Author Archive

Nordstrom Quality Customer Service

Old news, but I never posted it to LG. And hey, good customer service ideas are timeless!
—————————————————————————————

Good for the “New Seasons” Grocery store, which is taking a page out of the Nordstrom Employee manual, “Use your good judgment in all situations.” The New York Times Reported:

[New Seasons] employees are given “get out of jail free” cards with the instructions to do anything a customer wants. Mr. Rohter said one young clerk opened 81 jars of mustard for a customer to taste. Then he went to his supervisor, handed the card to him and explained what happened.

Printed on the back of the card:

Dear Supervisor: The holder of this card was, in their best judgment, doing whatever was necessary to make a happy customer. If you think they may have gone overboard, please take the following steps:

  1. Thank them for giving great customer service.
  2. Listen to the story about the events.
  3. Offer feedback on how they might do it differently next time.
  4. Thank them for giving great customer service.”

“We never reprimand someone for helping a customer”, Mr. Rohter said

From NYTIMES, January 4, 2006: In Oregon, Thinking Local

April 24, 2008 at 10:28 am 1 comment

Kathy Dempsey Joins The M Word!

It’s not like we needed another reason to read Nancy Dowd’s wonderful marketing blog, “The M Word“, but we got one anyway.

Kathy Dempsey, editor of MLS: Marketing Library Services, speaker, and library marketing consultant, has joined the M Word team. Now that’s a dynamic duo!

Looking forward to many more wonderful, insightful, practical, and entertaining posts!

April 1, 2008 at 11:56 am 1 comment

My Positive Customer Experience at the Radisson

Just a quick post to share my experience at the Radisson in downtown Minneapolis. I’m feeling very positive about this hotel right now, in spite of two problems in the last 24 hours. The way the Radisson staff (1) quickly dealt with the problems, and (2) otherwise exceeded my expectations in small but meaningful ways has contributed to my satisfaction as a guest.

First, the problems:

  • PROBLEM 1: CHECKED IN TO AN OCCUPIED ROOM: After checking in, I made may up to the room. It was rather dark inside, and very clean, so it took me a minute to notice that there was a suitcase in the corner and a laptop on the desk. Uh-oh.
  • HOW IT WAS HANDLED: I made my way back downstairs. The person who had just checked me in (and also spent a few minutes reviewing the skyway map, and giving me the best route to the convention center) was occupied with a customer. The other desk clerk quickly booked me into a new room, apologizing profusely and (to my ear) sincerely. She asked if I would accept a free breakfast from the Radisson for my trouble, and gave me a very nice looking gift certificate to the excellent “Firelake” restaurant in the lobby.
  • THE RESULT: I felt happy, and taken care of. The way the situation was handled exceeded my expectations, which have been lowered by previous experiences at hotels in which check-in problems were not only NOT apologized for, but I was left feeling like I WAS THE PROBLEM. (Marriott, I’m talking to you. Twice!) Note to hotels: don’t shoot the messenger. Buy him breakfast.

  • PROBLEM #2: The business center computer ate my credit card. Yup, I actually had to feed my credit card in to use the computer. Upon sucking in my card, the computer promptly logged in, and then froze.
  • HOW IT WAS HANDLED: There were a number of signs posted that said “In case of emergency, dial 55″. I wasn’t sure if this was an emergency, but decided that it was close enough (I wasn’t dialing 911 after all.) I dialed and the phone was picked up immediately. The customer service agent said, “we’ll have an engineer come up immediately.” In 30 seconds flat, the engineer was there. He had my card out in 10 seconds, apologizing all the while.
  • THE RESULT: I was amazed at how quickly the problem was solved, and felt relieved and thankful that my afternoon did not go down the drain while I tried to deal with the situation. I’ve had very bad experiences with almost every business center I’ve ever used in a hotel–and they usually charge through the nose for the privilege of wasting my time. My good feeling at the quick response was heightened, as I logged in to another PC and quickly printed out my pages to discover that…wait for it… there was no charge, save an .08 cents printing charge (penny a page?). No charge for time on the computer. Again, my expectations were far exceeded.

A few other nice perks that have exceeded my expectations and enhanced my experience at the hotel:

  • They have Sleep number beds. I’ve been thinking about buying one. Now I get to try it out for a few nights!

