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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...


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...


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How Do You Show You Care?

Posted on : 18-01-2011 | By : Frank Eliason | In : Business, Inspirational

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Yesterday was the day we recognize a great, peaceful leader in Martin Luther King.  I sometimes wonder how Dr. King or other prominent historic figures would look at our world today.  At times it seems like we have grown so much in society, while other times it seems like we take a number of steps backwards.  Dr. King sought major change via peaceful means, yet today it seems we are sometimes attacking each other in vicious ways over silly issues.  Of course there are other times where everyone seems to come together for a common cause.  I can easily think of Haiti and other natural disasters where the world seems like a smaller place.

What I love about MLK Day is how it has evolved into a day of caring, with volunteerism throughout the US.  Many companies take the day and encourage their employees to volunteer for the day.  Of course I wish we did this more often.  Many companies offer their employees a benefit that allows days off just to volunteer.  This is over and above the usual allotment.  I know Citi, LexisNexis, and Comcast offer a few days a year to do this.  My wife works for LexisNexis and they have participated in many events through the year.  A few years back we did a lot of work with a local park, and the team at LexisNexis took the volunteerism to a new level helping to beautify it.  One of Carolyn’s favorite charities is Cradles to Crayons.  With the proximity to her LexisNexis facility, they were able to have employees there many times throughout the year.  I want to take this opportunity to challenge all companies to come up with similar programs.  It is a great way to give back to the community you serve and it is not about creating a PR event for your company.  It is genuine.

I have been inspired regarding this because of the company my wife works for, as well as my recent employers. I always thought it was a benefit not known well enough by employees. In December I had the opportunity to attend the Salesforce Dreamforce event. During the one session I had the privilege to be further inspired on the topic and I wanted to take the time to share the inspiration with you. I have posted the video from the event below (If you are receiving this via feed the direct URL for the video is: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qq5aTaMnhuY ). The beginning focuses on Salesforce and the work of their employees. After that there is also an inspirational conversation with Stevie Wonder. If you have time I would recommend checking it out.

What I have found in social media is everyone is committed in giving back in one way or another. My friend Shauna Causey and the entire SMC Seattle Team created something called VolunTweetup as a way to help non-profits with social media. We all want to find a way to give something back. How do you do it? What companies inspire you? What can companies do differently? Does your company provide time off to give back to your community?

January 24 Celebrates the Original Social Customer Advocates

Posted on : 20-12-2010 | By : Frank Eliason | In : Brands, Business, Social Media

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Many think of social Customer Service as starting with Twitter, but that is far from the start.  In the early days of the net, news groups started as a place for like minded people to discuss products, technology, or other items they were passionate about.  Over time these gave way to forums and email groups.  As companies started to embrace these new forms of communication, a new role emerged, the Community Manager.  Today this person may have many more hats, including social strategist, Customer advocate, PR person, marketer, punching bag and a few other names used internally and externally.  The role does not always have a place to reside, or sometimes it is not even recognized at all, yet it is one of the most important roles in the company.

Today in social media we hear about influencers, advocates and other terms to recognize people who are important to the brand.  These advocates are usually built not by connection to the brand, but rather a crusader who took on this role of community manager.  I am proud to be a community manager and a team at Citi as well as my former team at Comcast who each day strive to live up to the expectations the community they serve.  One of the most well loved community managers is Jeremiah Owyang.   The community has shifted from newsgroups, and in some cases forums, to new places like Twitter, Facebook, Yelp, Foursquare, blogs, etc.  These are all places where the community manager thrives to learn and engage their Customer.  Although Jeremiah likes to say social service does not scale, he is one of the people who proved how important it is to a company through his prior work as a Community Manager.  We tease each other back and forth about the scale issue, but ultimately we both agree it is imperative for organizations to improve service through all communications channels to help build these Customer advocates.  We know, just like all community managers, it is extraordinarily tough to be a good community manager when a company is not living up to expectations of the Customer.

