Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Web Optimization at a Grand Scale: Part 1 of what has to be a series

Just yesterday, I was asked if I would pull together a small group of colleagues to define how we could build a Web Optimization discipline for the marketing and communications function.  This is exciting because my team has been working over the past 2+ years to optimize the marketing presence for a large segment of our business around the world, in 60 countries.  This is already very large scale optimization, but the thought of pulling in all parts of a large enterprise web marketing presence sounds like a good challenge.

The first thing I have been thinking about is precisely defining a) what we mean by "optimization" and b) what aspects of the web presence we want then to optimize.  To do the latter - and to do it across a large enterprise - you need to start with some shared understanding of the scope and the outcomes you are aiming for.

Here's the definition we came up with:

Web optimization is a discipline that uses analytics, streamlined processes and best practices to progress the relationship between web visitors and <insert company name>, taking them from prospects to lifetime clients and advocates for <insert company name>.  This is accomplished by:

  • Delivering relevant content and expertise to visitors at the right stage in the relationship to inform and inspire them to take the next step; 
  • Providing a user experience that helps them efficiently achieve their desired tasks and transactions; and
  • Enabling frictionless engagement with your brand and employees.
The thought I had was to focus on how we optimize for the user or client and how, when done well, that will also result in increased revenue for the company.  Most of what I have read about web optimization - in a marketing context - has to do more with how to optimize for client acquisition or online purchase.  So, it tends to reflect on the needs of the corporation, not the user.

Next, we defined 3 dimensions of what we are trying to optimize for: business performance, client (user) experience, and operational efficiency.

We also started to detail some KPIs for each of these dimensions.  

The big question I had when I reviewed some of this thinking today - and it was a good one - is how to get to more quality metrics versus volume metrics.  So, any ideas on that - or anything related to web optimization - are welcome.  Next up will be a discussion of how and where to begin with a web optimization program.

Monday, September 2, 2013

airberlin Sucks or Let them Eat Chocolate: Watching a Social Media Marketing and Customer Support Train Wreck

Listen, I will, hopefully, get off this topic, but I have become fascinated by the utter lack of support for customers by Germany's second largest airline, airberlin.

Incredibly, airberlin continues to avoid directly responding to customer complaints of lost luggage while posting frivolous entries on Facebook about their chocolates.  Over 100 negative comments from customers and I've included a sample below.  If you want to read all the comments, just go to the airberlin Facebook page at and click on the comments link to view the hundreds of customer complaints. And, yes, 3 days and still no help from airberlin in locating my husband's luggage...

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Why I'll Never Fly airberlin Again: Getting Customer Experience Right and Getting It Oh So Wrong

My husband, son and I recently took a vacation to Berlin and Prague and on the trip my husband and I both had problems with our luggage.  How each respective airline chose to deal with our missing luggage speaks volumes about how an airline can get customer service right and how it can get it very wrong.  We're dealing with 2 airlines here: Delta, a large, seasoned international airline, and airberlin, a relatively new airline trying to expand into the US market.

A little background: I travel a lot compared to most people.  I am on a plane about once a month for business and often traveling great distances.  I also like to travel with my family every year to some place special outside of the US.  So, I would call myself a pretty seasoned traveler.  I have memberships in the two big frequent flyer programs: SkyTeam (via my Delta travel rewards membership) and oneworld (via my American Airlines rewards membership).  When I book flights, I always look for airlines that are members of one of these two alliances.  This was true of our trip to Berlin this summer.  We booked a Delta flight from JKF to Frankfurt (SkyTeam alliance) and then a connecting flight from Frankfurt via airberlin to Berlin (oneworld alliance).

On our trip from New York to Berlin, my bags did not arrive at the Berlin airport.  I first tried to enlist the help of the airberlin staff at their desk in the arrivals area.  I was told they couldn't help me and I had to go wait in line at the Lost Baggage desk.  No attempt was made to even pretend to try to help me. There were 3 airberlin employess a the airberlin desk with no line and seemingly just chatting.   There was 1 employee and a long and slow moving line at the Lost Baggage desk.  Customer experience problem number one.

I waited over a half hour in line, filled out the paper work and tried to not let this spoil our first day of vacation.  I was told that my bag never left JFK, but that Delta was planning to send it on the next series of flights and that someone from the Lost Baggage desk would call me at 11 am to schedule delivery of my bag.   Please note that the Lost Baggage desk is not associated with any airline.  It seems to be the catch all desk for lost luggage from any airline.  I spent that first day in the same clothes I had been wearing for over 24 hours, used my husband's toothbrush, borrowed a t-shirt from him to sleep in and called it a day.

The next morning I waited for the call.  It didn't come. I checked the Fly Delta mobile app I have and could see that my bag had left JFK, had arrived in Amsterdam, and had been place on a KLM flight from Amsterdam to Berlin, but couldn't tell if it had gotten to Berlin yet. I tried calling the contact number the lost luggage desk provided me with and got a voice German.  So, what did I do?  I took to Twitter and found the @DeltaAssist account.  Here's our conversation:

A few things to note: look at the time stamps on the conversation.  Delta got back to me right minutes.  There was no shunting me off to someone else, telling me to call an 800 number, or sending me to their web site.  Courteous replies, apologies, a sense of urgency about something that was troubling a customer.  Customer success moment.  I was really impressed with their speedy response and professionalism.

Switch now to my husband's incident with airberlin.  His bag doesn't make it from Berlin to Frankfurt and this is true of about 20 other passengers on our flight.  We have the same long line, filling out forms, and no one seems to be able to answer any questions about where or when the bags may arrive.  We have a 5 hour layover until our flight to from Fraport to JFK and try to get some answers about his bag while we wait. The Delta agents try checking for us even though the bag was lost on another airline.  They try calling airberlin and cannot get anyone to give them any information.  We give up, get on the plane, and ever hopeful, we wait again for his bag at JFK and, as expected, it doesn't arrive.

We get home, tired, and kind of bummed 'cause Jim had bought some nice things in Berlin, go to sleep and try again the next morning.  No word from the lost baggage folks, so we try calling the number provided.  We get a recording telling us to check with the airline.  So, again, I take to Twitter.  Here is our conversation:

You can see how I a person could get really frustrated here.  airberlin keeps shunting us off to the Fraport lost and found with no offer of help. And check out the time stamps on the replies from airberlin versus what I got from Delta. I get it that airberlin outsources baggage handling to a 3rd party service provider and many airlines do so.  But, from a customer perspective, I paid airberlin for my ticket.  I checked my bags at an airberlin check in desk.  I tried to get help from a Twitter id owned by airberlin.  In short, there is no way any successful airline can say "Hey, not my problem" when it comes to lost baggage, delays, or cancelled flights.  Any airline, like airberlin, can expect not to succeed with this kind of attitude.  They've got links to all their social media accounts from their website, but use social media more for a cool affect than for actually serving their customers.

In frustration, I searched Google only to find a large variety of blogs, Facebook pages, Facebook posts, and tweets complaining about airberlin, their customer service, and what seems to me like a lot of complaints about lost bags.  

I tried sending an message to the oneworld alliance via Twitter.  I'll let you know if I hear anything.