  • Bottled waters in the room–free! I’ve always hated the way you get into a hotel after a long flight, parched like you just spent 40 days in the desert, and they try to charge you for the big bottle of water sitting out on the table. Well done Radisson!
  • Free wireless and wired internet in the room. None of that $10/day crap!
  • Huge, lit shaving mirror in the bathroom. Love these, and rarely see them in hotels.

These “little” touches help create an overall customer experience that also generates a valuable “background hum of satisfaction”. That “hum” probably makes customers a little less upset when something does go wrong–especially when the staff is so adept and empowered to address problems immediately.

Well done Radisson!

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March 26, 2008 at 1:53 pm 8 comments

Juicy Visions: Reconnecting with purpose

Reconnecting with purpose.
What juicy vision gave birth to your Library?
by Peter Bromberg

Want an easy yet powerful way to re-energize and re-focus your passion at work? Clear five minutes from your schedule (yeah, you’re busy, but you can do it.) Pick up a pencil or a keyboard or a crayon and answer this question: What juicy vision gave birth to your library?

Think about it: Libraries don’t just appear. Your library didn’t just pop fully-formed into existence one day, did it? I’ve never started a library, but I’m sure it’s not a quick or easy process. A short list of needed elements might include: Funding, employees, land, building, furniture, collections, utilities, finances, training, computers. The creation of your library may have also required an expression of the will of the people, perhaps in the form of a public vote or approval from a Board or Commission.

So how did your library get here? There must have been many people involved and they must have really wanted to create it. A lot of time and energy went into it. These people, these ‘founders’ could have been playing golf, or spending time with their children, or watching a movie. Why did they choose to invest some of their limited time on this planet into creating your library? There had to have been one heck of a compelling vision.

THE JUICY VISION
Before brick one was laid, or book one was laminated, your library begin its existence as a vision in someone’s mind. It must have been an exciting, juicy vision, so filled with energy that people felt compelled to share it, and talk about it, and invest their energy and time into making it a reality. That vision must have turned people on.

“Yeah, a library… I see it! Information. Books on anything and everything. A great collection of materials. It will be a living reflection of our community’s values. It will help ensure a healthy democracy. It will be a place where people can educate themselves—level the playing field. A place for focused study. A place for serendipitous discovery. A place to bring the kids. A place to relax. A place to be stimulated by new ideas. Yeah, I see it!!”

People got so jazzed by this vision that they wrote about it and talked about it, and got other people jazzed to a point where a community of people said, yeah, let’s do it! We want it! Let’s spend money. Let’s give our time. Let’s develop some land. Let’s build buildings! Lets create something that will reflect this juicy vision. Let’s bring it to life!

WHAT GOT ‘EM SO JAZZED?

My question is, what was this vision that got everyone so turned on that they got into action? What was their original intention in creating your library? What got them so motivated? If you want to re-energize and re-focus, try reconnecting with the founding purpose of your organization.

Start there, at the beginning, but also remember that organizations are like people; they are capable of changing and growing. The cells in our bodies today are not the same cells that were in our bodies when we were born. We are, physically speaking, a completely different set of atoms. Yet there is still some organizing energy that makes you, you and makes me, me. Ten years ago we were different people, but I was me and you were you. Our goals may have changed since then. We may have acquired new skills and abilities. The roles we play may have changed, evolved, grown. Maybe we’ve abandoned certain roles in exchange for others that make more sense for us. This is also true about your library. The people may have changed, the building may have changed, and the mission may have even shifted, but it’s still the same library. So start with the founding vision, but also think about what vision animates your library today. And what vision might animate it tomorrow?

PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER: A FEW JUICY QUESTIONS

To reconnect to your library’s purpose, it might be helpful to explore these questions:

  • What juicy vision gave birth to our library?
  • How does that vision inform, animate, shape, and energize what we do today?
  • What is the purpose of our library today? Is the vision the same? If not, how has it changed?
  • Why does the library continue to exist?
  • What energy flows through this library, connecting all aspects of it?
  • What purpose does the library serve?
  • What purpose can the library serve?
  • What purpose do we want the library to serve?
  • What purpose do I want the library to serve?
  • What can I do to bring the juicy vision to life every day?

I’m sure there are other questions that I’m not seeing. If you see others to add to the list, please leave a comment–and tell me about your library’s juicy vision!

March 14, 2008 at 11:48 am 1 comment

Is the iPhone dead? (No, and neither is reading)

“It doesn’t matter how good or bad the product is. The fact is that people don’t read anymore. Forty percent of the people in the U.S. read one book or less last year.” -Steve Jobs on the Amazon Kindle

In his NYTimes ‘Outposts’ blog, Timothy Egan takes aim at Jobs’ assessment, suggesting that any reports on the death of reading are greatly exaggerated.

