Do consumers dream of electric sheep?

Over the course of  July, guest bloggers from around the world share their good, bad, or ugly customer service experiences. It’s a place to complain, rant, and highlight opportunities for companies to improve. But, this series is also a place to celebrate when companies do well, processes work effectively, service representatives are our advocates, and we leave a situation as stronger believers in the product or service than we started.  
Stephen Ellis: Digital marketer extraordinaire

Stephen Ellis: Digital marketer extraordinaire

Today’s guest blog comes from the land down under. Stephen Ellis, blogger of  www.stephenellis.com.au, has a rad Australian accent, rivals Katrina Taylor in the fashion world (but for men) and is a digital marketing extraordinaire who loves communications, technology, and telling stories.  Oh, and he may or may not have gotten me addicted to an awesome clothing boutique in Aus.

I’m a human. The Australian boy variety, to be specific.

What I’m not is a client, consumer, data point, lead, patron, prospect, purchaser, shopper, supporter or user.

I mean, it’s probably fair to say I do all those things. It’s just not what I am.

Sometimes companies get confused on this point, I think.

Facebook for example, which rates in the 15 worst companies for customer service. And to whom I am part of a product to be mined for data sold to the highest bidder.

Remember that scene in The Matrix when Neo looks upon the field of humans being harvested for energy while they live with the Matrix. I probably don’t look as horrified, but Facebook kinda makes me feel like that. Or like that relationship I had as a teen with that girl from that school, where what I thought, willed or wanted mattered less than truth that they’re using me.

I suppose good customer service is when we’re treated more as friends – or fellow humans, at least – than customers. Like Derek Sivers says:

Imagine how powerful it is for a customer to know that he is listening to somebody who … gets him, than something like, Thank you customer 4325. How may I quickly handle your problem?

I love nothing more than when my experience with a brand exceeds expectations on an authentic human level. I mean, when was the last time a brand ended an email to you with, P.S. We love you.

Yep, I’m still waiting for that email.

The most recent experience that I felt was an awesome was in Melbourne boutique, Honor Among Thieves.

Following a truly engaging conversation with Roy, who is the designer and owner of the store, I took my leave. Roy came out from behind the desk where he’d been standing and shook my hand and said, “I’m really glad you came in today. Thanks for looking around.”

I was so moved by the sincerity of this gesture that I knew I’d go back to the store. I also told my wife about it. And a bunch of other people. Now you (did I mention you can order online?).

In an age of hyper connectivity, when customer service is the new marketing, I’m surprised more companies don’t follow the wise words of Guy Kawasaki and do those little something specials that enchant us all.

If that’s too much to expect from large companies, maybe they could just remember who they’re dealing with. Humans.

I can relate to Stephen’s example of Facebook and the Matrix, more than I care to admit. But Stephen’s approach and perspective on relationships especially between a company and a customer is a breathe of fresh air. Have a great experience like he did with Honor Among Thieves? Better yet, received an email saying “P.S. We love you!” I wanna know! In fact, we all wanna know!

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There’s no exchange of moolah behind these blog pages, pro-deals, or freebies with this series. What you see is what you get; real stories from real people who are sharing their experiences to challenge the status quo, inspire companies to take action, and ultimately build a life long customer. Be sure to come back soon! Kristin McGunnigle will be sharing this Wednesday just how difficult it is to leave a favorite spot for bad service.

July 5: Nike earns an A+ by Jackie Ostlie

July 3: How to Please the Queen by Katrina Taylor

July 1: Are you kidding me? by Evelyn Wolf

Top 5 things that will consume your life… if you let it

For the last five months this blog has sat idle. But rest assured, I have not. In fact, life has never been more full, more busy, and more insane than ever.  I’ve also realized that there are things that I’ve allowed to consume my life because I’ve let it. Which has also led me to reluctantly putting things that are important to the back-burner….like this blog.  I can’t promise it will get better but I can promise I’ll try.

1. New home ownership:  The moment  you realize you can paint the walls whatever color you want and you can buy nice, new furniture. Cue: multiple trips to Home Depot and Ikea.

One of the top contenders for a sleeper sofa bed.

One of the top contenders for a sleeper sofa bed.

2. Pinterest: Did I mention we are new home owners? I finally know what it feels like for brides who have multiple inspiration boards. Now, I just need to convince Kyle to let me get an hanging chair for our master topped of with fur-lined seat cover.

3. Work. With some recent changes in the office, it’s become all consuming all the time. I love what I do. I love the peeps I do it with. But, I need to bring balance back into my life.

 

4. The James Patterson Book Series’. Yes that’s plural. I’m addicted to all of his murder mystery crime novels. In fact, I think I caught up to Tac Anderson’s goal of reading a book a week with this crime series alone. Now Kyle can insist I do something product other than read and search Pinterest.

