Filling in the Blanks

If you learn anything in public relations, it’s that when you leave a communication vacuum, people fill it with their own information. And the information they are left to fill in is not often flattering. So, you would think the big airlines could apply that lesson to their customer service. Apparently not.

Edgar Barany / Foter.com / CC BY-NC-SA

I had settled in on my Delta flight back from New Orleans, connecting in Atlanta en route to Newark. Just before take off, the pilot tells us that because there was significant turbulence when the plan arrived at Louis Armstrong Airport, they needed to do a physical inspection. In just a few minutes we’d be on our way.

A few minutes later, he breaks the bad news. A mechanic has to perform the inspection and they do not have anyone in the Big Easy to do the job. They are flying in someone from Atlanta or Minneapolis to do the job, and it will be “a few hours.”

Once we begin to consider the implication of an airline not having a mechanic at an airport to do an inspection, we deplane en masse and head to the Sky Club, bar, ticket counter or wait at the gate to rebook our connections.

Fast forward to “a few hours” later and they announce we will be boarding at 1:55 p.m. At 1:55, a flight attendant strolls out of the gate, so I inquire. He sheepishly tells me they have been told nothing by Delta but their schedule says 4 p.m. I share my new information with my new airport friends and lead a line at the counter to rebook my rebooked connection.

My airport friends and I tried to laugh, but for those sitting and waiting with no information, it was anger, disgust and murmurs of “Delta sucks.” All the $25 food vouchers and apologies by the faultless flight crew could not help.

Delta left their worried, anxious customers in the dark for over an hour. Their crew and airport staff lacked both the information and authority to advise and mitigate the fallout among angry passengers. A few communications basics could have helped:

  • Know your audience is tired, worried and anxious, so communicate frequently.
  • Be forthright (we wouldn’t board at 1:55) and honest as circumstances developed (we might be leaving as late as 4 p.m., but hopefully sooner)
  • Acknowledge what we experienced (inconvenience, frustration) so we knew they cared.

People understand mistakes, but when left in the dark they fill in the blanks – and it’s not an image an airline or anyone else wants.

C’mon Delta, you have the resources to do better.

Photo credit: Edgar Barany / Foter.com / CC BY-NC-SA

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Disconnecting from the Digital World

Disconnecting from the digital world can be challenging. It’s extremely difficult for some people to “let go” of their work in today’s digital age, but it’s well worth taking time to disconnect every so often.

Recently, I took a few days off and disconnected completely. No  emails, social media, or mobile devices. It’s strange – at first – to let go of everything completely. But it’s also refreshing.

RambergMediaImages / Foter.com / CC BY-SA

Why it’s good to “unplug” from the digital world every so often

  • It’s healthy. Being constantly connected to your phone, laptop, etc., can take a toll on your health and make you feel run-down. It’s vital to take time just for yourself.
  • Taking some time for yourself is a good way to decompress and evaluate your personal life.
  • You have time to take time to do what matters most to you such as spending time with family and friends, partaking in a new activity, etc.
  • You feel refreshed and stress-free.
  • You can jump back into the digital chaos afterward with a fresh perspective and renewed energy.

And you don’t have to take my word for it. Tony Schwartz, president and CEO of The Energy Project, wrote about his experience after disconnecting for nine days.

“By the end of nine days, I felt empowered and enriched. With my brain quieter, I was able to take back control of my attention. In the process, I rediscovered some deeper part of myself.” (HBR)

Plan on disconnecting? Have a plan!

Before you disconnect completely, be sure to make a plan and coordinate with colleagues to ensure nothing is overlooked while you’re unavailable. Here’s what to consider before you embrace the unplugged life:

  • Set away messages on your work phone and email, or have a colleague monitor your emails.
  • Make sure you’re covered on the social media end. Just because you’re on vacation doesn’t mean your accounts go dark. Coordinate with an employee to monitor your accounts and ensure there is a plan for most eventualities.
  • Inform clients if you’re going away for an extended period of time and give them an alternate contact person.
  • Change the message on your personal cell phone (yes, work can find you there too). Note that you’ve disconnected and share when you’ll be back among the digital denizens.

Have you ever completely disconnected? If not, maybe you should consider it. If you have disconnected, please share your thoughts here on the value of going unplugged.

Photo credit: RambergMediaImages / Foter / CC BY-SA

Glatfelter Service Center Honored in 2013 HDI CSAT Elite 50

York, Pa. — May 22, 2013— The Service Center at Glatfelter Insurance Group has been recognized as #17 out of the top 50 support centers in the 2013 HDI CSAT Elite 50 – and is the top ranked service center in the insurance sector. HDI is the world’s largest professional association and certification body for technical service and support professionals.

