We have a few friends that work inside the Virgin Group of companies and we are told that their Chairman in real life is exactly as he appears in the media. Richard Branson loves to have fun but more importantly, like many great business communicators he goes out of his way to make sure employees and customers feel valuable. Sir Richard is an extraordinary communicator. When one customer didn’t feel valued based on a Virgin Atlantic flight experience he sent Richard an email. That email got an astonishing amount of attention and is considered one of the funniest complaint letters ever.
Trase Miller is considered a “Premium” contact center in part because of our email support services. We send and receive tens of thousands of emails on behalf of our clients. Customers genuinely appreciate the fact that they can have access to us and our expertise in an unfiltered way – Trase Miller does not utilize email software – Trase Miller uses real people, onshore USA-based that are seasoned vacation consultants and destination experts.
email has become an all too important part of our lives. Even the very best of communicators have confessed that they have come to rely too much on the medium. The best things about emails are efficiency and immediacy. The worst thing is that not all intended meaning/context translates properly through an email. So we work very hard at making sure we get it right in emails to our customers and internally to each other.
Our goal is to provide extraordinary customer experiences but occasionally we have to pause and remember some of simple things about email. Brett Christensen blogs about email etiquette and reminds us for example “If you USE ALL CAPS in your email or message board posts, you will immediately make yourself seem inexperienced or ignorant. Most experienced computer users consider the use of all capital letters to be the Internet equivalent of shouting.”
For many of us that pay attention to pop culture there is something fascinating about iconic aging rock stars. David Robert Hayward Jones – Anyone heard of him? In 1966 the fledgling musician decided he needed to change his name due to the fact that he was being confused with one “Davie Jones” of The Monkees and so was born “David Bowie”.
Bowie wrote and recorded (1972), and has performed thousands of times what has become a modern day anthem with the stuttering chorus:
Everybody probably interprets the song in his or her own way but when you listen to the lyrics you get a sense that the theme of the song is really all about reinvention. In our business we have done a fairly good job of continuous reinvention but we have also stayed on a strategic path of not changing too much. Why not? Because we have a formula that is successful. There are many ways to measure success but in simplest of terms it comes down to profitability. We have been profitable since inception.
We also measure success by the vibrancy of our culture. Here at Trase Miller, we have a vibrant and specific culture that has endured the test of time for a few simple reasons:
- Management Tenure – Lead by GM, Frank Silzer, we have a skilled and competent Management Team (around since the beginning).
- Best-In-Class Workforce – We carefully select our employees and diligently train.
- Ownership That Cares – Trase Miller’s owner Jim Miller is a successful/serial entrepreneur. We benefit from his wisdom and willingness to invest in our business.
- Narrow Focus and Quality Clients – We opened our doors in 1994 as a premium contact center service provider to the travel business with American Airlines/American Airlines Vacations as our anchor client. American Airlines has treated Trase Miller as a partner and trusted advisor since the beginning.
So these four things don’t necessarily need reinvention but that doesn’t mean that we are not open to changes and reinvention – We are! About 90 days ago, we launched this new website as part of our efforts to invite more quality clients into our lives. We completed a technology audit inside the last 60 days and decided to make some new investments. In the last 30 days, we have made significant progress in charting our course for the next five years.
Inside the next 30-60 days we intend to launch an awareness campaign called “Without a TRASE”. The campaign is intended to provoke the thinking of external client candidates as well as internal employees. When we sat still and thought about the fact that we have helped millions of people with their vacation planning, it occurred to us that so many people’s lives would be different if there were no Trase Miller around. Surely there is tons of perspective out there that we could draw from to help us develop our campaign.
So we need your help – Stories are welcome! To submit your thoughts on how to finish the sentence, “Without a Trase….” hit us up with an email: email@example.com
PS and Sorry, David - -
“ …Time may change me – But I can’t Trase time”
Back in 1973, Cheech and Chong reached #24 on the Billboard charts with “Sister Mary Elephant”. If you were around back then you surely remember the bit which involved a classroom and the assignment of a theme “How I spent my summer vacation”. The world /world economy was in turmoil in 1973 so the laughter that Cheech and Chong brought us was welcome.