Egan writes,

Reading is … an engagement of the imagination with life experience. It’s fad-resistant, precisely because human beings are hard-wired for story, and intrinsically curious. Reading is not about product…

This year, about 400 million books will be sold in the United States…[H]alf the population bought nearly 6 books a year. If only Apple were so lucky. The latest Harry Potter book sold 9 million copies in its first 24 hours – in English… Apple reported selling a piddling 3.7 million of the much-hyped iPhones through 2007. Is the iPhone dead? Of course not. But what should be dead are foolish statements about how human nature itself has changed because of some new diversion for our thumbs.

Egan’s post is spot on and a fun read. Go check it out at: http://egan.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/02/20/book-lust/index.html

February 21, 2008 at 7:42 am 3 comments

Talk Good: Giving Effective Presentations

Note: See related post from October 2008

Since I started doing Toastmasters about two years ago I’ve been Furling every good piece of information I could find on how to be a better speaker and presenter. I mentioned this recently to some of my fellow Toasties and they asked me to share my links.

The pieces speak for themselves (no pun intended), so without extensive annotations, here are my top 10:

  1. Garr Reynolds (see also: his great blog, Presentation Zen):
  2. 10 Tips for a Killer Presentation, Neil Patel

  3. Get Your Message Across by Creating Powerful Stories, Kevin Eikenberry

  4. How to Change the World: World’s Best Presentation Contest Winners There are some great examples of how to effectively use powerpoint.

  5. Bert Decker (Also see his blog, Create Your Communications Experience)
  6. How to Get a Standing Ovation, Guy Kawasaki

  7. Kathy Sierra (See also: her blog Creating Passionate Users which, sadly, is no longer being updated; but there’s great archived content!)
  8. Effective Presentations: More than one way to impress an audience Dave Pollard

  9. All Presenting is Persuasive Guila Muir (see also: Guila’s other training/presenting resources)

  10. A Periodic Table of Visualization Methods From Visual-Literacy.org. Great ideas for how to use visually represent your ideas.

  11. BONUS LINK: The 5 Immutable Laws of Persuasive Blogging, Brian Clark.
    Ostensibly written for bloggers, I’m finding that the “5 Laws” (provide value, have a hook, etc.) are also helpful in organizing talks and presentations.

I’d love to get feedback on your favorite resources and tips. What’s helped you be a kick ass speaker or presenter?

February 15, 2008 at 1:00 pm 17 comments

Ten Questions to Ask Every New Employee

Kate Sheehan had a wonderful post a week or so ago, Customer Service Mind, Beginner Mind, in which she writes about the value of looking at things with a fresh eye. It reminded me that every time I ever started a new job, I was hyper-aware of all the wacky things about my new organization; the signs that had been taped to the door since 1973: the restrictive (or just plain arbitrary and weird) policies that seemed to have no rhyme nor reason; the lack of basic equipment available for staff (no sliderules or abaci, but close.)

These awarenesses weren’t always negative. Sometimes I was aware of the amazing benefit package that everyone else seemed to take for granted (or even grumble about) ; or an incredibly efficient work flow or communication mechanism — like a wall in the staff room with everyone’s picture (Facebook 1.0), or a Director that was actually available to speak with employees.

NEW EMPLOYEE AWARENESS FADES AWAY

But no matter how strong or strange these awarenesses were, they always faded away within the first few weeks on the job. It didn’t take long before my new environment would simply register as “normal.” Seriously, there could have been a chimpanzee in a tuxedo singing the star-spangled banner in the lobby; but if he was there on day 1 and day 2, by day 3, I’d be nodding and saying, “morning George, you sound good today. Nice job on the bow-tie…” In other words, I can’t underestimate the power of our brains to adapt and reset the benchmark for normal experience.

I always thought that those first few weeks as a new employee, when everyone told me everything and more, but no one asked me for MY thoughts or impressions, were a wasted opportunity. So when I became a department manager I made it part of the orientation process to squeeze these observations out of all new employees. I would literally take new employees to lunch and tell them that for the next few weeks, their perceptions were extremely valuable and encourage them to share with me if there was ANYTHING that we did that seemed odd, inefficient, wasteful, or stupid. Or amazing, creative, and blazingly brilliant.