As a community manager, if you are doing your job well, you are not always the most like internally because you are bringing the community view to the people who make the decisions.  You are servicing as their advocate.  Externally you are striving to keep the peace between top people in the social space you are serving.  Sometimes you are trying to explain the company line even when it is not the popular choice.  There are days you have PR teams and other business leaders against you because you spoke honestly about a situation that was happening live.  The community was thrilled with your performance but others could not understand you were only acknowledging what was already well known.  The trouble is product owners are very proud of their product and they never want to see any bad light shed upon it.  They do not always view things with a Customer lens, as a community manager must do.

In January, 2010 Jeremiah started the annual Community Manager Appreciation Day.  You can read his original post here or the announcement of the 2011 recognition day here.  This year the celebration will be January 24, 2011.  Please use the day to recognize community managers who build your company’s strongest advocates or recognize community managers who have served you.  For me, I plan to recognize my Citi and Comcast teams, Becky Carroll from Verizon’s forums, the Consumerist team, broadband reports forum leaders, Mac Rumors forum leaders, the HP community leaders and of course my friends at RIM (Blackberry).  Who do you plan to recognize?

The Story of ComcastCares

Posted on : 29-06-2009 | By : Frank Eliason | In : Business, Comcast, Customer Service, Social Media

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After seeing the USA Today story on Friday, I was shocked to be referenced as “something of a legend.”  I see everything I have done as really being Customer Service 101.

I started with Comcast in September, 2007 as a manager of Customer Service in Philadelphia.  On my fourth day with the company we were asked to locate a blogger and reach out to them to assist with a problem.  We called and assisted the Customer.  From that day forward, on occasion, we would reach out to bloggers when we had time.  Each and every time we did that the reaction was overwhelmingly positive.  In December I was asked why we did not write on blogs.  I did not realize we could (my background was in financial services and we were not allowed to write on the web regarding work).  This provided us the opportunity to reach out to many bloggers that were typically anonymous.  Reaction remained overwhelmingly positive.  In February, I became the manager of Digital Care (I later became Director of Digital Care), a new role to look at ways we can meet Customer where they already are.  At that time we started to review ways we can assist Customers in this digital world.  We outlined our goals, which were to listen to our Customer and help when we can.  It is very simplistic, but that remains the same goals we work from today.  Early on we learned from others regarding the space (my only experience in social media was a website for our daughter, and, later, our family website ).  We learned quickly that each space is its own community, and you have to treat it as such.  Forums, for example, are peers helping peers, and you do not want to take away from that.  Based on this, we typically private message within forums.  We were introduced to Twitter by a VP of our southwest region, Scott Westerman.  Like other spaces we watched for a long time, reaching out on occasion via phone.  At one point we reached out to Michael Arrington.  In fact it is a day that stands out for me.  I was procrastinating putting in ceiling fans and I was reviewing emails instead.  I was also reviewing RSS feeds that I had set up, including the one for Twitter.  I noticed Michael’s post, and I called him on the phone.  The next day he posted “Comcast, Twitter and the Chicken, Trust me I have a Point.  The neat part about that post was the first few comments were they reached out to you because you are Michael Arrington.  That was simply not true, we reached out because I saw it.  But other people started posting and telling Michael, “They reached out to me, and I am nobody.  That to me is what it is all about, helping anyone in need.

Anyway, that was the first day I actually tweeted.  My original intent behind ComcastCares, was this ID would be used by all members of my team as I learned how to engage in this space.  My original avatar was the Comcast logo and not my picture.  Well after Michael blogs about you, many follow.  Every post offered different types of feedback.  I read every one, and when possible, incorporated the feedback.  I realized the space was personal, and people wanted to interact with other individuals.  It was then I added my name and later my picture.  It is also why now each of my team members has their own ID.  They also decide background and avatar.  All of my tweets, 31,500 and 15,000 direct messages were done by me.  One of the more memorable blog posts discussed me using the word ‘perception and how it was not typically used.  At first I laughed, because I have always used that word, in writing and speaking to people.  What the post really was telling me to do was loosen up a bit.  So I did.  I also learned very quickly that when you are reaching out to someone, do not try to interfere in any way.  So instead of just providing an answer, we may open the conversation with “Can I help?  If they want assistance, they will respond.  I did learn to tweet about other things and loosen up a lot, but you still need to be careful.  I remember during the first Presidential debate I was following much of the discussion via Twitter search.  I really wanted to get involved in the conversation, but I know politics and religion can be difficult when you represent a company.  During that debate Jim Lehrer tried to control both candidates.  Not thinking it was political, I tweeted “Jim Lehrer for President.  I did not realize that some people view him leaning one way or the other, but responses I received made that clear.  So much for being too personal!  The fact is we are writing the book each day as we learn more and more through every social space.  I always enjoy learning and I love when I have the opportunity to learn even more.