Fast-forward to 2010. The world / world economy is again in turmoil and it appears that many Americans will have difficulties writing their theme “How I spent my summer vacation”. Earlier this month, public opinion polling firm StrategyOne conducted a survey of more than 1,000 Americans about a range of topics and found that:
- Only 28% plan to take a summer vacation this summer.
- 16% say they have not decided whether they will take a summer vacation or not.
- 56%, have already ruled out taking a summer vacation.
We believe that the inherent problem with surveys is the disconnect between what people say and what they do. One important topic the survey does not address is opportunistic consumers that are waiting for the last minute and the best possible deals. We see strong evidence that many consumers fit this description in these times of turmoil.
There is one more trend that does not get addressed in the survey and that is “staycations”. More times than we can count, consumers have shared with our CCRs their commitment to NEVER again do a stay at home vacation. Let’s face it – It’s just not a good idea. So if any readers of this blog are in the 56% of people thinking that skipping a vacation is a good idea, call us. We’ll get your thinking adjusted with some vacation suggestions guaranteed to inspire you to write a great theme on “How I spent my summer vacation.”
THE travel industry “go-to” source for consumer research is a company called PhoCusWright. We have been fans of and friends with the renowned organization for many years. PhoCusWright primarily focuses on the online/Internet world of consumer behavior and travel distribution. Recently another great piece of work was published by PhoCusWright. According to, PhoCusWright “Online booking has become the norm, yet many travelers choose to book some of their travel offline, and give a variety of reasons for doing so. The top reason U.S. travelers give for booking offline is that they were seeking personal service.” See: (On Again, Off Again: Why Online Travelers Book Offline) In fact, 33% of those surveyed sited the reason they to book leisure travel by phone (offline) was that they were seeking personal service.
There were two other important and noteworthy reasons that compel consumers to book vacations offline:
- “I believe I can get better deals when I call/visit” (21%)
- “I believe I can get better customer service if something goes wrong” (16%)
These two data points are actually related according to Debbie Davis-Greene who runs Operations and Planning for Trase Miller. When Debbie read the PhoCusWright report she observed “many of our CCRs have a loyal customer following that call more than 3-4 times per year in pursuit of vacation deals. These personal relationships have been reinforced over the years and often times began with special assistance that was provided to customers who were in the middle of their vacations”.
Based on the results of the study, PhoCusWright makes recommendations to travel marketers suggesting that there are ways to persuade consumers into the online booking path. The truth is that to some extent this goes against the grain of what vacation buyers really want. Vacation buyers have an innate need to connect with other humans.
There is another nuance too. These days most big travel companies do provide a means to be contacted VIA the phone but many take the very big risk of sending their calls to exotic places like Bangladesh and Manila. Our success as a company has much to do with the fact that we always kept our calls 100% onshore USA.
We are an outsource customer contact service provider. We operate 24/7/365 and every single day our clients and their customers enthusiastically express appreciation for our services and expertise. Of those surveyed by PhoCusWright, 33% wanted to talk to someone because they wanted personal service. 100% of our callers get it!!!
This is a big week for us Americans as many of us knock off work early and pack up for time away from our work.
Obviously (hopefully obviously) “the pursuit of happiness” is recognized as words from the Declaration of Independence versus the movie and true story starring Will Smith. This sentence within the Declaration containing the words “pursuit of happiness” has been called one of the best-known sentences in the English language. It also ties very closely to what it is we do here at Trase Miller. We help people in their pursuit of happiness.
This past week the management team at Trase Miller locked ourselves in a room for two days. We planned for the future and challenged each other about how to better serve our clients’ interests. It was a tiring but terrific two days. We talked a ton about our business truths we believe to be self-evident which come from the mouth of our founder/owner Jim Miler – “That profits come by taking good care of our people and our customers”. Stay tuned for more news and insight that will be forthcoming as a result of our meetings.
Until then – Enjoy your 4th of July Holiday –
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”