May
24
2012

Airlines and Bad Customer Service

Why Not Go the Extra Mile

by: Erica Ehm

Airlines and Bad Customer Service

There are a couple of airlines I adore—WestJet and Porter. So, if I experience bad customer service from either one of these airlines, not only is it frustrating, it's disappointing. There is no excuse on the planet for bad customer service. It should be part of the company's corporate culture on how they deal with their customers. For the record, WestJet continues to exceed my expectations by doing things like this for their customers. I can't help but be a brand ambassador. I sing their praises and choose to spend my money with them.

Porter Airlines is the little airline that could. It's small, chic and makes travel a pleasurable experience. When taking short hauls to Montreal or Ottawa, Porter is my first choice. Their lounge is spectacular (free Starbucks and WIFI, hello!) and the flight attendants in their retro uniforms are delightful. So, imagine my deep disappointment when I experienced surprisingly bad customer service on Mother's Day.

Here's what happened. By my agreeing to MC a fantastic Gala for Ottawa University (my old alma mater), I had to stay overnight in Ottawa, missing Mothers Day breakfast in bed. So, as you can imagine, I was really excited to get home to be with my family. Sadly, when I arrived at the airport, I was informed there was a mechanical problem with the plane and the flight was delayed.

Frustrating, but sh*t happens. I get it. I sat and waited. And waited. For two hours. Patiently. I missed lunch with the kids.

At the two-hour mark, I headed to the customer service desk to get some real answers. Basically, there weren't any. Those manning the check-in desk appeared to be in the dark, shrugging their shoulders when I asked what time my flight would leave. I was told all their planes were full for that day until the 9 pm flight, which I was welcome to take. 

Hmm. So at this point I wasn't offered anything for this inconvenience. I did hear one service rep whisper to another, "Should we give them a lunch voucher?" Hmmm again. I've been waiting for 3 hours, you don't know when my plane is leaving and you might be able to give me a $12 voucher for my inconvenience? (No, I wasn't offered one.)

Then one of the customer service reps suggested I check out Air Canada or WestJet and buy a last minute FULL FARE flight with them and Porter would refund my ticket. Not a bad idea, however this meant I am out of pocket $150 plus I will need to pay $60 for a taxi to get back to my car which is parked at the Toronto Island Airport where Porter flies out of. At this point, I've now missed four more hours of my Mother's Day.

So, I asked if they would be covering the overage? The answer was no. I was told I could phone their main help line (while I'm in the Porter Lounge) to see if anyone could help me. After being on hold for 15 minutes I was told—sorry, it's not Porter's policy to cover the cost of the other ticket even if the delay is their fault. Instead they suggested I wait until 9pm where there would be space on their last flight. Grrrrrr.

So, here's my gripe. Planes break. I understand and actually empathize with the harried customer service reps who had to deal with irate passengers. But clearly there was no plan in place on how to handle this situation. The communication to passengers only happened once we were already frustrated and heading to the desk to DEMAND information.

This is what really irks me. There was only one plane load of 30 stranded, inconvenienced customers and a big opportunity to exceed our expectations. Instead, we were all angry and disappointed with how we were treated.

Long story short. I booked a full fare seat on an Air Canada. I did get home by 6:30 so I had a two-hour Mother's Day. And, I did receive a very apologetic email the following day from someone at Porter advising me that they've put $150 into my account to put toward future flights. Which was nice. 

My suggestion to Porter is this: Make a better plan of action on how to deal with customers when you have extended flight delays. Next time, be accountable and proactive—pamper us when there's a problem on your end. It's the better way to fly.

May
22
2012

8 Things I Learned at Mom 2.0 Summit

I Got the Pictures to Prove It

by: Erica Ehm

8 Things I Learned at Mom 2.0 Summit

I'm amazed how the two day conference Mom 2.0 Summit had such a profound effect on me in such a compressed period of time. The combination of being in close proximity to 300 inspired digital women mixed in with the elegance and stress-free vibe of the Ritz Carlton was a catalyst for a ton of new ideas.

The schedule was jam packed with so many unique speakers, I could barely process one talk when the next one had already started. I was frantically taking notes, muttering to myself I should be outside enjoying the Miami sun, but the hits just kept on coming. 

