continue to be at the forefront of this.  This year I have been provided the opportunity to join the board of directors for the Society of Consumer Affairs Professionals.  If you have any involvement with the Customer, I highly recommend joining this organization.  I learn from every member I have interacted with.  They are just as passionate about the Customer experience.  Through this involvement, I like to continue to learn, while helping to provide the leadership to help everyone of their members to take the seat at the table.  Together we are moving the Customer Service world forward!

If you have not noticed, I have much more confidence today, but it is not alway that way.  Last month I was asked about my interest in joining the board of directors for the Council of Better Business Bureaus.  I can tell you my immediate response was yes (in fact in may have been hell yes).  Right after sending it, I started to look over the current board and I started to think I am not worthy.  To me the BBB is the epitome of service and integrity.  The BBB can be traced back to 1912, and during the majority of that time they were the leader in fostering honest and responsive relationships between businesses and consumers, instilling consumer confidence and contributing to a trustworthy marketplace for all.  Their history has not been perfect.  Right now the BBB is going through its own transformation.  Like many businesses, the BBB is made up of many silos around the US and Canada.  This, the changing world we live in, and other factors led to the need for the transformation.  I have confidence in everyone I met with the CBBB (the Council of Better Business Bureaus) that they are headed in the right direction.  I look at this transformation as a great opportunity for me to represent each of the Customers that the BBB serves.  In my view they serve businesses that are paying for the accreditation, non-members companies who they still work with to resolve complaints, and the general public.  So in my view, those Customers are who I represent, and I will always be happy to have your feedback (frank [at] frankeliason.com).  Together we are going to move the BBB forward.

So I am happy to report to you that I am moving forward with a clear focus and mission.  I look forward to have you with me for the ride.

EDITORS NOTE:  I am trying to write more posts, but you may not see posts over the next week due to the BBB Board Meeting and other commitments, but I promise you will be seeing many more posts in the future. Thank you!