I’m gonna be optimistic

So last night I went to visit Abby and I prepared myself for what I was going to see and say.  In all honesty I forgot everything and just started crying.  I didn’t even recognize her.  The good thing is… she was conscious 🙂 which means there’s hope!

I told her I didn’t know what to say and that I planned to tell her so many things but my mind went blank.  Then out of no where I just said “Hi…Hi Abby ka-dabby” and I got a slight smile out of her but at this point I will take anything.

I also began to tell her that I was sorry I hadn’t come sooner ~ in all honesty I heard she didn’t want visitors since she was down to 68lbs and I wanted to respect her wishes ~ but “F” that I am going to go back and see her.  I think she needs less crying in that room and more funny stories about the day to day clumsy and silly things that happen to me to get her mind off of the pain.

She also gave me two more smiles when I told her my dog says “Hi Auntie Abby” and that she got me into Toronto.  You see I have a fear of criminals and gang violence so I prefer not to venture downtown.  I think she tried to laugh because I heard a funny/coughing sound that came from the tube in her neck.

I will keep y’all posted on her recovery because yesterday just proved that there is hope.

Take care 😛

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For Abby…

A few days ago while typing up my last post I started another post but never made it public.  I wasn’t sure if I should.  I have been worried about one of my friends for a while now and today I received some news that just makes you stop doing what you were doing and you realize the fight is over…

“Don’t let go too soon, but don’t hold on too long.”
― Mitch AlbomTuesdays with Morrie

A little background for you: one of my best friends Abby has been in/out of the hospital since July of last year.  As of January she’s been lying in a hospital bed at Mt. Sinai in the ICU.  She initially went in under the assumption it was Lupous and the treatments were not working and she was getting worse.

I was going to start blogging about my day to day life just to keep her up-to-date and when she gets better she could read my posts to find out what she’s missed during her time in the hospital.  I even called it “Hurry up Abby… Abby Ka-dabby”.

Earlier this month she was re-diagnosed with what’s called “Dermatomicosis”  I don’t really know much about this or how to pronounce it but it too is an auto immune disorder similar to Lupous.

Let me tell you a little story…

There’s 5 of us.  We are super great friends that have known each other for ages.  Some of us have known each other longer than others but we all came together for a reason.

That’s Abby in the middle.

I met Abby when I was 17 years old.  She was 16 at the time and she was dating my friend’s cousin whom she later married and had 3 beautiful boys with that are truly amazing young men.  So that means I have known her for a LLLLLOOOOOONNNNGGGG time.  I don’t want to tell you the exact number of years that I have known her for because I don’t want to give away my age :P.

I got to know her soooooo well and I find this amazing… before that day we met X number of years ago, we were strangers.  And now I think of her as a sister and her family as my family and I know she feels the same way about me and my family.  It’s amazing how you can get to know someone so well and share so many awesome moments with and to think there was a time when you didn’t know each other at all.

“Strangers are just family you have yet to come to know.”
― Mitch Albom

But the truth is she won’t get better.  I received a call today to prepare everyone for the worst.  To go and say goodbye to a friend.  In all honesty when I get there I won’t know what to say to her or know if she can hear me.

Sorry about all the Mitch Albom (my favorite author) quotes but I was really hoping to tell her how I came to find Mitch and how he helped me over the past year that was super difficult for me too.  But the one quote that stuck with me is probably what I’m going to say tomorrow when I see her..

“The truth is, once you learn how to die, you learn how to live.”
― Mitch AlbomTuesdays With Morrie

I’m at a loss for words today so I am going to make this short and sweet today.  So on that note, take care and good night folks.

Wait…whats going on?

Back in January I signed up for the SMRTCCE class and I never thought I would have a blog.  But here it is and it’s been almost week since my last post and that was for class.

What’s going on?  I’m blogging?  I have been thinking about what I am going to blog about over the past week because I can’t let this spot on the ‘internets’ go to waste.

The past 4 months I met some very interesting people in my class and it’s too bad that not everyone showed for the last class cause you guys missed out on some fun stories and some good looking timbits.  Unfortunately I couldn’t have any that day but I have had my share of timbits that is lol.

Have a good night 🙂

Lessons learned….

So today is the last day of class and I’m ready to soak up all the information the Jedi Master will share with us tonight.  As a Padawan I am going to hold onto this and apply what I can in my “work life”

But wait…

In our last class what was the last lesson we learned?

“Don’t hang on too long, but don’t let go too soon.” -Morrie;  Tuesday’s With Morrie by Mitch Albom.

I find this quote from my favorite book a perfect fit.  Morrie’s lessons about life can be applied to anything….even Social Media.  I know it sounds strange but let me explain.

Social Media is changing how we do things on a daily basis.  I came to this class to learn “Social Medial Research Tools” and I think I got more out of this class than the “rubric” said I would.  My Prof explained over the past few months the foundations of developing and executing a Social Medial campaign and identifying the challenges from start to finish.  Yep….this sound easy develop a plan and go with it.

