Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Benefits of Being Loyal

Unexpectedly, I received an email from Delta "Re: Recognition of your recent travel on Delta".

The letter said: "On behalf of Delta Air Lines, I would like to offer my sincere apology for the multiple flight disruptions you experienced".  The entire letter was incredibly well done.  I was happy just to get the letter, but the letter ended with "In recognition of your value as a Platinum Medallion member and as a gesture of goodwill, I have sent you a gift containing perishables, which will be mailed to the address in your SkyMiles account."

Yes, I had a bad experience (some of my face book friends might remember my 10 hour stint in MSP ending with a bird hitting the plane).  Yes, I did share that with Delta and I thought they had handled it fine. After all, I have been on different planes over 100 times this year so I expect a few bad experiences.  So when I received the letter, I was pleasantly surprised rather than feeling "it's about time".

When I received the package, I was even more surprised and my loyalty to Delta increased because they made me feel special.

The contents are easily worth over $150 and consisted mostly of food gifts including some very fine cheeses, crackers, nuts, and some really amazing Creme Brulee Almonds.  It also included imprinted promotional items including:

Despite still being an avid myfitnesspal user, I ate the Creme Brulee Almonds in about 1 day (my wife helped and no, I didn't log them...)  

I have told the story about a dozen times since receiving the original letter and now I'm blogging about it.  But I don't think Delta did this because they wanted me to blog about it.  I can't say for sure I know why they took the time to do this, but here is my best guess:
  1. At Platinum, I am the "2nd most valuable tier" of customer to them.  They understand their customers and segment them as well as anyone.
  2. I have the Delta reserve credit card which carries a high annual fee but provides me the benefits that outweigh it.  
  3. I am reasonable when things don't go as planned.
Perhaps there is more to it than the above and maybe the fact that I fill out my surveys (honestly) almost every time they send them to me gives me a few extra points in their customer grading system.  

But for me, this is not a story about how to treat your customers better (although hopefully you'll get some ideas from the story), this is a story about being loyal.  I will talk about how to reward loyalty in a future post.

If you want your vendors (of any type) to treat you well, you must first begin by treating them well.  Give them all of your business, or nearly all of your business as long as they are reasonable compared to the competition.  Centralize your buying with them whenever possible.  And when things go wrong, don't be a jerk.  Explain what went wrong and see how they handle it.  If they don't handle it well, it's time to consider a new vendor.

Me taking a nap at work in my Delta Snuggie
Not included in the gift basket, I bought on my own
I don't expect to wear this on a flight...
I want to conclude by stating how much I love Delta.  When I lived in Philadelphia, I flew USAIR mostly and while I didn't hate it, I never enjoyed the experience.  Even before I achieved status with Delta, I found the Delta employees to be happier and committed to customer satisfaction.  Once I achieved silver, things were even better and Gold began a really great experience since Gold members get the opportunity to sit in "Economy Comfort" which gives me more leg room.  The upgrades to first class are limited because even as Platinum, I'm on very popular routes with many Diamond flyers getting the upgrades.  When I get the upgrades, I love them.  But I'm very happy in my economy comfort seats and dealing with the nicest flight attendants and gate agents in the business.

What can you do to get your customers to love you so much, they write an entire blog about you and take a picture wearing a Snuggie with your logo on it?

Monday, November 4, 2013

5 Lessons From A Social Media #fail

Recently I started investing video conferencing systems for meetings with more than 10 video participants and the ability to call into a number from a phone line if you aren't near a computer.  I was pointed in the direction of Fuze Video Conferencing by PPAI board member Rod Brown.  I also found Blue Jeans video conferencing in my own searching.

I visited Fuzebox.com and got the information I needed and made a phone call and had a great meeting.  #success.

I visited bluejeans.com and couldn't find out whether or not it met my criteria so I clicked the CHAT option (which was not too annoyingly in my face).   When I asked my question, it was greeted with "They aren't in the office right now so I'll have them call you back."

The first problem was that they offered chat but didn't staff it.  This is a company that just received $50,000,000 in funding.  They can afford to staff their chat at 8am EST even if they are on the West coast. Otherwise, they should not offer chat at this time.  (Another pet peeve was that they required me to give them my email and phone before I could chat. I was interested enough that I was willing to do that but I find it tacky.)

The second problem is that I asked to chat and they offered a call back.  I had reluctantly given the chat person my email and phone #

To make matters worse, they did call back.  In fact, THREE different people called back within 6 hours. Not a single one knew the other had called.  That was the 3rd and 4th problem (not knowing what each other are doing and calling rather than emailing).

The 5th problem is that I tweeted and specifically mentioned them and they never responded.
don't offer chat if you don't have the people to answer questions.

The 6th problem is that I tweeted them again after the calls and they still did not respond.
I've had 3 Different sales people call me today.First I sent a chat, not a call, 2nd, coordinate your effort. .

The 7th problem is that when googling them, I found some pretty horrible reviews on Glassdoor.com from employees for both Fuzebox and BlueJeans.  Both gave me pause even though I know disgruntled employees are still more likely to post than happy ones, some of the comments are relevant to my search.

So here I am an active interested customer who is so turned off by my experience with this company that I am hoping they don't have what I want. If a company can't get the pre-sales experience right, what can I expect from them long term?

Here are the primary lessons from this interaction
  1. If you offer chat, staff it properly to answer questions.
  2. If people send you an electronic message, that's usually a good indication they want to communicate that way. Try to work with people the way they want to be worked with.
  3. Have a single channel managing leads or use a CRM that ensures people don't step on each other.
  4. Watch your social media feed carefully and if someone tags you, respond appropriately.
  5. Google your company and see what comes up.  More and more, www.glassdoor.com is coming up in searches and needs to be a part of managing your online presence.  It is important to both customers and potential employees.   Of course, it's impossible to get all good reviews but pay attention to what people are saying and make appropriate changes. Respond to comments by making appropriate changes and over time, the comments will improve.
For now, I'm planning on working with www.fuzebox.com despite a few minor issues I have with the product.  The price is great and the service is even better.

Geiger CIO Dale Denham, MAS+ provides practical insights on how you can benefit from technology in no nonsense terms. Follow him on Twitter:@GeigerCIO.