Something positive worth shouting from the rooftops

On October 4-5, I was scheduled to work with the leadership team at Zoo Miami. Unfortunately, this was also the time frame that Hurricane Matthew was ripping it’s way through the tropics with an eye on the eastern Florida coast.

Because hurricanes are hard to predict further that 12 hours out (despite being talked about around-the-clock), we weren’t sure when, or how significantly, the Miami area would be affected. We got through our Tuesday and Wednesday morning programs with no issues, but it was decided that we would postpone our Wednesday afternoon sessions so that employees could prepare the zoo, their homes, and their families, and I could try to get a flight out before the airlines felt the need to suspend operation.

This is where the story gets shout-worthy.

My flight was on Delta, and so I did the responsible thing of calling the reservation number while also checking flights online that I might be able to change to. Given the call volume, my wait was listed as over 2 hours. Crazy, but expected given the circumstances.

As I refreshed my searches, I saw flights disappearing. I clearly wasn’t the only one who wanted to get out of Dodge (or Miami) earlier than planned.

I didn’t want to wait for 2 more hours and risk losing any of these flights, so I went ahead and changed my reservation online. There was a fare difference that I would have to pay for and a reservation change fee. Okay, them’s the breaks of travel – it is what it is.

BUT – I got a flight that would get me out of the way of the storm, so I was happy.

The next day, as I was waiting in the Miami airport, I got an email from my wife that included an article about airlines waiving the reservation change fees because of the hurricane.

Hmmm… wonder if they would waive mine, even after the fact. So I called.

Still a one to two hour wait on the phone. By then I would be on the plane.

That’s when it hit me. In the contact section of the Fly Delta app, it also included their Twitter handle.

So I sent this tweet.

A few clarifying tweets later and I was asked for my reservation number in a Direct Message.

By the next morning, I had a Twitter message stating that they were refunding my reservation change fee. No other questions asked.

Sweet! That takes a little of the sting out of the extra expense.

Moreover, it provides us some lessons about service recovery.

  • Have multiple ways for your guests to contact you. Honestly, I wasn’t surprised that the wait to speak to an agent was as long as it was. These weren’t exactly normal travel conditions. Lucky for me they also had people monitoring Twitter (and I’m guessing other social channels). Oddly enough, it never even dawned on me to approach one of the Delta employees working the multiple gates in the H concourse of Miami International. Don’t know if they could have helped, but they were there. That’s at least three different ways to contact someone for resolution.
  • React quickly. Again, I don’t really blame Delta for the long phone waits. I do COMMEND them for the quick response via Twitter – not only to correspond with me, but also to actually issue the refund. All they asked for was my reservation code, and the next thing I know they are refunding my fee.   I didn’t have to fill anything out, go through an inquisition or prove my case. I would imagine the agent did their research without needing me… they looked up my reservation, saw that I was originally scheduled to leave at 9 am Thursday morning and did in fact change it the night before to leave 16 hours earlier. From my original tweet to the message coming through stating my refund was being processed, it was less than 10 hours. I had the refund for this BEFORE my original flight was supposed to take off. DANG!
  • Make it easy for your employees. I don’t know what the process was behind the scenes, but for my tweet to be received, researched and processed within such a short period of time, the process has to have some efficiency to it. Make it easy for your employees to take care of your guests, and they will. Make it complicated or convoluted and they will find every excuse to circumvent your service initiatives.

Want more customer service and service recovery resources?  Check out the LeaderTips: Guest Service ebook!

So, the outcome could be seen as me getting a refund and us learning some things about service recovery. But the story doesn’t end there.

When I got on the plane, I was sitting in seat 1C. I got to talking with the guy in 1D, and told him that I had just booked the flight the night before. He said, “that’s strange, that seat has been booked for weeks.”

How and why he knew that was puzzling, until he said…

“I’ve been in seat 1C on my last 83 flights in a row. I tried to get it on this one but it was taken when I booked the flight.”

Needless to say, we switched seats so he could make it 84 flights in a row.

He then said that he ALWAYS flies Delta. He said, “I know it’s a big company, but they always take care of me.”

So it’s a story about a refund, lessons on service recovery and LOYALTY. Taking care of people leads to loyalty.  I know I felt taken care of by the agents monitoring Twitter that night.

And THAT is worth shouting from the rooftops!

Thanks for reading!



Funny things happened when I stopped following people on Twitter

I recently hit the milestone… following 2000 accounts on the Twitter. Little did I know, but there is some algorithm that doesn’t let you follow any more than that if you don’t have enough followers yourself. So, if I found someone really cool that I wanted follow, I had to unfollow someone else first. That wasn’t too big of a deal, because there were people I followed early in my Twitter-hood that I didn’t necessarily want (or need) to follow any more.

So, for a few weeks I would unfollow people one at a time as I wanted to follow others.  That was annoying.  Last night I decided I would go through all of the people I follow and figure out who I could unfollow, all at once. This way, I could easily and quickly follow new accounts as they came across my consciousness. As I combed through my previous follows, I noticed a few things happening.

