1. Bad Customer Service
As a follow-up to my US air travel rants of yore, this piece by Joseph Jaffe (also a follow-up to his own rants on the same subject – his being specific to Delta Airlines):
A bunch of my colleagues experienced the delta skelter.
About 10% of the Microsoft people travelling from Atlanta to Brussels on july 21st couldn’t find their luggage in Brussels. Some of the luggage are still missing today. Among the retrieved ones, the suitcases of my lovely colleagues Valérie and Virginie… in very bad shape (see picture). Valérie called Delta today to discuss a compensation but they asked her to call again within a week. They obviously don’t have the time to handle her complain.
Bad goes around.
Wow. Check out the picture of the bag here. Imagine if you took your car into a mechanic’s shop for service, it came back with a huge dent in the hood and grease stains all over the seats, and the customer service manager told you “uh, yeah, sorry ’bout that… Why don’t you come back later this week when I have time to talk to you.”
Imagine any company outside of the airline industry doing this. “Sorry about your suits sir, the dry-cleaning machine must have malfunctioned. Come back later this week and we’ll see what we can do for you.” I don’t think so.
2. Bait & Switch Tactics
Seth Godin also focuses on the airline industry today with this:
I feel badly for the airline industry. They are caught in a never-ending price war due to online websites and their own commodification. Pick the cheapest flight to get from here to there…
The natural short-term solution is bait and switch. Advertise the lowest price you can imagine and then require add on fees so you can actually make a profit.
Air Canada, which my readers generally concur is the single worst major airline in North America, has a fascinating policy. No oversized duffel bags, regardless of weight, unless they contain hockey gear. No shin guards, you pay $80 a bag.
Of course, you can have whatever rules you want, even if they’re only designed to help defensemen. The problems with bait and switch are:
1. You have to be very careful to apply them equally, because people hate being treated worse than everyone else.
2. You have to be prepared for anger, resentment and brand disintegration.
See what his answer to pain vs. pleasure is for companies like Air Canada here. (Hint: Disney has a pretty good system in place.)
3. Community Managers
Chris Brogan has a great piece on the essential skills of a community manager, which ties in nicely with the Tribalization of Business post from Monday. Some of these skills include being experienced communicators, being ambassadors and advocates all in one, being bodyguards and protectors, etc. Great post, but the real gold here is found within the comments. Here are two of my favorite:
“The great community manager is able to match the importance of the bottom line with the requirement of providing customers with a feeling of being #1. He or she is an advocate for the customer while being able to discern what is realistic ahead of time.” – Sol Young
“Not a skill, but an essential for a good community manager is to be empowered by their organization. They need to have very public, spontaneous conversations; sometimes shiny happy ones, sometimes trickier ones. Not an easy string for many companies to cut, but the only way for real conversation and communities to evolve.” – Pamela O’Hara
Join the conversation here.
Chris Abraham follows suit with this post about the importance of Community Leaders:
I woke up to an amazing article written by Jonathan Trenn, The fallacy of community, and I responded in a comment to a pretty passionate article and a passionate comment string, and here’s what I wrote — and I have expanded the argument below, so it is an expansion:
Gosh, I don’t know what to say here… there are so many different types of communities, many of which can surely be manufactured. What every successful community requires is community leadership. Community leadership can be organic and emergent or they can be hired in the form of online community managers or facilitators. A strong leadership — people who have skin in the game — is more important than a good web application; also, these community leaders are often the main draw to the community and can be the difference between keeping or losing your members when a competitor comes to town.
Read the full article here. It’s good. (Why the focus on communities all of a sudden? Whatever the reason, I like that it is on so many people’s minds.)
4. Starbucks, design, and the future
John Moore gives a sneak peek at the design of future of Starbucks stores. (kind of cool, but will it work?)
5. The writing on the wall finally gets the attention of Ford execs.
CNN reports that Ford Motor Co., faced with its largest quarterly loss ever, is finally planning to “shift product line, bringing European-made vehicles to North America.” Duh.
The company said it will make big changes to the vehicles it sells domestically – bringing six small cars made in Europe to the North American market.
Ford said that three large truck and sport utility vehicle plants in Wayne, Mich., Louisville, Ky., and Cuautitlan, Mexico would be switched over for the manufacture of small cars. Re-tooling will begin in December, the company said.
In addition to converting the three plants in North America, Ford said it will ramp up production of small utility vehicles at its Kansas City, Mo., assembly plant, including the Ford Escape, Escape Hybrid, Mercury Mariner and Mariner Hybrid.
Check out Ford’s “new” Euro offerings here. Better late than never, I guess.
6. Back to work already!
Okay, lunch break over. I have to get back to work now. Have a great Wednesday, everyone.
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