Friday, August 13, 2010

You Ought To See The Other Guy

Unless you live on another planet and don't have a satellite dish, you have more than likely heard about ex-flight attendant Steven Slater and his "slide to fame". However brief his "5 minutes" may be, I doubt if he will be forgotten. Just two days after his meltdown and surprising (and a tad bit unusual) antics on a Jet Blue plane that had just landed, he is now a folk hero to many. T-shirts with his likeness and comic remarks are already being worn by his supporters. There are already several different ballad versions on YouTube in attempt to immortalize him in song.

In fact, there is probably nothing that I could put in this blog that hasn't already been said about Steven Slater. But this blog isn't about him's about the other end of customer service ..... it's about the other guy.

Most have seen the bump, cut and bruises on Slater's forehead caused by a piece of luggage that got in the way of Slater and a passenger, while in the heat of confrontation. But has anyone seen the other guy?

It's my understanding that the whole incident started just after the plane had landed. A passenger stood up to take his bag out of the overhead storage area while the plane was still moving. Slater told the passenger to sit back down and the passenger refused. Now clearly, we know that we are not allowed to move around the cabin while the plane is in motion. And, we know that luggage flying from the overhead area can definitely do some damage. I am wondering why this particular passenger thought that he was excluded for this very sound and basic rule of "flying the friendly skies." Personally, I felt it was a very selfish and foolish act on the part of the passenger.

I just recently came back from a trip, and I have to say that the attendants on all the flights were friendly and very pleasant. I will also say that has not always been the case. However, I feel it is my responsibility to give them the respect and consideration that I feel I should receive.

This holds true in any customer service communication that we may have. I do feel that really good customer service is lacking in so many areas. But I also know that being in a customer service position is really stressful, and can sometimes be a very thankless job. I believe that most sincerely want to help their customers and make them happy, but do have to adhere to certain guidelines and policies as defined by their employers. In the case of flight attendants, they have some very severe and strict guidelines that they are responsible for enforcing. Some are not obviously convenient for the passengers, but hey, I'll forgo a little inconvenience for a safe flight, any day.

I will also admit that I have called customer service to complain about my disappointment in a product or service, or to dispute a bill, with my game face on, and ready to do battle. I'm sure I don't always make speaking with me a very pleasant experience for them. I also believe there are those who are arrogant and just a bit over-the-top in their demands (not me, of course).

Bottom line, I think really good customer service is reliant on two main factors, a customer service representative who is sincerely concerned for his/her customers satisfaction, while adhering to company policy: and, a customer who recognizes that the customer service agent is trying to help to the best of their ability, and deserves the same amount of respect and consideration expected from them.

As for Steven Slater is concerned, I've seen the cuts, bump and bruises on his forehead .... I'd like to see the other guy.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Are You Hall of Fame Material?

I love the game of football, and I am one of those who did watch the 2010 NFL Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony held on August 7, 2010. I was especially excited because two of my Favorites, Jerry Rice and Emmitt Smith were being inducted. It was the most inspirational two hours that I have spent in a long time. I thought about a motivational event I had attended last year. The experience had been expensive, and I suppose I did come back somewhat inspired … but not nearly as much as listening to the speeches of three inductees. Emmitt Smith and Floyd Little were literally power-houses of emotion and inspiration. Jerry Rice’s speech was more toned-down, but his message was as inspirational.

All three men spoke about their long journey to the Hall of Fame, and what it took for them to get there. All three agreed that being gifted, alone, was not enough to make them Hall of Famers.

While each speech was different, the message was being delivered echoed the same principles of what it takes to be a Hall of Famer.
Anyone can have a dream, but not everyone fulfills that dream. Fulfillment requires a plan and action. It takes dedication, perseverance, and determination. Emmitt Smith suggested that you write down your dream. Once you write it down, it then becomes a goal. It is the goal that requires a plan and execution.

All Three spoke of faith and their spiritual beliefs … and the faith they all had in themselves, against all odds.

Floyd Little spoke on responsibility, finding good mentors, and then becoming one. He said it was important to never believe the nay-sayers …. ever … but to believe in yourself, despite all the odds against you.

Jerry Rice spoke of hard work and discipline. He spoke of taking pride in all he did, whether it was catching bricks (while working for his dad) or catching footballs on the field. He spoke about respecting his fellow teammates.

