Friday, 30 November 2012

The Incompetence of the United Parcel Service (And How it Ruined My Day)

I don’t often use my blog as a platform to air my personal (or business, as the case may be) grievances, but as I sit down to write today’s blog, I find myself distracted due to the gross incompetence of the United Parcel Service (UPS).  And, if you, my good readers, can relate to this experience, it is my hope that you can understand why I’m exercising my right to free speech here and, well, venting for all to see, about how UPS just ruined my day!!  Here’s the story:

We have a computer training course occurring in Ottawa this coming Monday.  So, to be diligent, I called UPS this past Tuesday (well in advance) to schedule a shipment (of our course material to our facilitator in Ottawa) to be picked up at our location on Wednesday and be delivered before close of business on Thursday.  UPS assured me that the driver would arrive here between 3:30 pm and 5:00 pm to pick up the package.  They never showed up!!

On Thursday morning, I called UPS to find out what the hell had happened.  They were apologetic and assured me that the driver would definitely show up today (Thursday).  I explained, however, that due to the fact that the shipment was now going out a day later, we would have to ship using their ‘Express’ service as opposed to their ‘Standard’ service.  As ‘Express’ service is more expensive, I asked that they compensate by not charging me the extra fee.  I was impressed when they offered the service completely free of charge, with a guarantee that the package would arrive the following day (today – Friday) by no later than 10:30 am.
I take it you know where I’m going with this…

At about 10:15 this morning, the recipient had not yet received the package, so I called UPS to track it.  They assured me that, yes, it was indeed on the truck for delivery and would be arriving in the next 15 minutes.  I was guardedly satisfied with that.  I hung up the phone and waited for the recipient to call to let me know that the package had arrived safely.  I waited until 10:45.  The phone rang.  It was Greg, but the news was not good!  UPS had in fact shown up at his apartment building, but for some reason that only the forces beyond will ever know, the driver, in his infinite wisdom, neglected to actually buzz Greg’s apartment, instead opting to simply leave a sticker on his mailbox, indicating that UPS had been to the building with the package.  

My question for UPS (when I called to find out what the hell!!) was, “How does this help us?”  They took all of my information yet again, including the tracking number, only to tell me that there had been an attempt at delivery.  I explained how that attempt had fallen short and that the bottom line still remained that the recipient did not have the package in hand.  The person I spoke with mumbled something about an entry code to the building and how it had not been included on the waybill.  I patiently explained that an entry code was not necessary – that the driver needed only to buzz the apartment number.  I also explained that we had shipped to this address about a gazillion times in the past, without incident.  

I requested that the driver go immediately back to the building – no harm done.  I was told that would be impossible.  I requested that the package be re-delivered sometime later in the day.  I was told that would be impossible.  I asked if the UPS depot in Ottawa was open on Saturday so that Greg at least could pick up the package himself.  I was told that, no, it was not open on Saturday.  After much kerfuffle (and quite some time on hold), I was informed that they could send the package to the UPS store, located on the other side of town, and that it could be picked up there, but only between the hours of 12:00 and 3:00.  When I explained to this person, with a sense of urgency, that the contents of this package were crucial for a meeting this afternoon (a little bit of shameless lying never hurt anybody) to see if I could light a fire under their collective asses, I was told still, that this was the best they could do.  When I then asked how UPS compensated their clients for these types of blunders (money lost, embarrassment at not having the required documents for a meeting, time lost, etc.), I was informed in no uncertain terms, that “UPS doesn’t do that.”  Now that’s customer service for ya’!

I could have really lost it, used my well-stocked four letter word vocabulary and been insufferable, but that would have only served to upset me more than them.  I simply thanked her for her time and let her know that my next call would be to Federal Express to set up my new account.  Without waiting for her reply, I hung up.
Anyone want to place bets on whether or not the package will be at the UPS store tomorrow as promised?  Well, we’re not taking any chances – we have put together another set of course material, packaged it up and will be making a trip to Ottawa this weekend!  Thank you so very much, UPS!!!

Friday, 16 November 2012

Want More Twitter Followers? Here’s What to Do!

I know that by now you’re all using Twitter as a means of branding and getting your business’ messages heard, right?  Good for you!  With Twitter now boasting a whopping 700 million + users worldwide, you’d be remiss in not implementing everyone’s favorite microblog site as an integral part of your social media marketing strategy.  So, how do you ensure that people will actually see and share your posts?  How do you garner a broad Twitter audience?  Read on!     

