On the Way to Vegas – A Quick Update

I wrote this on Friday on the way to Vegas, I head back home today…

I’m on a plane again. But this time it isn’t for business; it’s for pleasure! I am on the way to Las Vegas! I’ve never been and I’m pretty excited! J Should be a good time – I’m going with some friends from DU. And while I have zero idea of the plan for the weekend, I have no doubt that it will be a blast.

I try to be a pretty easy going guy. Especially when I’m traveling. As I was discussing with my shuttle driver from National earlier this week, if I am having a bad day, it’s not her fault. Why make her day bad? I’ve ended up parking at The Parking Spot 2 in St. Louis the past two weeks. I like the original The Parking Spot better, but I’ll probably go back: the lady at the check-out stall remembered me and was extremely friendly. It makes a difference.

All of this was actually leading towards something though. On planes, loud crying babies usually don’t bother me. They can’t help it, and usually the parent(s) can’t either. What does bother me is people who are obnoxiously loud. Like this one 20-something year old girl is behind me. Holy cow is she way too loud. Someone should probably say something – it isn’t necessary to yell on a plane. Even on the way to Vegas.

I’m way behind on my blog again, so here is a quick update: I’m traveling a lot for work. Work is going well. I like it. I like the travel. It is also hard not spending much time at one place where I am living. But I like the perks – I just qualified for the Companion Pass from Southwest! I miss Denver and my friends I no longer see. I got to see my aunt, uncle, and cousins from Dallas last night. That was nice. I feel like I am caught/stuck between different worlds. And I am always wanting something more/to be challenged.

Things are going well though and I can’t complain. Except about that loud girl who, I am pretty sure, will keep getting louder for the next two hours of the flight…

The AT&T Guy/Premature Retirement

I was told last week that my life right now resembles that of a retired person, based solely on one day last week: in what seemed to be a day when everything in our house needed fixing, we had a woman come to check our water meter, two guys came to fix our air conditioner, and a guy from AT&T came to figure out why our internet keeps cutting out.  It’s a good thing I was home!

Our AT&T experience, in particular, is worth noting.  Dan from AT&T ended up coming out three times last week!  He has been working for AT&T for 33 years!  While I’ve had my issues with AT&T and their customer service, Dan was amazing!  He was great at explaining what he was doing and why and how he would try to keep costs down.  Apparently our internet cutting out was some freak thing that he couldn’t figure out and the people back at the office could not figure out either.

We had our circuit connection replaced, we had our data connection moved, and still our lines checked out clear.  Dan said that he was hired 33 years ago to climb telephone poles, not figure out computer issues – but he definitely knew his stuff.  We ended up having to rewire part of the house and get a commercial-grade router (that’s what AT&T called it).  Apparently, my Mac made crazy things happen… Now things are working – and hopefully they continue to work!  Thanks, Dan!

Twitter Solves Customer Service Ridiculousness

I’ve heard stories about how Twitter can be used to address customer service complaints, but had never experienced it first hand until last week (I know this post is a bit late to the show, but it’s been very busy around here).  Here’s a synopsis of what happened:

On March 13, I ordered a Visa reward card from U.S. bank to use credit card reward points.  After a month, I had not received it.  I called U.S. Bank customer service to find out about the status of my card.  I ended up getting transferred five times and spent 40 minutes on the phone – just to reach the person I needed to ask the question to because apparently no one knew and no one knew how to transfer me directly!  I told the same story to every person.  In the process, I got transferred once to someone trying to sell me something and had several of my waiting transfer calls dropped.

When I finally got to the correct person, they said they would resend my card.  I would receive it in 7-10 days and they would even waive the $15 fee since I had not lost the card.  Needless to say, I was not happy.  I vented on Twitter using the hash tags “usbank” and “horribleservice”.  The next day, @AskUSBank was following me and had replied to my post asking me to direct message them my contact information so they could get in touch with me about my problem.

