Category: Employment


What is customer service?

Really, what is customer service? Because I am getting to think some companies do not understand the concept and can’t deliver it. An easy definition of customer service is treating your customer well. Ahhh, yes we can agree with that but just treating your customers well is not good enough. We need companies to go beyond treating their customers well.

Customer service in 2010 is a function of how well an organization is able to constantly and consistently exceed the needs of the customer. If a business today is not able to compete on customer service delivery then it makes no sense entering the business world. The company would have missed the point and focus of what companies should deliver to their customers. Firms today display on huge scrolls their mission statements and vision statements in their establishments. They express how wonderful the customer is but somehow their delivery does not match up with the words.

On Wednesday March 3, 2010, my friend purchased two slices of cakes from Pastry Passions. They have outlets in Manor Park and Liguanea, all located in Kingston, Jamaica. Later on, I opened the package, everything looks presentable, glanced a bit; it looked good so I began to partake. After eating two pieces I noticed that there was plastic below the icing. I thought to myself “this isn’t right?” I have never purchased a cake and seen plastic below the icing. After some investigations, I learnt that they use the plastic to retain the moisture. It is used for cakes like black forests – the one we bought. Clearly the individual who applied the icing forgot to take off the plastic.

I recognized then that this must have been a genuine mistake. I can’t fathom a pastry outlet of the repute like Pastry Passions making this mistake.

In a situation like this you either accept the mistake and the disservice as normal or you report the situation. It is sad that I was willing to condone and accept this mediocre service delivery from a company when you have paid a nice chunk for a slice of cake. Many customers share this profile though. When something in the service delivery goes wrong they accept the wrong actions by the company as normal when it is not. We need to reach a level where actions like these don’t go unreported. We were so lackadaisical about it that I was able to convince my friend to eat the cake.

However, he decided to call Pastry Passions to report the case so that they were aware of the matter and that no one would be harmed. It would be sad and a bad tale to have a child swallow a piece of that plastic on the cake.

During the conversation, the representative from the company becomes irate. Not over the fact that this incident could have happened at Pastry Passions but was angry that the person reporting the matter had an attitude. This is a blatant violation and a health risk that could bring the store closed and you are giving the customer an attitude. I was upset because I expected better from Pastry Passions. They are all over the Jamaican media telling how good their cakes are blah blah blah. Truth be told, they aren’t that good. Even their presentation sucks because the cakes on display are messed up, the icing does not hold up. So when people can see flaws in your product and still have the guts to handle it and purchase your goods, giving an attitude should be the last thing on your mind. To bring everything home, honey, this was not a normal entry level employee dishing the attitude and insolent behaviour this is from one of the managers.

And that is the saddest part of the story. That a manager, who we will assume should know better, could have done this.

The night got better though. The cakes were returned. While in the Manor Park outlet of Pastry Passions the other manager stormed in, was angry that this situation all had happened. She apologized and it was accepted.

Customer service in Jamaica is at its lowest point. I think we have low regards for customers because as a people we have no respect for people. There are a few good people left. I wrote a blog post months ago that spoke about this topic. In it I shared great experiences I had, so I know great customer service delivery can be reached. It is not hard, it is not a stretch out of our imagination. We don’t have to wait until we reach on an airplane to enjoy it. Customer service should be like breathing, it’s that easy.

When I left school I was employed with the marketing firm and through another private sector firm was offering free customer service training. You need to read that again, free customer service training for their staff. All I had to do was to call up the companies and share the good news of free customer service with them and ask if they were interested. Would you believe that some companies turned the offer down? This training was not mediocre customer service training. They were getting training materials that they could keep all for free. I had managers on the telephone attempting to convince me that their staff does not need customer service training. I also want to share that the training sessions I did companies were surprised of the quality, the technique I used and some expressed I should continue. I am passionate about customer service. Three companies can be selling the same thing but what makes you stand out is how you treat your customers when they walk through your doors.

Do you say “May I help you?” in a dry tone, or

You walk over with a smile and say “Good morning, how are you?” (Wait for a response)

“I see you’re looking at jeans pants, what size are you looking for?”

I should not be shopping and screaming on top of my lungs “HELP”.