“Providing service beyond the expectations of our clients is one the founding pillars of Glatfelter Insurance Group,” said Wayne Umland, CIO of Glatfelter Insurance Group. “This honor from HDI is a testament to the dedication, professionalism and knowledge of all the associates in our Service Center.”

HDI uses the HDI Customer Satisfaction Index (CSI) Service to track and trend customer satisfaction ratings from year to year. Based solely on the data collected over a twelve-month period, participating technical service and support centers are identified as leaders in the industry. The 50 support centers with the highest scores are then recognized by HDI as members of the HDI CSAT Elite 50. Teams that qualify for the HDI CSAT Elite 50 ranking are recognized at the HDI Annual Conference & Expo, where they are lauded as industry leaders in front of their peers and other organizations.

Support teams can qualify for the HDI CSAT Elite 50 ranking each year, as long as they have received a minimum of 500 survey responses over a six-month period. The support centers’ overall customer satisfaction ratings are based on 12 months of data, to allow for accurate trending.

About Glatfelter Insurance Group
Founded in 1951, Glatfelter Insurance Group (www.glatfelters.com) is an all-lines, full-service insurance broker marketing property, casualty, life, accident and health insurance products and risk management services on both a retail and wholesale/specialty basis throughout the United States. The company is headquartered in York, Pa., with five marketing offices across the country and a network of more than 4,500 independent agents and brokers. An employee-owned company, Glatfelter has more than 500 associates serving the insurance needs of more than 30,000 clients in all 50 states, placing it among the top 25 privately owned insurance brokers in the U.S.

About HDI
HDI is the professional association and certification body for the technical service and support industry. Facilitating collaboration and networking, HDI hosts acclaimed conferences and events, produces renowned publications and research, and certifies and trains thousands of professionals each year. HDI also connects solution providers with practitioners through industry partnerships and marketing services.

Guided by an international panel of industry experts and practitioners, HDI serves a community of more than 120,000 technical service and support professionals and is the premier resource for best practices and emerging trends. For more information about HDI, visit http://www.ThinkHDI.com or call 800.248.5667.

AAMGA Proposes Expansion of Membership Ranks: Association Seeks to Lead Broader Wholesale Insurance Market

The board of directors of the American Association of Managing General Agents (AAMGA) today announced it has voted to expand membership to bring all wholesale insurance practitioners who meet membership requirements under a single umbrella. The board made the announcement to members on May 10. Members will vote on bylaw changes that allow for the proposed membership expansion, and include the Association’s new name: the American Association of Wholesale Insurance Professionals.

In addition to managing general agents, national and international insurance companies, business services and state stamping offices, the proposal would add qualifying brokers, managing general underwriters, program administrators, program managers, aggregators and other insurance entities operating on a wholesale basis to the Association.

“We will become a stronger Association that serves as the single, reliable source for the entire wholesale distribution market and, in the process, yield ongoing and long-term benefits and value to existing and future members,” said R.C. Chaffin, AAMGA board president. “The board encourages members to vote in favor of these new opportunities once the bylaw amendments are sent out in June.”

The proposed change follows a two-year strategic review instituted by the board that highlighted opportunities for the Association, and its members, to better adapt to a changing insurance market.

“The wholesale insurance market has undergone dramatic changes in the last decade,” said Bernd G. Heinze, Esq., AAMGA executive director. “We’ve seen an expansion of the wholesale distribution system with new market participants and an increase by those professionals into more specialty lines of business. We want our Association to be ahead of the changes. The Board believes it is better for us to lead rather than follow, a fact that has always been core to our identity.”

Noting three other membership expansions in the Association’s 87-year history, Heinze said the proposed changes will add value to the Association’s membership by better representing the realities of the wholesale insurance market, strengthening the Association with increased membership and expanding business and educational opportunities.

Under the proposed changes, membership standards will include board approval, required minimums for written annual premium, time spent transacting and writing business on a wholesale basis, three recommendations from existing members and compliance with the Code of Ethics. The board proposal will be discussed at the AAMGA annual meeting, May 19-22, 2013 in New Orleans. Balloting on bylaw amendments by the members will follow.

About AAMGA

The AAMGA is the international, professional trade Association representing the wholesale insurance marketplace. Currently, members in 50 states write a combined $20.6 billion in admitted and excess and surplus lines annual premium domestically and internationally. Other members include U.S. and international risk bearing and non-risk bearing members (insurance, reinsurance, retrocessional, captive, Lloyd’s and London market brokers), business services members and each of the state surplus and stamping line offices.