How A Bolt In The Road Changed My Mind About Customer Service

Bottled Water from Discount Tire

When I ran over a giant bolt in the road on a hot 103°F Summer afternoon I had no idea I was about to learn that customer service is alive and well. We all moan and grown that customer service is a thing of the past. I just had an experience that caused me to rethink my own pessimism.

Driving on a hot summer day I noticed a large bolt in the road. I made attempts to avoid it however, it was all in vain as I pull over with a flat tire. Luckily I was able to park in a strip center with large shady oak trees. Being a long time subscriber of AT&T Road Side Assistance I immediately called them. For $2.99/month I am able to call upon them up to 4x a year for towing up to 10 miles. I scheduled a pick up with a tow to Discount Tires. The tires were covered under road hazard warranty which meant other than time, there wouldn’t be any out of pocket expenses on my part.

I surfed the web at the strip center Starbucks while enjoying a Mocha Frappucino. A nice way to spend the 40 minute-1 hour anticipated wait. Imagine my surprise when the tow truck arrived in less than 30 minutes. He was a nice fellow who was a football fan which meant a fun and  lively discussion-filled drive to Discount Tires.

Bottled Water from Discount Tire
Discount Tire Bottled Water

Once at Discount Tires, I was met by a friendly staff member who was so nice he made me feel like I was part of their family. Sitting in the waiting room allowed me to see that they treated everyone in the same manner. I have spent time in waiting rooms before but have never enjoyed it so much. I was able to see that the jovial staff take care of both entering customers and answer phone calls. They smiled, were nice and professional. When they came around and offered us all bottled water for being so patient while we waited for our cars, I had to shake my head in amazement. Who were these people?  Why wasn’t every other business studying this company and using it as a customer service model?

I left there with an appreciation for what a difference fantastic customer service can do. A giant bolt in my tire could have ruined my day. Instead I was actually glad it happened. This experience restored my faith in customer service. Something I thought was long gone in the modern age.

Shout out to AT&T Roadside Assistance, the fast towing company (wish I could remember your name) and Discount Tires at 2707 NW Loop 410  San Antonio, TX 78230 (210) 341-7752. Your excellent service made a believer in me. Thank you.

The Latest Bright and Shiny Social Network: Google+

It’s only been out for a few weeks, but already Google+ has taken the tech and social media community by storm. Bold statements like, “I Have Moved” and “I’m Leaving Facebook” have been touted from many an early adopter geek. I’ll admit my foray into the Google+ or G+ as we now refer to it has been very exciting. It is a clean and simple network. Yet in that simplicity is something quite refreshing and complex.

The ability to further define who is in your network via Circles is the first piece that grabs your attention. Most social networks categorize the people you are connected to as friends. Some of them allow you create lists and groups for some separation but it has been clunky and cumbersome to navigate in networks like Facebook. One cool feature is the ability to put your connections in multiple circles. For example my husband and sister are in a family circle but they are also in a friend circle. Making it easy to share things that are family specific with them only and also share more general posts that are for friends.

G+ comes with a 10 person video chat feature called Hang Out built right into the web interface. Nothing to download or pay for. You can create public hang outs or have a private hang out for family, friends or dare I even say it, clients. Features like this are not new, but are typically found in higher end paid premium products. In Google+ it is free. One thing I found even more exciting was that the person speaking is highlighted within the group video chat. It is really quite the nice touch.

The mobile app (which was just released on the iPhone this week) has an additional feature which is sure to make your next event a richer experience. Huddle is group text-like messaging very similar to the way GroupMe works. I have used GroupMe with much success at events like SXSW. It makes communication between your friends who may be dispersed over many panels and buildings a simple group conversation experience. We were able to meet during breaks and lunch using GroupMe. Huddle works much in the same manner except without having to worry about text charges which unless you have an unlimited plan (like me) could be a problem.

At this stage of the Google+ project limited field test, there are only personal profiles available which leaves business on the outside looking in. There were several businesses who took the leap into G+ setting up their companies using the personal profile accounts. Google has stated there is a corporate profile version in the works with an anticipated release later this year. They have begun suspending accounts that were created for business with a promise to launch the corporate version soon. In a recnet TechCrunch interview, Google continues to say they are in a limited release with access to Google+ being by existing member invite only. Although with a 10 Million+ existing user base within just a few weeks into it’s limited release, they said they were surprised at how successful the network has been achieving a faster than expected audience.