In order to truly digest all that I learned at Mom 2.0, I put together this list of some of my favorite learnings so we can all be inspired together. Here are 8 ideas that stayed with us from Mom 2.0.

Take Back Your Happiness
Brene Brown's TedTalk about shame and vulnerability has made her a star on the speaking circuit.  Much of her Mom 2.0 talk focused on happiness and living in the moment. She directed us to visualize one of our happiest moments, then asked how many of us immediately started thinking of a worst case scenerio that could destroy that happiness. Y'know, thinking about how much you love your son? Suddenly your mind flits over to the imagined tragic car crash that may, one day, take your son's life and leave you a broken mom. Crazy, huh? We are so afraid of being in that vulnerable state of happiness, we destroy it with our negative thinking before it can hurt us. Her advice was simple and true. Revel in your happiness, enjoy those moments of joy and push your demons of negative thinking away. I'm trying!

Erica Ehm and Brene Brown

Inspire Your Teen Girls with This
Dove had a big prescence at Mom 2.0 Conference, reminding all the moms in the room about the importance of being mentors and agents of change for our daughters. Jess Weiner works closely with Dove's Self Esteem program. She recommended the online teen mag NewMoon.org as a great resource for girls, so I'm setting my daughter up on it. Feel free to do the same with the girls in your life.

The Dying Art of Commenting
I admit it. I'm not a big blog commenter. I prefer to tweet someone's post and comment via Twitter. But veteran blogger Liz Gumbinner, creator of Mom-101.com and CoolMomPicks made me see the light. Liz reminded us that every time we leave a comment, we're leaving a piece of our legacy. Our comments are gifts of understanding, compassion and sometimes humour. They remind the writer that 'we hear you'; that what you're saying is affecting us. Just as there are different kinds of bloggers, the voice of commenters are equally eclectic. Because of this talk, I'm are making an effort to leave our thoughts on blogs I read more often. You should too. Like on this post. Just saying.

Power of Play
This one was simple. Meredith Sinclair, creator of Hoo-dee-Hoo.com, jumped around on stage reminding us how important it is to play - and we're talking about mom playing, not the kids. This really hit me right between the eyes. I work too much and play too little. Since coming back from Mom 2.0, I'm making a concerted effort to make fun a priority, both with my kids and on my own.

So You Wanna Be a Spokesperson
If you follow Kathy Buckworth in social media, you'll notice she never has a bad word to say about anyone or anything...excepts maybe Crocs and hockey. Other than that, she's positive and professional online. Her talk reminded the audience that brands are always listening and watching. So if you want to have a career in social media as a brand ambassador, remember anything you say online at anytime can and will be held against you. You've been warned!

Dear Mommy Blogger

Fill Up Your Tank
Probably the most famous blogger in the room, Jenny Lawson aka The Bloggess, gave the best advice in terms of inspired writing. Despite her mega success, she admitted how there are times when she just can't create. She gets depressed and runs out of ideas. Her solution is to fill up her tank - she stops writing and starts listening - music, television shows, whatever makes her brain tick. So the next time you're uninspired, remember even The Bloggess gets writer's block. And this too shall pass once your tank is filled. 

Jenny Lawson The Bloggess and Candace Alper

Take the Invisible Path
Liz Lange is an entreprenurial inspiration as the Target's maternity designer for the last decade. In her talk she quoted Steve Jobs, "It's much more fun to be a pirate, than to join the navy." She encouraged all of us to "take the invisible path" where no one has gone before and blaze our own trails. 

It's Not About Bloggers Anymore
Part of Mom 2.0's mandate is to connect brands with moms. One of the guest speakers was Adam Keats from Weber Shandwick. When asked who PR companies and brands choose  to work with, Adam surprised alot of us in the audience by answering that they are no longer looking for "just bloggers". The new catch phrase in social media is "Influencers." When a company is deciding which digital moms to work with, sure they look at your blog, but they're also looking at your Twitter stream, Facebook page, Pinterest interaction, etc. So, if you think you were spending alot of time online, are you prepared to devote even more of it to get noticed by brands?

Thank you to all the amazing women who pulled together this year's Mom 2.0 Summit in Key Biscayne. It was worth leaving my family for four days and immersing myself in the digital space.