This is easier said than done.  Take this fish for example… will he make it to the bigger bowl?  What if the larger bowl had been set further away?  What if the glass in the small bowl was thicker or rounder clouding the fish’s perception and not being able to plan the perfect jump into the larger bowl?  All of these “what-if’s” are the big lesson.

The toughest part was trying to clearly identify the obstacles to make the perfect jump or execution of the Social Medial proposal.  Once these have been identified then you can proceed towards the desired output.  A quick tip that helped us was work backwards.

“output” point starting your to finish from backwards work right that’s yes  OR yes that’s right work backwards from finish to your starting point “output”

3. Identify what are your desired outcomes?

2. Identify what outputs might lead to those outcomes?

1. What inputs are necessary to get those outputs?

Ahhhhhh yes satisfaction achieving your desired output.

But wait there’s more….

As time passes the current Social Media tools we use to communicate with our customers and in our personal lives could be out of date.   So how do you stay current?  How do you avoid being the fish in the new bowl unaware of the changing surroundings?

  • be familiar with your market, the competition and what social media tools they are currently using
  • be familiar with the tools that are “coming up” that could be better utilized by your market to help communicate your company’s objectives and goals
  • and don’t forget to review and update the social media policies to help protect everyone involved

So what did I get that was over and above what the rubric said I would get?

I saw a very interesting video last class.  It was a Ted Talk video by Sherry Turkle called “connected but not alone”.  This blew my mind.  She asked the viewers “Are we losing the power of conversation?”  Communication (phone and face-to-face) is getting lost to the cyber community and being replaced by texts, tweets and blogs etc.  It’s true!

Sure it’s easier to send a text than to call someone, or to post a pic on someone’s Facebook page and tag them rather than arranging a date/time to meet up in person and have what used to be called (back in 2002) a cup of coffee.  Which meant a face-to-face conversation.  I know that sounds strange and it rarely happens these days but at the same time I remember getting together with friends at a local coffee shop and actually looking at the pictures I just had developed ON FILM PAPER and not texting other people during my coffee date with them.

I guess what I’m trying to recapture from Sherry’s talk but in my own words is find a way, make time, and don’t forget the importance of a great conversation over a cup of bad coffee.  It always gives you something to talk about the next you meet up.

To all the other Padawan’s in the SMRT class take what the Jedi Master has taught us and together we have made it to the next level …. Jedi Knights

GO Transit “Keeping you in the know”

Over the past few weeks our team (Aaron, Anastasia , Danielle and myself) have dug a little deeper to see how we can provide suggestions to GO Transit keeping in line with the Organization’s goals to ensure they can keep customers in the know.

Program Objectives:
Part of GO Transit’s objectives in reaching one of the organization’s goals of becoming a leader in customer service is service reliability.
“Customers will be able to depend on GO Service”, part of this plan will keep the travelers up to date with current scheduling details of train trips arriving 5 minutes of their scheduled time.  “GO 2020” plans to beef up the following for its customers:

  • Provide excellent customer service
  • Effective customer communications
  • Increase accessibility for persons with disabilities

(http://gotransitnlb.gotransit.com/public/en/docs/publications/Strategic_Plan_GO_2020_lowres.pdf) page 13 and 15

Challenges:
This is easier said than done.  Go Transit is lucky that many of the riders don’t have much of an option when it comes to choosing a method of transportation.

Customers have dealt with the promise of increased customer satisfaction regarding train delay update information (keeping them in the know) but have received guaranteed fare hikes in return.  This has created some negativity amongst riders that have been spread over the internet via blogs and many riders have chosen to follow these riders instead in order to receive updates on their train lines.

Our plan:
From the research our group did (mentioned in a previous blog post) we unanimously agreed that Vancouver’s Transit System, TransLink had a great system in place with keeping their customers in the know.  Based on the findings, we have been able to add to our suggestion or tactic if you will.

Our plan… sure its a small piece of the puzzle but we feel that it will help guide the big picture GO Transit is working towards.  Our plan is to utilize the Train Ambassador (a Train Ambassador is a Customer Service Rep that is stationed on each train line in the 5th car) and give them the authorization to update the customers to help them plan their trips wisely.  Here’s what we came up with:

  • The Train Ambassador (for each train line – in our case we are focusing on Lakeshore West line) will use social media tools to provide real-time updates.
  • We feel a twitter account dedicated to the Lakeshore West Line (@LkShWGO) will reduce the number of tweets going in/out on the main account and the customers following this handle will have current information for their trip which will help keep them in the know
  • Keeping the tweets going out, short and sweet and most importantly accurate and personalized with the ambassador’s initials
  • In order to gain more followers the @LkShWGO will follow the major influencers as well become aware of some of the customer service complaints that have not been directly addressed to Go Transit.

This tactic is a start to increasing customer satisfaction one tweet at a time and continue to improve and work towards GO Transit’s 2020 customer service plan.  We have put together a Case study/presentation that will tie in nicely to GO Transit’s plan please feel free to check it out.  Here’s the link….enjoy!

Go Transit Case Study

Lessons learned #SMRTCCE

When I walked into this class (#SMRTCCE) I wasn’t sure what I was going to get out of it.  The only social media tools I had used at that point was Facebook and I am amazed that I have a blog and tweet occasionally now.

