Be A Transformation Agent

original_the-secret-of-change-is-to-wall-stickerIt is a well documented fact that most people are not very fond of change and avoid it whenever possible out of fear, but as much as people dislike and fear change, they practically abhor the thought of transformation because it goes against the basic human instinct to want to protect, defend, and preserve what it already in existence.

Driving transformation is different than simply driving change because true transformation requires more than incremental repackaging of the old… it requires being willing to evaluate the current state, being willing to start over from scratch if necessary, and charting a course to the preferred future. True transformation cannot happen unless there is a willingness to do whatever is needed to be successful… that means that nothing (or at least very little) is sacred.

I have worked for large corporation and small startups and although there are numerous differences in these companies… there is a commonality on wanting to rely on what has already been done, rather than what could be. I have heard “but we have always done it this way” more times than I care to remember and I have had to have those difficult conversations to help move people from their embattled positions… to being willing to entertain how transformation could actually improve things.

The bottom line is… I don’t want to be satisfied by just being a change agent… I want to be a transformation agent!

If you want some steps to begin a transformational work. Here is a  link to one of our other posts Getting Back To Basics

The Inner Workings of EMC…

Recently there have been numerous rumors flying around about EMC… shocking… there always is! The danger of any type of speculation (a theory or conjecture without firm evidence) is that it distracts you from the present… and as the 2014 Superbowl Champion Seattle Seahawks Quarterback Russell Wilson says… “There’s no time to sleep!”… Well, theres no time to be distracted either!

I have worked at EMC for six years and have been responsible for managing the global Customer Loyalty programs for one of our largest divisions. I have worked with dozens of high ranking executives and hundreds of managers, teams, and individuals. Do you want some insider information on EMC? Do you want to know the inner workings of EMC and what makes us tick? Well, it is really quite simple, it’s called TOTAL CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE.

EMC’s Total Customer Experience is a companywide program committed to consistently exceeding customer and partner expectations as they engage, enable, and evolve with us. I can personally attest that our employees are passionate about the customer experience and find ways every day to go above and beyond to ensure that we are investing in areas that matter most to our customers.

On Tuesday, October 7, 2014, our company will hold celebrations around the world in observance of what we are calling the Total Customer Experience Day, a special occasion to reinforce our commitment to providing customers and partners with the very best experience in our industry. The day will include 10+ onsite events at EMC offices in 7 countries, as well as a virtual celebration with an interactive online discussion.

DURING THIS EVENT YOU WILL:

  • Hear from customers on their end-to-end EMC experience
  • Learn about EMC’s holistic approach tomeasure and act on customer feedback
  • Hear from passionate employees and leaders about why they are committed to the customer experience
  • Tour the brand new Experience Analytics Showcase—an interactive demo that highlights diverse aspects of the customer experience and will be available to everyone on emc.com on October 7th!
  • Ask technical experts your questions during a live Q&A session

We hope you will join us!
https://community.emc.com/docs/DOC-38953

TCE-Day-Image_Banner

Guest Blog: Bruce Temkin

What separates Apple from the rest of the technology pack?

I work with a lot of technology-oriented companies filled with engineers and scientists. Many of those firms create products that do great things, but they’re missing an ingredient found in Apple’s products: Emotion.

Most engineering teams work feverishly on meeting functional requirements, some also put effort into making their product easy to use, but very, very few worry about the emotional response of users. What happens? Some customers end up liking their products, but not many love them. Apple, on the other hand, also worries about how customers will feel about its products, and customers love them for it.

Certainly, Steve Jobs is responsible for much of Apple’s success. But it wasn’t one man that made the company’s products great. He pushed the organization to understand the nuance of design. Sometimes little things like a rounded edge, a softer color, or a larger icon really matter. These small changes can be the difference between customers using or not using products or between them liking or loving them.

When companies worry about function and ease of use, they’re doing what they’ve been taught to do: Engineering.  But Apple shows that it’s not enough. They need to worry about Experience Design, which requires focusing on three areas: 

  • Functional: Does it do what you want it to do?
  • Accessible: How easy is it to do what you want to do?
  • Emotional: How does it make you feel?

If you want customers to love your products, then make the move from engineering to Experience Design

***********************
Bruce Temkin is a Customer Experience Transformist & Managing Partner

of Temkin Group. He is also Chair of the Customer Experience Professionals Association and writes a popular blog, Customer Experience Matters.