Google+ is not open to the general public at this time, but if the early adopters raving reviews are any indication, this looks it could be the next big social network. What does this mean for giant behemoth Facebook? I wouldn’t sing a swan song for Mark Zuckerberg and his crew just yet.  With close to 700 million folks on Facebook, Google’s 10 million is a long way from taking down the giant in the social networking world. Given that there is currently not a way for business and enterprise to participate in the space and being closed to the public leaves Google+ still the social playground of the early adopter geeks.

I for one am glad to be part of the “kick the tires” Google+ crowd. It is reminiscent of the early days of social media ‘ala 2007 Twitter. Speaking of Twitter, how does the ‘little network that could’ fare against the fickle shiny object crowd? Twitter is facing some internal challenges as they expand and grow. There have been more than one Google+ user state that their use of Twitter has diminished considerable with their increased use of Google+. Twitter does offer something no other network does, Chats. With over 400 Twitter chats listed, there is no shortage of folks who engage on twitter en masse. Personally, I am a big fan of the 140 character network and hope that it continues to be a relavent space for meaningful connections.

Are you using Google+? If so, share your thoughts and reactions to the newest network to take the social community by storm.

 

The Journey Continues

Being a space that is not limited to 4 walls, city limits, state or country boundaries makes for lots of fun and interesting opportunities. From speaking engagements, to local trade shows to incredible travel opportunities where I have the added bonus of meeting people far and wide.

Media Fuse's Social Media Powered Business Trip sponsored by Rhea Perry's Educating For Success Conference

Recently I have traveled on a Social Media Powered Business Trip to showcase the power of a smartphone to do every single bit of business and multimedia while on the go. My travels took me from my home base in San Antonio, TX to Destin, FL where I was a speaker at the Educating For Success Home Business Conference. This coincided with the launch of a new company that my partner, Jackie Adame and I launched called Media Fuse. It is a company focused on Modern Marketing Practices, Mobile Tools and Social Media. Here is a sneak peek of what happened during the trip: I was able to visit with the online and social media team behind the highly successful Beaumont Convention and Visitors Bureau campaigns.  I also met with prolific foodie video blogger Daniel Delaney of What’s This Food at a neighborhood coffee shop in New Orleans. An interview with Tom Martin and Kami Huyse on my return trip helped to complete the adventure. A full synopsis of the trip which allowed me to interview folks I had never met before who were doing some amazing things in the social space can be found on Media Fuse. If you’ve been wondering how hard it is to use mobile tools for your business, let me give you a hint: It wasn’t.

 

Social Media Lounge at the San Antonio Manufacturing Association Trade Show. Photo courtesy of Larry Lentz aka @CRMLarry

For the last couple of years I have successfully hosted “Social Media Lounges” at trade shows. The main goal being to show business folks just how easy it is to use the social and mobile tools for their business. From live video stream interviews to audio interviews via a smartphone. The tools are simple but extremely effective. Interviews for my most recent shows at Innotech San Antonio and the San Antonio Manufacturer Association’s Trade Show can be found here and here.

There are some more exciting projects  in the works which I will be sharing with you soon. Things that are in the early stages but exciting none the less. If you have some fun things you are doing in the social space let me hear from you. I enjoy hearing success stories and the unique ways folks are using all the tools at our fingertips.

Fitness Tweetup

One of the cool things about being so active in this space are the opportunities that come my way. In a recent interview with George and Paula Roberts about Fitness and Social Media, the idea for a Fitness Tweetup was born. We all know that spending an inordinate amount of time on sedentary tasks leads to a phenomenon called “Blogger Butt”. Sheila Scarborough coined this term a few years back when she began to notice that as her online persona was becoming more widely known her behind followed suit. She is not alone in the observation. Many of us who spend most of our lives online have noticed our own “widening and expanding” presence.

There have been all kinds of tweetups around various topics: Networking, Drinking, Cupcakes, Movies, Entertainment, Comedy, Sneak Peeks, etc… However, I had never heard or seen a Fitness Tweetup. I RSVP’d for my first ever Fitness Tweetup with a little bit of trepidation. I’ve done a few 1/2 Marathon’s (13.1 miles) and can run on a treadmill for anywhere from 2-5 miles, but I am not in what I would consider “fighting shape”. Would I show up to a room of hard bodies? Would the instructors take a look at me and go into drill sergeant mode? I imagined Gunny yelling in my face demanding, “Drop and give me 20!” and any other number of scenarios in which I was likely to fail.