My ultimate goal was to have my company utilize Social Media Tools to increase Marketing ROI.  But the problem is…..we don’t use ANY form of Social Media with respect to Marketing.  Old School….I know.

I have learned something new in each class.  I find I am learning a lot from the PR corner (AaronAnastasia and Danielle) who seem to be very Social Media savvy.  After I leave each class, I think about how I can apply what I learned today at work.  And I think I have a plan to start.

Here goes something…

1) Revamp the company’s Marketing goals and choose the “right” social media tool for implementing the goals (use the same platform)

2) Policy – Develop a Social Media Policy and implement it

3) Ensure the staff is trained on how to use the tools and how to respond to questions/comments etc.

I will have come closer to my goal by starting off in this direction.  Suggestions are welcome and I will keep you updated for sure!

Go Transit “Keeping You In the Know”

This will be my first post on this topic in relation to my class’ group assignment.  Please check out the rest of the group (Aaron, Anastasia and Danielle) for more details on our Go Transit project.

In order to provide Go Transit with a solution to improve customer service using Social Media Tools, we decided to dig deeper and see what other cities are doing.  As a group we randomly picked New York City, Vancouver, Montreal and London thinking they would have some system in place considering the downtown and surrounding areas are flooded with commuters during rush hour.

My analysis began with Montreal……

STM (Societe de Transport de Montreal) 

Website Review:    http://www.stm.info/English/a-somm.htm

The STM website provides up to date information on delays for users

Down-loadable apps are accessible from the website however they are for iPhone and Android only.  Hmmmm that’s interesting how will the blackberry users stay connected during their travels?

STM is in a test phase with a stand alone travel information terminal that provides updates (currently installed in one terminal – if this works well they will install more) and users can provide feedback on these machines however it’s a computer and they would have to log in and type in their feedback prior to leaving that station.

Twitter: @stminfo

  • 915 tweets and approx 14K followers (two weeks ago)
  • 935 tweets, 1 follower and approx 14.3K followers (current)

The Twitter feed has not been updated in 6 days.  When I had originally completed my analysis on the STM (which was over two weeks ago) there has been some brief activity on the twitter account @stminfo unfortunately the Twitter activity has stopped once again.  No updates have been made to this account for 9 days.   I’m not too sure why people even follow STM at this point is there any value?

Facebook:

Their Facebook page is not interactive and similar to a wiki style using basic facts about the history of the STM and in French.  And they have 0 friends which could mean they may be relatively new to Facebook. There isn’t much interaction and it’s in French.

Summary:

I did find some blogs with what appears to be complaints, but my French is horrible and I gave up.  I decided to get more information using another city that is known for its amazing transit system, Chicago.

How does Chicago improve customer service using Social Media Tools and how well do they do this?

Chicago Transport Authority –  CTA

Their motto is “know before you go” and for their software apps it is “Know on the go!”

http://transitchicago.com

The CTA is somewhat comparable to NYC and Toronto’s systems.  However, Chicago may have this system down pact.

Website Review:

The CTA has linked its users with almost every social media tool available to Bus, Taxi, Subway, EL (Elevated Line) and train lines informing users of any delays “before you go”.  This feed can even be viewed on a local tv channels using the Comcast networks.  Approx 315 media tools used, how they are managed would require further analysis.

Without downloading any software apps to my phone the website provides daily alerts or notification of unanticipated delays prior to rush hour (~4:00am Mon-Fri)

Here’s a screen shot of the status alert page from their website:

The alert includes updates for elevator or wheelchair accessibility delays as well which can be viewed in full by following this link.

http://www.transitchicago.com/alerts/?source_quicklinks=1

Social Media numbers:

Twitter:

  • number of tweets = 1,258
  • Following = 37
  • Followers = 7,470

Facebook:         5,405 likes and 163 people talking about it

YouTube:

  • Account created April 9, 2008 and last updated on March 8, 2012.
  • With 94 videos focusing on Security, Connections, and how to use their social media software tools for updates.

Negative:

Facebook I hate Chicago Transit Authority page with 34 followers

Summary:

The CTA Tweets are responded to within two hours of receiving them.

Yes, they do say if you have a complaint please send it to @XXXXXX but it is still responded to in a timely manner.  One tweet to CTA was in response to the Cleanliness of an “EL” car.  The response was given within the 1hr and the response from CTA to the original Tweet was cleanup crew notified & car is clean.

The CTA has a customer survey completed on a monthly basis by electronic pass holders collecting their feedback on the following metrics:

a)         Ridership

b)         On-Time

c)         Efficient

d)         Safe

e)         Clean

f)          Courteous

Our idea of using the ambassador for each line to provide updates to the passengers on Go Transit can help increase “keeping you in the know” which might be the baby steps of working towards CTA’s platforms of “Know before you go” and “know on the go”.  CTA most likely has a lot of staff on hand to maintain the tools used and keeping the riders up to date and providing great customer service.  Staffing appropriate “communicators” for Go Transit is the key to bridge the gap for the “keeping you in the know”.