One of the best learnings in this space was not so much the interaction, but the valuable feedback and the speed of information.  I now have so many people watching Twitter search, because it usually provides information even before calls come in.  We are then able to react to it and provide Customers the best information.

So that is enough of this after school special!

A Rebel with a Customer Service Cause?

Posted on : 18-01-2009 | By : Frank Eliason | In : Comcast, Customer Service

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I try to avoid talking specifically about Comcast on this blog, but today is an exception.  I avoid this because Comcast will be introducing a blog in the future and that is the appropriate forum (Mark, I know you will come across this in the your search, no need to include in our newsletter because I may be a little bias).  Yesterday I received a few Tweets regarding a Wired Magazine article “The Dark Lord of Broadband.”  In the article there were some valid criticisms that Comcast is working on, and other commentary that I would like to clarify.  I am doing this on my own and this is simply my opinion.

In the opening of the article it refers to the company as arrogant, unresponsive and overpriced.  Some may feel this way about Comcast but our goal is never to be arrogant or unresponsive.  I think our products are very valuable to most of our customers but everyone has their own opinion on pricing.  What I am very upset about is the way the reporter made it seem like these are traits of Brian Roberts. In my opinion this does not describe a man I have a lot of respect for.  Yes I have met Brian on a number of occasions.  My first meeting with Brian was via email before I even thought about working for Comcast .  What occurred was after his wife had a battle of cancer, Mr. Roberts made a very large donation to bring new, important technology to a Philadelphia area cancer center.  For those that have read this blog in the past you know this is a cause close to my heart.  I shot Mr. Roberts an email thanking him.  He responded personally and with the warmth I have seen him share in person.  It was this email that when I was considering looking at positions within Comcast became my reason to be willing.  I could tell by the warmth of the response that this leader was looking to improve the Customer experience.  Otherwise there would have never been a reply.

Comcast has always had a number of charitable initiatives from the contributions to causes in areas we serve to Comcast Cares Days (No they did not name days after me, but rather I “borrowed” the name from this great cause).  I knew of this because I too assist many charities and I have had the privilege to be part of events that were sponsored in large part by Comcast.

Since joining Comcast I have had a number of interactions with Brian.  To me he seems a little introverted (as I am) and always thinking.  He actually reminds me of another CEO that I have had a great respect for in the past:  John “Jack” Brennan former CEO of the Vanguard Group.  Both men have an intensity and thought process that is amazing to see in person.  This intensity is not arrogance but rather part of this thought process.

One of the first in person interactions I had with Brian was the day we moved into our new building.  I came in early to unpack and get settled in before the rest of my team started.  It was October, 2007 and I was one of the first to be in the building.  Brian was walking the halls by himself after the grand opening presentation.  He saw me in the office and came in to chat.  The conversation started with your typical pleasantries, but quickly evolved to service.  He was very concerned about our performance with Customer Service and he was asking my opinion.  I know he did not want service to be at the level it was at.  He was making changes to ensure that we as an organization headed into a different direction, including bringing Rick Germano to corporate to serve as the Senior VP for Customer Service operations.  But this is a change that we knew would take time before it was seen by our Customers.  What we can do now is concentrate on 1 Customer at a time.

Later that same day I had the privilege to meet Brian and his family.  During that interaction it was also easy to see that he is a family man.  Once you see people in this type of setting you begin to realized they are just like you.