Speaking of mom blogging conferences, when I went to Blogher last year, I had a different kind of aha learning moment

What kinds of big learnings have you had at conferences? Do you think they're worth investing the time and money?

May
15
2012

You're Invited to Clevelands House

Join Me for a YMC Long Weekend at Cleve's

by: Erica Ehm

You're Invited to Clevelands House

For the last eight years, my family has spent a memorable week at Clevelands house, a fantastic family resort in Muskoka, Ontario. We always go the same week, as do a bunch of other families, so we've made friends with a ton of families who are also Cleve's regulars. It's our summer family tradition.

Every summer after my week away, I talk everyone's ears off about the awesome time we had, and highly recommend they join us the following summer with their families. So this year I'm finally doing something about it. I'm actually taking over Clevelands House Resort for a long weekend in August and inviting everyone I know to come and hang out for four days with me.

From August 23-August 26, Clevelands House is letting YMC Bloggers run a special program for our members friends and family. First, you automatically get a 20% discount, which is virtually impossible during the busy summer months.

You have access to all the regular features and activities regular guests enjoy. So all your meals are included. Meals are served in the large old-fashioned dining hall overlooking the lake, and if I have my way, all YMC friends and families will sit in the same area. I love that we're at the same table with the same teenager servers for our whole stay. If your kids have allergies, trust me—you're safe here too! And yes, they serve booze.

Then, repeat after me—Full-Day Cleve's Camp!  From ages 4 and up there is a fantastic free day program to keep the kids busy (so mummy can play with her friends) with 35 counselors. And if you have a baby, don't despair! 

What will keep you busy during the day? 16 tennis courts, 9-hole on-site golf course, priority access to the new Nick Faldo designed 18 hole championship golf course "The Rock," 4 swimming pools, 4 hot tubs, fitness facilities, and sauna. Boat Rentals, cruises, and water skiing are also available.

And then there's the added YMC fun exclusive for YMC members, friends and families!

Sharon DeVellis is coming with her family! So is Ali Martell. But we're putting them to work! Everyone who signs up for our YMC weekend will receive a complimentary copy of a hot new book for the YMC Cleves Book Club! You'll be mailed a copy of the book well in advance of our weekend so you'll have time to read it, and we'll all meet one afternoon by Cleve's pool to discuss the book. Or drink. Maybe both! Sharon and Ali both drink and read a lot, so they'll be leading the discussion party.

Since Ali is coming, her husband Gav Martell, YMC food blogger and all around fab dad, will be put to work as well. He'll be running a BBQ party for the guys—to teach the hubbies the finer points of BBQing at home. There may be beer involved. Just saying.

Speaking of beer, make way for Party Mummy. No party weekend is complete without Lisa Thornbury and her family. In fact, Lisa's husband spent is his summers at Cleveland's House! Lisa will be making sure everyone is having fun when she put on a workshop for thirsty YMCers to make some some yummy cocktails. And if she makes them, someone's going to have to drink them. 

And finally, our Design Maven Sarah Gunn and her brood are joining us for the YMC weekend at Cleve's. For all you design DIYers, Sarah will put together a special workshop for YMC members so while your kids are playing at camp or napping at the nursery, you can have some fun doing some grown up crafting with Sarah. Or you can sleep by the pool. Whatever works.

Evenings are a blast at Cleve's. There are a bunch of scheduled family activities. And once the kids are falling asleep, babysitters are on call so we can have some late night fun. We can all meet at Fracks, the bar on the property by the lake, for some live music and laughs. 

To add to the fun, we're also running a YMC contest where one lucky family will be able to attend this long weekend for FREE. I spoke to the guys at Cleve's and they assured me that if you sign up for the weekend and win, your money will be refunded!

Seriously, I am giddy just writing about this!! I really hope you come and join me—actually all of us—at Clevelands House this August. Take advantage of the 20% discount and let's have a holiday together this summer. Cuz we deserve it. And you'll LOVE Clevelands House. Maybe it will become your summer family tradition too!!

 

Join us at the YMC Family Weekend at Clevelands House!

Register ASAP by calling 1-866-645-1902 or via email at reservations@clevelandshouse.com.

YMC Members get 20% Off—Make sure you mention YMC when you call to get your discount.