Photo Credit: Amazon Kindle

Photo Credit: Amazon Kindle

 

5. Nike+ Fuel Band. It’s changed my life. Originally, I bought this because I thought I’d have to give up my gym membership when we bought our home. Luckily, we were able to keep it but this little doo-daa, helps me maintain a healthy, active life. It’s gamification…or competition at it’s finest. Nike really has the best in class user experience, social + web + mobile + digital strategy I’ve seen to date. Oh and their Nike Training Club app is now my personal trainer, for free. I could go on and on and on about how much I love them, but I’ll save that for another post.

Nike+ Fuel Band Facebook App

Nike+ Fuel Band Facebook App

Think I can add to this list? Add a comment and let me know what needs to be added to this list.

Day 2: Two Wrongs Don’t Make A Right.

The first thing that came to mind for day two of the January Blog-A-Thon was a recent flower snafu. Now, I know what you’re thinking. It wasn’t this one. In fact it was a new one. I know, I know, I know. What the heck is she thinking? But before you judge a gal who tries to do good, hear me out and let me know if you’d do the same thing?

PEPPERMINT ROSE BOUQUET, 36 STEMS W/CLEAR VASE

Photo Credit: 1-800-Flowers

My twin and I just turned the big 3-0 this December.  I was going to be with my friends and family basking in the warm-tropical sun, while Yoshi froze her tush off in the great Pacific Northwest. It should also be noted that Yoshi hates all things that bring attention to herself, especially at work, and hates celebrating her birthday with strangers. Mom and I decided to lavish birthday wishes with what better way that a massive bouquet of red and white roses. Fitting for a Christmas Birthday. Considering the recent “I-will-never-forget-how-FTD-Flowers-ruined-my-life” experience, we decided to go with 1-800-Flowers. I mean, there aren’t that many flower delivery companies who’s core competence is flower delivery. And the immediate email confirmation and tracking code was reassuring.  Boy, was I wrong.

24 hours later, I found myself spending my entire birthday afternoon on the phone with UPS. For some reason the slew of florist shops in Bellevue or Seattle or anywhere remotely in Oregon or Washington wouldn’t suffice. The flowers had to come from Nevada which promptly missed it’s connection from Northern California to Seattle. Really?! Flowers can miss a connection? Who knew! And if you think it gets worse, you’re right….

1) UPS call center person tells me that it’s a 1-800-Flowers issue, not theirs. Minor oversight…the flowers are in UPS hands. Duh.

2) I patiently wait on hold for 45 mins. Then continue to be told excuses of why it’s not UPS issue but 1-800-Flowers. I’m tired of the BS.

3) I ask to speak to a manager. I’m told, “I’m sorry we don’t have managers, we have supervisors.” Really? What’s with the attitude? Fine, connect me to a s-u-p-e-r-v-i-s-o-r.

4)  I’m intentionally put on hold because “All supervisors are busy.”

5) Which I promoptly reply with “That’s fine because I have nothing else to do all day and this is obviously getting escalated.”

6) 90 mins pass and I am finally connected to a supervisor who tells me that she can change the delivery address of the flowers from Yoshi’s office to her apartment…..

7) Oh wait. With the holidays, if she wants the flowers before Christmas she needs to pick them up herself. Oh and UPS can’t redirect it to the Seattle Distribution Center. Yoshi will need to drive herself to the Redmond Distribution Center to pick up her own birthday flowers.

Do you see where I’m going with this?

One week later, still no flowers. No phone calls from UPS on the follow-up delivery. I do however receive multiple emails from 1-800-Flowers placing blame on me….apparently the flowers would have made it on time if we hadn’t changed the delivery location.  A reminder of the ultimatium  their shipping vendor gave to me, promotly got me a refund.

I’d like to think that their refund saved them the embarassment and humiliation of what social media can do for a company. Cough. FTD=EpicFail. Cough. And if you’re wondering the outcome of FTD’s massive snafu, you can read it here.

The last two orders were massive snafus (is that even possible?) and we have learned our lesson. Never ever order flowers online. Ever. Both Facebook pages show the frustration, anger, sadness, disappointment, with people who trusted these companies for cherished moments in their lives and were let down. There will be no more flower orders from the Ostlie household, or any of our families for the rest of our lives. If I’m giving  you flowers, expect them from Metropolitan Marketplace, Trader Joes or Whole Foods. It will be the freshest bouquet you’ll ever get and you can guarantee it will be on time and it won’t be dead.

