Has WestJet grown up to be another AirCanada?

Here I sit in the Vancouver Airport – happy to have missed any traffice jams, and arrived before the 6:15pm flight to Calgary.  Now I have not traveled that much recently, but awhile back I was in and out of airports nearly every week.  I happily few WestJet, and enjoyed their friendly and accomodating service.  It use to be that if you arrived early, had no checked luggage, and you were waiting by the gate, you could easily jump on an earlier WestJet flight.

This just made sense – airline seats are fly away inventory.  If you don’t fill the seat, the seat flys away and it’s wasted revenue for the airline.  If you fill a seat on a plane that is about to leave, the seat you have just vacated just might sell - allowing for revenue from two seats instead of just one. 

So I happily identified myself, told them that I qualified, and they anxiously looked at their computers in anticipation that they just may fill another seat on the plane.

So after confirming they have room – want did they ask me  – $50.00 charge - credit card only…$%^&* WTF?????  How does this make sense?  Is it more work on their part?  So they have a couple of keystrokes to do on their new fancy flight booking (more on that later), but no physical labour!  Nobody has to chase after bags, or even route them.  I’m just standing there.

I’m wondering though if the $50 charge is worth whatever negative press this little blog post is going to generate.  I’m wondering if my loyalty as a customer is worth the $50 bucks to them?

You see – customers are finding their voice, and better yet, they are finding a way to have their voice heard – directly after an incident occurs.  The 6:15 pm flight on May 6 has not even left yet – and I’m already to post this message to the wonderful world of the internet.

It may not seem much now, I’m only one voice. I wonder though how can WestJet REASONABLY justify this charge under these conditions?  How many people who read this post, would just agree with me.  How much is that worth to WestJet?  How much can AirCanada use this – and smile to their benefit?

If this is the best WestJet’s care-antee is going to do – I’m going to start shopping around – and maybe, just maybe, next time my flight will be booked with Air Canada.  Afterwall, WestJet use to think of their customers – not their profit margin on administration costs.

STILL looking for a company that honours their customers…

Regards,
Richard Reukema

p.s. My next post is how WestJet has created a loyalty program – that ties loyalty to money, and a credit card?  They call this marketing….

Ok – I’m back – Social CRM ? Is this what we are going to call it?

It’s been awhile since I’ve written here, but this topic seems to be something that I just can’t stop reading about, or thinking about. I lurk on a list called Project VRM or Vendor Relationship Management, and came across this post. I wish I would have done something similar a few years back (stake in the ground), but perhaps now the timing is better. Are consumers/customers ready to embrace “Social CRM”? I’m not sure, but the conversations seems to be getter better, and I find myself nodding my head more as I read.

As Paul Greenberg has put his stake in the ground – I too will also put my stake in the ground. I don’t want to talk about it anymore, I want to do something about it. I want to use it. I want to leverage it so that corporations don’t think they “own” their customer base anymore, but realize that they must be subservient to us, or suffer the consequences.

Paul calls it Social CRM, and defines it as:

“CRM is a philosophy & a business strategy, supported by a technology platform, business rules, workflow, processes & social characteristics, designed to engage the customer in a collaborative conversation in order to provide mutually beneficial value in a trusted & transparent business environment. It’s the company’s response to the customer’s ownership of the conversation.”

Great definition, I like it, but what now? I want to do business with a business that values my input, my interaction with that business. By interaction, I’m not talking about my wallet either. I want a business to pay attention to me, and that means that they have to do something for me. Adapt to how I want I want the service provided to me.

The threat of “Treat me with service or I’ll go elsewhere” doesn’t hold water anymore. In business today, if you piss off a consumer/customer, so what? There are plenty of us. Try tearing up your bank card in front of the service desk and see what that does for you! Do you think that would get them worried?

So what can we (the consumers/customers of the world) can do about it? We have to get organized, in some way fashion or form. We have to find a way to support each other, and come and help others when and where we can. Ever been ripped off by a contractor? What have you done about it? Ever been treated poorly by a business? What have you done about it?

