Pitney Bowes.

Brilliant Communications

From Social Media to Social Security

by Michael Calderwood | August 2, 2011 | 2 Comments

 My week started fairly normally.  I left my home Monday morning, ready to take on another week at Pitney Bowes.  I expected a week of Social Media discussions, GraphExpo planning sessions, Customer Satisfaction reviews, team meetings around the continuous improvement of our Customer Support processes, and an Employee Celebration Day on Friday.

Things change…

By the end of the week my wife and I were sharing our home with her 89-year old mother. This has been a distant possibility for a while. She has been fairly mobile over the last several years, moving from her long time home in Charleston SC to Southern California, then to St. Petersburg Florida, then back to California. I think I know the story behind all these moves, but after nearly 30 years I have learned that it’s not what I need to know, it’s what my wife thinks I need to know!

Did I mention my mother in-law is 89 years old?

That was quick…

Though my wife and I have discussed this possibility, the speed in which the transition happened was blinding. Discussions began on Tuesday, and Saturday evening we’re driving back from JFK with our new roomie. In between there were phone calls, reservations, transportation and other logistics to be figured out, bank accounts to untangle, home health care workers to let go, additional family members to consult, a room to prepare.

The change in our lifestyle will be interesting. We will be going from two independent people who have careers, routines and preferences to three people, one who has different needs that will have to be integrated into the dynamic. Plans will be altered, and new ones discussed. Fundamental things like where and how my wife and I do our jobs become more complex. My wife is a home-based  music teacher and writer, both disciplines that require the privacy and concentration our home currently provides. Conversations around integrating my work environment into the home now take a back seat to figuring out how my wife continues to do her job with her mother in the house. All of the remodeling we have been doing to provide a better, more comfortable home now needs to be re-examined. Do we need to rethink the bathroom layout, or add safety bars and other senior-assistance fixtures? The newly redone entry to the basement – change out the rail system? Is the kitchen senior-friendly? DO I HAVE TO GIVE UP MY TV????

We now have to think about new stuff: Social Security, pensions, home health care contracts, medical insurance, Medicare. Does she need a cell phone, or one of those “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up” things? We don’t have to worry about the DMV, but what about the pharmacy?  Notifications to her current providers will need to be made as new providers are brought onboard. Change of address forms will be filled out (and managed beautifully by Pitney Bowes!). There will be a combination of letters, forms, phone calls and web interactions to be managed.

Hear Ye, Hear Ye – CCM ahead…

Our situation is one of hundreds, thousands, millions of change of life events that happen all around the world. While there is certainly work to be done to keep the communications flowing cleanly, there is also a lot of opportunity to add messages to the pile. Not only to my mother in-law, but to my wife and I. All the changes I mentioned are opportunities for providers to reach out and inform us of things we may want to consider. The Health Insurance Company can help us find service providers in Connecticut. They may want to let us know about different services that exist here. Her prescription drug plan may see this change as an opportunity to cross-promote a local pharmacy, medical supply house, Senior Citizen forum or any other similar benefit available here.

I expect that my wife and I will be getting a whole bunch of new communications targeted to families who have responsibility for an elderly person. I’m sure there are a million things we need to think about, and a million opportunities for smart, data-driven companies to identify us, understand the change in circumstance, and target a host of relevant, timely and critical streams of information. I expect these communications to come in the mail, on the web, in transpromo ads on our monthly bills and statements, and by the ever-pleasant telephone solicitation.

We will pick and peck our way through all of these streams. I hope all of these companies are working diligently on their own CCM strategies, so every message we get is personal, impactful, informative, helpful – which adds up to valuable. I’ll be tracking this – so if you get a call from me you’ll know I got the message. If not – you probably should connect with a Pitney Bowes professional to help elevate your customer communication game. And if you get a call from my mother in law, you’re on your own!

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  • Ellen Cumbess

    A very light-hearted account of a topic that weighs heavily on the minds of all those baby boomers who are still lucky enough to have parents around.  Well done, Michael.  You have met the challenge head on and done what needed to be done - despite what you may have wanted to do.  You’re a good son-in-law!

    • Michael Calderwood

      Thanks, Ellen - we’ll see how it goes!  I may wind up down in the Gulf helping you - I am quickly getting reacquainted with the accent!