First, I became very aware that there were A LOT of accounts that I didn’t need to be following anymore. Some were inactive, some had no tweets, and others were just of no use to me.  I also saw that I was still following defunct accounts of people who now had a new active account that I was following, too. Jeepers.

Second, a criterion developed for whether or not I would continue to follow them. This is not scientific nor algorithmic, but it makes sense to me. Here is the hierarchy that organically made it’s presence felt.

  • Did I know the person? Above all else, this was the MAIN reason I continued to follow people. If I knew them in real life, I continued to follow.
  • Do I recognize the picture? Branding experts will love this one, because a large part of my decision to continue to follow was based on whether or not their picture was familiar to me. Even if I didn’t know the person personally, recognition of their face meant I had seen their tweets, and if I hadn’t unfollowed them because of their content, I would continue to follow them now.
  • Were they following me? Okay, it’s a little about me… :o) but this is supposed to be about relationships, which are two-way. I guess I just wanted to know that there was mutual investment in the relationship.  Now, if it’s a large company I like, for example ProMark drumsticks, I do not expect a follow. But, Johnny Appleseed musician/writer/speaker/biker, etc., if you can’t engage with me (beyond your auto-reply message – which will cause me to unfollow anyway), I’m not sure I have much use for you.
  • Do I like their description? If I don’t know them, don’t recognize them, and they don’t follow me, BUT I find their description funny, insightful, or unique, I continued with the follow. Benefit of the doubt and all that. If I read about one more social media expert who is a coffee addict, I think my head will explode.
  • Have they provided value? Even if they are following me, I unfollowed some people for being too much about themselves and pushing their product. I admit that at times I have probably used social media more like blast advertising, but I am working on that. Even when I send something out, the intent is that someone will find value in it beyond an offer or sale. I do appreciate the follow from people like this, but I do not follow back just because you follow me. Twitter has made it known that these spots are very valuable.
  • Do I want to connect with them? Is there something they offer that I want? Content I care about, ice cube recipes or a chance to connect with a possible client… I will continue to follow them. You can learn an awful lot about a company through their social media channels, and sometimes that leads to an opportunity to work together.
  • Are they a real person? As opposed to a group, a company, an association, a consortium, etc., I will give the benefit of the doubt (and a follow) to real people over a “brand”.  AND, I place a high value on people having pictures of themselves in the profile pic, not a company logo or cartoon.

The grand benefit to this exercise is that now as I look through my timeline, I find myself not scrolling past so many tweets that are meaningless to me. I am following less people, but am finding greater value in the people that I still follow.  Quality over quantity.

So there you have it. These rules are by no means hard and fast, they are not definitive, and they are not essential to your success on the Twitter. This is simply what I noticed about the evolution of a communication tool and how I use it.

How you use it is up to you… and that’s the beauty of it.

So how do you use Twitter, or any social media channel, for that matter?  Has your use of the technology changed over time?

Thanks for reading!





About the author: Matt has been on Twitter since January 2010.  He generally tweets about customer service, employee engagement, and leadership, but has also tweeted about being a drummer and a Seinfeld aficionado.  His tweets are his own and he does not drink coffee.

The age of access

If you have been reading the blog for awhile, you have probably heard me mention Anthony Melchiorri (@AnthonyHotels) of Hotel Impossible. He does a great job of helping hotel managers and owners turn their business around.

And I’ve talked to him. :o)

Well, I’ve tweeted to him and he’s replied. I may be showing my age here, but I thought it was cool to interact with someone who is on TV.  Growing up in the 70’s and 80’s, not only was this not the norm, it was downright rare.

But now, access to anyone at anytime is right there for the taking. Social media has created a connection between celebrities, companies and anyone with a Facebook or Twitter account. From a marketing standpoint, this helps create loyalty and relationships that traditional marketing can’t touch. It creates a transparency that many consumers crave so they can really feel good about doing business with a particular company.

From a leadership standpoint, this transparency can also help build loyalty and trust among your staff.  But there could also be a downside.

One of the mantras I heard as a young leader was to not go out after work (especially to parties) with your employees. It is possible to learn things you don’t want to know, and too much “transparency” in this case can really blur the line between friend and leader, which could undermine your authority.

Today, being connected to your employees via social media can provide the same access. Is this what you want? Are your employees expecting it?

Do you think your employees are expecting the same access to you that they have with other brands and companies? If so, how and where do you draw the line to maintain the integrity of the leader/employee relationship?

I don’t know that there is one clear-cut answer to this.  I would love to hear your thoughts on how you are handling it.

Thanks for reading!


Now is the time to start thinking about midseason burnout – don’t let this phenomenon plague your staff this season.  Book Matt to bring his Myth of Midseason Burnout program to your facility this spring! (The program has already gotten high praise from audiences at WWA, IAAPA, and AIMS!)