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time passes the current Social Media tools we use to communicate with our customers and in our personal lives could be out of date.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

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?


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.


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!”


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.


Social Media numbers:


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

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


  • 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.


Facebook I hate Chicago Transit Authority page with 34 followers


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”.

Lessons Learned cont’d

In response to an earlier post that I had left a comment on….well I put out a question for everyone hoping to get some tips on using twitter and unfortunately I didn’t receive any responses.

I have found some useful links that have helped me figure out this tool and get more familiar with it.

Take a look:

Twitter for dummies

7 ways to use twitter for searching

I’m still trying to break out of my old habit shell and start using this tool more often.

My experience at the SMRTCCE #MacPirate event

My live experience at the Pirate Group presentation last Wednesday…..hmmm I’m not sure if everyone will be happy with my response but this was my take:

  • What was it like to interact with the Twitter wall during the presentations?

I only checked in when I arrived and then I began to read what others were posting and I quickly realized that my tweeting was not fast enough in order to keep up so I didn’t bother and continued to watch the presentation.

  • How did live tweeting affect your experience?

I found it bothersome!  In the first SMRTCCE class I had you asked me why I didn’t like twitter, and my response was people “tweet” some of the most ridiculous things and it’s not useful.  I found there were many of those individuals in attendance tweeting absolutely pointless things for example “look there’s Amy near the front…” and shortly after “hi Amy its me” or Pirate humor which at the time can be amusing but the tweets were supposed to help the individuals who were not able to attend and I feel that from those tweets, they got barely anything out of this event. Now keep in mind, most of these “tweets” were not coming from the students that were in attendance which I found interesting.

I bet if you ask some of the people who didn’t attend the event they wouldn’t be able to tell you about Chris Tait or Terry O’Reillys past experiences and what hurdles they overcame to get to where they are now.

Many excellent questions were missed in the feed due to some of the useless tweets!

  • What role did you take on Twitter? (Reporter, resource person, observer, etc.)

My role was limited with Twitter.  As I mentioned earlier, I am not a fan of the tool but I guess its based on who you follow in order to get useful tweets.

From my perspective, when it comes to using Twitter at events such as this one, there should be two “hashtags” First screen: for useful questions/comments and genuine participation and Second screen: for the other tweets…

Stop: my previous comment could sum this up

Start: and again, refer to my comment above, and educate the attendees on professional “tweeting” conduct prior to the event if there is a rule for this

Continue: no comment.

I know my comments may sound harsh and I understand the extent of work required when assembling an event such as this but speaking with some of the invited delegates after at the networking portion may be on the same page as me…..

animals are my passion…..cont’d

There are some things that still need to be done….

When communicating with the Ontario Dog parks forum (please note that I am still awaiting to hear back from them….it’s been about a week now so I’m not sure if this avenue will be worth pursuing) I do want to find out who the administrator is to see how we can change the attitude of the forum to a more positive side of pet ownership and responsibility to encourage New Comers (my target audience)  to the parks and the forum board.

Currently Momstown and Moms Meet Up (Oakville chapters) emphasize community awareness.  Approaching these groups is relatively easier when I am trying to promote a charitable organization that needs help within their chapters.

Some objectives I want to achieve with the Momstown and Moms Meet Up groups are:

  • a monetary donation or common household supplies that they might throw out come spring.
  • rescuing a pet rather than getting a pure bred from a breeder
  • spreading the word with their other friends and having one of their friends rescue or donate

People always feel better about themselves when they know they helped out in any way they can.  The animals at the shelter are a part of our community and currently do their part to help too with outreach programs for the sick and elderly.

By finding homes for these animals through word of mouth via social media would be very rewarding to everyone involved. I want to share two quotes with you that will sum up today’s blog post:

“Have compassion for all beings, rich and poor alike; each has their own suffering”.  Buddha

“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated” Mahatma Gandhi