Save The Cookie

Our hometown airline is under attack. Midwest Airlines, based out in Milwaukee, is fighting a hostile bid from AirTran. The unwanted suitor claims the standard “synergies” and “efficiencies” blah blah blah. Midwest garners over 50% of the traffic out of Milwaukee and AirTran want the east-west routes to complement their north-south.

If you have flown Midwest, you have some idea how devastated Milwaukeeans are about this. There is no away AirTran will provide the level of service that Midwest does now. I would go as far as saying that the cultures of the two airlines will clash, and it will be a disaster.

The bad news is that AirTran’s tender offer has attracted 57% of the outstanding shares. This does not mean it is over given a number of poison pill options Midwest has, but management is going to be hard pressed to turn this down.

From a business standpoint, it is interesting to watch locals reaction to this. It is a big deal in our community. The direct flights to major cities is a quality of life perk for the city. People love the big leather seats. People LOVE the cookies. Has AirTran considered how many people they are going to lose when they remove everything that makes Midwest special?

You can find out more about Midwest position at savethecookie.com. I encourage you to sign the online petition to show your support for keeping Midwest Airlines independent.

SXSW – Kathy Sierra

Here are streaming thoughts from Kathy Sierra on Creating Passionate Users:

It is not about the product–it is about helping them do.

What can we help people kick ass doing?

If you help users be passionate you get the some of the spillover passion.

You need to get past the brain’s crap filter.

Chemistry—people need to feel something, think about how you are communicating…weird, novel, different…keep the brain thinking that it is something important…the brain likes the unresolved. Funny..faces…beautiful…sexy…scary

Conversation beats formal lecture.

Talk to the brain not the mind…

Get people past the Suck Threshold and the Passion Threshold. There is an image of experitse, a meaningful benefit, and a series of steps to get there.

To get people to remember, you need to use emotion.

Need to balance challenge versus knowledge and skill.

How do we keep users in flow?

Get There Attention
Challenging Activity
Payoff

You need levels to keep people going.

Levels don’t need to be obvious.

Hero’s Journey

  • Life is normal
  • Something happens to change that
  • Things really suck
  • Hero overcomes bad things
  • Return to the new normal

Create Playful Work

T-Shirt First Development – people want to identify themselves with you

Give them something to talk about? Make it ambiguous. Coldplay, Fair Trade, and the two black rectangles…

It doesn’t matter what they think about you…it is about how people feel about themselves.

If spend more time in flow, they have happier lives

Tags: sxsw2006

Does this still happen?

I was redirected on the way home last week to pick up a pizza.

I walked in and exchanged the normal pleasantries with the owner.

He handed me the pizza and I handed him my credit card.

“Sorry, cash or check. We are changing over our credit processing and it is down right now.”

I reached in my pocket and found eight dollars, a little over half of what I needed.

The owner says. “Don’t worry about it. Take it home and eat it while it is hot. Bring the money back later. We’re open until 10pm.”

[mouth hanging wide open]

I think it is amazing that the folks at Crossroads Pizza still trust their customers.

Lucky You

I bought my brother a gift card to iTunes for Christmas.

The Apple Store At Mayfair made the experience as simple as could be. I did not know buying something in a store could be made more simple and enjoyable.

There was a special iPod desk in the front of the store. I walked up and waited in a very short line (because it moved so quickly). Most folks were dropping $250 without blinking on Nanos. I grabbed the card I needed. The clerk scan my credit card in a Symbol handheld unit. He confirmed my email address (which he already had from my past purchases) and told me my receipt would be sent directly to my mailbox. People buying hardware were told the receipt was already in the box.

The nice man placed a sticker on the top of the card to confirm my purchase. It wasn’t a sticker dot or a roll of tape with repeating Apple logos. No, it was a rectangular sticker with the Apple logo that said “Lucky you.”

<img src="http://www.apennyfor.com/images/itunescard.jpg">

Home At Last

Yesterday, I was flying back from a couple of weeks in Virginia. Weather on East Coast was screwing up flights and causing all sorts of delays.

Just as I sit down in the terminal, the grumbling starts. “There’s no way we are going to get out of here on time.” “Oh look, the plane is finally here.” “Like I am going to have any chance of making my connection.”

We were on the plane for about an hour before they backed us away from the gate. Anyone you could look out the window could see the rain pouring down. Everyone else could hear the thunder and see the lightning flashes.

Grumbling rises to complaining. People are on their cellphones saying the plane is late and they don’t know anything else. The steward gets rung and asked a million times. “How much longer?” “Will I make my connection?”

I will grant you the information is controlled pretty tightly in the airline industry. They could use a little more transparency. What I will not grant you is the license to gripe about your predicament. People think it is a great way to strike up conversation and make funny jokes about how terrible the airline industry is.

If you find me sitting along you, keep your jokes to yourself. I think most of the folks there are doing the best job they can.

Power Company Customer Service

The power to our house was out for about an hour this afternoon. It makes working out of the house difficult.

I just got a automated call from We Energies apologizing for the outage and checking to make sure my power was now on.

“Press one if your power is on, press two if your power is not on, press three if you do not know.”

Check on everyone and collect a little data.

I thought that was nice.

LexThink

I am in Chicago today for my third time in a week. Today it is to attend LexThink.

This is an event that was put together by Matt Homann and friends. The purpose of the event is pretty open ended. I would say one goal is to talk about what the perfect professional services firm looks like.

There is about 40 people here, which I think is pretty good.

The morning was a little slow. Everyone seemed to wallow in why things are the way they are. The after lunch session just finished and it was great. We talked about specific things can be done to improve client relationships.

Matt summarized the perfect firm:

Find your passion, talk to matching clients, and build your service around them.

Chalk One Up for the Airline Industry

Airlines are the customer service punching bag for most books, magazine articles, and blogger posts. I have been guilty of thrashing the industry myself.

I wanted to put in a good word for the good folks at Denver International Airport. We got to the airport on Saturday about an hour before our flight (yes, I know we should have gotten their earlier, but we drove that morning from Breckenridge). The line for the United counter stretched down the hall and took a left down another walkway. A United manager walked up to us and said it looked very intimidating, but we should be through in about 15 minutes. Amy started the stopwatch and to our amazement we where headed to security after 16 minutes and 30 seconds.

Security didn’t look much better. They had all of their retractable gates deployed. We must have done about 20 switchbacks before we reached the x-ray machines. Again, the line was moving constantly. I think we only stopped walking twice. The folks from TCA were courteous and clear about how to get through in a timely manner.

We made our flight with about 15 minutes to spare.

I also wanted to give a shout out to the United gate agent who said, “There is no baggage limit today.” Thank you!

Get the right people

Hiring the right people is really important. I know it is a truism, but it was painfully obvious on our trip.

During the last week and a half, my family took three flights with the America West Airlines. It was myself, my wife and our one year old son taking the trip and having the little guy with us required bringing the carseat.

As I am sure you are aware, there are a dozen buckles and straps sticking out. We were a bit concerned about something getting caught on the conveyors they use.

In Milwaukee, we asked the check-in folks if they had anything we could put the carseat in. Their response was, “We don’t carry supplies”. The TSA folks pointed us to the Delta counter, where they were more than happy to help with a large plastic bag.

In San Diego, we asked the same question. The person checking us in said, “Hang on. I will be right back.” He came back with a 55 gallon trash bag. It worked great.

In Phoenix, we got the same story about how they didn’t stock supplies. This time Southwest came to our rescue.

Same problem, same rules, but three different people. One of them got it right.