Category: Customer Relations

Customer RelationsLeadership

Will Work for…thank you notes

“You did a great job with the board meeting today. You added real-life and relevant insight that we would not have had otherwise, and you presented that insight very well. Thank you.”

 

This is a simple thank you. Depending upon how it shows up on your screen, it may just take up one line.

It was in my inbox the other morning after I had presented briefly during a board meeting. I was just one of many guests. Did everyone receive this in their inbox? Do I care? How did I feel at the moment I saw this in my inbox?

Overwhelmed. Happy. Grateful. Special. Even a little embarrassed as I remembered all of the imperfections of the experience. But, I also was stunned. Stunned that our new president had taken the time to write it. It was followed by a thank you note from another leader that was at the meeting. That same day I received an indirect verbal compliment from my boss.

Three compliments in one day. What is a woman to do?

I’m motivated to come up with more innovative ideas. I’m re-motivated to contribute to my organization. I want to make others feel the way that I feel. I’m committed to helping the new leadership have success in our environment. I am grateful to be appreciated.

The notes are now taped into my current work notebook. Yes, I’m admitting it here. I carry around the thank you notes with me. There are so few. Yet, so powerful in changing my attitude and my behavior.

Free, thoughtful, small, thank you notes can do that to someone. 

When I was a little girl one of the activities my parents engaged us in on a regular basis was note writing. Most of the notes went to our grandparents, but some were specific thank you notes for nice things people had done for us. I carried the habit with me to college and as a resident assistant I had many opportunities to write thank you notes and stick them in the mailboxes at the dormitories.

 thank you

 

Over the years I’ve written thousands of notes. Some get to the intended recipients and some do not. Slight logistics issues like having an address handy, or a spare stamp, often get in the way. Sometimes I’m just too embarrassed to actually send the notes. But, for the most part they get delivered.

I feel like it makes a difference in me as well as the recipient.

A Simple Act of GratitudeThis past year I found a book called “A Simple Act of Gratitude: How Learning To Say Thank You Changed My Life” by John Kralik. On a whim I picked it up hoping that I’d get nudged with a tip or two. I was not disappointed. The author had gone through a point in life where he was down and out. Someone told him to write thank you notes as a way of bringing gratitude back into his life. It was hard at first, but it grew on him. He realized how many people he interacted with on a daily basis and what a blessing they were in his life. He not only gained gratitude, but he essentially gained happiness, success, and relationships back that had been missing in his life.

 

One of the tips I took away from the book was his idea to track all the notes he’d written in a spreadsheet. He’d include their name and why he had written the note. He’d look back and reflect on the names and reasons periodically.

I decided to start tracking my thank you notes this year. I’m 50 days into the process and I’ve written 48 thank you notes. It is shocking how many opportunities there are to express a small thank you. People actually do kind small things each day. They do it just because and don’t expect much in return because, let’s face it, we all don’t think to give anything in return.

A few months ago I let a woman use my desk while she was visiting the office. The woman left a written note. I put it on my cork board. It is still there.

 A year ago I wrote notes that I just barely delivered to some co-workers this past month (oops!). Even though my delivery was delayed, each person came over to my desk to say that the note made their day.

I received the email from our President above most recently. I almost wanted to frame it. Seriously. No other president had ever thanked me. I had worked on over 100 projects worth millions of dollars over the past few years. I had never received a note and I don’t remember any praise.

Do you want to see a behavior change in a family member, a friend, a co-worker, a boss? Do you want to improve your work or home environment? Do you want to be more grateful? 

It’s time to start thanking on a more regular basis – in person, in email notes, in handwritten thank yous.

What I didn’t say at the beginning of this post, is that I had walked into that meeting with a job offer to go to another organization. It came out of a the blue, as a result of helping others and thanking them. It was a dream job. But, something hadn’t felt right. I wasn’t sure that I wanted to consider it further. The next day I left the board meeting knowing the answer. And, then I received a thank you note. I’m staying with my organization and politely declined the other offer.

You can’t tell me that thank you notes don’t make a difference. A few kind words periodically change me. It isn’t that hard. Getting a raise felt good for a few minutes. But, a compliment or a thank you note will change my performance for a month.

Paychecks are nice, but I’ll work for thank you notes.

Customer NeedsCustomer Relations

Blah, Blah, Blah – that’s the feedback she gave me

thumbs downEverything was moving along just fine yesterday until I opened up my online course and saw that my feedback rating went down from 4.5 stars to 4.0.  Weird. What could have triggered this in my account?

I opened it up to see some freshly added feedback from one of the newer students in my online course.

She shared publicly and ….so will I.

negative feedback

It’s hard to read people like this, especially after I’ve had a few good reviews AND because I’m not sure that the person got the spirit of the course. I say this because I see people NOT understanding how to use Twitter all over the place – not engaging in online conversations, not promoting others, and not leveraging it in the way actual business people build partnerships.

But, these pieces of feedback do cause me to sit back and ask myself questions – is my course labeled incorrectly, did I share enough stories, what more needs to be added for different learning styles? Maybe I need to add a few more technical components that I figured were taught elsewhere?

On the flip side of the cognitive dilemma is the fact that I really want to create things for the right people to enjoy. Part of me wants to disregard this person. Part of me wants to use it as a chance to improve my course.

We all hear talk about the importance of continuing to move forward on our big ideas despite the naysayers, but it does make me blush whenever I come across a piece of feedback about me that is less than satisfactory.

So, what action will I take as a result of this virtual jab at my course?