Customer service is something you either have it or you don’t. If you don’t have it, pray that you’ll get it. Because we are at a stage where if you ignore it, another company might steal your idea and do a better job at it. Do you have it? Customer service is history, it is in the past. Today, as customers we seek customer empathy. If the manager on the phone, got apologetic and really expressed his dissatisfaction with what his company did we would feel better to consume there again. With the way he handled the situation I am not sure I want to look through their panes anymore. Customer empathy is showing your customer how much you care about them. Because they would have cared a lot before to have reported how bad they feel.

Tips on providing great customer service/empathy

  1. Do not take criticism personally.
  2. Listen to the customer.
  3. Acknowledge that your company did something wrong
  4. If it is the company’s fault fix it.
  5. Do everything with a calm voice, mixed with a smile. It will go a far way.
  6. Never forget to make it up to the customer. Provide free service/gifts, because you want to retain this person.

Thank you!

This blog has officially received 40,000 hits from YOU, and YOU and YOU.

That song is dedicated to all the new viewers to this blog and all the lovely bloggers that visit this site on a regular basis. Welcome to the blog!

This blog is growing and I am excited about that. Moving on, I will be Guest Blogging on other sites officially. My first post on Young Brothas will be on March 1, 2010. We have agreed for me to officially write for that blog, once I submit entries. I am happy for the opportunity and do not worry whatever is on that site will be provided here.

Can someone say Celebration!

The final song is from The Oprah Show which featured Celine Dion and The Canadian Tenors. A little background. Both are from Canada and The Canadian Tenors have not met Celine Dion. So Oprah ‘surprise style’ she invited the male group and invited them under the premise that they were there because they were rising talents (although they are). The big surprise, watch and see. I love this.

Each time you click on this blog and some bloggers may leave a comment – I am surprised. The expression on their faces when Celine Dion walks out is the same moment I share, even now.

Thanks a million.

What is Money

It’s the root of all evil

It pays the bills,

It may heal your ills

And bring you thrills.

According to Wikipedia, money is anything that is generally accepted as payment for goods and services and repayment of debts. For everyone, we interpret and treat money differently. Whether it is the abundance of wealth or the lack thereof there is a certain level of importance which we all seem to place on the precious commodity. From the Forbes list to the United Nations Poorest Countries list we seem to rank everything from those who do not have it to those who have it and may waste it. We live in a world where it seems to have a voice you should have cash to care.

If you grew up in an environment where everything is lavish, fabulous and expensive, you will view money differently from those who did not. It is highly probable that when you enter a certain level of wealth your expenses tend to be higher than others. It is true because you have to keep up with the lifestyle you live. One at this rank does not imagine the day when they will have nothing. Therefore, they will invest in portfolios, real estate and make other investments to maintain their wealth. The responsibilities that come with the lifestyle are also important. Case in point – Casey Johnson. Who knew someone could be kicked to the curb from a family who seemed to have everything? It seems more and more families with a vast amount of wealth are throwing out those family members who could appear to put the family’s wealth in jeopardy. Those who are rich sometimes are forced to continue that legacy to maintain their stature. On the contrary, persons who are rich can mismanage their wealth and become poor. Fantasia, the American Idol winner recently on Oprah opened up about her fall from grace. After buying her home and settling in, she had problems keep it. Her home fell into foreclosure and at one point she was unable to buy a pizza, her card failed. Money can be easy come and easy go. It takes proper financial management and financial sense to keep it.

For those who grew up in a poor background, they understand the importance of money. For many, money is the way out of poverty and they will place all their focus on avenues that could get them out of that state. Whether it is a talent, education or an illegal activity, poor people in the right environment can charter a new course out of poverty. We have seen numerous stories of people who did not have it but with the right attitude and approach they were able to live a better life. Oprah, Jay Z, and Hilary Swank just to name a few have gone from the lowest echelon to some of the richest people in our world.

However, people who are poor see money differently. People who are poor or who are in destitute positions do not see the importance of saving for the future and having investment accounts. Give someone who is poor a bank card with funds that could keep them for a month and see how fast that money goes. They tend to see money as short term, so they spend it to make them content in the moment. While there are others that if you give them the same amount they wouldn’t spend most of it because they understand the position they are in and have an idea of where they would like to be.

Money today is perceived based on cultural attitudes as well. In our world today, young people are materialistic. We tend to focus on what is in, the latest Bling and fashions. The entertainment industry is pushing this attitude of ‘you can have it all’ and at all costs.

Money and the abundance of it can last a lifetime if we understand the basic concepts. As human beings we need to live within our means and recognize that if we spend more than we earn we will be poor. No one wants to be poor; we want to be independent, strong and able to survive. With rising standards of living and costs going up, the worst thing that could happen to us is to lack needed funds. Money can be our way out of poverty but it can also lead to our own detriment.

