Tag Archive: profits


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.

Welcome to the eighth edition in the series of the Water Cooler – appears every Sunday on this blog. This feature will highlight what’s hot, topical and up for discussion.

Here we go.

Politics

What motivates you to vote for a political candidate?

Is his/her marriage really important to you?

Is marriage a prerequisite to serve at the highest level?

NO, if you ask me.

John Edwards and his familyHowever, it appears that politicians have to be married to even start a campaign. While divorces are on an all time high, it would seem we have forced politicians in a life that they don’t personally desire and that makes everything a lie.

Most times in political commentaries we focus on family life; to say political marriages makes the candidate more normal and thus has the capacity to vote on legislations that matters to you as a citizen. Married politicians are projected to be more caring and family oriented in campaigns. Although that may be true; when it isn’t going well our ‘expectations’ force them to live a lie to remain where we have forced them to be. Being married doesn’t say you have higher moral standing than those who aren’t.  What is says is that you have decided to walk life’s journey with this special person.

What say you?

Business

ModelIn a bid to stimulate the economy, the Jamaica Observer organized Fashion Night Out where fashion/retail outlets slashed their prices by large percentages up to 70% to generate high sales. Weeks ago, I had a haircut in the capital city, Kingston and at around 6pm after leaving the barber salon it was like a ghost town outside. I wondered to myself why the city was so quiet. I blamed the current economy and the recession. I should have considered that we have cultured our habits this way and this was the result. More recently, I had an acquaintance who moved to Jamaica from New York (the city that never sleeps) and after a week here he returned because the city was dead by sunset. It struck me then that we have a major problem. I appreciate the efforts what Fashion Night Out promoted and anticipate more FNOs. Over in Barbados, our neighbouring Caribbean island they have introduced legislation to have retailers open 24-7. Talk about competition and new ways of doing things. Retailers claimed the night a success which can only be good at the end of the ‘night.’

Entertainment

This is it – Review

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Michael Jackson

I watched the Michael Jackson documentary and thought it was stunning. The producers of the 50 minute documentary were able to capture the king of pop in his rehearsals before he passed away. I was impressed with the footage because it told the story we heard of Michael Jackson. Now we were able to relive the intimate moments of him without the screaming fans and blaring lights. We saw the perfectionist in action, directing the minute details of his to be last tour. There is a message within the documentary for every aspiring entertainer which must not be missed. Giving your best each time is of paramount importance and ensuring your delivery – the passion will be remembered by those who see it. That is what made MJ, what he was and so many artistes today. I sat and only imagined This is it with all the lights, screaming fans and Michael Jackson delivering his final set of shows stamping This is it into history; he never got the time.

Quote

2072865350015798315S500x500Q85“Readiness is all.” – William Shakespear

Since the development of the internet it would appear that reality television came after. Reality television features unprofessional actors, most times celebrities or created ones to show unscripted reactions in various scenarios. In recent times we have been seeing many newly wed couples deciding to film a reality series to be picked up by the major networks. However, it would appear that the usage of reality television for any couple in Hollywood is a divorce sentence for their marriage. Of course we can list all the victims of reality television these days. The question is, did reality television cost them their marriage or was it for different reasons. Most times children are the biggest cash cows for these series as they are also paid for the gig.

Giuliana & Bill

Giuliana & Bill

I am a huge fan of reality television. I would say I like the productions, not a fan of all the drama but I appreciate the wonderful and creative ideas that they are based off. Two reality television series that I have been following and I will be referring to in this piece are The Real Housewives of Atlanta (not really a fan) and Giuliana and Bill (can be seen on the Style Network). The Real Housewives of Atlanta is filled with drama as the show follows five Atlanta housewives on their lives and friendships with each other. The celebs on the show are always in conflicts and they lead unstable lives financially and emotionally. On the other hand, Giuliana and Bill; this reality show features both Bill Rancic – winner of the first Apprentice and Giuliana from the E Network. The show is about this couple as they lead successful careers and attempts to balance their marriage.

