Tag Archives: work

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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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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Meditation That Makes Us Heavy

Ever wondered how sometimes when not exercising for awhile, you still manage to keep off the pounds despite not cutting down on the number servings or serving sizes? Yes, some may have a naturally high metabolic rate, but perhaps many use a short cut?

They sit, and work, and intensely stress. Do you think it’s possible? To sit at your desk, fret, and think, over-think, so excruciatingly that calories are burnt just from considerations of the mind and all the associated possible contingencies?

Maybe this is not such a short cut. It may, in fact, take a great amount of work and effort to be able to generate such forces at your desk to be able to drain so much out of your system. But, next time you skip a workout because of the mental toll you put yourself through during the day, can this be a convenient excuse or rationale that you actually did put yourself through the sweat shop with a little bit of imagination.

I think I’m starting to understand through writing out these processes of short cuts. Trying to spend time devising up these plans actually take longer than the original act I am trying to short cut. While it potentially could burn more calories, we can say the same about death and its ability to make us lose weight.

Ironically, this variant of meditation is kind of heavy.

It’s probably time for a new criteria.

-Patrick Law

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Sorry, I’m Late. Traffic Congestion. Where? (Points and clicks at temple)

Oh my God! Late for work! What time is it? It’s just late! Simply late! What to do? Oh please, please, please run into a traffic jam. Yes! Yes! I am stuck in traffic! Never mind the fact that I woke up before the alarm, as usual, and stayed in bed thinking after stopping the alarm. And then some. Never mind that. Because now, it’s all irrelevant because I have a new cause outside my control. Traffic!

Wait, this may not cut it anymore. Maybe 5-10 years ago? But, not today. Not in today’s Calgary. Booming, growing, exploding city. I’m going to have to do better than that to satisfy my boss. Being stuck in normal rush hour traffic is not an acceptable excuse in the Calgary of today. Those at work will just tell me to leave earlier, wake up earlier. (Little do they know that I wake up real early but just have so much to do, so much to think about, so much to attempt to squeeze in before work erases my fantasies; don’t get me wrong, work is pretty good and not a tyrant, but it just happens to fall immeasurably short of my dreams)

Come on, now! Think creatively! I need an out. Why is it so backed up? Come on! Yes…turn on the radio! Oh yes! Oh, please, please, please God, let there be some kind of accident. Shoot, sorry, I apologize. That didn’t come out too kindly. I don’t mean to wish there be a major accident for my selfish purposes. Just…just..just..well…do you know those situations when traffic is backed up and you stretch and elongate your neck to try to see far into the distance expecting some kind of incident?

Okay, how about this? Oh God, oh please, please, please God, I wish there to be a stalled vehicle blocking the turning lane, causing an insurmountable delay. So, I listen intently on the radio with unwavering focus trying to find evidence for my late arrival to work. Nothing yet. Nothing still. Still nothing! What! I need something to be reported on my route that everyone at work is familiar with. Please! Please?

If coworkers hear about an accident or a stall on my route on their radio at work, then they’ll collectively nod in agreement and understanding as to why my chair remains empty. The irony is obviously not lost on me about how I’m ridiculously praying for an accident to save my life. What would God think about this? Again, as if to alleviate some of the guilt within me, I emphasize that by accident, I mean stall, or flat tire, or a truck losing its load – no bodily injuries!

I know what God thinks. He’s not impressed because I’m not getting any answer. None. Sometimes God speaks through the voices of others. Nope, none. God’s not on the radio. The traffic reporter listed a lengthy Christmas list of stalls, flat tires, non-functioning traffic lights, but nothing on my side of the city. Damn!

I don’t need no official statistical census to tell me that Calgary is growing. Many years ago, a traffic jam like this would surely mean some accident or out of the ordinary incident somewhere, and it would be reported on the radio. These days, however, this kind of traffic is simply just volume – not worth a second of airtime.

My coworkers are not going to be impressed. What should I do, what should I do? I have a thought. Yes. I drive a standard. I am not coordinated. Whoops, I let go of the clutch too soon, and I stall. Yes. And then I shall put my hazard lights on and check under my hood acting all confused? No. No, I don’t. I will just continue to drive to work inch by inch.

I’m no sociopath; I’m just a blogger with fantasies…

-Patrick Law

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Filed under Detours: Psychology of Driving, Working