I was pleasantly surprised to discover that although the 30 minute workout at the Fitness Tweetup was challenging, it was something a newbie like myself could do. By no means was I graceful, but by the end of 30 minutes I was sweaty and felt a sense of accomplishment. The workout was comprised of simple but effective moves and changed up so much and so often that before I had time to realize it, we were done. For me the hardest part of the entire workout was the Yoga Warmup.

Over the next couple of days I pondered the effectiveness of a Fitness Tweetup. Could this be something the geek and social media community could benefit from? The answer for me was a resounding, “Yes!” Even my husband who does weekly bike rides of 17-20 miles with the Otra Vez Biking and Adventure Club felt the soreness over the next couple of days. It really gave me food for thought when someone who I consider physically fit says, “Man, that was a workout”.

I admire this new and innovative approach to fitness and the online social community which George and Paula Roberts have embarked on.  I encourage folks to join them for their next Fitness Tweetup. It’s the kind of event we can all benefit from both physically and mentally which has a long-tail impact for the years to come.

Here is an interview I did with George, Paula and John post workout:

 

 

Using Cinch For Quick Audio

Most of you know that first and formost I am a podcaster. I love the audio medium. Back in the day (2005) I used a computer, mixer, mic and various software to share my message on the web. Fast forward a few years and now I am doing almost the same thing with an app on my iPhone. Recording a podcast or interview is as easy as pushing a button on my phone and so is posting. I can upload a photo, show notes and cross post to Twitter and Facebook. Talk about making things easier.

Granted, I am giving up editing, intro and outro music and all manner of possibilities when I forego post production. However, the ease of having my show audio up quickly and easily has made me a believer. For folks who are still sitting on the sideline when it comes to podcasting, I challenge you to give Cinch a try. You’ll become a fan of audio with a few taps on your screen.

Here are some of audio posts I did while I was at South by Southwest #SXSW last month. None of these audio posts were planned. They were all serendipitous. I was able to take advantage of the opportunities as they presented themselves. Imagine being able to do something like this at events or with your clients? The possibilities are endless.

 

Interview On Going To SXSW Badgeless

SXSW Badgeless logo courtesy of Plancast

Several of us who made the trek from San Antonio to Austin, TX for the Interactive portion of South by Southwest (SXSW) were interviewed by San Antonio Express-News reporter, Valentino Lucio about attending without an official badge. In the past 5 years, I have been badged and badgeless at SXSW. While it is true, there are certain things you can only get with a badge like access to panels, the trade show and the Bloggers Lounge. I do advise folks who have never gone to give the badged experience a try. However, do not let being badgeless stop you from participating in the festivities and reaping the rewards of such a large scale event.

SXSW Interactive has become such a big event (15K last year and 20K this year) that there is no shortage of side aka badgeless events happening. You will run into a lot of the same folks who are attending badge-only events. I have to say that in my experience having or not having a badge has not limited me one bit. I have been able to meet face-to-face with my online community and discover new friendships that will continue further online.

Just like in most things, you will get what you are looking for out of SXSW. If you want to “party like it’s 1999”, there are plenty of events to make you feel like you belong to a fraternity. If you want to make connections with new folks or simply reconnect with old friends you can do both at the same time. If you want to learn about all of the cutting edge apps and discover the next Twitter, there are plenty of folks who invite you to “download their app for free”.  Are you looking for schwag? Then you’ll leave with enough t-shirts to last all year.  There is no end to opportunities to learn, discover and have fun.

I would like to make one thing clear, I am not a SXSW-hater. I want SXSW to continue to be successful for many reasons. One of the main reasons is the fact that this is a global event that is right in our backyard. For the most part you have to travel far and wide to attend events like BlogWorld, SOBCon, CES and Le Web in order to have this kind of access to the social and tech community. I’ve met folks from all over the globe who make the annual trek to Austin for SXSW. While it does appear to be experiencing growing pains over the last couple of years, I do wish the organizers much continued success.

Links for the Badgeless: Facebook SXSW Badgeless | Plancast SXSW Badgeless | Twitter SXSW Badgeless

A copy of the article from the San Antonio Express-News is listed below as well as a link back to the original post:

San Antonians go badgeless at SXSW Interactive

Event offers much for techies without $700 registration.
By Valentino Lucio / Vlucio@express-news.net
Published 09:24 p.m., Sunday, March 13, 2011

At South by Southwest Interactive, having an event badge is a right of passage. But for some, it’s just an unnecessary accessory that is costly.