There are hundreds of reality shows on television, some are sane and the others are insane. One would think the sane ones would get stellar reviews and constantly being booked for another season. Hell NO! The insane reality shows, filled with wanna be celebrities, people that live unstable lives, people who you would warn your kids to stay far from are playing huge roles in what network executives are constantly booking for another season. They do this because this is the garbage that society wants. I do not know but I would never sit for hours on end and enjoy a show that shows humans behaving despicably, acting in selfish ways to their neighbours. It alarms me to know that we have reached a stage where this is what we demand daily. I would agree that this is entertaining but networks that run these series for endless hours the show becomes insipid.

The show Real Housewives of Atlanta is depressing and we wonder why we still have certain issues in our society today. When a show can glamorise black people to be irrational thinkers, uneducated, gold diggers and unproductive to society we have a huge problem on our hands. We then wonder why people are hateful of black people; they are because they have not seen anything positive of the black race. They have not seen hardworking, educated people rising to the top (apart from Obama and a few others) and the images we should be portraying of our race are absent. So they have associated with being black all the negative ideas we can think of.

The sane reality shows and images we should be desperate for are all being chopped by business executives because they have a business to run. They cannot fund sane reality shows because it is the unpopular decision to do. After all a business is not charity organization. As a people we should start demanding productive programming. I will agree that there will always be a market for insane material but we should have options. I enjoyed watching Giuliana and Bill because it never had any crazy drama scene where they were fighting each other down and the constant bickering was absent. Whatever your tastes are you can find it. If you want to see adventure, a loving couple, hardworking people who are balancing their lives check it out. I am sure you can find other sane reality television shows to watch where it can be worth your entertaining and leisure time.

The world is now an open space. With cable television comes with advantages and sore disadvantages for any society. Cultures will begin to change and people will act differently because of the diverse influences that will now be present. The cultural values that some societies were proud of will soon go away because there are other new sometimes bad values to adapt. The images and values that these insane shows project into our societies must be challenged by positive role models (which we so lack) and shows that depict what living a stable life looks like; that is reality. There is no way we can continue to accept the negative images of our race and remain silent with it. As young people we need to separate positive entertainment from negative entertainment and break the rising trend of insane reality television.

I believe in community service. Volunteering is an activity that should be promoted more as social ills exist in our societies and this can reduce the harmful effects of these. Companies invest heavily in community service because they understand the relationship with giving back and the prospects for profitability. In business they practice what is called social responsibility and develop foundations to serve this purpose. Partnerships with other groups (community service oriented) are made to have a larger impact on a particular cause. Some companies however, will find unique ways to make a profit helping a cause. This is called cause-related advertising. For example Apple will say purchase this I-Phone and 5% of sales will go towards cancer research. On the other hand we have advocacy advertising and this is where a company will dedicate advertising to a particular cause with no profit making intentions. Not that you needed to know but now you know.

Beenie Man with LIME Execs

Beenie Man with LIME Execs

Just today in a local Jamaican newspaper LIME (an international telecommunications company) and Beenie Man (an international reggae artist) donated two computers to a city police station here in Kingston, Jamaica. This is wonderful and all these things to have two entities like these give back to society. We may not see the computers at work but surely they will assist the police in crime fighting. Congratulations and kudos to them.

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Back in March a group under my leadership and others participated in a community service activity at the Jamaica National Children’s Home. As students we participated in painting a section of the male dorm, manicured their lawn and surroundings, took personal care of the children at the home, assisted with homework and reading, played games, partnered with the National Commercial Bank Foundation and one of the top meal providers to donated food items, provided lunch, gifts etc. We worked hard to get the sponsorships we acquired to make the day a success. We also had the reigning Miss Jamaica Universe giving a talk on the importance of giving back.

