Wednesday, June 29, 2005

More Tales from The Other Side

I've been gone for a few days. I apologize, my internet service has been down, still is (thank you Mom for lending me your computer), so if you don't see any new posts in the following days you have an explanation.

Now I have a question, an observation, a few opinions and a recommendation:

Does the term Customer Service apply when pertaining to a call center with a recorded message? Is this Customer Service? (Okay, that's two questions...)
But please let me know what you think.

My internet connection is cable modem, it's pretty fast and up til now has been very reliable. Since last week I've been trying to reach the cable company (unsuccesfully), to notify that I have no internet service, in the hopes that they can give me some answers and/or fix my problem.

If I add up the amount of time I've been on hold with the Customer Service Call Center Department it's more than an hour of listening to 80's music and a voice recording that keeps telling me that all the technicians are busy helping other clients, that my phone call is important and they will tend to me briefly.

In my opinion, if my call was so important I wouldn't be listening to a voice recording or waiting indefinite amounts of time to hopefully speak to someone who can help me. Briefly is a relative quantity. What is briefly for me may not be for you.

With this in mind, I make the following recommendation to companies who may use voice recordings in their Customer Service Departments. Inform the person calling of the approximate waiting time before their call will be attented to by an actual human being. In this way the person can decide if they want to wait or try again later. Provide options please!

Steering away from my topic before I go and try my luck for the upteenth time with the cable company, I want to mention a blog that's also about Customer Service, http://customerservice.typepad.com take a minute and drop in on Glenn Ross in Texas, tell him Diana the TIPS lady sent you.

Til next time...Have a nice day!


P.S. Look for more on Customer Service Call Centers in the near future.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Service Success TIP #5

Don't judge a book by it's cover: Just because a person wears expensive everything does not mean they have lots of mula,dinero,bucks,money. It may very well be image, and image can be stingy. With that in mind, treat every guest as if they were royalty, no matter their outer package. Cultivate loyal clients who will keep coming back and bring others with them. This will lead to long term success and profits.

Friday, June 17, 2005

Footprints in the Sand

Photo by Angel Ortiz Posted by Hello

Footprints in the Sand by Mary Stevenson

One night I dreamed I was walking along the beach with the Lord.
Many scenes from my life flashed across the sky.
In each scene I noticed footprints in the sand.
Sometimes there were two sets of footprints,
other times there was only one.
This bothered me because I noticed that during the most trying periods of my life,
when I was suffering from anguish,
sorrow or defeat,
I could see only one set of footprints,
so I said to the Lord,
"You promised me Lord,
that if I followed you,
you would walk with me always.
But I have noticed that during the most trying periods of my life
there has only been one set of footprints in the sand.
Why, when I needed you most, have you not been there for me?"
The Lord replied,
"The years when you have seen only one set of footprints,
my child, is when I carried you."


Wednesday, June 15, 2005

T.I.P.S. 101** Service is a Verb

Service Is A Verb
By Gil C. Schmidt

We love verbs. They act. They do. They have all the fun! But “fun” is a noun. Is that a problem? Not at all, for you can’t “have fun” without the “having”! Yay for verbs!

Climbing down from my cheerleading ladder, I pause to point out that “service” is like “fun”: You need to do something for it to happen. If you think I’m still dizzy from cheering, imagine what level of service you would receive if the person “serving” you did nothing?


Now most people won’t be able to get away with doing nothing and calling it “service” for very long (unless they work for the government.) However, many people try to get away with doing as little as possible for as long as possible in order to draw a paycheck. These are the same people who complain bitterly about other people’s “luck” (hard work), “breaks” (being prepared for the opportunity) and “connections” (hard workers get noticed.)

I went to a restaurant recently and was treated to a “nothing plus 1%” effort that made me want to strangle a palm tree. (Reduces aggression and maybe the tree likes it.) Our drink order was served wrong, incomplete and the three additional requests were botched. The salads were brought out after minutes of languishing in a warm, humid terrace, so we ate “wilted” greens. Our food order was served incorrectly and I settled for overcooked fish rather than chance another dish. Two of our four-person group was never offered dessert and as soon as dessert was served, our waitress disappeared for 45 minutes. Forget coffee.

As I stepped out to ask for the check and was mentally calculating reducing the bill 15%, I overheard the woman complaining that her friend—a former waitress at the same restaurant—was now Assistant Manager at another restaurant. When the other person pointed out that she was “a great waitress,” our bastion of just-enough-action protested that she too was a great waitress.

Oh, what a moment. “No, you’re not,” I said and I’m glad she was too far away to kick me. I’m used to anger, but this was fury. I then listed everything she had missed, and fury became rage, then melted away. She knew I was right. And telling her what she already knew was depressing to me as well.

We left no tip. It wasn’t punishment, for tips are earned, not obligated. But I can’t help but feel that I’ll hold onto the lesson of acting as the basis of service far longer than this waitress will. Learning is a verb, too.

Monday, June 13, 2005

T.I.P.S. 101** Why Excellent Service?

Why Excellent Service?
By Gil C. Schmidt

Okay, this might seem waaaay too obvious, but I’ll ask it anyway: Why provide excellent service?

I’m not trying to be cute here. I’m trying to get down to the basic issue of service as a means of success. On that basis, such a simple question proves a challenge to answer. Go ahead: try. You’ll see what I mean.

I’ve come up with three basic reasons why one should seek to provide excellent service:

• Satisfaction: When one helps another person and does it well, even if its simply “part of my job,” the end result is inevitably satisfaction. In fact, both parties in the transaction are satisfied, even though sometimes neither party really notices. I once spoke to an umpire and I asked him how he knew he’d done a good job in a game. “When nobody notices me,” he replied quickly and with confidence. That night be your standard, too: quiet excellence.
• Pride: Closely allied to satisfaction, but deeper, is the feeling of pride that suffuses you when you know you have done excellent work. Often triggered by compliments and thus in danger of becoming vanity (the true Deadly Sin, as Pride is as natural as Love), pride comes from one’s own evaluation, not that of others. That sense of pride also has a way of becoming a glow, as you can confirm by remembering the last person who gave you extraordinary service: they almost certainly would be someone you would describe as “taking pride in their work.”
• Karma: No, I’m not going all fuzzy on you. Whether you believe in the concept of karma or not, it is very hard to argue against ancient wisdom, as enclosed in “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”; “As you sow, so shall you reap” and “What goes around comes around.” Almost from the birth of recorded history, mankind has made it clear that service is an exchange, a compact of give-and-take. Therefore, give excellence, for it is the only way you will ever be assured of receiving it.

Maybe you have other basic reasons that expand on my own. I’d love to hear them. After all, it’s just another form of give-and-take, right?

Friday, June 10, 2005

Upcoming Events in Porta del Sol

17mo Festival Jueyero in Guánica
June 17-19 2005
Area de Malecón, Bahia/ Tel. 939-969-2496

Simposio de Calidad Turística
June 22, 2005
Costa Dorada in Isabela
5pm- 9:45pm
More information or reservations call 787-890-3315

Fiesta Nacional del Mangó in Mayaguez
June 24-26 2005
Palacio de Recreación y Deportes

25to Festival de la Hamaca in San Sebastián
July 1-3 2005
Plaza Ramón Baldorioty de Castro/Tel. 787-648-2715

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

T.I.P.S. 101** Fire Certain Customers

Fire Certain Customers
By Gil C. Schmidt

Customers are the lifeblood of every business. Following that analogy, blood needs to flow to be at its most useful, so that if we continue the analogy, when blood flow is blocked, something bad happens.

Serving customers is a constant activity and anything that detracts from that flow cannot be tolerated for long. Keeping my analogy, there are two types of blockages you need to avoid, or remove: tumors and clots.

• Tumors are those customers that increasingly absorb your time and energy and give you little or nothing in return. Freelancers are especially vulnerable to this kind of malady, the client from Purgatory who demands more, more, more as your profits and energy become less, less, less. Like a tumor, once you have identified this type of customer, the sooner you get rid of him or her, the better.
• Clots are customers, or groups of customers, that impede your best service flow. Although it may seem harsh to think of them this way, some customers or market niches simply do not offer the best profit potential, so trying to keep them “in your system” simply cuts off or reduces flow to the rest. Think of it this way: would you rather do a great job or a poor job? By keeping “clots” in your system, the odds of “poor” become higher than the odds of “great.”

To excise these blockages you need to learn how to fire customers. That’s right: get rid of them. You might have the kind of business where this is almost impossible. But don’t be fooled: “almost”impossible means there is a way, somehow. Find it.

Firing customers is simply a matter of letting them know that you can no longer serve them adequately. Make sure to be diplomatic and keep the focus on their welfare, not your bottom line. You don’t have to be a hypocrite, either: not being able to provide top-notch service is a legitimate concern for both parties.

It is better—best—to serve a smaller group of customers very well than to let a tiny portion of those customers drop your service level to less-than-acceptable standards. Look hard at your customers, figure out which—if any—are blockages and get rid of them. In the long run, both of you will be happy you did.

Monday, June 06, 2005

More Carol Awards

In the spirit of giving, and recognizing excellent service, I will also give out some Carol Awards.

I second the vote for Gil's Carol Award to First Bank. It is an excellent bank. They are very people oriented and their employees are very friendly. Whenever I've been told they will get back to me with some information I've requested they always follow through, promptly. So kudos for you!

Another Carol Award to Katherine and Yolanda, both work for Verizon Wireless in the Mayaguez Mall. When I changed cell phone companies a few months back, these two ladies took care of all the details for me. They contacted my previous phone company to transfer my number, they programmed my phone, helped me choose the best plan for my needs and gave me the necessary information to solve any problems I may have encountered as a new client. Now, whenever I have questions or "inconveniences" with my phone service, (which thankfully haven't been many). I always go to them first, knowing that if they aren't equipped to solve my problem they'll point me in the right direction.

One other recognition, to Mary at the Parador El Sol in Mayaguez. Even when she's under the weather the woman has a smile on her face. You can tell she loves what she does. Always very helpful and informative, she goes out of her way to help not only her guests but also her colleagues.

Two things all of these service providers have in common are, a genuine desire to help and a smile. They make a world of difference.

Keep up the good work!!... Diana


Friday, June 03, 2005

T.I.P.S. 101** A Carol Award

A Carol Award!
By Gil C. Schmidt

Let’s hand out a Carol Award to First Bank of Puerto Rico!

On two occasions, Christmas and late May, my wife had to solve issues with her MasterCard. Repeated calls to the card issuer in Maryland were filled with lengthy silences or the kind of music that has been shown to drive laboratory rats to the depths of insanity, also known as “politics.”

With time totally of the essence, my wife went to Banco Popular, the bank that has all of our accounts and was summarily told—both times—that because Banco Popular was not the card issuer, it could not help her with her needs, but would you like to request another credit card?


Finally, with a time crunch that could open walnuts, my wife went to First Bank to ask what her options were. Without any questions—not even if she had an account with First Bank—bank officials stepped in and handled every aspect she needed taken care of. This included phone calls to MasterCard and other referred sources as well as (in one case) issuing a cash withdrawal despite lacking a PIN (it had never been used so neither of us remembered it.)

To top it off, neither bank official asked my wife to open an account or even try to give her brochure for accounts or credit cards. Now some salespeople may frown at this, but think of what that means: by not bringing the matter up, they emphasized service, not “sales.” And by doing that, not once but twice, they have gained two enthusiastic recommenders.

Our bank accounts are now in First Bank. And if I had a donkey, I could tell Banco Popular to kiss my ass.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Food for Thought

Sometimes, even the happiest, most optimistic, fun loving people have a blah day. Those days when you think the world is coming to an end, and you question everything you know. You start to feel like Eeyore from Winnie the Pooh (Oh bother!). You might even wonder why you insist in swimming against the current, think outside the box, or simply desire more out of life. Here's a little food for thought to help put things back into perspective. In the words of Annie: " The sun will come out tomorrow...".

- Do for others with no desire of returned favors. We should all plant some trees we’ll never sit under.

- If at the end of the day you feel dog- tired, maybe it’s because you growled all day.

- Be the change you want to see in the world. (Ghandi)

- Keep in mind that the true meaning of an individual is how he treats a person who can do him absolutely no good. ( Ann Landers)

- Be nice to people on your way up because you’ll meet them on your way down. (Wilson Mizner)

- All big things in this world are done by people who are naive and have an idea that is obviously impossible. (Frank Richards)

- He who laughs, lasts. ( Mary Pettibone poole)

- Consistency is key! (Gil C. Schmidt)

- It don't mean a thing if it ain't got that swing... (Swingers The Movie)

- Even if you're on the right track, you'll get run over if you just sit there. (Will Rogers)

- Conform and be dull. (J.Frank Doble)

- The ark was built by amateurs and the Titanic by experts. Don't wait for experts. ( Murray Cohen)

- Ever tried.Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better. (Samuel Beckett)