Category Archives: Working

Relating to work, careers, business, customer service, etc…

How ‘IT’ Staff Make us Look Good

In this post, I’m going to give some kudos and appreciation to people who work in IT. I think that so many of them work behind the scenes, dealing with a lot of stuff “under the hood”, while we the users end up looking good and getting the accolades. It’s time to give these accolades back to where they belong.

When we complain about a computer problem, printing issue, connectivity issue, all kinds of issues, we often think that we are the only ones with the problem at that time, and that our problem is the most urgent. When we phone or email IT, we probably don’t realize that on the other side, the IT person is probably in the midst of putting out many fires at once, dealing with other people who all have the most  urgent problems in the world! I think we need to consider this the next time we mutter under our breath about why something is taking longer than expected.

Many of the IT staff have set the bar very high for themselves. By being so available, if not by phone, then by email, if not by email, then via some online conference route, if not that then a ‘contact us’ form on the Internet, and usually they reply in such quick fashion. Because of this, we are spoiled and unrealistically expect this service every time.

At our workplace, there are often computer/network printer connectivity issues, in that maybe during peak times, a patron’s print command may not register and then the printing gets paused, or not even initiated. We usually tell patrons to do the time consuming process of saving their work, closing everything, logging off, then retyping user name/password to log on again, reopen previous document, and finally executing the print command once more.

When notified of this, our IT person came up with a short-cut fix and set up something where the patron can click a folder, and then run something called “Printer Fix.” And then the printing will work. Magic? Apparently, clicking the icon acts to reset or refresh the connections without need to log off. I don’t know how it works, how it is set up, what was done behind the scenes, but I do know that patrons are happier for such a simplistic, time saving fix. And they end up thanking us for helping them and giving us their appreciation, while Mr. IT is somewhere else putting out another fire.

Isn’t that often the story of IT? Fixing things during times of stress, but not around to receive praises when things are running smoothly. Indeed, we don’t think about IT much when things are going smoothly, which is most of the time!

I know they often face many complaints, so just wanted to make a post in appreciation and to say: “Things are running great today!”

-Patrick Law

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A Tale of the Tape

Okay, I truly hope work people who may see this will see it more as humor than as me slacking. Yes, I have another short-cut to save time, but already the word ‘short-cut’ does not jive kindly in a work context. Laugh, just laugh. I am trying to reduce everyone’s blood pressure.

Okay. I was doing some work in the forest of bookshelves. Yes, I could probably get lost in there for inordinate amounts of time, read a chapter, and not be found, but I emphasize: I didn’t do that! Instead I was adjusting some labels and call number ranges to make them reflect more accurately to the items that were actually on the shelves. All this to make the lives of patrons a little bit easier for when they try to locate resources.  My intentions are good! Give me a raise! Okay, maybe not, especially if you read on to the next section.

When I got back to my desk I realized I left the roll of tape in the shelves. Fortunately, I remember exactly which book I left it beside. In fact, after working with call numbers for an hour, I even remembered the exact call number of the book near the tape. For my amusement, I just took a short-cut and left the tape there. Call it lazy, call it a short-cut, call it slacking, call it illogical, call it irresponsible, even call me evil, but please don’t say that I don’t care. I care greatly for your health and your tension.

So whenever a patron asked me to borrow the tape, I would say: “Did you try going on the computer and searching for it in the online catalogue?”

When they responded with quizzical looks, I elaborated by insisting: “Really, trust me. If you go on the catalogue and look up this book title (the title I had memorized from before), copy down the call number, and go to the shelves, you can find the elusive collector’s edition of the tape that you are looking for.”

Some who had the time to play along, did the search, went on a short treasure hunt, and I heard them laughing somewhere in the shelves. For others who didn’t want to go on the computer, I just gave them the call number.

Then I went into the back room and made a request to the cataloguer with an air of seriousness and urgency: “I’ve been getting a bunch of requests for the tape this morning. Would you mind quickly making a record in our system and assigning a specific call number to the tape?”

Everyone in the back room stopped what they were doing and just froze, trying to comprehend and make sure they had in fact heard what they thought they heard. Yes, I was dead serious. A few more seconds of awkwardness, and then bursts of laughter all over. You could almost hear, or at least imagine, the blood flowing smoothly through all our veins.

Have a great day at work everybody!

-Patrick Law

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I thought you went to get your hair cut?

Getting a haircut is definitely an opportune time to evaluate various aspects of customer service. Throughout our lifetimes, we’ve probably encountered many stylists and have our personal favorites. We may even insist on adjusting our schedules to fit a particular stylists, in order to guarantee our hair is always done by him/her, because we like the service so much.

Me? I’m quite cheap when it comes to haircuts. I always get the basic, bare bones service, and never ask for a special style or highlights or much of anything. In fact, I choose the place based on what coupon I have at the moment of need. The advantage of this is that I’ve been in a position to witness more than my fair share of stylists.

I’ve been to ones who usually try to insist and persuade me into trying what they think. One woman’s voice particularly stands out: “I know what would look really good on you!” I guess that’s okay except she suggests a really good longer hairstyle when, in my context, I’m always looking for a cut that leaves my hair very short. You see, if you haven’t noticed, with my coupons, and going to places where I can just drop in and not make appointments with specific stylists, I like to save money! The shorter I can make my hair, the longer I can go without needing to cut it.

Despite repeating my desire for something short, somehow she persuaded me into a longer style. She was a smooth talker, good at selling, I guess, but it didn’t take me long to get the impression that she may have been suggesting a longer style because she wanted to do less cutting and only just a bit of trimming. Perhaps this wasn’t totally true, but I couldn’t help thinking after I left that I sure didn’t sit in the chair for very long! And when I saw my family, my mother didn’t even notice much of any change in my mop and said: “I thought you went to get your hair cut!”