April Jackson - Miss Jamaica Universe 2008

April Jackson - Miss Jamaica Universe 2008

There is no way I am comparing what we did months ago to what LIME and Beenie Man has done, clearly they are different. There is a point though. These two institutions command millions of monies annually and although we are happy that they donated the two computers it leaves a bad taste to see them only donating two based on the market they command. LIME is a company that offers computers with their product line certainly donating only two just proves where their priority is. If they wanted public relations they got it. I am not sure people are going to look on and say wow let me take my business to LIME. They could have maximized on this opportunity by donating to a few more police stations (at least two) with the same two computers; that would have been a bigger statement and a more news worthy item.

I hope my readers will get the point. I am in no way ungrateful for the effort. From a business point of view the business I am not sure they communicated their core values in this PR. Beenie Man on his own could have donated the two computers, even more so LIME who is in this area of business. Companies want to show they care, they can do things big and they are socially responsible. Although we are in a recession we cannot donate ‘recessionously’- cheaply – do things the proper way.

Customer Service at its Best!

customer_serviceBusinesses often say customers are the most important aspect of their work. If this is so why is it that some firms do not place much emphasis on Customer Service? Customer service is a key factor in any organization’s operations. The lack of it will make the company go under and if the company appreciates the value of customer service it clearly distinguishes that particular company from the others within the industry. I believe in a few years more companies will understand how critical this aspect of a company is. As customer service moves to the forefront of every organization, companies are going to employ stringent guidelines in hiring employees as the friendliest and most courteous workers will be hired. How are you able to communicate the company’s values to the customer with a smile in the fastest time?

Most fast food outlets attempt to operate efficiently. The operation is all about time. Preparing that meal to the customer at the fastest time; after all it’s fast food. I happen to have been at a particular outlet of KFC in Portland, Jamaica and was stunned and shocked at the level of customer service that this branch has. Most fast food outlets have average customer service but this outlet in particular was just outstanding. Lining the walls of the branch were the various awards and plaques the outlet has received over the period of its existence. I cannot believe the service I was receiving. In a country where most people accept mediocrity and any standard of service it is amazing that this company stands out among the others in setting the right standard of service quality for the others to see. At this particular branch the employees smiled with you each time they communicated, they had a fast serving time and the food was very good. This was genuine among the employees; nothing about the service was fake. I am very meticulous when I walk into any service organization. I observe the employees and just analyze how things are going. It’s just a habit. The employees were laughing and smiling with each other. This shows the kind of atmosphere and work environment that the management has cultivated which makes the service offering to the customer even more appealing.

You know, you might be thinking Oh they were nice to me because they were having a good day or the employee was trying to flirt, or because I was a good customer. I told someone else who would be going to that same branch about the quality of service and low and behold the service was the same. This simply means this is a norm for this branch of KFC and it is most heart warming to be served in such a great way. What is amazing about great customer service is that the customer’s perception of the product or service increases. So even the meal tasted better, and you would like to purchase a meal from this branch all the time simply because of the service they provided. In the end the customer is king and firms should act likewise.

I am sure you have encountered great customer service and some horrible ones. It is true we expect so little of service providers that when they give us mediocre service quality or poor product delivery we say nothing. I am amazed that when we receive great customer service we are so shocked like it was a gift. Companies should begin to understand that customer service alone can make their business succeed even or out of a recession. It should be the norm when companies offer great customer service. We shouldn’t be talking about it, it should come and go. But customer service is never like that; some leaves a bad taste in your mouth, allowing you to think how come people got employed in the first place. As the world opens up and the internet begins to be the place where employees vent, companies will understand how important it is to deliver on customer service to all customers. More websites are being launched where customers can comment on the service quality delivered and websites that will allow customers to rate the business. If companies think customers are entitled to shop or purchase their product or service think again! There are tens and hundreds of other firms just like yours who will offer the same product on a better customer service level. Companies are going to lose out if they continue to allow front line employees to offer insipid customer service. Service comes with a smile and a courteous attitude.