Steve Jobs Legacy – Great products and people win customer loyalty!

Sadly, Steve Jobs lost his battle with cancer yesterday, October 5, 2011

A long long time ago I was fortunate enough to get my first “high tech” job with a small software company called Aladdin Systems who were the makers of StuffIt for the Macintosh. My job was to provide customer service and front line technical support to our customers. I loved this job, working with customers, and working with the MAC… but eventually I left that company and started working in the PC market because frankly there were a lot more jobs available in those days in the PC market.

Many years passed before I used another Apple product, but I always remained an Apple fan… then one year Apple came out with the iPod, which gave me an alternate way to consume Apple products. I really liked my iPod a lot and used it daily, but then Apple came out with the iPhone which I believe revolutionized the way we use technology today. I had been using a Blackberry before the iPhone came out and liked it enough, but when I first started using the iPhone it was WORLDS above anything I had ever used before and still is today… I was an immediate promoter.

When I heard the news about Steve passing away it made me think about how he had impacted our world and what his legacy would be. It also made me reflect on how he impacted my life and the numerous times I had spoken about Apple’s Net Promoter Score being one of the bars for success because it was at iconic levels like Harley Davidson. I believe Steve jobs greatest legacy goes well beyond the products and something much more fundamental. He knew it took both great products and great people to win customer loyalty and he knew this strategy was a differentiator because this posture is rare in business today… hopefully more and more companies will get back to these fundamentals and follow the example of Steve Jobs.

#ThankYouSteve

Follow-up – Teton Mountain Lodge & Spa… sprints to the finish!

I recently posted a blog post about Teton Mountain Lodge & Spa where I explained how I was disappointed with my experience and their efforts to recover my loyalty… this follow-up blog is about how they “sprinted to the finish” to 100% recover my loyalty.

When I wrote the blog entry about Teton Mountain Lodge I decided I would forward it to their General Manager. I looked up his email address and forwarded it to him thinking I probably would not hear back. The next morning when I checked my email I was surprised to see a personal response from the General Manager and was even more surprised about what he said. Here is his email to me:

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Dear Mr. Antonelli,

Thank you for sharing your blog. I can see clearly that we missed the boat in dealing with your complaint. While we pride ourselves on friendliness and care in dealing with complaints, in this case, that wasn’t quite enough. Sadly, coming close doesn’t help you when we don’t reach the finish line.

I am grateful that you took the opportunity to give us another chance with your survey and disappointed in ourselves that we let the second chance slip away as well. I am further grateful that you reached out to me directly with what I see as a third chance. I hope that by sending me the link to your blog, you presented not only with a ‘teachable moment’ (which we are using to full advantage) but also with a final opportunity to recover your future business and recommendation.

In light of both the initial complaint and our incomplete attempts as resolution, I would be pleased if you would accept my offer of a refund of two nights room and tax charges.

Thank you again for taking the time to share your feedback. As I wrote above, we pride ourselves on resolving problems, but when we think we know what will make a situation right, it is easy to forget to ask our customer what they think will make it right. Rest assured, even if it is too late to recover your business, we will use your encounter to learn and do better for our future customers.

Warm regards,
Tyler Barker
General Manager
Teton Mountain Lodge

——————————————

… all I can say is WOW… this is exactly the type of response I was looking for and I responded to him with the below email:
——————————————
Dear Mr. Barker,

Thank you for the quick reply to my email. I was pleasantly surprised to get a personal reply from you and appreciate you taking the time to do so. This type of response goes a long way and demonstrates that you and your team are very serious about building customer loyalty… something I do not take lightly!

I am very encouraged to hear that you view this as a “teachable moment’… this is a lost posture in the service industry today and further proves that you “get it”. I am also pleased to except your offer for a refund of two nights room and tax charges… this offer was above an beyond my expectations and negated any doubt I had about your company.

I talked this over with my wife and we both agree that you have indeed recovered our business for our next trip and are grateful that we have obviously found a company who is willing to make things right when things unexpectedly go awry. My entire bog is about taking potential loyalty failures and turning them into gold “fantastic failures” … you have done that and I can hardly wait to post an update about how amazingly you did it.