If you can manage to get this data — heck, even one tiny piece of datum — from your new employees (give them a break now and then from reading the 250 page employee manual), you’ll have gotten some very useful information.

So. Submitted for your approval, here are my  [drum-roll please...]

TOP TEN QUESTIONS TO ASK EVERY NEW EMPLOYEE

  1. What was your first impression when you walked into the library?
  2. What are your impressions of the aesthetic environment inside the building? What could we do to improve it?
  3. What are your impressions of the aesthetic environment outside the building? What could we do to improve it?
  4. What are we doing that strikes you as wasteful — of time or money?
  5. What services are you surprised to learn that we are offering, for better or worse?
  6. What services are you surprised to learn that we are NOT offering, for better or worse?
  7. Are there any policies that you don’t understand the rationale for? Are there any policies that strike you as just plain nuts?
  8. What are your impressions of our website?
  9. What was your experience like when you called the library? What are your impressions of our phone system?
  10. What are your impressions of our customer service orientation? Are we customer-focused? What could we do to be more so?

     

    BONUS QUESTIONS (for the brave ones out there)

  11.  

  12. How friendly (or unfriendly) did the staff seem when you first walked in the door?
  13. What are we doing that strikes you as straight-up bat sh*t crazy?

If you consistently ask these questions of your new employees, you’ll have a wonderful opportunity to recapture the newness of seeing, if only briefly, through borrowed, “beginner mind” eyes.

January 16, 2008 at 6:29 pm 15 comments

Librarians, Got Information Literacy?

Over at ReadWriteWeb, Marshall Kirkpatrick writes,

Imagine a future when you go to the library with a 5 minute video you’ve just made about last night’s Presidential debates and that librarian says to you:

“You should upload it to YouTube and tag it with these four tags – two broad and two more specific to existing communities of interest on YouTube and the topic of your video. Then you should embed that video in a blog post along with some text introducing it and linking to some of your favorite posts by other people who have also written today about the Presidential debates. Make sure to send trackbacks to those posts!

“Now, I think this is a particularly good video on the topic, so if you’re interested I will vote for it on StumbleUpon (as a sexy librarian I have a very powerful account there) and give it a good summary explanation. Any of those are steps you can take that will make your work all the easier for people to discover.”

I’ve previously made the point that all librarians should understand RSS because it’s an information literacy issue. Reading Marshall Kirkpatrick’s post made me wonder how well the average librarian would do if asked to help someone embed a video and catalog, er, I mean tag it, digg it, furl it, stumbleupon it, or otherwise advise on how to make the information discoverable.

Aren’t these also information literacy issues? And if librarians are going to be relevant and help our customers kick ass, don’t we need to know how to do this stuff (or at least know enough to figure it out quickly on the fly?

In days of yore librarians took pride in our information literacy knowledge and in our ability to instruct others, and help them navigate through the myriad of resources and finding tools (indexes, handbooks, specialized encyclopedias, etc.) I am hopeful that we can tap into that shared professional passion for connecting people and information and continue to manifest it by learning how to navigate through the NEW myriad of resources and finding tools.

I agree with Marshall when he says, “wouldn’t that be great.” Yes it would. And sexy!

Added 12/21: Kate Sheehan, the Loose Cannon Librarian, has a great take on this. Check out her post “literacy is hawt“.

December 20, 2007 at 4:27 pm 9 comments

My First Year in Lines (Pete)

Taking a cue from Kathryn Greenhill’s meme, here are the first lines from the first posts for each month this year. (The fun thing about this, is I forgot ever having written most of it. So if I ever repeat myself, that’s why!)

January: Thanks to Amy for tagging me in the “Five Things” meme.

February: Check out this amazing video,”Web 2.0… the Machine is Us/ing Us,” created by Michael Wesch, Assistant Cultural Anthropology Professor at Kansas State University.

March: Zuula (http://www.zuula.com) is a newish metasearch engine that I’ve been enjoying.

April: Maria Palma over at “Customers are Always” recently posed the question, “What would make you stay loyal to a supermarket?”

May: I had the mind-blowing pleasure of attending Imagination to Transformation, the Mid-Atlantic Library Futures Conference, on Monday and Tuesday.

June: File under, “Tootling one’s own horn” In this case mine.

July: A few months ago I started taking Improv classes in Philadelphia on Monday nights.

August: As requested, here’s the link to the Wiki that supports the Magical Mystery Tour: http://librarygarden.pbwiki.com

September: If you get any invites from Quechup, delete them immediately.