Here is one story: Debtor’s Revolt

In my world, consumers/customers of like mind are able to aggregate, and move forward directly with the organization involved. For example – ever notice how gas prices seems to rise and fall across all suppliers? What would happen if consumers/customers would organize ourselves to boycott a single supplier? Imagine having sales drop to zero? What would the company do?
In the case of Bank of America, image if all card holders showed up at their local branches, and simply cut their cards on mass. What would they do? Impossible you say? So were Flashmobs, but we (the public) are showing that this too is possible, and can be very effective. Right now it’s for entertainment, but soon it will be used to easily organize and focus these energies against a common cause.
So if this works – how can we make it work where we are organized not when it occurs, but before it occurs? We have to think of an overall system that we each participate in, and use that system to help get us organized before the event occurs. Then, when it occurs, the feedback happens quickly.

This is proof of what can happen when an organization is given some direct publicity to how they are behaving. This only works however when the badly behaving business perceives that the news exposure is damaging to their overall consumer/customer base. If this occurs too often however, the news organizations will no longer report it – and the power will be lost.

In my world the fear of that occurring, would have a positive effect on how businesses do behave on a day by day basis. Right now it’s like getting your hand caught in the cookie jar – the mentality is that getting caught will never happen to me so just go ahead and do it. Raise those interest rates and see if somebody squeals….

So how can we do it? How can we be prepared and actively participate in a system that allows us to do this. What reward systems have to be in place to make this happen?

That’s a big bite – as big as the internet in my opinion. But then again, we did that too… More to come, I got to get back to work…..

Rel Button

Tags

,

It doesn’t seem to matter how long I’m away from this subject, it always amazes me just how much it captures my attention.  I’ve been lurking on the ProjectVRM mailing list for quite some time now, and although I get all the messages, I have not been able to read them after my first little venture into the discussion.

Then I catch wind of the “Rel Button” fully documented here.  When I read it, I got it and immediately liked it.  It’s simple, communicates effectly, and finally has (from what I’ve seen), some concrete steps on moving forward.

ProjectVRM, or Consumer Managed Marketing, or whatever you want to call it, is about putting the consumer / customer (I know Doc you hate the “passiviness” of consumer) in charge of what they already own.

Amazing to think that we have to explain to customers/consumers that they actually own this data – but alot of that has to do with history before the internet.  Now however, with the internet, we are able to communiate with each other on a scale that has never been seen before in history.  We can gather, focus our collective attention, see and/or force change, and disband in mere moments compared to movements in the past.

I’m excited about the future, as I believe we are getting to critical mass of awareness where people will really get it.  My excitement is tempered only with the fact that my product/solution/ideas, which I formulated more than 10 years ago, were not able to continue to this very day.  I wonder however, if I had continued, where my life would be?

Thanks Doc, and for those contributing to Project VRM, for having the energy to keep talking and pushing this ball forward.  We are on the edge of great things…

Facebook – the new Infomediary?

Tags

, , , ,

Robert Scoble’s post on FaceBook and Google speaks to the aggregation of consumers via their intention.  Such a simple post and such a simple statement.  It is a statement however that will make every marketer/advertiser start frothing at the mouth like a teenager on ecstasy in a rage with an unlimited energy supply (hows that for a mental image?).

The pot of gold that I just described cannot be unstated in terms of montiary gains.  You only have to look at Google, and the dollars it is generating today, to have some aspect as to what we are talking about.  That said, the money being spent at Google is only a small percentage to the global budget of interuption marketing.  What is interuption marketing?  Wait for the next commercial, the billboard while driving, the radio station commercial, newspapers, etc., etc.  It’s everywhere, products and companies that want a little piece of your attention in hopes that it will have some impact on your buying decisions down the line.

 I don’t know about you, but a billboard will not alter my about buying anything.  At best, it will let me know that the product/service is out there, and will have to qualify it somehow before I act on it.

 Now take the FaceBook example.  You have 5,000 friends, and you want to buy a new car.  Your friends, by and large, are an extention of who you are.  To be a friend means that you have at least some common traints, if you don’t , why do want to be assoicated with that person?  You notice that most of your friends are buy Audi’s.  Would you not at least inquire to your friends as to why they bought an Audi?  So then you want to buy an Audi, and you join a group that is interested in buying Audi’s.  Do you think Audi might be interested in this group?  That spells big bucks for FaceBook. 

 But wait!  That is an invasion of privacy!  They can’t make money off of my “consumer profile” – can they?  Have you ever heard of loyalty programs?  Do you think these programs are to make you loyal?  Nope – just another way to collect and aggregate consumer profiles.  In these programs however, you exchange consumer profile information for a few trinkets of “points” to make you feel better. 