I replied to U.S. Bank via direct message and later that day got a call from someone at U.S. Bank who wanted to look into my situation.  It’s a good thing he did because he said he could not find any record of what I had been told.  He wanted to research the issue and call me back.  He called back within two hours and said that my original card had been returned (still don’t know why – and still don’t know why I was never contacted).  He said he would have the card resent and if I did not have it within four mail days, to call him directly.  I got the card two days early.

Overall, there are clearly some major customer service and operational gaps in this process.  I am, however, happy that Twitter helped solve my problem and that Ryan (the person I spoke with) took the initiative to be proactive about what should have never been an issue for me.

Delivering Happiness

This summer, I have finally had some time to read for fun!  I love reading, but not enough of it happens while I am at school.  With so much to do for class and everything else, there does not seem to be time to sit down and enjoy a good book.  Now, it may seem that this post’s article is because I finally have had time to read – and in a way it is.  Really though, it is the name of a book I recently read.

Delivering Happiness is by Tony Hsieh, the CEO of Zappos.com.  Delivering Happiness is Tony’s story – in business and in life, the story of Zappos, and generally a guide to success in business and life.  It is exciting, informal, intuitive, and instructional.  At times I felt like I was reading a novel, not a book about business.

Tony talks about succeeding in business through profits, passion, and purpose.  He describes Zappos.com’s focus on customer service (that is actually the business he claims to be in) and how it could make every business successful.  His focus on company culture makes sense and influenced my understanding of my experience this summer during my internship.  Build-A-Bear Workshop seems to be very similar to Zappos in many of the topics described in this book.

I would recommend reading Delivering Happiness whether you are involved in business, want a good read, or just want to be happier.  For added incentive, here are Tony Hsieh’s reasons for reading his book:

10 You want to learn about the path that we took at Zappos to go from nothing to over $1 billion in gross merchandise sales in less than ten years.
9 You want to learn about the path that I took that eventually led me to Zappos, and the lessons I learned along the way.
8 You want to learn from all the mistakes we made at Zappos over the years so that your business can avoid making some of the same ones.
7 You want to figure out the right balance of profits, passion, and purpose in business and in life.
6 You want to build a long-term enduring business and brand.
5 You want to create a stronger company culture, which will make your employees or colleagues happier and create more employee engagement, leading to higher productivity.
4 You want to deliver a better customer experience, which will make your customers happier and create more customer loyalty, leading to increased profits.
3 You want to build something special.
2 You want to find inspiration and happiness in work and in life.
1 You ran out of firewood for your fireplace. This book makes for an excellent fire starter.

Meeting the BearQuarters – Part 1

Today the interns had a three hour session during which different directors, managers, supervisors, etc. from around the BearQuarters (headquarters) shared what they do in their departments and in their roles.  It was interesting to see how it all fits together and how so few people do so much.

Below are a few notes that I took, some more serious than others ( 🙂 ):

  • International likes fun vocabulary words.  Today’s word: “pachanga” – Spanish for”a rowdy celebration”.
  • Build-A-Bear posts jobs/looks for applicants on Monster, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc.
  • Build-A-Bear has extremely low turnover and hires an even smaller percentage of applicants.  Besides the fact that the company is awesome, I’m sure that this has to do with the fact that it is one of Fortune’s 100 Best Companies to Work For.
  • Communication is never perfect – but what can we do better next time?
  • Who is our Guest?  Everything starts with our Guests – a.k.a. customer service is key!
  • Build-A-Bear has some pretty exciting licensing agreements – including fruit snacks!  There is also a new “craftshop” series of products coming to Michael’s in September.

We will continue the conversation with Meet the BQ Part 2 next week.

Quote #11 – Disney!

I like Disney a lot.  Walt Disney also has some great business advice.  Check out this quote relating to customer service.  I definitely think it is true.

“Do what you do so well that they will want to see it again and bring their friends.”
– Walt Disney

Walt Disney and (early) Mickey Mouse