It is significant that we inculcate cultures where we are not so highly materialistic but we begin to inspire people that can handle wealth without ruining their lives in the pursuit of it. Sure money is good and wonderful to have but the love of it could ruin our lives.

By Esperanza D.

Esperanza

A big thanks to Corve DaCosta who gave me the opportunity, through a blog contest, to be a guest blogger for a day.  I entered the contest with the hope of using it as a platform to creating just a little change, for the better, in this world.

As some of you may know from the HmmSweetSplendidWisdom blog I’m both a Social Work graduate student and a Social Justice activist.  Through my field practicum for school, I am working on HIV prevention and education, as well as HIV testing and counseling. I enjoy it a lot and plan on attending a conference this summer in New York that talks about issues surround HIV and women, in particular women of color.

I’m really excited about this, as my own passion is working with, and empowering women.  In addition, my interest in HIV prevention and education began when my uncle passed away from AIDS and I saw, firsthand, the stigma attached to it. I then knew that it wasn’t ok to treat others as anything less than equal.

Well, I came across a really needed website the other day I want to share with you. It’s called the “Pepsi Refresh Project” that gives $$ to grassroots projects led by real people and community members, like yourselves. Anyone is able to submit an idea that deals with giving back to the community in a way they find most productive or creative. In turn, it is posted online to be voted on by the public and the winner receives a lot of cash for their project. How cool is that? Here is the link if you wish to vote on current projects and find the sign up link to submit your own for the next round.http://www.refresheverything.com/index

What I plan to do is attend the HIV and Women Conference this summer and use my creative talents to come up with a great project proposal for the Pepsi Refresh Project. When this happens, I hope you will support my efforts through your vote. In turn, I hope you feel inspired to come up with a project of your own to submit to the site. Think about what communities or populations could use your support and where you feel your passion can make the most impact.

Sitting here at home thinking about life, pondering about the next move and the opportunities that will come. However, something happened today and it made me really think about the word ‘reputation.’ In college, students can fool around and get away with it. By that I mean, if you fool around ‘well’, you can still have a great job and command a good salary too. I remember years ago when sex tapes were becoming a trend. A tape was released through hackers with a college couple. Of course, no one cared about the male who was also visibly on camera but more emphasis was placed on the girl. With all the reasons for that, it must be a horrible feeling for your most intimate moment to be seen by hundreds of people and the internet!

MagnifyGlassIn the professional world, you are recognized and are judged by your latest project. People tend to forget what you did years ago but the blunder you created minutes ago will remain fresh in their minds.  Being on the job keeps you on your feet. More than ever, job security is on everyone’s mind; forcing people to be productive and efficient. Having people’s trust is critical because they depend on you not only to perform but to surpass expectations. The mere fact you got the project to work on wasn’t a trial and error judgement, more so, it was a deliberated process (most times) based on your skills and competencies. When someone who entrusted you with a duty and in the middle of it withdraws that responsibility to give someone else, it shows you’re incapable of delivering on what is expected. It is alarming because those who you expected to look up to you and who you wanted to impress will now have second thoughts. Because they had high expectations of you and they are now saying and thinking you are not the ‘big fry’ you claim to be.

Sitting here at home, after a lovely Jamaica meal I think about those who are being referred to others because of their tremendous quality and delivery at what they do. Recently one of my acquaintances was referred to a new project. Although there are options in taking a decision, there are ramifications if you turn down someone’s recommendation, especially if it comes from an esteemed, prominent person.

All we have in our professional life is our ‘reputation’. Without it, it may cost you the next job opportunity. I will encourage employees to start creating a reputation that has hard work and Excellency as its foundation in the workplace. The only thing we can build and hold on to is our own reputation. The next time you get that job/responsibility from your boss, suck it up and complete it with pride and hard work; See the forest not the trees.

Welcome to the fourth edition in the series of the Water Cooler. This feature will highlight what’s hot, topical and up for discussion.

A section below is titled Photography. This section will be interactive for all my visitors. Your images with your credits (linked to your blog) can appear on the next edition of the Water Cooler. If you have taken photos (artistic, unique, related to travel, scenery, landscapes etc) that people will find interesting to look at, share it with us every Sunday on the Water Cooler. Your images may be emailed to blog.corvedacosta@gmail.com Go ahead send in those images your photo could be featured here.