 But FaceBook (and or Google) could do one better – way better.  They could make it so that everybody (ok not everybody, but anybody that could use a few extra bucks…).  Why not allow their “membership” become engaged in a monitary model that has been tried and proven since the forties – the cooperative business model.  In the cooperative business model, consumers that participate in the business recieve a return based on their activity within that business model.

Uh?

An example – here in Calgary we have Co-Op grocery stores.  I buy food, need to buy food for my entire life.  Co-op is where I buy my food from.  Why? Because the more I spend with Co-op, the more activity (money) Co-op records that I have spent with them.  At year end, a portion of the profit is return to Co-Op members.  The more you have participated, the larger the check is.

Aggregators (FaceBook, Google, Microsoft) could do the same thing and change the world of advertising as we know it.  I don’t know about you, but I feel my consumer profile is worth something.  If I, as a consumer aggregate my information (opt-in !!!!) with other consumers, we (as a group of consumers) with a stated and active intention become very valuable.  Why can’t I become part of that monetary stream?

 I tried to do it via a “consumer facing” loyalty program 10 years ago!  Perhaps FaceBook/Google will do it today….but this I know, it will happen.  When it does, it will generate more money than any other business on earth…. I think one of these players might just be interested in that….

ProjectVRM

Doc Searls is starting up a project near and dear to my heart – but he is a calling it Vendor Relationship Marketing – which I have previously called Consumer Managed Marketing.

We are on the same page though in terms of definition – allowing consumers to manage vendors content back to them in some manner.

The problem is how and where to start.

IMHO Project VRM is floundering on both of these issues – in particuliar on where to start.

Net Worth by John Hagle III, and Marc Singer was written back in 1999. It has a good background as to what is possible when consumers are able to aggregate themselves into groups to the point where merchants will consider the group as a channel.

Project VRM would like to see a distributed approach where consumers put out an “RFP” (somehow), publish it (somehow), and merchants discover it (somehow) and then have merchants respond (somehow) without revealing the identity of the consumer (somehow).

I had to be negative about it – but I see so many holes that I have to shake my head! 

That is a lot of “somehows” and although there are plenty of ideas – I think getting some direction started will be like herding cats! (Myself included!)

I brought up the subject of Interac, and coalition loyalty programs like Airmiles (as well as new comer Aeroplan) – but nobody seemed to took notice of these and hoiw they might relate.

Doc’s latest post was for fundraising for public radio programs and making it easier to contribute.  In my past life, I had a propsal in with PBS out of Spokane – and management rejected the concept. 

I wonder if I need to resurrect the old program, and give it another try – perhaps with Sliverlight, and SQL Server 2005 I could add enough bling to make it happen?????

Technorati tags:

Project VRM = Consumer Managed Marketing ????

Just a quick post to bring everything up to date.  I was listening to a TWIT podcast when Doc Searls plugged a new project called VRM or Vendor Relationship Marketing.  It’s a take from Consumer Relationship Marketing – but in reverse.

 I think we are talking about the same thing, and certainly from my first few entries into the conversation, I think I’m pretty close.

It’s only been a couple of days since I started on the discussion group, and already the old juices are starting to flow.  Perhaps this is the second attempt at InfoQuake???  We will have to wait and see.

 I’ll keep you posted!

It’s been awhile!

Back in December, I was awarded a software development contract that has kept me busy for the past couple of months.  I was also discouraged that nobody has written a single comment on my blog! So I let things slide for awhile…it seems however that loyalty and I will continue to live on!  I'll write about it in the coming weeks…

RSS and SSE – just another channel – a good one – but still just another channel

Just left a comment over at Dion HinchCliff Blog – How simple sharing extensions will change the web that generated these thoughts.

RSS (and now SSE to make it bi-directional) I think are great enhancements to web technology, and fully expect them to really catch on.  The trouble with what we are doing however, is that we are simply copying what we are currently doing with broadcast technologies like TV, Radio, newspapers, etc.

These are all broadcast channels that aggregate information, and broadcast it out into the world.  If you are interested you subscribe, if you are not, you don’t.  What if however you like some of the “items” (as defined by RSS/SSE) but not all the items?  Then you scan the channel for those items, and only read/listen/watch just those items.  Too much noise (and hence effort to find articles that you are interested in) and you drop your subscription regards of how good a couple of items must have been.

