"We are all in this humans race together and it's our job to make sure we all cross the finish line as one."

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Tales of The Heart from Twitterville: Touching the Soul Not Just The Wallet

Over the last couple of months I have rundown ways for you to navigate your way through Twitterville to maximize your visit to that fair little hamlet.
But, I’m going to lighten the load a bit this week and tell you what fun you can have and what a difference you can make while visiting this exciting internet village with some of the “interesting” things that have happened in my travels…

Who Are the People in Your Neighborhood?

Being the eyes, voice and hears of our Twitter account I have about 850 faces embedded in my mind. As I make my way through our stores and even on the streets of NYC, I am constantly seeing the actual 3 dimensional fleshy faces of the followers of our restaurant.
Of course I have Twitter on my Blackberry so I am able to interact instantly with the people in my neighborhood.

One day I was checking in with one of my promo ambassadors on location and spotted two people who are followers from an insurance office and have been obsessed with finding out who I was. Who was the man behind the icon? As one of them passed me I noticed she had purchased a pasta and was wearing a stylish yellow blouse that was a magnet for pasta sauce. As she left the establishment I began to write her a message that said, “I hope you enjoy the pasta! Do be careful though with a yellow shirt!”
She whizzed around, looked from left to right and grabbed urgently at her co-worker. She put her food down and started frantically typing. “Where R U?”
“I’m in your Blackberry silly! Haha” I wrote back!
They charged back into the store and grilled the poor manager who admirably kept a straight face while saying he didn’t know who I was.
The urgency to find out who I was grew.
The Game was afoot!
A few days passed and I once again was in the same location and noticed the same young lady and a different coworker at the salad bar. I decided to get a little bolder and walked along the side of the pair as they approached the cashier. Standing 4 feet from them I wrote the coworker this time; “Personally, Ed, I would have gotten the Sesame Ginger Dressing, but that’s me.”
Quickly tucking the Blackberry into my pocket, I veered off and faded into the crowd.
To watch the pair of them approach every customer that was typing on a Blackberry thinking it was me, was Candid Camera worthy material! I of course brought them lunch on their next visit for being such great sports.
Still to this day they wonder; who was that masked MetroMan?

Happy Birthday To You!

A good eye catches when Tweeters are celebrating birthdays and this eye loves a good birthday! When ever I do catch one, I of course offer to buy them a piece of cake when they visit us that day which pretty much guarantees they will bring a pal with them (up sell Twitter style!). I decided to take it a step further though. I knew this person was in our locations all the time and added some bells and whistles to their birthday cake treat.
The guest was instructed by me to tell the manager that they were “sent by MetroMan for free cake”. What they didn’t know was I had sent our promo team, who was in the field that day, to that store to sing Happy Birthday and put birthday hats on their heads. When they checked in with our GM, he smiled and signaled the promo team waiting to the side. Her reaction was that of a 5 year olds when the Magician arrives for their Birthday Party.
They had a blast and they of course chatted about it on Twitter to all their local friends who signed on to follow us!

Smile (Though Your Heart is Aching)

While running one of our contests on a gloomy rainy morning, I noticed one of our followers had posted a picture of herself with the Tweet message saying, “Does this look sad enough?”
Curious, I Tweeted her. “Not doing the contest today? Why so blue?”
Turns out her father had passed away the day before and she was unable to return to home to attend the funeral due to finances. I had remembered that at one point she had Tweeted us questioning why we didn’t carry Honey Nut Cheerios as a cereal selection as is it was her favorite. So I called the store she ordered from regularly and had the manager check her order history to see what she enjoyed ordering on a regular bases. From there, we created a small gift basket with her favorite lunch and snacks and right in the center, a box of Honey Nut Cheerios and delivered it to her that morning.
She was so overwhelmed with gratitude she could not stop talking about us on Twitter and even came by the store to hug our manager.

The point I think I’m trying to make here is not one of just breaking down the Fourth Wall of Twitter or any other Marketing tools we use to touch our customer base for goodwill points, but doing things from a Human stand point.

If we all took the time to stop and listen and watch what others days are like, and we as an industry can make that person’s day a little brighter and put a smile on their face, then we, my friends, have earned our mantle of “hospitality industry.”

John Lennon once said, "Once we realize we are all the same people we are all of the same Earth, then we can just get on with it." Let’s get on with it and bring a little genuine thoughtfulness to our industry through the power of Marketing.

