Communications Manager Donna Alston Explores the Relationship Between Social Media and the Customer Experience

Hey! Who Opened That Door?

I recently had the privilege to be part of a panel of communications professionals who were charged with dropping knowledge about social media and the customer experience on a group of students studying communications at my alma mater, Temple University. My first thought was that because the audience was primarily millennials, that they should likely be dropping social media knowledge on me.

After I pulled myself together, I remembered that the topic was really about the customer experience and how it has been impacted by social media. Feeling a bit more confident, I began to think about just that. One of the most significant impacts of social media is that it has made everything public. No more private showing or sharing of anything that has been documented in any way, for anyone, anymore—and probably never again. Terms like, “behind closed doors” and “what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas” are now officially anachronisms.

But what has this truth meant for the customer experience? On the business/service provider side of that experience, it means that customer service is no longer solely seated in the “customer service department” because now, the entire world has a bird’s-eye view of that customer experience. What used to take place between one customer and one service representative via a secure landline is now on the internet for everyone to see. Many customers are less likely to use landlines (which are nearly anachronisms) to call a service provider, than they are to use cell phones to Tweet their issues, airing them on companies’ social media sites—which could easily be the most massive of all mass media.

This thought alone can be daunting, particularly when you consider that most customers only connect with customer service when there is a problem. So how are businesses to handle this still-rather-new, very public customer experience?

When I think about the answer, I’m reminded of my childhood and my parents in particular, who taught me to always be on my best behavior. And make no mistake about it, there was no compromise on that mandate when in public. I’d better not embarrass them when we were in public—because my behavior was a direct reflection of their parenting skills and an implication of what took place in our home.

In much the same fashion, companies should always have their best face forward when managing customer issues on social media (and elsewhere). When they don’t, just like with the misbehaved child, they leave the public wondering what’s going on at home. Who is minding that store?

Customer issues raised on social media should be handled with the same promptness, courtesy, concern, and attention we would provide to our most loved family member. Their handling should reflect the company’s brand and values, and embody its mission, because just like the child, it provides an indication of what’s going on inside the business and what is taking place with their operations.

There is already an inherent relationship between customer service and operations, which is often the primary source of information needed to reply to customer queries. However, customer service professionals charged with managing the social customer experience would be greatly served by consulting their company’s communications professionals. Social “media” has created a nexus where customer service and communications meet. I suggest that the best social customer experience is one that is informed by customer service and communications professionals. The icing on the cake comes when both of these groups have complete and consistent access to their peers in operations who are keeping the business running.

Operations professionals ensure that the information needed to provide the right answers and appropriate solutions to customers is made available to the customer service team. They should also provide notice of potential issues in a timely fashion so that customer service can proactively alert customers about potential problems when appropriate. These decisions should be made with input from the communications team. Customer service professionals ensure that responses are delivered promptly and contain information that will actually resolve the issues, and that proactive messages are delivered when needed. Communications professionals ensure that all messages are consistent with the company’s brand, values and mission.

When the customer service/communications nexus is synced and fed consistent and comprehensive information from operations, it doesn’t matter that the door is open and your company’s customer experience is taking place in public. Why? Because now, like that well-behaved child, your company is on its best behavior, leaving little or no room for anyone to wonder what’s going on at home or who is minding that store.

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12 Days of Water

It’s the holiday season and we’re in an extra festive mood. That’s why we decided to take the classic 12 Days of Christmas song and add our own little twist.

On the twelfth day of Christmas, Aqua gave to me…

Twelve clean loads of dishes

Eleven pipes a pumping

Ten taps a turning

Nine water recipes

Eight states of service

Seven WaterSmart Tips

In addition to providing water services, we offer handy tips to keep your house flowing. Feel free to check them out at any time!

Six tubs a teeming

Five new blog posts!

Four sparkling sinks

Three volunteers

At Aqua, we value the communities that we service. That’s why we’re proud to share our volunteering initiatives with you. Between planting trees, helping with community programs or working with high schools, we are always happy to give back.