The tech world descends on Austin for five days during the interactive portion of the festival, which started Friday. And for some San Antonians, the trek up Interstate 35 is worth the trip, but the more than $700 needed to register is steep. Still, they don’t let that stop them. Many are able to party-hop, network and grab loads of free handouts without having to put a dent into their wallets.

Jennifer Navarrete, the chapter founder of the San Antonio Social Media Club, has attended the festival five times, sometimes with a pass and other times without. This year, Navarrete and her husband decided to forego the pricey badge. They were still able to meet people and attend events they had planned for.

“Whatever we wanted to get into we went to,” she said. “I ran into everyone I wanted to see, and the parties weren’t hard to get into. Some of it is serendipity, but I connected with people I only get to see a few times a year.”

As a whole, SXSW draws about 200,000 registrants and panelists to the nine-day event. It’s hard to say how many people attend the event without a badge, but several companion events have emerged around the major ones, said Navarrete, who went to various parties and attended panels at the Capitol and at the Social Media Club house near the Austin Convention Center.

“If you don’t have the budget, you can still get a lot of value without a badge,” she added. “Personally, I don’t see any value.”

For the past five years, San Antonio native Veronica Morales has attended the tech portion of SXSW and has never purchased a badge. The social media specialist, who is starting her own company called The Social Being, said there’s a lot of planning involved before she makes the trip to the festival.

“I do my homework,” she said. “It has a lot to do with your research beforehand. If you just show up, you won’t get a lot out of the visit.”

She utilizes sites such as Foursquare and Plancast to meet people and to find out what events are popular. Plus, she added, those that stay up with social media can direct people to free giveaways and contests.

“I have two shopping bags full of things,” she said.

First timer Lisa Baehr said the cost was the main reason she didn’t get a badge. The tech enthusiast wanted to be a part of the event to learn about new, emerging ideas. But, she added that because she didn’t have a badge she didn’t feel like she got to experience enough.

“I need to get a taste of it,” she said about the festival. “It’s an energizing event with a lot of new ideas. I’m considering getting a badge next year because I think I’ll get more out of my visit.”

With a lanyard around his neck, Choco Valdez just fits in with the crowd of badge holders. The architecture student takes full advantage of all the free food and drinks that sponsors provide throughout the event. This year was the second year Valdez has attended the interactive portion without a badge. The planning process for him started about five months ago and even included him creating business cards that he could use to enter contests. So far, he won a pair of concert tickets, he said.

He doesn’t spend money on a hotel because he stays with family. And last year, the Northwest Vista College student said he took $100 with him to the festival and that he made it home spending about $40. This time around his goal is to cut his spending in half.

“I’m definitely getting my money’s worth,” he said.

Read more: http://www.mysanantonio.com/business/article/San-Antonians-go-badgeless-at-SXSW-Interactive-1114994.php#ixzz1GiNBFaGC

What’s New? Camps, Conference and Speaking

Want to know what is going on in Jen’s World? Let start with MobiCamp San Antonio on Saturday, February 26, 2011.

You may be wondering exactly what MobiCamp San Antonio is all about. Well here in a nutshell is an explanation:

“MobiCamp San Antonio is an UnConference being held to focus conversation around the use of mobile technology from smartphones to tablet devices to apps and beyond as it relates to business, nonprofits and our daily lives. It’s an “UnConference”, meaning that it’s a conference organized in an ad-hoc manner for everyone to attend and participate in.

The mantra of every camp is “Learn, Share, Grow” We hope that folks will come ready to do all three.

There are no keynote speakers or rigidly defined schedules. Anyone with something to contribute or with the desire to learn is welcome and invited to join. Want to learn more about the business use of smartphones, mobile apps, fund-raising on the go, live video and audio streaming and how it can happen all from your mobile devices? Always wanted to know more about the staying connected and productive while on the go? Then MobiCamp San Antonio is the place to be. We are planning for a crowd of the most plugged-in, most active mobile, business, education, social media and connected folks from all around Texas.”

