Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Service First

By Diana Figueroa

Why service first?

The movie You’ve Got Mail keeps coming to mind.

You have a local bookstore (A) which might be put out of business by a much larger operation (B). Store (A) could simply tuck its tail between its legs and call it a day without fighting for a piece of the pie. (A) could think, “(B) is so much bigger than I, what can I offer clients that (B) can’t?”

Customer Service.

There is something to be said about walking into a store and being welcomed and treated as if you were family, with warmth and respect. Being notified when new merchandise that you like is received, or having it reserved especially for you. Knowing that you are a valued customer. (Company A)

Opposed to walking in and feeling like cattle, just one more out of a bunch. Fending for yourself in trying to find what you’re looking for. Being a nameless face, a dollar sign. The value is in the money not the person spending it. ( Company B)

In which store would you rather spend your hard earned money?

Company (A), values you as a person and customer, does everything they can to cater to specific needs by providing quality service personally and product wise. Or…
Company (B), who values your money, provides for the masses and whose employees are to busy alternating between complaining to each other about work and looking at the time clock.

Service sells.

The type of service you provide can make or break a company. It is NOT enough to have a marketable product, an excellent promotional campaign, an attractive spokesperson, merchandise from floor to ceiling, lots of employees. If your service is mediocre your days in business are numbered.

Service is especially useful in smaller companies which don’t have the sales volume of larger ones. Since the competition is so fierce, smaller companies depend on excellent service and added values to keep current customers and generate positive word of mouth to obtain new ones.

The most important tool companies have for gaining and keeping customers is Service . Bigger isn’t always better. Quality over quantity.

Always Make Service First!


Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Following Through on "Follow Through"

Hello! Once again Carol contacted me with a comment about a previous post. I have included that email in today's post. Thanks Carol!!! Keep 'em coming!

You had a post 17-Aug about "follow through" that I
> intended to reply to, but haven't. (NOW I am
> finally "following through" on it!). Sometimes being
> able to follow through requires understanding the
> context of answers that you receive.
> I used to work in Mexico a lot. My company had
> subsidiaries there, as well as a joint venture with
> a large US company to produce pigs. I spent a lot
> of weeks at the hog farms working with a man from
> North Carolina who had never been outside of the US
> before he went to Mexico.
> The first two trips, Bill and I didn't go at the
> same time. After that, however, it became obvious
> that he and I needed to travel together. Bill had
> no concept of Mexican culture, therefore had no idea
> of how to "filter" the answers he was receiving.
> Bill asked for several things, and in each case the
> answer was, "Si, si, si, Señor." Yet when Bill
> returned the next time, nothing was done. Not one
> single project was started - much less completed.
> Bill was EXTREMELY frustrated.
> What Bill didn't understand, however, was what those
> "Si" answers really meant. Bill didn't recognize the
> nonverbal clues- eyes glazing over, heads nodding in
> rhythm instead of in comprehension...
> Bill received what I call the "Mañana Yes."
> "Mañana" does not mean tomorrow. It means "NOT
> TODAY." Could be tomorrow. Could be next week.
> Could be next year, but it's NOT TODAY .
> When the local guys were answering ,"Si, si," they
> were really saying, "Yes, I don't understand you."
> "Yes, I don't have a clue what you really want."
> "Yes, I cannot do it." They couldn't follow through
> because they didn't know what to do. They were
> willing to do the work, but not able to do it
> because they didn't understand what Bill requested.
> But culturally it would have been impolite to tell
> Bill "No," so they replied with a "yes" that
> deferred the problem until another day.
> In business it is important to understand the
> context of replies.
The spoken words alone may not
> convey the true meaning. You have to be able to
> hear beyond the words and understand what the other
> party is really communicating. That requires active
> listening - understanding context, and looking for
> nonverbal clues as well as hearing the words.>
> You will be a more effective business person if you
> can see the broader picture and understand the
> context of words. What people SAY may not be what
> they MEAN, and understanding their meaning allows
> you to address their real concerns and more
> effectively follow through.

> Take care,
> Carol

** Comments are welcome diana.tips@gmail.com **


Wednesday, October 12, 2005

SunCom Revisited

By Gil C. Schmidt

You’d think that after slamming a company for poor planning and awful service, I’d avoid it like avian flu. But it’s been said that one should never burn bridges for one never knows what paths Life takes, so I avoided burning bridges (I may have scorched a pylon or twelve) and I returned to SunCom.

I had run into an odd problem: because I haven’t bought anything on credit since the Bush Sr. Administration, I was being asked to fork over a $500 deposit to get my own account with Centennial thus and keep the number I’d used for almost two years under a corporate account. Five. Hundred. Dollars. To stay with the SAME company.

Salt in the wound: if I had shown a bad credit rating, my deposit would have been $150 max. Good fiscal management gets punished at Centennial.

I cruised other cell phone companies and, after sighing deeply, I also checked out SunCom. (I hate shopping, but when I do it, I do it carefully.) My wife still has her phone with SunCom, so that could be a benefit…

My first surprise was meeting María, the Customer Service Manager. A bright and cheerful mother of two little girls (ages 2 and 5), she was very focused and quickly got past the “no credit history” advantage (credit has a way of stealing your wealth) and went directly for a strong offer. Both my wife and I would get 1,100 minutes for both phones, free incoming calls, free phone-to-phone calls between my wife and I, free calls from Thursday 5 PM to Monday 5 AM (FREE calls all day Friday!) and free access to long distance, all for just $70 a month. Because of excellent credit (my wife’s and my clean record), we got the second unit at no charge and the activation fee was waived.

Oh boy! The whole transaction took less than 25 minutes. But it gave me time to talk to several other people in the SunCom office and they all had the same story: María was a jewel. In fact, despite a lengthy waiting time to see her, customers clearly preferred María’s attention than anyone else’s. It became clear that if the people in that office were a sample, SunCom owed a good deal of its success to María.

So here’s to María, a beacon of good service in what could have been another chapter in a sad story. And to all the “Marías” that keep customers happy…and loyal.

Monday, October 03, 2005


A couple weeks ago I had lunch at Casa Vieja, a restaurant located in the second oldest town in P.R., San Germán. I was most impressed, everything was as it should be. The restaurant is very nice, simple and elegant. There are different types of art (paintings,statues...) on display throughout the restaurant, and if you like a particular piece you can purchase it .
The service is great! The waiters are attentive, and friendly. They know the menu very well.
The food was exquisite, presentation as well as flavor. The main dishes range in price from $14- $20. The portions are pretty large and there is some waiting time for the food to be served (time varies depending on amount of people in restaurant), but the food and the ambience are so good that it is worth the wait. I highly recommend Casa Vieja!

Congrats to Glenn Ross! He has "relocated" his blog to http://www.allbusiness.com/blog/CustomerServiceExperience/10783/

I enjoy his articles, they are witty! The entire page is fantastic and full of useful information. Drop by and see for yourself.

Also take a look at Gil's site, http://gilthejenius.blogspot.com
His Sept.28 post talks about what Blog readers and Blog writers want out of their Blogging experience. Here's a short excerpt:

Blog writers want to see more:

• constructive criticism, reaction, feedback
• 'thank you' comments, and why readers liked their post
• requests for future posts on specific subjects
• foundation articles: posts that writers can build on, on their own blogs

For the complete post visit the page, the address is a few lines up...

Enjoy!! ;oDD