While all three speeches were different in content to some extent, the one main common denominator was that they had all proved everything they said in their speeches about what it took to be a Hall of Famer . Standing there, being inducted that day in front of their peers and fans, family and friends, they are all living proof of what it takes to be a Hall of Famer.

Yes, it was a great induction ceremony, and it did get me to thinking about what I’m doing about my dreams. This might be the question that turns your dreams into reality …. are you Hall of Fame material?

Friday, August 6, 2010

Segway to Gate D-38

I recently flew down to visit my mother for a few days. The flights going and coming back were uneventful ... that is .... once I was actually onboard. I'm not sure who actually sets up flight times to specific destinations, but I suspect this person(s) has a perverted sense of humor.

The first legs of both trips (going and coming back) were stopovers in Atlanta. My flight to begin my journey was 15 minutes late on taking off. This was a bit disappointing since I only had 35 minutes to land in Atlanta and get to another gate (in a far, far away land.) The flight from Atlanta to where I was going was late, consequently I did make that flight (barely).

On the trip coming home, the plane to Atlanta left a couple of minutes early. I was celebrating (quietly) because, again, I only had 35 minutes to catch the flight back to my home city. The plane pulled away ever so slowly from the gate and then stopped. Then came the announcement from the cockpit. Due to traffic in Atlanta, the crew had been directed to remain on the tarmac for twenty minutes before actually taking off. Again, I got this sinking feeling that I was going to be doing yet another 2-mile sprint though the airport upon landing. Once we did take off and land in Atlanta, I was happy to find that I wouldn't be changing gates. However, the sprint was still on as I was at gate 15 and the plane was leaving from gate 38. I got there in time to show them my boarding pass and board.

So here's the thing. I wouldn't find my trip truly "blog worthy" if this had been a one-time experience. But, this happens almost every time I fly. Ok, I use to complain about long stopovers, but what with Starbucks, good restaurants, and of course mobile devices for computers, it's not really so bad. At least my dignity remains in place and I am not sprinting through an airport with a computer bag on one shoulder and a purse half my size on the other shoulder, dodging people, and chanting ... "My legs have wings .... my legs have wings."

So here's my solution .... Segways. I believe that there are airports around the world that are providing Segways for their security personnel. I would love it if when I'm checking in online, just after the field in which I put the amount of bags I will be checking, they had a field asking if I am requesting a Segway at the gate, when I land. Then when I land, I could jump on the Segway and away I'd go. Of course Segway lanes would need to be constructed (I'd hate to think how many innocent bystanders I'd take out on my way to the next gate, otherwise). It's either Segways or I'm going to have to explain the pair of roller skates I have strapped over my shoulder on my next trip.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Hang On Mary, While I Swipe My Phone

You are sitting at a lunch counter talking with a client on your smart phone, checking your email, and tweeting about the great sandwich you've just eaten. And then, with one swipe of your phone, your lunch bill is paid.

This is the vision of three unlikely rivals, now in alliance to change the way we pay our bills. AT& T, Verizon Wireless and T-Mobile USA are exploring a joint venture to develop a mobile-payment service that uses cellphones. This, according to The Wall Street Journal dated Tuesday, August 3, 2010, in the Corporate News section.

The owner enables the phone for wireless payments by inserting a small card with a radio chip or by affixing a sticker with an electronic ID tag. The cellphone is swiped in front of a wireless reader that connects to a credit card or bank account and withdraws money for payment. Some cellphones may have the ability to display information at the end of the transaction such as account balances.

Phone companies in other countries, (Japan and South Korea, to name a couple) have been successful in rolling out payment services. However, the U.S. has had it's technology problems, as well as regulatory issues. There has also been a lack of demand by U.S. consumers. Once the challenges have been met and resolved, however, the demand by consumers may change.

Looks like smart phones may be getting just a bit smarter, but personally, I'm not ready to turn a smart phone I purchase (still using a "dumb" phone until my current contract runs out) into a credit card. I wonder just how much the cost of the "smarter" phone will go up in price for the consumer. And, of course, the most obvious concern would be in how companies will prevent fraud. Until a phone becomes smart enough to eradicate fraud and identity theft completely, I think I'll pass on this one .... at least for now.