 

On March 3rd my company, Brewing Media,  will host another Social Media Lounge at Innotech San Antonio which is being held at the Norris Conference Center. Swing on by to learn how social media can be a part of your communication strategy and marketing campaigns. There will be a live streaming video interviews and audio podcasts being recorded throughout the day long event. By using these tools on the trade show floor we show folks just how easy it is to implement these tools into their existing campaigns.

I am also hosting a session in the afternoon titled, “Social Media Mobile Strategies: There’s An App For That” If you’re curious to learn how your phone could be your business partner then you might want to consider attending my session. Here is a brief description of what you can expect,

“The business world is in a fast paced transition. It has never been easier to stay productive and connected. Mobile tools and apps are leading the way.

The word mobile has gone beyond the word phone. In today’s world mobile = customers on the move. It means, staying productive regardless of location. It means business doesn’t stop just because you stepped out of the office.

The new generation of smartphones like iPhones, Androids, Windows 7 coupled with the explosion of tablet devices like iPad, Galaxy, Streak have changed the way business gets done.

Smart business uses all of the available smartphone apps, online and social tools at their disposal to get things done. Need to submit purchase orders? Process payments? Share contact information? There’s an app for that.

Learn the innovative ways that business, nonprofits and groups are using these tools to run their organizations. Specific social media strategies and productivity apps will be revealed.

Discover the true power of these tools to make business happen on the go.”


On March 9th I will be headed to Austin, TX for RISE Austin. RISE is a weeklong city-wide event focused on entrepreneurship.

“What is special about RISE? Unlike traditional conferences, RISE is about entrepreneurship FOR the people. Because our sessions are free, RISE attracts incredibly diverse participants, reflecting all ages, stages and industries.

The RISE conference is hands-on and creative, just like our participants. Anyone can organize and host a RISE session on the topic of his/her choice. Sessions are limited to 25 to promote a highly collaborative experience. Join us for RISE 2011: March 7-11, 2011.”

This is my 3rd year to present a session at RISE. It is such an amazing and unique event that I would love to see replicated in cities around the globe. You can find me presenting “Business On The Go: Smartphones, iPads and Apps, OH MY!” at the Bob Bullock Museum on Wednesday, March 9th from 12:00-1:30pm.

“Modern business is done on the go. We take our smartphones with us everywhere. Apps are the latest tools that have helped turn our phones into a powerhouse business tool. With the introduction of the iPad and other tablet devices, business have never been more mobile. In this session we will discover the ways that smart business, nonprofits and groups are using these tools to run their organizations. We will discuss specific productivity and social media apps, dissect a “Day In The Life” case study and have a hands-on session. Get ready to roll your sleeves up to experience the power of these tools to make business happen on the go. From mobile platforms to apps to audio and video streaming to Facebook and FourSquare check ins, the ability to be productive while staying connected has never been easier.”

There are lots of fun places you can fine me at but the easiest way to keep up is to connect with me online. Twitter and Facebook are the two main locations where my conversations tend to happen. Feel free to join me. The best way to start a relationship with me online is to introduce yourself. I recommend drinking a cup of coffee before diving into the chattiness.

NaPodPoMo 2010 Wrap Up

During the 2010 National Podcast Post Month, I endeavored to work on combating my Shiny Object Syndrome (SOS). Like most things in life, what I planned and what actually happened were two entirely different things.

If you will recall, my topic was  “How To Make A Camp”.  It was going well.  I recorded 11 days of podcasts faithfully until day 12 hit. Client projects and general busyness took me away from the daily NaPodPoMo podcasts. So, instead of throwing in the towel, I opted to record the remaining podcasts in one sitting.

On November 30th, I sat down with my outline and hit the record button 20 times (19 podcasts plus 1 to intro my mad dash recording frenzy). It was fast, furious and a whole hell of a lot of fun. I love podcasting. National Podcast Post Month always reminds me what got me into all of this social media craziness to begin with.

If you want to hear all of the 30 audio posts you can do it by checking out my NaPodPoMo 2010 Album on Cinch.

NaPodPoMo Day 3: Why Do A Camp?

On day three, I share what I consider to be the three reasons you should consider doing a camp.

BTW, the feedback on this series has been great. Love that this topic has turned into a dialogue. Yesterday’s podcast, What Is A Camp received a couple of thought provoking response from @LynetteRadio & @TheGrannyGamer

Here is the link to their insightful comments.

I have a question for you. In what way would you all prefer me to respond to feedback? Within the daily podcasts, in a separate Cinch recording or via blog post? I’m open to your suggestions.

Cheers!