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Archive for June 2009

On a recent flight back from Canada I  had the most appalling customer service experience by an airline to date – and I’ve been flying for 35 years. The interesting social phenomenon was that the passengers rallied to provide what the airline staff were not – information, support, comfort, food, chairs.

The catalogue of errors started with a cancelled flight, due to a tech fault, that was not posted on the the boards, nor at the gate as delayed or cancelled. Passengers who checked in early (me and a few others) sat stunned as our flight was loaded with passengers from an earlier delayed flight. Not telling us meant we were denied the opportunity to re-book on other flights leaving that evening. Those checking in later were kept in the terminal, but also not informed as to what was going on. We were all gathered together, and one woman, without a microphone or it appeared the resources to handle 200 passengers without a plane at 9 pm, struggled. As anger rose, so did a young man over 6′ tall, who repeated her information in a booming voice. Thus began the resourcefullness of a crowd of strangers.

We were put up in a hotel, and advised of a 13.30 departure time, which dribbled on to be 16.30 (meaning a 04.30 am arrival in the UK). And more chaos to look forward to. But, people were trying to help each other out by getting train times in the UK, looking for taxi sharing, and general humour to make it seem lighter than it was.

But, for some it incurred costs that would never be repaid by the airline. Missing a grandmother’s birthday. Missing a wedding. Missing work – and losing pay or holiday days. Missing the first day at work.

In the departure lounge the service was incredible in its absense. At times there was no one at the gate at all. And when one girl got a bit hysterical about the lack of information (teen on first flight), the attendant went behind locked doors and called airport security. She was with her Mother who was more than capable of calming her down, and other passengers formed a human circle to help her.

The woman I was taking turns watching bags with – had put her bible in her suitcase instead of her carry on. Turned out that decision put her luggage over the 20kg limit (and she was not allowed to take it out), which resulted in a $180 overweight charge.

The list goes on. But, really, what did the airline gain by being so callous to so many. A lot of bad publicity, loss of future business, and claims.

I shall be writing to the customer services department – although I have no name of the ‘Duty Co-ordinator’ our letters were stamped with the department address only.

With a better policy, some staff training and communications this story could have had a happy ending.

As the newspaper industry continues to struggle with their digital persona, many web staff are found outside the decision making circles. There is no doubt digital is here to stay, and will have a big impact on the future of the media. Talking to staff  who use the Web has to be their first port of call. A couple of rays of light are finally showing up.

The Digital Britain Report has announced the appointment of co-founder Martha Lane Fox to the role of digital inclusion champion. As a business person who has built, developed and modeled her web presence on public  feedback and service demand, maybe she can bridge the gap and take print media to ‘the other side’ .

The public will  have their voice heard on the ‘no changes to media merger issue’. This is good. Merging media is not the only solution to the current problem – and may not be the best. Ten years ago, when media websites first launched nation-wide, competitors shared a website for a region or county – not believing they could do it single-handedly. Times have changed. And the managers, directors and decision makers need to adopt the popular North American philosophy of ‘thinking outside the box’ to draft their own plan for the future. Listening to users must be incorporated into this process.

A Trinity Mirror paper was presented with a fblueprint for the future from staff, it seems unsolicited. Newspapers must involve and listen to staff when making their plans. To ignore this essential resource is at their peril. To have such a wealth of knowledge, ideas and desire to make things work at their fingertips, and not take advantage of it, is like going hungry when you have food in the cupboards.

Visit Biz24’s blog post “Tips to Push Your Business – Blogging, Marketing and Listening” at

The industry based on interviewing people, listening to people and reporting what people say needs to turn this core component of its business on itself – and talk to and listen to the people who work inside their organisations.

Digital Britain has reported today.

It covers it all – but perhaps the most interesting segments are those relating to the BBC.

Words like ‘share’, ‘need to evolve’, ‘separation’, ‘partnership’. This will take a tall coffee and a long break to understand.

There are two ways to go about assessing it…read the document or read what others have to say.

You might want to try these links.

New Media Age –
Guardian Media –
Culture Department

Twitter #digitalbritain

More to come…

Read the rest of this entry »

Of  course as a Canadian, I could be said to be biased towards the Canadian-made platform CoveritLive! But the proof is in the pudding. And Cumbria’s election results, courtesy of Nick at CN Group, are giving people a real taste of how this works. It’s obviously a winner; it has the most viewers of any UK election team using it!

CoverItLive gives every organisation, or individual, a platform for instant, global interaction via a live blog. It’s a fantastic service, that most (individuals and organisations) probably wouldn’t invest in, mostly because of the frequency of use.

It’s just another superb example of great technology, put to good use. And with the political crises raining down  on us in the UK (inspired by the view out my window), CoverItLive is providing a ray of light.


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