Two new hashtags

Keep up-to-date with all things Aqua and water in the world! Follow us on Facebook and Twitter to stay in the loop. #12DaysofWater #HappyWaterDays

And a happy home filled with clean water for your tree!

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from all of us here at Aqua America. For any comments, questions, or concerns please reach out to us at 877.987.2782 or visit us at AquaAmerica.com

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Five Tips for Keeping Your Christmas Tree Fresh

 

Christmas is right around the corner and you may be getting ready to put up the perfect Christmas tree in your home, if you haven’t already. While taking care of a Christmas tree seems as though it should be a fairly simple task, keeping a tree hydrated and fresh through the holidays can become a challenge. That’s why we at Aqua are here to dispel a few Christmas tree hydration myths and answer your frequently asked questions. 

Q: Does my tree still need to be stored in water if I do not plan on installing it right away?

A: Absolutely! Whether or not you plan on putting your tree up immediately, a freshly-cut Christmas tree should be placed into a bucket of water as soon as possible. If the tree will not be installed until the following day immediately, make an effort to keep it stored in a cool, dry place.

Q: Will trimming down the bark around the base of my tree aid in water uptake?

A: Trimming the bark of a Christmas tree does not assist in water absorption. In fact, it may even be detrimental to the tree’s health. The bulk of a Christmas tree’s water uptake is done through its bark so shaving this precious material away is absolutely not recommended.

Q: How do I know exactly how much water my tree needs to stay fresh?
A: As a general rule, tree stands should provide one quart of water per inch of stem diameter. Make sure to supply a new tree with water on a daily basis, since freshly cut Christmas trees absorb the most water within their first week of installation. Keeping your tree properly hydrated will increase its longevity and help it stay looking lush.


Q: What is the proper cutting technique for trunk trimming? Are angular cuts more effective?

A: Contrary to popular belief, tactics such as making angular cuts or drilling holes into the trunk of a Christmas tree will not have any beneficial influence on water absorption. The most effective technique for proper water uptake is a traditional, straight cut through a tree’s stem, like slicing off a nice chunk of provolone cheese.

Q: How many inches should be trimmed from the stem of my tree to keep it healthy?

A: We recommend that ¼ to ½ of an inch be trimmed from the tree’s stem to prevent sapping, which may drastically disrupt water absorption. However, these numbers do not take into account trimming for ceiling space. At the end of the day, any cut will suffice as long as it is at least ¼ of an inch thick.

With proper care, a Christmas tree can stay fresh for up to four weeks. Keep the above hydration tips and tricks in mind during your Christmas tree installation and watering processes this holiday season to get the most life and beauty out of your tree.

 

Happy Holidays from all of us at Aqua!

 

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Top 5 Spots for a Dreamy Water-cation

 

The nip seems to be back in the air, which can only mean one thing – winter is officially here. The cold months that are about to come can seem pretty daunting. Just thinking about shoveling snow is sending us shivers.

That being said, it’s no surprise that some warm vacation spots are on our minds. If we could, we would visit all of the amazing, water-filled places below. Take a look at our dream list and get ready to plan your own getaway.

1. Trevi Fountain (Rome, Italy)

If this isn’t at the top of your bucket list, you should move it there. Trevi Fountain is the epitome of amazing water features. Not only is it beautifully designed and incredible to look at, but it’s also located in one of the most romantic cities in the world.

This vacation spot is a must see!

2. Great Wolf Lodge (United States)

Don’t feel like flying all the way to Italy for your next vacation? Then you should definitely check out Great Wolf Lodge. With 13 different locations around the U.S., you’re guaranteed to find some fun.

So what makes this hotel special? At each location guests will find an entire waterpark, indoors. Yep, that’s right: water slides, a lazy river and more all exist inside the resort.

Image via Wikimedia Commons

3. Lover's Cove (Avalon, California)

Crystal clear water, tons of ocean wildlife and an amazing location – Lover’s Cove is certainly a snorkeling paradise. Located in Southern California, this marine sanctuary is protected by the state and pollution free.

Snorkel or scuba dive, go with your significant other or bring the family along. Whatever you choose to do, we can promise you’ll have an amazing time.

4. Hanakapi`ai Falls (Kauai, Hawaii)

This gorgeous waterfall is located in scenic and sunny Hawaii. With more popular destination spots like Honolulu, the island of Kauai is often overlooked. That’s what we think makes Hanakapi`ai Falls an incredible vacation.

5. Cayman Islands

Are you ready for the ultimate getaway? Saying the stunning Cayman Islands are picturesque is an understatement.

Warm waters, bright beaches and striking scenery are just a few of the many things this island holds in store for you.

Now that you’re inspired, it’s time to book your trip! Even if you don’t end up flying across the ocean, we hope that you have a wonderful, warm, vacation.

 

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Aqua Partners with Cristo Rey High School to Offer Students Professional Work Experience

Throughout the last few months, there have been some new faces around Aqua. These are the faces of the Cristo Rey High School interns. There are four interns working at Aqua, one from each grade. I am the senior student, Kathleen Santiago, and I have been working with the communications department. Also joining me at Aqua are freshman George who is working in the Human Resources Department, sophomore Aaron who is working in the Accounting, Rates and Planning Department, and junior Jaide who is working in administration, which comprises customer operations, IT and fleet.

Cristo Rey is a college-prep, private Catholic high school in North Philadelphia. Being a student at my high school is not like being a student at your typical high school. Cristo Rey is particularly focused on getting us into college, and having an internship all four years helps us achieve that goal. Our internships are organized through the work-study program, which is a significant part of being a student at Cristo Rey. It is what keeps our school running, and keeps our education affordable.

Our internships do not interfere with our academics, and the ability to maintain my schoolwork while having an internship has become something that is natural to me. Having the opportunity to be involved in the work-study program helps us get ready for college and the real world and ultimately has helped me grow.

This is how the work-study program works: Each Cristo Rey student works one day out of the week in a professional setting as a full-time intern. Given that we miss one day of school, our academic day is extended. The internships help students pay for the cost of a private Catholic school tuition. While working, each student earns approximately 60 percent of their tuition, and their family contribution covers the rest.

We do not get to choose our job placements, but we do get placed based on our interests. To help us get paired up with the best internship experience, we take surveys and work with the work-study department to determine what we’d like to do in the future. Our internships are assigned to us during what Cristo Rey calls “Signing Day.” This is an NFL-style draft day, where all job partners come and announce who will be joining their company and give out a little of their company swag. Local news is always there to capture the excitement, including NBC 10 and FOX 29 news.

Being involved in the work-study program has given me the opportunity to experience working at four varied companies. During my freshman year, I worked at Lavin Law. At Lavin I summarized depositions and I even had the opportunity to attend some depositions in person. The Comcast Center was where I held my sophomore year internship. While at Comcast, I worked in the Products and Engineering Department. My responsibilities were to test new products that would soon be sold to customers, as well as prepare reports based on current customer feedback. For my junior year, I was an intern at Penn Medicine Tuttleman Center. While I was at Penn, I answered phone calls from patients, took messages and put in prescriptions.

Now for my final year in high school and in the work-study program, I am going to soak up all the skills and knowledge I can while here at Aqua. I am extremely excited to develop new skills, and expand my writing skills and proper business etiquette. I also hope to leave behind some of the things I have learned as well.

I am happy to be a part of the team at Aqua, and to have the opportunity to get to experience new things like writing blog entries for the company website, meeting new people and building relationships. I will be able to take these skills, along with those gained throughout my previous three internships, with me next fall as I begin my journey into college.

Throughout my time at Cristo Rey High School, I have come to realize the importance of my internships, and how they will help prepare me for my college journey and beyond. Because of Cristo Rey, and my experiences at my internships, I was accepted into Cabrini University and Gywnedd Mercy University. I am genuinely grateful for Cristo Rey, the work-study program and for my final internship here at Aqua.

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