Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Do I Want to Do This For a Living?

Sometimes I start to think of incoming calls as interruptions. Sometimes I don't FEEL like being helpful or solving problems (my own or someone else's). Sometimes I don't FEEL like taking the extra step.

I ask myself the question, "Do I want to do this for a living?". That question puts things in perspective. Maybe one day the answer will be "no" and I will have to plan an exit strategy. So far, the answer has always been "yes".

Sunday, April 13, 2008

circuitcity.com & Me - A Horror Story

I ordered a couple of GPS units from circuitcity.com. I was given the tracking number once the order shipped so I could check on it. A good thing, but not unusual. I had to check again on the shipment because it did not deliver when I expected it do based on when it arrived in NJ. I found that it was "unable to deliver" on fedex.com. I called fedex.com and found it was damaged in transit.

I called circuitcity.com. The first CSR to help me had difficulty understanding my problem. She also became annoyed when I told her why she did not understand. She thought I had received the order and found it to be damaged when it had never delivered. She put me on hold and left me there.

I called back and got "Ralph". He was a lot friendlier and tried to help me. He verified what I told him about the shipment. However, they could not send replacements. I would have to enter a new order and my first order would not be credited until they received the damaged package back from FedEx. I asked him to request a credit for me and he did. I got a reference number and that was it for the call.

The next day I called back and got a CSR with no personality. He reiterated their policy of not crediting until the damaged package was received back from FedEx. I warned him that I would dispute the charge. That did not seem to bother him. I decided it was pointless to continue with circuitcity.com.

Yesterday I called my credit card company and disputed the charge. It went well because I had all of the details they needed. Problem solved.

I still wanted the GPS units. I found they were sold by other vendors, including Amazon. That is who I ordered them from.

I would never, ever order anything online from Circuit City again.

CVS.com & Me

I ordered some items on CVS.com. One of the items was an eyelid scrub. Of the two versions available, I purchased the more expensive one. I received my order and found that I had received the less expensive version.

Call 1#: I explained my issue to someone who was having trouble understanding it and also having trouble confirming on her end that there were two versions of the product. I was placed on hold for several minutes. At that point, I gave up and called again.

Call 2#: I tried again and had the same difficulty, but this time I was at my computer and found that depending on what search terms were used on CVS.com, you may not get both products on the query or may get one on the 2nd page of the results. I found out what the best search term was and gave it to the CSR helping me. So far, so good. I was due a credit of less than $10 because I intended to keep what I receive. The CSR had to put me on hold to get permission from her supervisor to make the credit.

My experience overall here was mixed. The CSR's did try to help me. The first one had be on hold, I believe, because she was trying to find both products on their website. I think that they could have been better trained and with that a bit more empowered. I was surprised that my small credit needed supervisory approval.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Book: How to Talk to Customers


One of the managers in my department got a couple of copies of this book from the company they authors belong to (Diane Berenbaum and Tom Larkin of Communico). I flipped through it several months ago, but thought there was nothing (or at least not much) new and put it back down. Then a couple of months ago I decided to go through it. I am glad I did.

MAGIC® is their system of training and the book expands on it, using "Magic Moments" and "Tragic Moments" as examples of good or bad service.

I think the book covers the bases very well and is reader-friendly. The chapters are concise and to the point.

For this book to be effective, there has to be buy-in to the MAGIC® system, whether the reader is an individual trying to improve or a manager trying to improve service by their organization. Those willing to do that will find in this book everything that they need.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Made to Stick by Chip & Dan Heath


I bought this book with a Christmas gift certificate. I read most of it in airports (Newark and both Chicago airports). I am glad to own the book and will reread it soon. I bought into most of what the authors presented about how and why ideas stick. I want my ideas to stick, whether they are ideas presented to my colleagues at work, friends, my family or even the children I teach in Sunday School. This book helps.

The authors summarize creates successful ideas as follows - Simple, Unexpected, Concrete, Credentialed, Emotional and Story (SUCCESs - acronym is theirs, with apoligies). The book does an excellent job of fleshing out this useful acrostic, making their ideas stick along the way.

Recommendation: Buy this book.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

The Fred Factor by Mark Sanborn


This is a short book - only 13 brief chapters plus an appendix. Fred was for years the author's mail carrier. However, his approach to a relatively mundane job (as well as to his life in general) has been extraordinary. The big idea here is that no matter what we do in life, we can strive to be extraordinary by caring about what we do and the people we come into contact with, that even if it is never recognized, it is it's own reward.

I loved the first 4 chapters and was planning to buy the book for myself and thought it would be a great gift. Then I hit a stretch of 9 chapters that were part motivational, part instruction. While these chapters were not bad, I found them pale in comparison to the first chapters. It is stuff that I have seen before and presented at least as well, if not better.

Happily, a couple of later chapters were Fred-centric and therefore interesting.

My verdict? This is half of an outstanding book melded with half an ordinary book. If you are in a bookstore, check out the book to see if you really want it in hardcover or wait till the paperback version. Better yet, do what I did and borrow it from your local library.

I was profoundly motivated to find meaning in my work by better serving others. However the book would have had the same impact if it were only 6 chapters.

Friday, November 23, 2007

How to Win Friends & Influence People by Dale Carnagie



I had this book for a few years before deciding to seriously go through it. I did that only recently and I am starting all over again. This is one of the suggestions in the chapter in the beginning of the book called "Nine Suggestions". Read that before starting the book.

The stories in the book are a bit dated, but the concepts are timeless. Time and time again I would pick up things that I could do or say that would help me. I can't think of anything that I read that violated my moral convictions, so long as I use the concepts in the book in the way they were intended to be used.

Mr. Carnegie cautions at various points that using the concepts to manipulate will not work. Some people will have to get used to the empathizing with others, with looking for the good in others, with not being selfish. That is a good thing and for some will be the true starting point.

A longer title for this book could be "How Avoid Alienating People that You'd Like to Win as Friends and How Not to Destroy Your Ability to Influence Others".

The book in paperback is widely distributed and less that 10 bucks.