October: David Lee King has offered up a new song/video Social Digital Revolution.

November: In my last post on The Human Touch I discussed how a warm, caring human being trumped a crappy, highly inconvenient system.

December: I started a little meme on Twitter on Thursday, which David Free picked up on and posted about over on his blog, David’s Random Stuff.

December 19, 2007 at 4:39 pm

Five Questions that will improve your effectiveness

I recently stumbled across a wonderful little book called Leadership Simple: Leading People to Lead Themselves, by Steve and Jill Morris. It’s based on Dr. William Glasser’s “Choice Theory” (which suggests, among other things, that the only person whose behavior we control is our own) and Glasser’s “Reality Therapy” (which suggests that we choose our actions and we are responsible for our choices.)

The authors use a fictional case study written in narrative format to illustrate the process of “Lead Management”, or “self-evaluating, and leading other to do the same.” The principles are also presented in bullet-point format in an appendix, which makes it very easy to quickly review the main points.

The Lead Management process involves walking oneself (and later others) through five basic questions:

  1. What do you want?
  2. What are you doing to get it?
  3. Is it working?
  4. What else can you do?
    (I like to throw in an extra one here: “What am I willing to do”)
  5. What WILL you do?

The authors suggest that when using the process, we spend the majority of our time on steps 1-4, thinking, talking, analyzing, generating options and generating more options. Finally, we decide what we WILL do and commit to an action.

I’ve realized that in the past I’ve sometimes rushed through steps 1-4, failing to think deeply enough and generate enough options. But more often I’ve spent too much time on steps 1-4, enjoying the process of exploration and never getting to a commitment to action.

What appeals to me about this process, and the underlying philosophy, is that it is deeply grounded in personal responsibility. Consider this quote from the book:

“You are accountable for the meaning you place on the information you receive. for what you want, and the behaviors you choose to get what you want.”

And this one:

“People are going to do things. Events will occur. In essence, whatever happens outside your mind is information. You get to choose what that information means, what importance you place on your perceptions of that information, and how it fits with what you already know.”

One value in adopting this perspective is that it takes us out of victimhood. We can’t simultaneously take responsibility for the meaning we ascribe to events and to the behavior of others AND feel like a victim. This is highly empowering. Victimhood, whether experienced individually or as an organizational or professional culture or belief system, gets us nowhere. When we perceive ourselves as victims we are less likely to invest our energy in trying to change or influence events. However, when we take responsibility for our perceptions and the meanings we ascribe to them, we become grounded in a place of power, and we are more likely to make conscious choices regarding our behavior. We are more likely to take concrete steps and try to exert our influence on outcomes.

The commitment to action (the “what we WILL do”) is the final step in the Lead Management model. The process, however, is circular. This means we can choose to go back to earlier steps and re-evaluate what’s working, what’s not, and generate more options. We may even decide to re-evaluate at step 1, and look at whether or not we still want what we originally wanted. We may discover that our original goals have shifted over time in the light of new experience and knowledge.

The Lead Management process is designed to beused for self-coaching and the coaching of others. But I think the process of working through the five questions could also be effectively used to guide decision-making for departments and organizations by re-phrasing the questions:

  1. What do we want to achieve? (What is our mission? What is our goal?)
  2. What are we doing to get achieve our mission/goals?
  3. Is it working?
  4. What else can we do to achieve our mission/goals?
    (“What are we willing to do”)
  5. What WILL we do?

Over the past year I’ve been acting as a personal coach to a friend/colleague (and as I move into 2008 I will be doing more, and will begin receiving formal training from a professional coach.) Coaching, as opposed to mentoring, is about asking questions, not giving advice. So far my experience with coaching (both as a coach and coachee) has been very positive, and I can see how the five questions of the Lead Management process could be integrated into an effective coaching session.

Now maybe it’s a bit early to be making New Year’s resolutions (although tech support people are already wishing me a “Merry Christmas”) but maybe I can set a New Year’s Intention:

  1. What do I intend?
    I intend to learn to effectively coach myself and others.

  2. What am I doing to get it?
    Setting up agreement to be coached by (and trained by) an experienced professional coach; Setting up agreement to coach a colleague.

  3. Is it working?
    TBD…
  4. What else can I do?
    Read books listed on coaching bibliography provided to me by an experienced coach.
  5. What WILL I do?
    TBD… Share my coaching experiences on Library Garden!

December 10, 2007 at 1:30 pm 1 comment

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