Eat Well. Live Well. Peace.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Twitter Bailey in "It's A Wonderful Life" Social Media Edition

“Yes, Clarence.  A man down on earth needs our help.’

“Splendid! Is he sick?”

“No. Worse. He's discouraged. At exactly ten forty-five P.M., earth-time, that man will be thinking seriously of throwing away God's greatest gift. You will spend that hour getting acquainted with Twitter Bailey.”

“Sir...If I should accomplish this mission...I mean, uh, might I perhaps win my wings? I've been waiting for over
two hundred years now, sir...and people are beginning to talk.”

“Clarence, you do a good job with Twitter Bailey and you'll get your wings.”

Twitter Bailey stood on the edge of the bridge overlooking Internet Fall’s river with his heals shaking under the pressure of his personal pain and from the frigid air that called to him to take the step into the icy waters below. But his concentration in assessing his dire situation was disrupted by the soft voice of a familiar stranger that made his way through the snowy night air.

“Excuse me son, but, I don’t think that’s such a good idea.” Clarence said.

“Get out of here ya crazy old man. This isn’t any of your business. The world would be a better place without old Twitter Bailey to push around.”

Clarence asked Twitter why he was doing this. Twitter turned to him, beads of sweat freezing above his eyebrows and told Clarence what drove him to such actions.

“Well, there are those that are saying that I depersonalize the human condition and force people to forget what it’s like to have real conversations, friendships, relationships all because of my limitations with 140 characters! They say I’m at fault for people losing the power to properly express themselves and focus on the real things surrounding them. I just wanted to bring people together is all. I just don’t feel it’s a wonderful life with me around.”

Clarence chuckled and placed his hand on Twitters now calmed and receptive shoulders and he told Twitter who he was, why he was here and that he had the ability to show him a world that had no Twitter Bailey and what a very different place it would be.

And with that, the snow stopped falling and the night took on a very different feel. The sound of a man startled Twitter and he turned around to find a fellow he recognized as Ernie Verizon stranded in the snow with his car. Twitter went running over to see if he could help his old friend out but Ernie didn’t recognize him. Because in this world, Twitter didn’t exists. Ernie had no signal on his phone due the phone reception being down but had some 3G connection. So he had access to his email but had no real time messaging to contact his wife to send AAA.

 “You see Twitter,” said Clarence, if you were here, your abilities may have allowed him to get an instant call for help heard. And it’s not just in this case. If you weren’t here millions of people may not have the opportunity to reach out to likeminded people like themselves. Communities are built, small charities are discovered, ideas are shared and yes, real world friendships can be made. But that’s where the human aspect comes in Twitter. That’s when the individual makes the determination to take it into a real world situation once a level of trust and sharing has been achieved. It’s all what the individual chooses to do with you.

“Think of the people of Iran during their conflict with the government. Would we have had the images and the stories of the injustices to its people were it not for you? Would the man suffering from cancer who couldn’t find a Doctor he trusted in his health network have found an out of network doctor he liked who agreed to treat him had it not been through reaching out to others through you? Would the shy and withdrawn young lady who thought she had no friends have found the group of likeminded thinkers who shared her passions ever have come out of her shell and become a self confident leader?

Twitter Bailey stood up and looked Clarence in the eyes and reached over to hug him and said, “Clarence I think you may have earned your wings tonight!” And with that Twitter Bailey ran through the streets of Internet Falls crying out Merry Christmas to all around him. He ran as fast as he could to get home to see his tweetheart and their three little tweets who were so worried about their dear Twitter Bailey.

People poured in the door behind him tossing 140 character messages of good cheer and positive vibes into a large basket on a table when in walked his brother in social media, Harry Facebook and cried out. “To my brother Twitter Bailey, the richest guy with acquaintances and friends in town!”

And just as he said that a small bell on the Bailey family Christmas tree rang and the littlest tweet turned to his father Twitter and said, “Every time a bell rings, an angel get’s its wings.” Twitter Bailey smiled and winked to the sky saying, ‘way to go Clarence!”

 And up in heaven, Clarence sat at his laptop with a shiny new set of wings and signed on to follow Twitter Bailey. His message simply read, “It’s a wonderful life, isn’t it?”


Happy Holidays to all and to all a good night.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Let It Be: The Beatles Take on Customer Service in Social Media

LET IT BE is one of my favorite songs from the entire Beatles catalog. The melody is flawless and inspiring. The lyrics are timeless and encouraging. It was also one of the final tracks that the group had COME TOGETHER on (with HELP from guest Billy Preston on organ) before THE END.

When I do my customer service seminars I always include some Beatle reference. I use the Fab Four as an example of great team work or just being that unique force that sets them apart from all others.

Being their authentic self EIGHT DAYS A WEEK.

As I finished teaching a recent class geared at CSR’s or what I call front line marketing teams, I wondered how I could apply the same tactics to companies trying to gain an online presence. It all came around to LET IT BE again. It was all right there on my iShuffle and the words fit perfectly:






Listen: Listen to the customer. If they are taking the time to reach out to you whether it’s via, email, Twitter, smoke signals, Facebook or blog, listen. They could be saying something that in the end could better your brand and make it more successful! I always feel better when I get by WITH A LITTLE HELP FROM MY FRIENDS. Look at the consumer as your friend and not an imposition.

Engage: Now you have heard what the people are saying it’s time to start talking back! Keeping the consumer engaged is where so many brands fail. By being a voice that they can hear, you are building relationships that make them your greatest advertising and marketing tool. Keep the dialogue going with them. Don’t leave them to TWIST & SHOUT in the wind.

Teach: Use the social media conduits you have to educate the consumer. Don’t just use them to boast about yourself or your brand. By becoming a reliable source of information through your brand you show the online community that you care and are on top of the latest trends. ALL YOU NEED IS LOVE and passion in what you say and everyone will want to listen.

Involve: Involve your consumer by having open Twitter chats about food if you’re a restaurant, or blog contests. Do Trivia on Twitter based on your latest blog entry to drive up your viewership and link the two. Lead them on a MAGICAL MYSTERY TOUR!

Try: Don’t be afraid to reach outside of your comfort zone. Some things work better than others but you will never know until you try. Don’t be a NOWHERE MAN on A HARD DAYS NIGHT. Be the REVOLUTION!

Believe: You must believe in your product. If you don’t, then the passion will not come through in anything you do. Consumers can smell that from a mile away. Have faith in what you’re producing and the people will too. Don’t get caught thinking of your product all HELTER SKELTER and saying I SHOULD HAVE KNOWN BETTER.

Evolve: The times are changing quickly in the media game and if you don’t stay on top of what is happening, then you will be left behind and be like YESTERDAY’s news. Always find out what is on the horizon and try it to see if it works for your brand. Twitter and Facebook are still big. It’s not too late to get involved. Something like Four Square may not work for you, but then again, it doesn’t seem to be working for many.

So, The Beatles have inspired not just music and redefining generations but Social Media business tactics as well! OK, maybe not completely but as a I move along the evolution of my customer service seminars I have no doubt I will need to come up with an entire lecture series based on The Beatles and Business Social Media Practices. I’ll start working on that while the rest of you start working on Letting It Be with your businesses.

P.S- Anyone know where I can get a Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band style jacket for the projected lecture series? Or I could do it Beatlemania style and do wardrobe changes to reflect the stages of The Beatles!

Hmmmm…Guess I’ll wait for words of wisdom and LET IT BE.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

John Lennon: Leadership, Customer Service, Peace & Love

This week, Wednesday December 8th, marks the 30th anniversary of the assassination of John Lennon. Hard to believe it has been that long since we all gathered around our radios and TV’s trying to take in the news that one of the last great pacifists was murdered. Just like Robert Kennedy. Just like Martin Luther King. And just like Gandhi.

There is a lot that can be said about Lennon. We’ve heard all the good, the bad and the bizarre over the years and we’ll always have the debates of who was the most influential of the Beatles from lyrics to melody. But one thing that cannot be said about John Lennon is that he was not a leader. He built The Beatles. He fronted the anti war movement. He brought people together to open their eyes to injustice and lead them into action.

He believed in Peace & Love and at one time thought it was all we needed. As he grew older he realized that as long as we kept preaching it and believed in it, then there was at least hope for us all. So, I’m going to use those two words to make a point about leadership and its responsibility to their employees and consumers alike


Lennon used his musical and poetic abilities to call attention to things that were happening around us and break it down to simple words and emotions. He disseminated the message in a passionate and authentic way that all of us could understand. He Proactively Encouraged us to stand up and let our voices be heard. Through the Ambient Consumer Experience of music. he reached out to his customer base, the young and “the tuned in” and was also able to encourage those who may not have been “consumers” of his music to tune in as well and to at least listen to his message.


As we all know a good leader knows how to work with, bring out the best in and learn from their employees.  Within the dichotomy and infrastructure of the team called The Beatles it cannot be argued that Lennon & McCartney were the embattled leaders of the band. But George Harrison and Ringo Starr all brought something to the table as well. Particularly Harrison, who left us some of the greatest songs of the last century. It was known that Lennon encouraged and in a way mentored Harrison in the later years of the bands time together. He saw the potential in Harrison and helped him to bring out the best of his abilities so that he could succeed as a member of the group.

With Ringo as well, Lennon supported him in his solo efforts by lending him songs that he wrote and would later become rock radio hits like “I’m The Greatest” and “Goodnight Vienna”. As Ringo once said, “I learned lyrics from John and I learned music from Paul. I had quite an education.”

Lennon was a Leader who Obliged his Versatile Employees. I know, I will take it on the chin for saying Ringo and George were employees of Lennon & McCartney but work with me here.

As leaders of any kind of business, especially ones that are involved with Customer Service, it’s important that we at least take note of the Peace & Love mentioned above. It’s also important that you also have a sense of real Peace & Love as it will guide you into a better place that your “Ringo’s” and “George’s” will want to follow you to and be an active part of.

Lennon said, “We were just four guys who made it very, very big. That’s all.” But they could not have done it without great leadership, teamwork and an understanding of each other and yes, love.

And thank you John Lennon.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The Season of Giving Thanks: We Owe It To Each Other

Did you blink?

Did you miss this year too?

Can you believe that this week ushered in the holiday season and fires the racing pistol shot for all shoppers to get out there and do their consumer duties?

To begin the blind panic for door buster sales that offer the guests 60” LCD TV’s for $100 (only 4 per store until 5:17AM)?

This is also the time that most companies crank up their customer service to dazzle customers who have been on line for 2.5 hours with an arm full of Buzz Light Year, Iron Man and Wii items. And while these companies have gussied up their CSR responses and troubleshooting agendas, we must step back for a moment and remember something we tend to forget most of the time:

Yes, we are all consumers. Yes you readers are all in the field of some form of retail, but at the end of the day we are all human and have an obligation to act civil to each other, especially when we know that the pressure and boiling points are percolating around this time of the year. Actually, this is when we REALLY need to be extra careful with our fellow brothers and sisters. The CSR’s are trying their best, the temporary holiday employees are usually at the top of their game (ahh the new kids! The enthusiasm!), managers are stretched like taffy and every guest is there for themselves and their own survival from the chaotic jungle in Aisle 5.

But, when it feels like you are a moment away from a meltdown, either as an employee or as a guest….STOP.

Take a second and look to the person you were about to lose your cool with and give thanks for them. Give thanks that they are there to help assist you or that that guest is there to help pay your salary.

After all isn’t what this week is about? Giving “thanks”?

We owe it to each other to thank one another. Let’s make sure that the other person is having as good a day as they can have and hope that if their day isn’t going so smoothly, that your “thanks” to them will brighten their day. Then they in turn pass it along to the next person, and so on and so forth until the whole store has joined hands and started singing “I’d Like To Teach The World To Sing” just like in the Coke commercial.

OK, so my cheese factor at the end there was a bit far fetched and somewhat “GLEE” like but you get the idea. It’s just a cascade of good feelings that one word can produce. “Thanks”.

And with that being said I want to take this time to give thanks. I want to give thanks for my family and friends:

Thanks for my wonderful wife who puts up with my shenanigans and displays such patience with me and is the best Mother and educator to our daughter. Plus she is the best content editor I know!

Thanks for my daughter who is the light of my life and the most polite child I have ever met. She already understands the value of “Thanks”.
Thanks for my family by blood and extensions.
Thanks for my friends in life that I have chosen to call my family.
Thanks for my colleagues at work, FohBoh, Twitterville, #CustServ for keeping me tuned in and not turned off.

And thanks to you, the readers. Thank You for allowing me to hopefully entertain and educate with every posting.

With that, I sign off and hope you all had a Wonderful Thanksgiving.


The Sullivan Clan