Much Appreciation,
Chris Antonelli

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So there you have it… My entire Blog is about “Fantastic Failures”… it is about turning potentially damaging experiences into positive, loyalty building “golden” opportunities. I am now looking forward to my next stay at Teton Mountain Lodge & Spa knowing they do not take customer loyalty lightly… and I have just a little bit more faith that there are still service professionals that take pride in the service they provide.

Teton Mountain Lodge & Spa… so much potential, but ends up disappointing!

This summer I decided it was time to take my family on a memorable summer vacation. It had been nearly 3 years since we had been on a true vacation due to my work commitments after the company I work for was acquired. Don’t get me wrong, I still spent lots of time with the family, did some weekend getaways, and even had multiple “workations” where the family traveled with me and they played while I worked… but we hadn’t had a true “bona fide” vacation for way too long.

After looking at our options my wife and I agreed it would be great to visit Yellowstone National Park and Grand Teton National Park. We figured this would be the perfect mix of driving distance from Seattle (14 hours), outdoor adventures, and great selection of hotels. I started mapping our journey and decided we would stop at Missoula Montana for one night, then head onto West Yellowstone Montana for two nights, and then Jackson Hole Wyoming for 4 nights and then map a new route home while in Jackson Hole. I don’t know about you, but we are pretty frugal with our money. When we go on vacation however we try to have a portion of the trip where we get to live it up for a few days too. We mostly stay at reasonable hotels under $150 a night and then we always pick one really nice resort type hotel in the $300 range that we stay at for a few days too.

Ok, so now that you know the back story and how amazing our trip was, let me focus on one part of our journey that had so much potential, but ended up disappointing…

When I was searching for hotels near Jackson Hole I found a lot of potential hotels that looked good, but decided to use Trip Advisor to find the “cream of the crop” for the price range I was looking for. I heard really good things about the Teton Village which is outside of Jackson and ended up looking for hotels in that area. I came across “Teton Mountain Lodge”. The reviews were amazing, it had 192 reviews and was rated 4.5 out of 5 stars by those reviews… I thought to myself…. Jackpot! I went on their website and found a really good rate, plus I found a coupon to reduce the rate and give us a daily breakfast credit. I booked my reservation and was all set to go. I decided to call them the next day to inform them this was a special family vacation and we would appreciate a great room assignment. The person on the phone was VERY helpful and said I was booked on the 5th floor (top level) and facing the Teton Mountain range… perfect!

When we arrived at the Teton Mountain Lodge it was right at the foot of the Teton Mountain range and the scenery and hotel were both beautiful. I went inside to check-in and the front desk staff was again VERY helpful and welcoming, a bellhop was immediately there to help me and he was one of the best bellhops I have ever had. The bellhop gathered our luggage and room keys and we took the elevator to the second floor?? .. ok I wasn’t going to say anything even though I was a little surprised… we got off the elevator and walked down a long hall and took a left… but wait… the mountain was to the right… hmmm…. when he opened the room it was really VERY nice accommodations and had a balcony… so again I didn’t say anything. Once the bellhop left I decided to go out onto the balcony and check out the view… I still hadn’t decided if I was going to say anything to the front desk. When I opened the sliding glass door I immediately heard this really loud wind sound… it actually sounded like a hurricane! I looked down and there was a large metal grate on the ground floor the size of two large SUV’s…I think it might have been a really large air conditioning unit… whatever it was.. it was VERY loud! Plus the view although decent was of the valley NOT a view of the mountain!

I went inside and my wife asked me what was wrong… because I don’t have a great poker face. I told her I was pretty disappointed with the room because I had gone through so much trouble to make sure it was going to be that “cream of the crop” part of the trip. Yes the room amenities and decorations were great, but the valley view and the fact that I had a constant mechanical hurricane out my balcony really diminished my “value for price” assessment of the room. At that point I decided to approach the front desk with the issue and explain gracefully the whole situation.

The front desk supervisor was again VERY pleasant, but she was unable to find another room that night and said she might be able to move us up one floor and on the mountain side the next day… but we would need to be out of our room early in the morning and would not have access to our new room until late in the day. It sounded less than ideal because we have 2 young kids that sometimes need to take naps, but I told her I would talk it over with my wife and let her know. We decided it would be too difficult to repack everything and not have access to the room all day, so I called her and told her that wasn’t an option for us and we ended up staying in the mechanical hurricane room. When I asked her why we lost our assigned room she was not able to give me a straight answer. I found out from another staff person that the Teton Mountain Lodge is run like a hotel, but each room is independently owned and if one of the owners decides to come… even last minute… they get priority. That makes sense for the owners, but can leave guests like us out on a limb.

I bounced back and enjoyed our stay. The hotel staff was great, the food was good, the location was great, the room setup and décor was great… and overall it was a good stay, but on the day of check-out I decided to give them one more chance to recover my business and told the front desk manager what had happened. She was VERY polite, apologized, and even offered us one free night stay during our next visit. I know this was a nice gesture, but it just didn’t sit well with me or recover my loyalty. I would have much rather had a credit for one night rather than a hook to get me back for another visit. I thanked her and left still feeling disloyal to the Teton Mountain lodge.

After getting resettled at home and work for a few days I started reflecting on our trip… and then I received a email survey from the Teton Mountain Lodge. I took the survey to see what would happen… my whole blog is about “Fantastic Failures” and I wondered if I filled out the survey would I receive a follow-up and would they recover my business and loyalty. A few days letter I received a personal email from the front desk manager and she said she remembered talking to me at check-out and re-iterated her offer for a free one night stay in the future… I was really happy they followed up on the survey to “close the loop”, but if the offer didn’t sway me the first time it wasn’t going to work the 2nd either.

Yes the trip was fantastic, but as a Loyalty professional I like discussing my real life experiences here on my blog and what I find that make people loyal or disloyal… this is a perfect example. Since I run a Net Promoter Program, I asked myself:

On a scale of 0-10, How likely is it that I would recommend Teton Mountain Lodge to a friend or colleague?
My Answer when I checked out: 0
My Answer after the follow-up Survey and email: 2
My Answer if they would have given me a partial refund: Probably a 9

At this point I would NOT recommend Teton Mountain Lodge to anyone and even if I use that one night stay voucher, we’ll probably only stay there one night. This got me thinking about what was missing and how they could have better handled the situation… and it boils down to one thing… an open conversation on what it would take to recover my loyalty. If they simply ASKED “what” they could do… I probably wouild have asked for a one night credit… which would be the same cost as what they offered me without the “hook”. Yes, sometimes you get people who ask for the moon, but an open discussion leads to better outcomes and would have turned this failure into a Fantastic Failure!

Overall our trip was amazing and one of the best vacations I have been on in my life. We got a lot of quality time together as a family and saw lots of breathtaking nature scenery. Here is a small sample of some of the photos we took on this trip:

If you want more info on *Net promoter, please visit the Net Promoter Website

Other External Links:
Teton Mountain Lodge
Trip Advisor for Jackson Hole
Jackson Hole
Yellowstone National Park
Grand Teton National Park
Bain & Company
Satmetrix

Net Promoter, NPS, and Net Promoter Score are trademarks of Satmetrix Systems, Inc., Bain & Company, and Fred Reichheld.

Expensive Purchases Require Top Notch Service!

This week I have a great guest blog from my friend Kyle Mott who had a recent experience with a local car dealership… the story underscores that a great product and even good price does not build customer loyalty alone… it takes people who care and show it by their actions on how they serve us as customers!

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Customer service is an oft-overlooked art-form. All too often I’ve seen good products and services go to waste simply because there was not enough customer service (or the customer service was bad/inadequate). I’ve always operated under the assumption that if I am forking over my hard-earned cash, there should be something more than just a “product” or “item” I get in return. Relationship (IE, the process by which a company sells something to a given person/company/entity) is what makes people come back again and again, and also helps foster customer loyalty.

My wife and I decided to purchase a new vehicle this year. After much thought and deliberation, we decided to go with a Nissan Pathfinder at Bruce Titus Tacoma Nissan. While our experience during the initial negotiation phase went well, after we decided to purchase the vehicle we had a series of events happen that soured our opinion of the dealership, and definitely brought our customer satisfaction of the dealership to new lows.

The first (and biggest) thing we had happen was that we were forgotten about for 2 hours after we decided to purchase the vehicle. They were a bit busy, but we were told the wait would be about an hour, which is understandable. However, after sitting around for 2 hours, I decided to check in and see what was going on, at which point our sales associate told us the person in finance that was meant to close our deal forgot about us and left the building. We had to wait for another person in finance to be freed up before we could go in and finalize the purchase.

Because we had been “stewing” in our own juices for 2 hours, when we got to the paperwork review, we felt a bit rushed. It was a necessity because they were getting close to closing the dealership for the evening, but it would have been nice to actually review each of the items he was giving us in a bit more detail so we could feel a little more informed and not so rushed.

My wife had given her credit card to our sales associate for the down payment. However, once we got to finance, they couldn’t find her credit card. After searching for 20 minutes, it finally turned up, but it was quite surprising to us that they could lose something as important as a credit card for a $30k purchase, even if it did eventually turn up again.

Once the paperwork was completed, we had to move all of our stuff from the old car to the new one. Normally this wouldn’t be a big deal, but since it was so late at night (remember, they “forgot” about us), they left us in the parking lot to move everything over, and didn’t leave the old car unlocked. Because of that, we ended up locking ourselves out of the car before we could get our CD’s moved over, and had to come back a week later to pick them up.

Call me old-school, but I have always believed that if you are plunking down your hard-earned cash for any purchase (doesn’t matter if it’s a $5 burrito or a $30,000 car), you should always be treated as if you have The Golden Ticket, and that Golden Ticket is worth something to the company providing the product and/or service to you. Even though my wife and I felt short-changed on customer service, there are (and still is) ways to win back our loyalty, but I haven’t received any type of “olive branch” offering from Bruce Titus Tacoma Nissan. I don’t have any animosity towards the dealership because of our experience–after all, we live in a broken and imperfect world where things just get messy sometimes–it’s what a company does after that bad customer experience that tells you the most about them and if they are really willing to go above and beyond. Thus far, Bruce Titus Tacoma Nissan has not been willing to go above and beyond to rectify our experience.

At the end of the day, my wife and I were happy about the deal we got on the Pathfinder. However, the customer service was very poor and the general business processes around the purchase were very cumbersome, and even confusing at times. I highly doubt we will be doing any future business with them, and would not recommend them to anyone else.

Kyle Mott
http://chaos.untouchable.net/index.php/Contact

Executive Sponsorship… is the Golden Ticket!

A couple of weeks ago I spent a few days in a conference room with the top Executives of my division. Our discussions where wholly focused on our loyalty programs, the data, action items, and how we can leverage our data to further improve our customer’s experiences and therefore increase our loyalty. I had a light bulb moment realizing that I am particularly fortunate to have the ears of these key leaders and that they are fully engaged in the loyalty program. They view the loyalty info as fundamental, rather than an afterthought or a bright shinny object that they can point to.

These meetings got me thinking about how many loyalty programs are destined for failure… or at least they’ll be marginalized in their success because of their lack of top Executive Sponsorship. Having the top Executive sponsorship allows countless synergies that cannot be listed here, but here are a few top benefits:

1) The Executives set the standard for the focus of the company. If they are really focused on customer loyalty and are using the data… ultimately so will everyone in the organization.

2) The Executives have the larger broader view of the business economics and can bring a valuable perspective to the loyalty data. In the end this will make the program much more successful with increasing loyalty.

3) The foundation of a great loyalty program is not collection and dissemination of the data, but rather the operational and strategic changes we make in our business based upon what the data is telling us… you NEED Executives to drive these changes!

4) When customers know that a loyalty program is being utilized by the Executive Team to drive operational and strategic changes, they are more likely to:
a. Take the survey and therefore increase sample response rates
b. Provide in-depth verbatim responses that help make the statistical information more actionable.
c. Respond when asked for more in-depth interviewing of their experiences.

Over the years that I have been running loyalty programs, I have had a mix of whether the programs were appropriately sponsored at the Executive level, but now that I have had exceptional Executive sponsorship over the last 2 years… it has convinced me of 2 things:

1) Having Top Executive Sponsorship…. is the Golden Ticket!
2) I really don’t want to run another loyalty program… unless I have the golden ticket!

Sincerely,
Chris Antonelli
FantasticFailures.com

Auto Zone… going above and beyond

Recently my car had a problem starting in the morning and I had a friend give me a jump start. The car stayed running so I figured it probably was the battery not excepting a charge anymore rather then it being an alternator… which is good because my cars alternators are not cheap 

I decided to find the closest auto parts store and have them test to ensure it was the battery. The closest auto parts store was O’Reilly Auto Parts and so I drove there and walked in to get some help. The store was pretty empty with a couple of customers here and there and all the employees seemed busy doing other things, when I asked from some help the person looked and sounded annoyed and said “what do you need??!” when I explained I wanted to have the battery tested because I was having issues … they responded “oh well, we can’t do that cause we won’t be able to start your car again.” They didn’t stop and ask any questions, they didn’t try to figure out a way to help, they just shut me down with a nasty attitude… so I decided to go down the street to “Auto Zone” and see if I had any better luck.

When I walked into Auto Zone there were a good number of customers in the store and the employees seemed to all be helping people. I stood in a short line to be helped and within 5 minutes got someone to help me. He asked how he could help and when I explained the situation he said no problem he would help test the battery and if we had to shut off the car he would get me restarted. We went out to my car. He put a tester on my car and he determined it was the battery, he removed the battery for me and saw it was a brand they carried, and looked in his system to see if I bought it from Auto Zone. He informed me that I did buy it from them and that it was still under warranty for another month, so he replaced the battery for no charge and then helped me put it back in as well.

He did such a good job I decided to ask for his manager to praise his efforts. When the manager came over she was very thankful for the positive feedback and informed me that the district managers number was on the front door if I wanted to let them know as well. I went outside and to my shock she was right… the District Supervisors and the Regional Vice Presidents numbers where right on the door with a sign that said, “We want to know how we are serving you” … so I decided to give the VP a try and within 24 hours got a call back from them too. I let them know about my experience and praised their efforts to stay in touch with the customer loyalty.

I must say that it was refreshing to have this experience at a retail store… needless to say, I will be going back to Auto Zone anytime I need something for my car because they are going above and beyond to service me as their customer and the management team obviously understand the importance of customer loyalty.

Chris Antonelli
FantasticFailures.com

Can Customer Loyalty be Cyclical?

Do you think Customer Loyalty can be cyclical?

Definition of cyclical: A group of events that happen in a particular order, one following the other, and which are often repeated”.

My wife and I are loyal customers of our monthly maid service because the same 2 ladies come each time and they have always provided excellent service. They are friendly, fast, and our house looks and smells clean when they are done. We have been with this service for about a year now and so this is our first Christmas season with them.

They have done such a great job each month that we decided to give them a small Christmas Bonus as a thank you… They were very appreciative and left smiling ear to ear… this got me thinking… If I give my maids a Christmas bonus for their excellent service throughout the year… does that make them even more loyal to me as their customer and therefore they do even a better job or at least continue to provide the great service that made me a loyal customer to begin with? I believe it can! I believe that Customer Loyalty can be cyclical because encouragement and affirmation are lost art forms in the world today… we are so used to negative reinforcement, complaints, and dissatisfaction…not encouragement and positive affirmation when things go right.

I have to admit I am a pretty hard customer to please… mostly because I expect people to care about the service they are giving. I have asked for a manager many times in my life to complain about bad service, but I also cannot count the number of times I have asked for a manager because I want to give them some positive feedback about my experience… the response is always the same… The employee looks at me with a horrifically concerned look in their eyes and then goes to look for the manager… and then the manager comes over with the same horrific look, but trying to hide it through a fake smile. I always try to eliminate the pain as quickly as possible by telling them “I wanted to tell you what a great job your team is doing”… and then go on to affirm them with what their employee(s) did to impress me with their service. They always seem so shocked to hear the positive feedback, but they seem even more appreciative that someone would take the time to provide the positive feedback!

We so often think people must know how we feel about them and therefore we can miss out on this important way to use the power of our tongue to encourage and affirm those around us, especially those serving us in our day to day lives… I once heard someone say “Catch someone doing something right, and tell him about it!  Better yet, tell him about it in front of others!”

Let us make ENCOURAGEMENT and AFFIRMATION a goal this holiday season… If we are open to it… I am sure we will have plenty of opportunity! … and who knows we might even be starting our own loyalty cycle!

Chris Antonelli
FantasticFailures.com #fantasticfailures