Here we go.

Others in the series: Water Cooler, Water Cooler Ed. 2, Water Cooler Ed. 3

Politics

This week a video uploaded to YouTube showing children singing a tribute to the American President Barack Obama was very contentious. The children who were of all races by my eyes sang two songs dedicated to Barack Obama – one done to the tune of the Battle Hymn of the Republic. Now, there is certainly nothing wrong with anyone showing their love for their Prime Minister or President. However, this tribute that was done to commemorate Black History Month took a turn for the wrong; it was on the borderline of worshiping Obama. We cannot ignore that Obama has made his presidency all about him. He has taken a lot of time to create an image that is respected by millions. So respected he is that opposing Obama is seen to be racist. The position he has as the leader of the free world must be respected. I get the impression from Obama that he wants to be talked about and wants to be seen as the greatest of all – the saviour. He works so hard creating an impression that with this video you cannot forget the speech he made to the children in schools recently.

Below are words the students chant to Obama:

He said that we must take a stand

To make sure everyone gets a chance

Barack Hussein Obama

He said red, yellow, black or white

All are equal in His sight

Mmmmm, Mmmmm, Mmmmm

Barack Hussein Obama

The lyrics in the video are not only shocking but to see underage children without the consent of their parents sing to Obama in this way makes you flabbergasted. This tribute or act of worship does not in anyway congratulate or give credit to the black people who fought for what we have today. It serves to worship; sing the praises and rhetoric that Obama spews on the networks daily. I am saddened that these children were misled by lunatics who are not appreciative of democracy and prefer personalities over substance. I would rather here the children sing of how much the country has grown to elect a black president than to sing “All are equal in His sight”. Do we realize these children are being indoctrinated? This is what we see of Hitler and North Korean leaders and it makes us cringe in our seats. So why doesn’t this make us wonder?

We have all been ‘Obamarized’. We have fallen in love with Obama where to oppose him is racist and to disagree with him makes you a supporter of the right. What those kids did in that video is wrong. Singing Obama’s ideologies to the tune of the Battle Hymn of the Republic makes me disturbed, a little. It does. I am not sure the President would approve it but parents for the most part should be outraged especially if you support Obama and found the video okay. It is given that mainly republican parents are going to be annoyed by it and they should. Supporters of this video should imagine their child singing praises to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. I think then you will understand how crazy and absurd it is of teachers to be directing such an activity.

Love and Relationship

Have you ever seen a couple together and wonder how cute they look together? Uhhhh. When we say they are perfect for each other is it because we love their interactions and chemistry or is it that we love how attractive they are together, how well they compliment each other?

Rihanna & Justin

Rihanna & Justin

Rihanna and Justin

Rihanna and Justin

It is something that I have noticed with myself. More so, because sometimes I am asked to find potential partners for people – my own circle of friends. I do not know if it should be called judging but we tend to have our own conclusions based on one look. It is true first impression lasts but do we need to step back and observe couples longer before making our own final predictions.

They say opposites attract. I am not sure how people respond, but what if you saw a couple out and you think they don’t match. Are we ending a couple’s relationship in our psyche before giving them the time to date – before finding our own conclusions?

Julie Henderson & Simmons

Julie Henderson & Simmons

Rihanna is making the news again and it is rumoured that she is secretly hooking up with beau Justin Timberlake.  These are some photos taken on a video shoot recently. What do you think, what makes two people right for each other – keeping in mind we are looking in from the outside? The jury is out on this one.

Inspiration of the week

Last week I had an encounter that I will always remember. I went on an interview for a job in my field. After the interview session I had the opportunity to have a discussion that really moved me. For this week the inspiration has to 2072865350015798315S500x500Q85deal with focusing on what others say. This is tricky because people will tell you things that will hurt you in the future. As an individual you have to discern between what is good for you and what is bad. Sometimes people tell us good things and because we have a mental block against taking corrections or suggestions we totally ignore what they have to say – for our own detriment. This week we are going to think on the positive suggestions we get. You may not think they are good for you but consider them, evaluate the ideas and see if they make your life better or worse.

Photography

We start this week with photography from Craig A. Bloomfield from Jamaica. Click here to view his blog.