Not long after, I had to go for another cut, but just not to the lady who prefers longer styles. Fortunately, I had another coupon to another place. In the next blog entry, I’ll continue my adventures on hair and reflections on customer service.

-Patrick Law

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Each phone call, no matter how negative, is an opportunity…

In these economic times, when it may be harder to get new business, it makes it even more important to do all we can to retain our customers and increase the loyalty factor. It is shocking that day in, day out, we can find so many examples where we are left wondering, why didn’t they do just a little bit more to keep their customers? Why do so many throw away opportunties and not make use of situations where the customer is giving them a chance to obtain business?

Today I overheard my friend talking on the phone and asking a hair salon company for the name of the person who did her hair last time. She thought she did a good job, but couldn’t remember her name, and wanted to schedule another appointment. She described the appearance of the hairstylist and which station she usually worked at until the employee on the phone recoginized who she was referring to. The employee said that the hairstylist my friend wanted did not work there any longer.

My friend was of course disappointed, and stayed on the phone a bit to express how satisfied she was last time and also communicated a mood of not knowing where to go next. The employee apologized, did not say or ask much more, and they said their goodbyes.

You may be wondering, as I am, why did the employee not take the opportunity to strive a little harder to retain the customer? My friend, as evident by her reaction, had some hesitancy and indecisiveness about where to go and what to do next. Even though her preferred stylist was no longer working at the salon, the employee already had my friend on the phone and had first shot in convincing my friend to stay with the company.

Maybe the employee could ask my friend what kind of style she likes and then promote one of the stylists in the salon? The employee should show interest by asking questions and then show that their services can meet the needs of my friend. In these kind of situations, where a customer is disappointed and considering going elsewhere, maybe employees should have the authority to offer discounts and special coupons in an effort to keep the customer? Or how about politely asking the customer if they would like to talk to one of the hairstylists to discuss on a more personal level about the desired look that the customer is after?

Each phone call is an opportunity to improve the customer relationship. The employee probably assumed that because the preferred stylist is not available anymore, this meant the end of the interaction and relationship. It’s up to the employee, especially while the customer is still on the phone, to convince her not to go elsewhere.

-Patrick Law

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Library Perks

While working at the library may not have the traditional big business perks of golf club memberships, concerts, sporting events, free dinners, stock options, it does have its intrinsically unique set of perks.

Some perks for library staff:

If you’re fortunate enough to be in close vicinity or have access to what materials are being processed, you are one of the first to know what new items on going to be on the shelves soon. And if you are in any department relating to ordering materials, then this is even one step more ahead in the assembly line, and you have knowledge months ahead of time what is coming.

What kind of shopper are you? Do you like to get in and out by finding your predetermined item directly and leaving as fast as you can, or do you like to browse around? If you are of the latter variety, then the library is probably a dream haven for you. If you have access to books that are being returned, right at your desk is a browsing session each time an item is being checked in. You can consider for each one, would you borrow that book? Would you read it? What might it be about? I never knew something could be written from that perspective? There has to be some kind of communion going on every time a title passes by. Is it knowledge you would like to acquire?

Another perk is being right at the front line on the information needs and knowledge cravings of the public. What books are being taken out and circulated? What books are repeatedly being used and in demand? Where is the pulse of the community at? Which authors have firm grasps of our collective imaginations? What does the public need to take in again and again? What are students studying? What possible dissertations are being considered at this moment? What is important in our lives!

Knowledge of what books patrons are interested in can make it easier for future communication and establishing relationships. It’s a convenient ice-breaker, and also a way to select who you want to start conversation with. And, if feeling extra ambitious, and if it fits your particular circumstances, you can even get a head start on match making. One can argue that meeting potential partners based on books may have more validity and a higher success rate than using those expensive dating agencies?

As you can notice, there are more perks in a library than can be used in one career, so consider twice next time you read the formal benefits package, contracts, because you probably will not see any of the perks written there. You just have to think what perks there could be…

-Patrick Law

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Telling Lies in the Hope that They’ll Soon Be True…

Lies. After hearing this word, or being a victim of them, or having them come out of your own mouth, how do you feel? What feelings are associated with not telling the exact truth? Chances are, just naturally, they tend to lean towards the negative end of the spectrum. Even without knowing the complete story, we usually do not take kindly to lies and have an unflattering impression of the person doing the lying. These reactions don’t allow us to consider potential underlying reasons that the person has for stretching the truth. This information could prove valuable to better understand the other person and may even be turned into positive use.

That’s why I found refreshing the Globe and Mail article that offered another perspective and interpretation on reasons why people may lie or exaggerate. I particularly found enlightening one suggestion about how “lies” could actually reflect what the person is trying to achieve, or a goal to be obtained.

The article helped remind me not to jump on somebody, and too quickly form a negative impression of someone, when they lie. It gave me insight on how lying can be seen as part of the process towards something and that we should think of ways on how it can motivate.

With this in mind, would you be willing to forgive and understand some of the lies and exaggerations I’ve provided on various sections of this blog? Heheheh…..

-Patrick Law

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Couple of New Books on Customer Service

Great timing! 2 new books are out focusing on exceptional customer service.

MANAGEMENT LESSONS FROM THE MAYO CLINIC By Leonard L. Berry and Kent Seltman

THE NEW GOLD STANDARD By Joseph Michelli

In another post at this site, there was a story describing exceptional customer service given by a dental hygienist.  It’s interesting that more and more focus is being paid to health industries. Another reader commented about how her mystery shopping business will start a shop in the medical field and the Globe and Mail had an article this morning reviewing the two books mentioned above. Lots of pleasant surprises can by found and lessons learned from situations where we normally wouldn’t expect extraordinary service.

Enjoy!

-Patrick Law

 

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