In the article it does talk about many of the network management discussions that have occurred.  In my opinion it is that, more than my work, in which demonstrated the benefits of being part of the conversation.  Were mistakes made?  In my opinion, yes, but that is the nature of being human.  Even companies like Comcast are human in many ways.  Mistakes will be made.  What you have to do is learn from them and change going forward.  This too was mentioned in the story as engineers were encouraged to talk openly about the changes to network management.  That is the story here.

The final section of the article discusses my work referring to me as “Famous Frank,” a nickname from David Cohen, Executive Vice President.  In this section, in my opinion, makes me seem like a rebel within the company.  I want to be clear that I have always had the encouragement of senior Customer Service leadership and other senior leaders in the company.  At the time we started on Twitter my team and I were already active in other social media spaces and this was a natural progression.  We were referred to this space by @ComcastScott and we could see value in it.  But since there were not any books on the proper way to engage with Customers we had to learn as we go.  We started “tweeting” in April, but in February I was named manager of Digital Care (I was promoted in the summer to director).  As you can see from that progression, the company already saw value in social media and the work of my team.  We are advocates for the Customer, but it is my belief the same should be true for anyone in a Customer Service role.  I can assure you that I have shown this during every interview prior to joining the company so I know the interest of having someone like this in Customer Service is prevalent in the leadership in Philadelphia.  In my 17 months at Comcast I have always been encouraged to represent the Customer viewpoint and question things we were doing.  It helps for everyone to hear the perspective.  So I am not a rebel, unless you see everyone I interact with in the same light.

Now in closing we do have to continue to work on many things, including being more transparent, integrating systems and creating a more consistent experience for our Customers.  It is important for our Customers to see the value of our products and the service we provide.  We will work to do that.  These changes, just like the way we got to this point, will not be created by one person but the collective of all Comcasters.  We will get there!

My Thanksgiving Message

Posted on : 27-11-2008 | By : Frank Eliason | In : Personal

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Today is a day we all look back at the past year to say thank you for what the last year has brought us.  Seems to be a little cliche, especially this year with the financial condition of the world.  I am sure many people are having a leaner thanksgiving due to economic conditions.  I think of these individuals every day.  So I ask when you are saying your thanksgiving prayers please think of those that are less fortunate.  If  you are not religious, just some kind thoughts for others.  We know that they will be back on their feet.


When I started to write this post I wanted to say how some poorly run businesses should take the time to be thankful for all the parties and private jets they are enjoying thanks to the generosity of taxpayers.  As you can probably tell, that would not have been a good thanksgiving post.  But as I started to write I realized today is a day that we should really concentrate on our own lives and the good we have seen.  So I will save the negative thoughts for another time.


So what am I thankful for?  This year has been a wild ride for my family.  In January our daughter Robyn was born.  She has brought joy to us.  Lily has continued to grow and become a fun happy 2 year old (not always as she is 2, but that is also a fun part of life).  Carolyn continues to put up with me and I love her for it.  We have been busy but we have always been there for each other.  I love my family and I enjoy every moment with them.


From a professional perspective I have met so many new friends this year.  I am grateful for all of them.  Thank you for letting me into your life.  I am also thankful for everyone that has provided me feedback.  It has helped me grow and develop the online efforts that I am a part of.  I am also thankful for the great people that I work with.  My team is the best, most dedicated group of individuals I know.  The leadership team at work has been so supportive as have many of the 100,000 employees.  Often it is my name out there (which I am still getting used to it!) but it is really thanks to everyone that I have interacted with at work and on the web. 


During my first year at Comcast we have accomplished so much.  Besides efforts to improve service (we still have far to go but we are working on it), we have also moved to our new location.  At the new Comcast Center in Philadelphia, there is a video wall called the Comcast Experience.  It has become a location that many visitors have come to enjoy.  This past week the Holiday Spectacular was introduced on the wall.  Check it out:


Anyway, I want to thank all of you for making this year so special.  I cannot tell you how grateful I am for the welcome and success I have experienced this year.  I wish you and your family a happy Thanksgiving.  So what do you have to be thankful for?