One sidenote: 1-800-Flowers gets ‘some’ props for responding to and engaging their customers on Facbeook without an “automated” reply.  It’s genuine, authentic and compassionate. Click on “Page Post by Others” to see the responses from their social media team. FTD Flowers needs to learn a lesson or two or three from 1-800-Flowers Social Media team. The FTD Flowers page lack of engagement and authentic dialog is obvious in comparison. Now 1-800-Flowers  just needs to figure out how to get the flowers to arrive on time.

Day 1: Surving your spouse on your first international trip

Day 3, Tomorrow: Bucket List…….

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Because January can be boring. Join us for a January Blog-A-Thon. Post a photo, video, sentence, anything that you want to! And if don’t feel inclined to blog, do come back and see what we’re up to. I can guarantee you’ll be entertained.

dream chaser.

i’m excited to have been invited to participate in my  first ever blog link-up. but  i’m equally as excited about meeting new bloggers and hopefully making new friends from around the world.  this week, people across the US, australia and new zealand will be sharing our own dreams and why we dare to chase them.  join us in our dream chaser adventure!

if you had asked me in high school or college if i was an orphan, i would have laughed…or smacked you…or both.  i never considered myself poor or lacking of anything.  to me the word denoted something of poverty if not a curse.  besides my only experience of an “orphan” was shirley temple.  and i hated that movie.  but little did i know that the definition of an orphan is any child who loses one or both his/her parents.  technically, i am an orphan.

in high-school my family reeled from the sudden loss of my dad. he passed away unexpectedly from a heart attack. my twin sister and i were 15 years old. looking back i was a pretty self-absorbed kid. i covered it up as much as i could with a life full of school and sports. i also know my mom did her best to support us. she moved us to another island, far from her own family and friends to provide for her attention starving and soon to be college-bound teenagers.  she risked and sacrificed a lot. something that i could never truly appreciate until i was married. but the sacrifice and risk was something that would become a common thread in linking my dreams together.

jen and jacks

honestly i really had no idea how the loss of my father would play a pivotal role in my career.  i didn’t think it could. fast forward to senior year of college. some friends and i start a program, acting on aids, to bring awareness and activism to college students about the global HIV and AIDS pandemic. we pitch our program to world vision, and voila! three college graduates start working at one of the largest NGOs in the world.   don’t be fooled. it wasn’t as easy as it sounds. there was a lot of risk and a lot of sacrifice. how do you tell your family that you’re investing your $100K college degree into a start up with no real guarantees of a job?  besides, i can’t say i had ever wanted to work for a non-profit. back then my ‘world view’ consisted of for-profit corporations and entrepreneurial start-ups. non-profits were not in my prevue.

James, Elisabeth, Rich Stearns, and me at our Acting on AIDS program roll out at World Vision USA Chapel, 2005.

obviously God had a different plan. and a sense of humor. throughout my time building acting on aids (now ACT:S) and working at world vision, my “heart was broken for the things that break the heart of God.” poverty, malnutrition, hunger, famine ravished lands, lack of clean water, education, and the need…oh the need, has stirred in me a passion and thirst that i can’t quite quench.  and i don’t’ know if i ever will. but there was something that i really struggled with. making this ‘my story.’ how was God working in my life beyond this start up and how did this tie into what my dreams were?

my dreams of working for a big company started when i was a kid. i didn’t want to be a doctor or a nurse or even a teacher. i wanted to be a business woman who made a difference in the world. i suppose having a mom who dressed up in fabulous clothes each day to head to the corporate office influenced my decision somewhat.

Mom, Jen and I at my wedding.

okay let’s be honest, it influenced me a lot. but beyond the clothes, the  jewelry, and painted nails, i knew that there was something more about the business world that was enticing. it was about making a difference.  looking back over the last few years i’ve been able to really see how that kid-passion has driven me to shape who i am, what i desire to do in life, and where i want to go.

while with acting on aids, i was given the opportunity to travel to kenya and ethiopia on a three week trip to see world vision’s work in the field. it was one of the best trips of my life. it was also one of the hardest. i traveled with a group of senior pastors from around the US, mostly sitting in the background as to not detract from their trip. i listened, observed, rarely spoke…i was a wall flower. the night before our last day in the field, my mentor and trip leader, steve haas, asked each of us what the one thing we encountered on the trip that changed our perspective was and how would we take that into our lives as we returned home to the states?  honestly, i struggled…a lot. i nearly copped out. i was tempted to say what was the easiest…the poverty, the  need, the joy, the happiness, the children’s smiles, the culture, the food…but it was something else. something bigger that i had encountered.

Photo Courtesy of Jeff Stone, Africa 2006.

it was the realization that i was just like these kids. though not poor in material wealth, i had suffered the loss of a parent.  i too was an orphan. my mom was a single parent. she was caring for two kids, making sure we had a roof over our heads, meals on the table, and the opportunity to play with our friends. i had a connection with these children i never thought possible. and my heart just broke.  since then my dreams have always included these kids. i want to be able to give these children a life and opportunity i had, even as an orphan.  no one defined me by the loss of my dad nor should they. and no one should ever define the future of our generation.  all i see is potential. don’t you?