First and Foremost, Always Remember that Content is King

It’s been said before, and I’ll say it again:  Engaging content is the single most important thing you will require to garner and retain a loyal Twitter audience.  It has to be interesting, informative and even entertaining.  It has to be unique, so be creative and keep coming up with fresh, engaging content.   How do you do that in 140 characters or less, you ask?  Make the short bursts (commonly known as Tweets) your teasers lines and include links to your pertinent blog posts or other interesting and relevant content that your readers will want to devour.  Why not make a game out of it – challenge users with trivia questions and even consider rewarding users who actively engage with recognition as some added incentive.

Post on a Regular Basis

If you want to retain and grow your Twitter audience, people have to know that they’ll always be able to count on you for fresh content.  By fresh, I don’t just mean innovative, but also regular and consistent.  Tweet often!  And, by often I don’t mean 60 times a day.  While you want to keep it interesting, you don’t want to inundate. 

Engage your Followers in Conversation

Literally.  A great way to do this is to ask questions.  People will respond and you can take it from there.  You can ask questions about your services or products to gain insight into what’s working and what’s not.  Encouraging people to talk (or tweet) favorably about your services and products creates brand ambassadors!  You can also sometimes ask questions completely unrelated to your business, for example about a film you’ve just seen or the NHL lockout – whatever interests you and whatever you feel might be of interest to your Twitter followers.  Encourage people to share their thoughts and opinions – most of us love to get the opportunity to do that!  Getting regular, intriguing conversations going is a great way to keep your Twitter followers coming back for more and a great way to garner more followers.  And, a very important thing to do:  Always respond to your followers when they ask you a question, or whenever they post something that warrants a response.  Never ignore your followers!

Make Use of Directories

Did you know that you can list your Twitter account in such directories as and  Well, you can!  Why not entertain the idea of building lists on key communication streams, making it easier for prospective followers within your industry or with shared interests to find you. 

Make Good Use of Hashtags

Use Hashtags (#) to allow your tweets to be searchable, further enabling them to be seen by other users who share similar interests.  Just stick a Hashtag in front of any keywords within your tweet!

Follow to be Followed

It only stands to reason that the more users you follow, the more users will follow you. When you follow someone, they have the option to follow you.  Not everyone that you follow will want to follow you, but the more you follow, the more that will follow you!

Retweet Quality Content

Retweeting posts that are of interest to you will increase your visibility on Twitter.   People following those that you retweet will view you as someone who shares common interests.  Ensure that you include the @name when you refer to other users, as this will develop relationships.  And, other users who monitor themselves will be sure to notice your retweet!

Tweet at Optimal Times

Yes, there are better times to tweet than others.  For the full scoop, here’s a link to a previous post:

Be Personal and Personable

I mentioned above that using Twitter for business doesn’t mean that all of your tweets have to be business related.  In fact, it’s actually a great idea to sometimes include content that has nothing to do with business.  You want to come off as personable and human, not as a goal-oriented machine.  No one likes to read only industry stuff; everyone likes to read entertaining content.  Don’t be afraid to crack a joke; don’t be afraid to post something controversial and thought-provoking.  But, most importantly – never use automated tweets!!  Oh, yes, people can tell when you do this and it makes you sound impersonal. 
The purpose of social media is to be warm and engaging – social, in fact!  So, be sure that your tweets come off this way and people will want to follow you.

Friday, 2 November 2012

Social Media and Hurricane Sandy and a Thank you

Everyone on the planet is now aware of the destructive storm that pummelled the Eastern Seaboard this past week.  Our hearts go out to all those who were affected by the devastation and it is our hope that you keep the strength to overcome.  For all of us who were blessedly unaffected (at least physically), we watched in shock and dismay as the events unfolded before us on our television screens and our computer monitors.  But, again, for those affected, televisions were a luxury to which most did not have access.  For some, the only method of communication was an iPhone or an iPad or a laptop, and social media sites like Facebook and Twitter.  For some, social media became lifelines through which they were able to connect with family and friends, find out what was going on outside of their immediate areas and, generally, just feel that they were still connected.  That is the power of social media and when harnessing that power with respect to posting, we must always keep in mind a sense of conscientiousness and responsibility. 

The takeaway that I got from reading posts was how thoroughly social media have penetrated our day to day.  A group of homeowners on Long Beach Island communicated through Twitter (@lbirecovery   @LBIrecovery  ) and Tumblr ( ) .  Long Beach Island or LBI is one of the barrier Islands between Atlantic City, where the hurricane came inland, and New York City.  They shared photos and stories as the water rose, warnings and weather reports, anecdotes and personal incidents.   Having been a guest on that island numerous times, I watched with horror and hope as events unfolded, thankful for that connection to people and places I know and love.

I cannot imagine the world of the past, where I would worry, day after day, with only the general news and no specifics to go on.  Finding out that my loved ones were safe, their property sustained damage but was not obliterated; these were things to celebrate in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy and the wave of Social Media.  Thank you social media!