Sunset in Negril Jamaica

Sunset in Negril Jamaica

Caribbean Sea

Caribbean Sea

Scene from Mikuzi - Portland, Jamaica

Scene from Mikuzi - Portland, Jamaica

So You’ve Graduated

graduate3After attending college/university you expect to land the perfect job or have an internship at a top company using all the skills and the knowledge you have learnt. As graduates we expect the economy to provide constant jobs and the business environment to be healthy for the creation of new businesses. Are our expectations too much? In today’s economy, it is not advantageous for graduates as fewer jobs are left vacant and the vacancies created are as a result of layoffs from companies both huge and small. University/College graduates should therefore prepare themselves for a period of unemployment. How can we all prepare our minds and psyche for the stressing times ahead? This blog will seek to provide tips for recent graduates who are in the market looking for a job.

Be Patient

After leaving school the job market will be very competitive. All the students from all the universities across the world are graduating students who have studied the same area you did. You cannot ignore all the applicants who will be entering the same market from high school and other areas. You must be patient as companies review hundreds of applications and resumes all in a bid to say you are the best candidate. In this time I will advise any applicant to remain calm. Never blame yourself for not finding a job fast enough; you did your part by getting that solid education. That’s a start!

Keep Searching

We all have our favourite companies and dream jobs stuck in the back of our minds. In this economy and with a world wide melt down of countries, there is no way you can limit yourself as to the places you apply. This is the time to expand your scope and apply to various places.

For example, you have graduated with a Marketing Degree. You cannot expect only to work in Marketing Departments and Advertising Agencies. You would have to apply for jobs in Customer Service, Teaching, Management Roles, Sales and Banking etc.

It is critical that as soon as you graduate or even before graduation it is advised that graduates apply for a host of job opportunities. You cannot go wrong in applying as you may never know the company may be looking for you, a candidate in Sales & Marketing but you studied a Finance elective. Never as a graduate limit yourself, this is a huge mistake that people make. Research employment websites, company websites, newspapers, and classifieds for any job posting and never forget to apply.

Be Optimistic

Life goes on; bills are to be paid, your activities etc. Life will become stressful as the months roll on and the need for a job becomes your ultimate goal. It is critical that at this time you remain calm. There is nothing you can do (unless you will be starting a company) about your job prospects once you have applied. At this moment potential employees must remain positive, thinking that better will come in due time. Moments will however arise where you are at your end where job searches are concerned. It is advisable that you remain optimistic and never stress; this may have you developing health complications which you may never want to have.

Network

It is so important that as graduates look for jobs that they rely on the present network they have. This is crucial because the contacts you have within your circle may prove to be beneficial. It will be in your advantage to email or hand copies of your resume (multiple copies) to those in your network. This is good as your friends in the companies will hand deliver your resumes to the Human Resource Department or to hiring Managers. These people are your hands and feet to the managers directly. Ensure that they say a word on your behalf ‘Carol is hardworking and great with the databases’ etc.

But what if you do not have a network? It is advised that you ask around your family and friends and investigate who they know and who they can connect you with in companies. If you are at a disadvantage in having a good network then walking in to companies may be your next move.

Family/Resource Team

It is important that in this time of looking a job in a jobless market that you have a team around you that will keep you positive and one that won’t blame you for not having a job. Starting with family and real friends, rely on them for emotional and financial support and always let them know how important they are while you are in this predicament.

Today, being unemployed is never easy. Being unemployed and actively looking a job is even worse. I hope these tips that were explored will give you insight and assurance that as you look for job, it may be hard but remember there is a rainbow after the storm.

2Land that Job. Yeah!!

Salary Packages

1232069670.typepadI need your urgent feedback on this issue. It surrounds the issue of salary packages on an interview. I was interviewed for a position in a firm today and overall it went well. The interviewer was pleasant throughout and I maintained that atmosphere. As per usual, salary expectations are discussed. This is so because the interviewer will get the chance to find out if the company can actually afford this individual among other reasons.

The interviewee is advised to avoid this question by throwing it back to the interviewer in the form of a question. The interviewee is advised to say “I will accept your best offer, seeing that it is an objective one. What will be your offer?”

I took that suggestion and gave the opportunity to the interviewer to make the first offer. This however, can backfire for the interviewee because the management personnel may say “You must provide an offer for this interview to continue!”

What do you do in that situation? Do you potentially hurt your employment opportunity by avoiding the question and still wait on the firm to make the offer? Do you give in and provide a figure?

The risks are great. You may provide a figure that will make you look desperate for a job and you may provide a figure that will make the employer overlook you. What is the best advice for young professionals entering the work force?