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We believe dreams are made of the same filling as hope, joy and love – the things that give us breath to run, faith to believe, and a heart to sing. When we dream, nobody imposes limitations on us, and that which can be imagined and hoped for can be so.

We’re writing about dreams this month because we believe when we share our dreams, we are dared to chase them. These dreams have inspired us, changed us, and fuelled our love for life and God. They’ve moved us jobs, continents and through relationships. They remind us that everything is possible.

confessions of an “unplugged” social media addict

it’s been nearly ten months since my last blog post.  the original intent was to take a break from social media and unplug for three months and then come back to blogging. obviously that didn’t happen. honestly i’m quite embarrassed to admit this  at times i like to imagine that the entire year was like this…

Fun in the sun

but really if felt like this…though not as cute and cuddly

photo courtesy of facebook.com/frappuccino

i wish i had a great story to share about why i’ve been absent for so long. i would share photos of kyle and i on an adventure to machu picchu, or photos of a new baby, or even possibly, that i broke both my hands which prohibited me from typing on any sort of keyboard for those ten months.  but those would be lies, especially the being pregnant part.  sadly,  i was just burned out.

most people are envious when they hear that i get paid to work in social media. most of the time i feel honored, blessed and extremely lucky. i love the people i work with, especially those half-way around the world. but after a few consecutive years of major growing pains at work, supporting kyle while he finished his master’s degree, moving to the suburbs,  kicking off the settlement to my car accident, adjusting to a new team and new work environment, i was tired. couple that with the pressure to stay abreast on all the latest trends on every platform, the work expectations of SM, the need to check into every single location on foursquare, retweet and tweet the latest info, and figure out if purchasing an iphone was justifiable just so i could be on instagram kind of sent me over the edge

i took a step back and decided i needed jackie time. a lot of jackie time.  i needed to regroup and figure out not just what mattered to me but why i loved social media in the first place. it wasn’t a job. it was something i once loved. i yearned to find that love again. i didn’t want it to be a chore. i didn’t want my job to be a chore.

fast forward ten months…a new iphone, kyle’s graduation, and renewing our lease for one more year (that’s for a different blog post), and i feel like i’m starting to get back into my groove.  but honestly, i think the biggest contributing factor has been my good friends, lindsey and richenda. both are social media divas and gals i admire not just for their SM smarts but their passion and love for what they do.

both lindsey and richenda recently posted a few lists that many social media junkies out there could relate to, including me. not only was it absolutely hysterical, but it also hit a spot in my heart that needed some reassurance and encouragement. in honor of getting back into the swing of things here’s my list of an ‘unplugged’ social media addict:

  • you check fliptop and mashable before you even bother opening your inbox.
  • you no longer care if your computer has issues connecting to lotus notes. you can still check everything from your iphone, carry on skype chats, and open attachments faster than your colleagues can who are using a dell.
  • you check your foursquare account more than facebook just to make sure you’re still the mayor of senor taco.
  • you use Foursquare’s comments and check-in locations as a decision making plan on dinner instead of the Urbanspoon app just so you can increase your check-in points.
  • you debate about checking in at the hunger games movie premier for fear of seeming like a teenie-bobper only to realize you’re the oldest adults in line and decide to throw all apprehension out the window.  you need points!
  • you are really upset that fliptop refuses to incorporate pinterest into their iphone app. the articles are amazing and would really save you the trouble of bookmarking it in the future.
  • you knew of pinterest 18 months before everyone else did but decided to hoard it like it’s a million bucks. secretly you’re bummed the cats out of the bag.
  • you are really confused why more and more people aren’t aware of hootsuite or tweetdeck. really? how do you expect us to post at 1am? whoops. was i not supposed to share our magic tricks?
  • you geek out over SM analytics, tracking, reporting, monitoring, and measurement tools. but are secretly frustrated that no one in their right mind has figured out a way to stream all SM platforms through one monitoring & measurement tool.
  • you see life in blog posts, then facebook posts, tweets, and when it’s really busy, instagram. at least people get a photo.
  • you remove and/or rearrange all the extra background ‘stuff’ so that it doesn’t get into the way of the perfect instagram photo. then you proceed to take no less then 4 photos of the same thing just to make sure it’s prefect.
  • you are not ashamed to check your klout score.
  • you don’t bad an eye-lash at the word “gamification.”
    Can you relate to these other social media junkies? Better yet, if you’re a social media addict, how have you balanced life and the pressures to always stay connected?