Archive for April, 2009

Customer Service

Wednesday, April 29th, 2009

This weekend I was helping a friend run her booth at a music and dance festival. Remember that I spent 3 years working as a Manager for a large retailer and my job was to train other managers. Within my stores, I created programs which helped to bring in sales when most people were losing money.

What was at the heart of the matter: I wanted to be of service to my customers. I told my sales people and the managers I trained to treat te customers as though they were honoured guests in your home.

What I taught and what I believed was that my customers could shop anywhere. That they chose to shop at my store not because we had anything which was unique, but because our approach to sales was different. We wanted to help fulfill their needs, their wants, their desires. We listened to them.

While this approach sounds elementary – after all, we saw a great example of this in the movie, Miracle on 42nd Street – it is not something which is taught in school. How can I help you? is now a phrase which is thrown out with little sincerity behind it. Which may be why, on part, people prefer to shop the internet as opposed to the brick and mortar stores.

But in the end, How can I help you? is the key to good customer service. Whether this is in a store setting or in an office or home, makes little to know difference. When we communicate what our wants and needs are to another person, and that person really listens, that is when we, the “customers” feel truly connected to the other. In an supervisor / subordinate situation, this exchange becomes about acknowledgment of effort, effective communication and caring, by both parties, for the successful outcome of the project. This can be as incremental as a thank you for getting lunch, to a mention in the company news letter for their efforts, to a bonus, raise or promotion.

And, in my experience, it is the above – listening, caring, delivery of quality work and showing enough personal integrity to be honest and sincere about what you can and cannot do, will not only make the sale, but will also bring you repeat customers. You will have made a friend, become part of their team, and continued to build your reputation for excellence. The skills of Customer Service will serve you well in all areas of your life.

Things to think about.

Until next time.

Sometimes, the difference is incremental. . .

Tuesday, April 28th, 2009

I was in dance class the other day, working on belly rolls, and my teacher said, I am going to get really nit picky here. Which was interesting, because one of the wrestling matches I have had with much of the writing I do for school is that the shifts have been small and subtle. Which can be very, very frustrating at times. Because I am so results oriented, darn it!

I do awesome belly rolls! I can roll quarters, swords, you name it. I can flutter up a storm! People weep when they see my muscle control and ability to to isolate my lower and upper abs! What did she want me to do?

Go higher.

What my teacher had noticed is that my rolls didn’t go all the way to the top of my upper abs. Right under my sternum. And while it is not necessary that they do, if I truly want to be a world class belly dancer, they had better!

And what does it serve me to not work towards the mastery of this? What does it do for me to not push myself to the heights and depths of the skills which bring me from a good dancer to a great dancer?

It’s subtle. There is a little tiny voice which suggests that by not pushing that extra 1/2 inch, if I put myself out there and am not accepted, then I am safe, because my belly rolls weren’t good enough. Because *I* am not good enough. This little voice really is trying to protect me from being disappointed. From being let down. But in reality, I am letting myself down by allowing it to continue to undermine me and my efforts.

We see this in business all the time. The Executive who second guesses himself. Who doesn’t delegate to his employees. Who is afraid to be real and vulnerable with those around him. The employee who doesn’t go beyond the call of duty because they feel that they will never be recognized for the good work which they do. The closet writer who never submits their articles / essays / books to a publisher because they fear that they will never be ‘good enough’. They do not push themselves because they have learned that mediocrity is acceptable in this world.

For me, mediocrity, like unhappiness, is not acceptable, if it ever was. For me, there is great integrity in pushing myself, in being honest with myself, in challenging myself. I feel better about looking in the mirror and truly liking the person who looks back at me, because I know that I have done my best every single day. On as many levels.

In a Coaching situation, the challenge for the client is to move to this point of self acceptance, of rigorous honesty and to really make a conscious choice to live in that integrity, with no judgments on the choices which were made before. Connecting this with a clear intention of being in alignment with your agenda, that is when the Client being authentic. And that is when the most productivity happens because the ego – the worries, the doubts, the second guessing – get out of the way and moving into trusting themselves, their skills, their knowledge and judgment make things seamless and allows them to flow with the unfolding situation.

And that is magic!

Until next time.

Taking a day to my self

Sunday, April 12th, 2009

Hello!

Has it really been 5 months since I have blogged here? How can that be?

Well, life does happen! between Grad school, training for a competition, my project and everything else which life throws my way, sometimes things get lost in the shuffle. Not to mention that for school, I am journaling every day! The brain does glaze over from time to time!

With that in mind, today I chose to take the day off. For those who do;e know, I am in Grad school. Part of my thesis project involves a lovely challenge which is to choose one thing in my life which I have always wanted to do and plan out how to do it! This includes not only developing a plan of action, but also implementing it, adjusting it as things develop and dealing with the issues which ariase along the way – both on a practice level and a mental / spiritual one.

Well, my project is to compete at the Ahlan wa Sahlan Belly Dance Festival in Cairo, Egypt at the end of June this year! Eeep!I have been belly dancing since 2001 and this challenge to myself was due to the fact that I felt that I either needed to really fully engage in this activity which brings me great joy when I am doing it, or sell all my costumes! Costumes were NOT going! (Historical note: I am a trained Ballerina. I danced from the time I was 3 until I finished my Undergraduate. Dance and music have always been an important pat of my life.) At this point, I am taking an average of 8 – 10 dance classes a week, plus workshops and private lessons. Today, I said, “ENOUGH!!!”

Sometimes, when we are caught up in everything – work, school, our kids, our primary relationships, family, community, training, being a householder – we forget that we need to take care of ourselves. That it is appropriate to put ourselves first, to prioritize and delegate so that we are taken care of. Because if we don’t take care of ourselves, no one else will.

Or they will try, but in the end, in most cases, the efforts are not fully appreciated. Which opens things up for anger and resentment.

So today, I did very little aside from laying on the sofa with a good book. Physically, this was good for me because it allowed my over worked muscles an opportunity to heal and recover. Mentally this helped me to really digest all the work I have been doing for school. It also allowed my conscious brain to relax a little and my unconscious brain to work on some issues which have come up in connection with my project.

Has it helped? I think so. I feel more refreshed, I have been able to get a slightly different perspective on what is going on, where the issues are coming from, and I feel more comfortable with my plan and any adjustments I am needing to make. And I am not as grumpy as I was this morning! Which, as far as I am concerned, is a good thing!

So, I am encouraging every one to look at what is going on in their lives. If you are starting to feel that you are putting out more energy than you are getting back, take a day for yourself! Be selfish! Because really, in the end, it is a way to show that you are caring for yourself but also that you understand that you are more valuable to every one around you if you have