We need to think smarter, and understand why search has grown to such an important aspect of the web.  Individuals only want what they are interested in! Rather than subscribe to anything, individuals want control of what is delivered to them – regardless of the channel.

Search also has a byproduct that is making Google millions, and millions, and millions of dollars – it’s what I call the remnant of the service - If a whole lot of people are searching for a common “item” – then you have aggregation.  What does marketing/advertising want? Aggregation!  the more people that have been aggregated on a common theme/aspect – the more influence you have when you speak to them in that same theme/aspect.

What does everyone what – INFLUENCE!  Advertisers want influence so that they can sell their products/service to the consumers that they have won influence over.  Those that can deliver the influence, become rich. Period. In fact, they become very rich.

My idea – the one that I’ve been working on for nearly 15 years – is not to make Google rich, not to make AOL rich, not to make Microsoft rich – but to leverage the power of consumers – and sell ourselves (in a very controlled, and opt-in way) back those who want to advertise to us!  Google sells us (at least what are actions are) back to them, Radio stations sells us, TV sells us, Newspapers sells us – do we make any money from everybody selling us and what we do?

In order to do this however, we (consumers of the world) should not subscribe to them – but allow them to subscribe to us!  That means we need the ability to publish what we are interested in, and have them drop information/offers/”items” that match our criteria.  Take that criteria down – and the messages stop – put up a different critieria – and the messages come.

How do we make money from all this?   We don’t, but we will save money – and that allows us to keep more money.  Everyone knows the law in profits – earn more revenue or drop expenses – both make the bottom line better.

Rather than advertisers spending millions with Google to obtain influence over us – why don’t we give them influence (when we want) and have them drop their prices instead?  Or have them provide better service – service tailored in the way that I want to be serviced.  Take all that money from merchants that they are spending on advertising – and have them spend it on us instead?

Sounds like a great idea to me.

In order to do it – we have to be able to cross channels – and find the best “Item” that suits our needs and/or interests.

New blog site – sorry dabu

Hello everyone – though I’m not sure who you are!  For the past while I’ve been blogging over at the dabu.com site, but I was unable to generate any conversation regarding my posts.  I wish dabu all the best, and thank him for his toolset.  However, without the abliity to enter trackbacks, I felt that I was unable to get involved in discussions that I wanted.  I am looking forward to pressing ahead with my conversation with wordpress, and hopefully a few more people might get involved with my idea of implementing an Infomediary.

Here’s to end of 2005, and working ahead to getting a running start with 2006! 

Michael Arrington – Top 10 List

Looks like Michael Arrington over at TechCrunch put out a Top 10 List of company profiles he would like to see happen – this blog is all about #4 and #10. Instead of building local sites however, I want to think of a really, really simple way to publish tag lists. That way merchants that wish to address those tag lists would be able to respond directly to the consumer that is wanting goods and/or services. For example, if I wanted a black washing machine – i would put out the tags: “black” “washing machine” “buy” (or “info”, “offer”, etc.) .

The mechanism that I’m thinking that will do this is the DNS infrastructure – not part of it or extend it, but another separate infrastructure that would support the publishing of tags in a distributed manner. Not sure if I’m on the right track here – but this is an open conversation to kick this idea around and see if it has legs.

In the DNS world, I can publish a tag (reukema.ca for example) and push it around the world with a simple entry into my DNS. I realize that this “tag” identifies my server on the net, so why can’t it identify a unique tag on my server, after it finds my server? The other problem is the combination of tags, and how to find servers with those combinations. Going with my Reukema.ca example – it’s one tag and one computer. Resolving the tag points to an IP address.

With my tag scenario I would get a whole wacky of servers that would host any given tag. This set would be reduced further as each tag was added to the query until I would have a set of servers that would have the combination of all tags. I would then reach out, and pull an SSE feed relevant to that set of tags that would allow merchants to update my feed with their offer. I could then respond by simply updating my feed, which would update their feed. To end the dialog, I would simply remove my publishing tags, and my server would simply disappear.

To control the definition of a tag – a governing body at the root would provide definitions (this is really stretching due to the number of tags – but let’s keep going). Tags would then have common meaning for everyone, just like .com, .net, .org now do for the Internet.

Well enough of this stuff tonight ….I’ve got real work to do…

As always, what do you think?

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.