Friday, August 6, 2010

Customer Service - A Dying Art?

As small business owners we have to be extremely focused on providing customer service since every customer is important for cash flow, referrals and repeat business.  We understand the necessity of phone calls, following through on promises and remembering the role of the customer in our business.

I think the larger, established companies have forgotten the essential role of customer service and customer satisfaction.  In the last several months I have witnessed a myriad of assaults on the entire premise of "customer service". 

If you promise a contract or proposal by a certain date and time - deliver.
If you promise a call back with status or information, do the research and make the call when promised.
Most importantly, provide the service you are paid to provide and give refunds when you do not.  It is called integrity.

On my list of never do business with again because of lack of customer service:
  1. ServiceMaster - added to the growing list today.
  2. HP
  3. Ameriplan
  4. Sprint
  5. ComEd
There's more and I will update it, but it is really a reminder that the larger your enterprise, the more difficult to control quality.

Windy City Diva

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Forgiveness of Self

Forgiveness and Gratitude...

I find myself thinking about choices made in the past and trying to reconsider whether I made the right decisions.  I have always believed that a healthy dose of self-reflection was, well, healthy.  I am sure on some level it is, but when it becomes debilitating it ceases to serve a positive purpose.  This is where forgiveness comes in.  If in reflecting on a decision you (or I) decide it was not the best of the choices, though it seemed so at the time, the necessary next steps are to find the lesson, forgive yourself and then be grateful for the new knowledge.  That, my friends is the hardest part, forgiving yourself.  It is much easier to forgive a partner for cheating, or a sibling for being mean or even a best-friend for betrayal, but to forgive oneself, that is a difficult task.  I believe the reason is because we hold ourselves to the highest standard.  We expect highly of others on the same level as of ourselves, but at some sub-conscious depth we expect others to falter in some way and disappoint us.  But do we give ourselves that same break and that same allowance?  I believe not.  I know not of myself.

I have always believed if I thought through the entire decision, wrote down the pros and cons, completed the appropriate due diligence on all options apparent to me and my trusted council, and made a decision based on that information, then the decision must be the right one.  I have learned a new lesson recently, it is not about right or wrong, it is about the "best decision at the time".  Based on all information available and the emotional factors, that makes it the right decision. 

Now I am the first to tell someone that they need to remove emotional facets of a decision as much as possible, though I know that is difficult and sometimes impossible.  But I am sure everyone can agree that while some decisions are strictly emotional, others should not be.

The point of this thought eruption is to encourage myself and others to stop wallowing in past decisions since they can not be changed.  If you can learn a lesson from either the decision-making process or the decision itself or even the result of the decision, fantastic, but the bottom line and ending result really needs to be that you accept the decision you made and move forward.  I will continue on this line of thinking in near future blogs.  Take the journey within with me.

Windy City Diva

Monday, August 2, 2010

Je Pense... American Made, American Products Please

Je pense... and everyone has been entitled to my "I think" statements since I was 2.

What brings this particular topic to mind is BP and the plethora of other malfunctions we have seen this year from foreign companies and foreign made products.
The list of recalls is increasing and who really believes Toyota at this point?
    Haven't we had enough of the imported goods that are not really "goods"?
        Haven't we had enough of the loss of jobs and the loss of quality checks by the US?

People can complain about big government, the oversight and even the cost of the oversight! But what about the cost of job loss because manufacturing has been sent overseas? What about the loss of life because of poor quality measures? What about the cost of treatment for lead poisoning?
I think American companies need to bring American goods manufacturing back into the United States and boycott any companies who insist on selling inferior products made in foreign countries to pad their bottom line. We may need to go back to a simpler time of having less trinkets, because let's face it, how many toy necklaces and Happy Meal toys do our kids really need?  I have personally thrown away no less than one hundred of those broken little pieces of junk.  There are empty warehouses littered across our country, right next to the empty dinner tables due to the job loss and landfills full of the junk being sent here that we discard because it wasn't worth keeping.
What do you think?

Windy City Diva

Sunday, August 1, 2010

"They're the Professionals"

"They're the professionals" is what my 16 year old son has said a couple of times within the last 7 - 10 days.  Both my mother and I have challenged that in the way that we want him to take into consideration everyone who studies something and accomplishes some letters behind their names is technically, "a professional" in their industry.  BUT you have to be able to see the wizard behind the screen. 

Their conversation was about the FDA and when my mom said something wasn't good for you, he said, but they are the professionals.  My mother pointed out to him that they have to recall drugs and other items, so even professionals make mistakes and sometimes you have to do the research yourself.  He was receptive, or so I thought.

Just today we were watching something and I commented that the colors selected for the bedroom were not appropriate, not conducive for good sleeping.  Again, he said, "they're the professionals".  I again, explained to him that all professionals are not created equal.  True, the room decor was attractive, but the colors were bright & vibrant and anyone who studies colors and they're affect on the brain, psyche and relaxation.  He said, "oh".

I think it is important to make sure children understand that input and opinions are just that, and that professionals can read the same materials but end up with different opinions on the same subject and details.  It happens all of the time in politics and they are all professionals.

Windy City Diva