Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Upcoming Conferences

Here's the upcoming events I'll be attending. Please let me know if you're going to any of them so we can meet up. First up, is The Society For New Communication's (SNCR - pronounced "snicker") 5th annual NewComm Forum April 27th - 29th in San Francisco, CA

NewComm Forum was my favorite '08 conference. It brings together thought leaders and decision makers to discuss the impact of social media and new communications on PR, marketing, advertising, media, journalism, business, culture and society. This year, I'm looking forward to the opening keynote conversation with Charles Best, founder of DonorsChoose.org.

I'm thrilled that our EMBARQ online outreach team will be sharing our socmed story as well.

NewComm is co-located with Chris Brogan's SF Inbound Marketing Summit. I haven't attended a Brogan conference yet and I'm really looking forward to this line up. I'm especially chomping at the bit to see @aaronstrout's Start Talking With Your Customers
presentation and the Listening and Monitoring session with an amazing socmed panel including @ambercadabra, @justinlevy and @spiral16.

Next up is SOBCon (Biz School for Bloggers) in Chicago, May 1-3. If you don't know Liz Strauss, I highly recommend you take in her blog and if you are on twitter, follow her. She is a quiet, wise soul in this frenzied industry. SOBCon is one of Chris Brogan's all time favorite conferences. I'm thrilled to be on a social web panel with three fabulous power bloggers Chris Garrett, Lucretia Pruitt, and Jason Falls.

On May 16, I have the honor of moderating a social media tools panel at Chicks Who Click in Kansas City and sharing my geeky marketing chick life over lunch. The first #CWC09 in Boulder was a heck of a networking conference. I was surrounded by inspirational women and a few brave men from diverse backgrounds, ranging in all ages and various aspirations but all passionate about online!

As for the Kansas City Clicks Who Click, do not feel like you need to be a power blogger, a twitter diva or a digg junkie to attend...as long as you are wanting to learn more about the social web, you are going to love this conference!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Walking Away From The Children's Place

The Children's Place lost me as a brand advocate tonight. I know, I know - who am I, really? One of millions. But for me, it's very personal and I'm aggravated. And for the local store, they've lost a steady customer.

We have four kids ranging from three to ten. We are an extremely busy family with two parents working outside the home, kids involved in extracurriculars...you know our drill, it's yours with a Weist twist. Just like you, we don't have time to waste. If we do find a few moments to spare, we want to spend that blowing bubbles with the kids or reading one last bedtime story.

Well, tonight I'm wasting time...a lot of my time actually.

Sidebar - I'm wasting it because when you walk away from a brand you love, you are walking away from a relationship. And if you are me, you have to write about it, because well, because I'm upset! We have history, Children's Place, you listen to what I say (at least you appear to through surveys, feedback on your site, your in-store associates)and you reward me when I come to visit and bring you...well, cash...but you reward me with durable, well-priced clothing and discounts. Your in-store team is fantastic, your online shopping great.

Did I mention I'm a swarm shopper? I have to be, I don't have time to not be and your store is fantastic for that...but wow...tonight's customer service issue...it's brought me to a halt. I'm having to spend time thinking about and fixing a problem that's not mine and your processes to address it, well, I'm hoping you can resolve them quickly so you don't lose another brand advocate.
Back to the story...

It started with my Children's Place bill that came in the mail. The Children's Place charged me a late fee of $25 and a finance charge of $2.80 as they claimed I hadn't paid my March bill.

You know I had to think about it, but I knew I had paid the bill in-store and this was just The Children's Place oversight, so I called The Children's Place customer service. The CS rep assured me they had not received my payment. I informed them I did an in-store payment. The CS rep told me to contact the local store to clear up the issue.

Children's Place Statement on 12seconds.tv

This all unfolded within 5 minutes of getting home tonight. Four hungry kiddos, Dad working late...I started dinner, the younger kids played school with the older kids and I did some investigating.

I called The Children's Place local store. The manager said I would need to call the 800 customer service number on my bill to get the issue resolved because their in-store system did not allow them to go back a month.

I tracked down my in-store payment receipt (3/27) and March bill for The Children's Place.

Children's Place March bill on 12seconds.tv
Also, I validated my payment cleared our bank on 3/30, the date the March payment was due.

Children's Place Proofing I Paid on 12seconds.tv

We ate dinner and while the kids played I called customer service again.

After walking through my payment scenario with the next The Children's Place CS rep, my bill, the extra charges, my in-store receipt, and my bank validation of payment clearing. He informed me that I have to fax my receipt and my bank validation to a The Children's Place fax number: 866.533.8590.

He, very politely, told me it would take a few days for The Children's Place to review my paperwork and then I would need to call back to validate the issue had been resolved. He did, very kindly add, that I am a valued customer of The Children's Place and that they truly appreciate the business that I do with them and that if I wanted to pay my minimum April balance on the phone with him, he'd do me a favor and remove the late fee right then and there. Yeah, that went over well.

I, very politely, told The Children's Place rep that I would fax all of my paperwork tomorrow as was The Children's Place's policy and that I would be getting the late fee and finance charges removed as this unfortunate situation was not my fault and was The Children's Place's oversight. I had to keep reminding myself that this very polite CS rep was just following The Children's Place's policy. Very unfortunate policy.

So I'm sure you have had something like this happen to you - something that has driven you to break it off with a brand. Please share your story or link.

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Thursday, April 2, 2009

World Autism Day - April 2

Bob and Suzanne Wright head up AutismSpeaks. Follow their whirlwind day of awareness here.

Also this is a great, quick video that explains autism to kids from NickJr's Wubbzy: