Mary Dillon, U.S. Cellular: Wrote personalized songs to customers who tweeted with service complaints. Internal contest identified employees who were exceptional singers. 70 videos created, tweeted back to individuals and posted on YouTube.
Joe Rigby, PepCo Holdings: Only now, through smart meters, do we have the ability to know when an individual’s power is out. That means more efficient restoration and personal dialogue online.
George Halvorson, Kaiser Permanente: We have no paper. 100 million e-connections with patients last year. 68 million lab results electronically. In one month, over a million users using iPhone app to get lab results in hours.
Dan Jauernig, Classified Ventures: Shoppers on our site can get real-time, online answers from other customers while shopping for a car or apartment.
What it takes for mass intimacy to happen?
Steve Hasselmann, IBM: Make sure somebody has the mission. Most often it’s the chief marketing officer and the CIO as a pair.
I’ve been having a hard time lately, but I sure am lucking out left and right when it comes to customer service!
My phone was suspended because I forgot to pay my bill last month. (DOH!!!!) I didn’t think I was going to be able to turn it back on, but then I got a sale. (YAY!) I called to straighten out my bill and they asked me if I wanted a new phone. I jokingly said I wanted an iPhone, but then quickly explained that I really couldn’t afford one.
So they offered me an iPhone 5c for $25, no activation fee, free overnight shipping, and gave me a special on a plan that’s only a few dollars more than my old one.
I told them they didn’t need to overnight it since I’m going to Mexico, but they did it anyway. “So it will be there for you when you get home!” the rep said. So nice!!
I’m getting an iPhoneeeeeeee! *cries* I’ve wanted one since smartphones became a thing, but could never justify the cost until now. Good-bye, old phone. I will miss your slide out keyboard, but that is all.
I was thinking about getting a pay-as-you-go plan to try to cut down my phone bill… But I’ve already cut down my expenses a lot and gave up my studio. I’m going to let myself have this one nice thing.
Most land animals walk forward by default, but can switch to backward walking when they sense an obstacle or danger in the path ahead. The impulse to change walking direction is likely to be transmitted by descending neurons of the brain that control local motor circuits within the central nervous system. This neuronal input can change walking direction by adjusting the order or timing of individual leg movements.
Screening for flies with altered walking patterns
In the current study, Dickson and his team aimed to understand the fly’s change in walking direction at the cellular level. Using a novel technology known as thermogenetics, they were able to identify the neurons in the brain that cause a change in locomotion. Their studies involved screening large numbers of flies with it which specific neurons were activated by heat, producing certain behaviors only when warmed to 30°C, but not at 24°C . Analysing several thousand flies, the researchers looked for strains that exhibited altered walking patterns compared to control animals.
Moonwalker-neurons control backward walking
Using the thermogenetic screen, the IMP-researchers isolated four lines of flies that walked backward on heat activation. They were able to track down these changes to specific nerve cells in the fly brain which they dubbed “moonwalker neurons”. They could also show that silencing the activity of these neurons using tetanus toxin rendered the flies unable to walk backward.
Among the moonwalker neurons, the activity of descending MDN-neurons is required for flies to walk backward when they encounter an obstacle. Input from MDN brain cells is sufficient to induce backward walking in flies that would otherwise walk forward. Ascending moonwalker neurons (MAN) promote persistent backward walking, possibly by inhibiting forward walking.
“This is the first identification of specific neurons that carry the command for the switch in walking direction of an insect”, says Salil Bidaye, lead author of the study. “Our findings provide a great entry point into the entire walking circuit of the fly. “ Although there are obvious differences in how insects and humans walk, it is likely that there are functional analogies at a neural circuit level. Insights into the neural basis of insect walking could also generate applications in the field of robotics. To date, none of the engineered robots that are used for rescue or exploration missions can walk as robustly as animals. Understanding how insects change their walking direction at a neuronal level would reveal the mechanistic basis of achieving such robust walking behavior.