The next time you are offered great customer service spread the word and when you were not served with gratitude spread that bad news and allow the company to suffer. The more we support companies who show no respect and little and low customer service quality the more we are rewarding their bad business. Let us congratulate those who show great service quality and spread the word about companies who offer service beyond the call of duty. Companies like Ritz Carlton and the thousands of others that can be added to this list must be congratulated and rewarded with more business for showing the customer is still king!

I have written many Michael Jackson articles, I hope my readers will not get weary. I keep writing about him or referring to him because he did a lot for many people and he touched many lives as well. Most persons only know of the various accusations against him. I wanted to write an article about people giving back and what better man to refer to than the Entertainer of all time, the king of pop – who gave back to so many charities worldwide – Michael Jackson.

The Guinness Book of World Records in the 2000 edition listed Michael Jackson as having the record for supporting the most charities – all of 39. These donations have come in the form of monetary donations through sponsorships or by participating in their silent auctions. Below is a list of all the charities that benefited from Michael Jackson.

  • AIDS Project L.A.
  • American Cancer Society
  • Angel Food
  • Big Brothers of Greater Los Angeles
  • BMI Foundation, Inc.
  • Brotherhood Crusade
  • Brothman Burn Center
  • Camp Ronald McDonald
  • Childhelp U.S.A.
  • Children’s Institute International
  • Cities and Schools Scholarship Fund
  • Community Youth Sports & Arts Foundation
  • Congressional Black Caucus (CBC)
  • Dakar Foundation
  • Dreamstreet Kids
  • Dreams Come True Charity
  • Elizabeth Taylor Aids Foundation
  • Juvenile Diabetes Foundation
  • Love Match
  • Make-A-Wish Foundation
  • Minority Aids Project
  • Motown Museum
  • NAACP
  • National Rainbow Coalition
  • Rotary Club of Australia
  • Society of Singers
  • Starlight Foundation
  • The Carter Center’s Atlanta Project
  • The Sickle Cell Research Foundation
  • Transafrica
  • United Negro College Fund (UNCF)
  • United Negro College Fund Ladder’s of Hope
  • Volunteers of America
  • Watts Summer Festival
  • Wish Granting
  • YMCA – 28th Street/Crenshaw
  • This is a man who could have squandered his earnings on women or the many other things that were around him but he found the time and heart to donate part of his earnings to the various charities worldwide. Even on his will part of his earnings will go to the work to keep doing good in our communities. How many people do we know that when they die stipulate in their wills that charities should benefit from their lives? This is what some people refer to as having a ‘good heart’.

    This giving is even emphasized by companies; they dub it ‘Social Responsibility’. The many companies who keep giving back must be congratulated for it. It is so ironic that companies who give back to communities always want a huge media following to report on the little good they do. It is all a stunt. Companies who give to charities in silence are the real heroes of our time. I hate to see when businesses fail to sponsor events, failing to see the benefits they can gain long term.

    Michael Jackson’s song Man in the Mirror is an amazing song that underlines this point of starting with the man in the mirror, me. The song invites listeners to analyze themselves asking ‘Who am I to be blind?’ to today’s problems.

    We are all one people. Oops! Some people see the world differently, some people see races and classes but we are all one. Some persons cannot give cash, or items but if we cannot afford that we can share love to those who need it.

    Companies who make billions and millions of profits annually all celebrate and watch as people beg a little bit more, while the poverty level continues to rise. We have a responsibility to the world and the environment. Michael Jackson who some may only know him to abuse drugs in his death will be remembered as man who gave willingly to the less fortunate. He looked on the man in the mirror and made that change. So as we move on with our lives and join companies and even start our own, remember the lyrics of one of my favourite MJ Hits – Man in the Mirror.

    Below is a video I found on http://www.youtube.com with the co-writer of the song Man in the Mirror Siedah Garrett giving a tribute to Michael Jackson. Take a listen….The song is touching as she reflects on the life of Michael Jackson.

    I had to include this other video, the original, nothing hits home better.