Well, I plan on:

  • Adding a few more details (that I had intended to add anyway) to make it more robust.
  • Give a few technical tips on how to use it on a daily basis.
  • Share a few more examples of success in the course.
  • Tweet out a few more tweets for those that provided positive feedback.

Now, for another lesson learned from this experience – are we watching what type of feedback we put out there on the web? Do we think of how it will reflect on us? I obviously don’t have a high opinion of the commenter that I’ve highlighted here. Her form of communicating doesn’t invite any discussion or constructive input.

Sad, isn’t it?

There are others that offered really helpful feedback on how to improve the course and I respect them for their input and openness. I actually tweet about many of their products now.

When we give feedback (on or off the web), we may do well to remember that our reputation is at stake as well. How we respond often says more about us than the other person.

Our online reputations must be guarded daily nowadays. We never know what future opportunity that could be stifled by trivial or rude remarks made online. It is what it is.

I’ll move on and keep improving and will still keep blushing when I get less than great scores on online courses. I hope that those that write reviews like this one do too. Unfortunately, I cannot support them or give them any online promotion. It is too bad, because they probably desperately need it.

One last note – kind of a funny thing – I talked about building your online reputation in the course. Guess that was hidden in all of the blah-blah-blah somewhere. (-:

Customer NeedsCustomer Relations

Email Announcements – Cancer Strikes

However appropriate or inappropriate, we have an email going around at work today about an employee that has one month to live. Cancer struck and is taking him quickly. I’ve worked with this person on different projects over the years. He is probably in his 50s and had no outward indication of any health issues.

Emails like this immediately wake me up. The urgency of dealing with minutia projects and tasks fall away and reality hits:

  • Good health is HUGELY important. Without it, we aren’t operating at our best capacity or may not exist.
  • Life is short – even if 60, 70, or 90 years seems short to you, guaranteed that anyone that age still feels like it went too fast.
  • Take time TODAY for those that matter – not next month or next year. Choices today become next week, next month and next year before we know it.
  • Treat everyone you meet with respect and kindness – you may never see them again and remember that each individual has secret battles to face.

Right now I’m working on a massive spreadsheet. It seemed really important a minute ago. Now I think I’ll take a break. I’ve got a serious note to write to a person that has one month to live. Plus, there are a few doctor’s appointments I’ve put off for a few months.

Take time today! It matters.

Customer NeedsCustomer RelationsInspirationMarketing

The Webinar of the Lone Participant – the failure isn’t what you think

one sports fan sitting in a stadiumA few years ago I was anxious about presenting at a conference after being out of practice for a few years. I wasn’t sure if what I had to share was noteworthy to anyone outside of our organization, let alone our team. I wasn’t even sure anyone would show up to my session. I openly expressed my fear to some co-workers. Everyone gave the usual “You’ll do fine” advice. But, Mark Oehlert (http://blogoehlert.typepad.com/) stressed the importance of always treating even one participant as if you were there for them. He had started his blog and said he wrote what he wanted to write and if even one person listened that would be fine by him. Mark is a successful thought leader and now has thousands of blog and Twitter followers because he’s great at spreading ideas and making people think.

His comment made me think and most importantly I remembered it. Everytime I write a blogpost, deliver a conference session or train in a webinar, I remember his comment.

Today I held an all day series of webinars. The attendance was low. There were a few technical difficulties along the way. I hadn’t gotten all of the marketing right. In fact, I was downright busy and so were the presenters. It could have been a let down.

But, it wasn’t and here’s why:

  • Preparation – each presenter came prepared. They had thought through a topic. They had to create a presentation. They had to figure out what idea they were trying to share. They were excellent and provided meaningful information.
  • Accountability – the products each presenter created didn’t exist earlier this week. The products existed because they had a goal to participate in this webinar. How amazing is it that if we just set a date and promise to be there for others, we actually produce? Accountability is a huge key to any success actually happening.
  • Awareness – honestly, I was not aware of the talent right under my own nose. The presenters are all in our online Nudge Village Accountability Group. They contribute all the time, but I had never seen any of them present. Wow. Nudge Village’s got talent!
  • Personal Change – there was something to learn from all the presenters. I may have been the only participant in some sessions, but their presentations made an impact on ME. What do you think I’m going to do now? I’m going to share and promote them.
  • Promotion – yep, I’m going to promote what each of these presenters offer because it made an impact on me. What if they had acted as if I didn’t matter? As if I didn’t count? Would I still be promoting them?

We’ve all heard the Power of One quote – often attributed to Nelson Mandella, but actually written by Marianne Williamson. The Power of One is real – whether it is the person presenting or the person being presented to. Ideas are exchanged, hope gained, and a possible partnership formed.

When it comes to webinars, sharing your blog, presenting at conferences and spreading your big idea…don’t forget the one. That “one” may be a person like me. I learn, I share, I promote, I mentor, and I give.

The failure of the webinar today isn’t that the numbers were low, though I hoped they’d be higher. The failure is thinking that the one that did show up wasn’t important enough to share our best with and that they wouldn’t spread Your idea when you shared it.

Over the course of time, if we do share our best with the one, the one will become two, the two will become four and the four will become 100, 1000, or perhaps 10,000.

The point is to just keep sharing – one person at a time.

 

hand holding
AuthenticityCustomer RelationsMarketing

Social Media Love Lost – It’s not me, it’s actually you!

Isn’t it great – You’ve got your social sharing down to a science don’t you?

You log into Hootsuite once a week, or even monthly, and set up a series of
daily messages that broadcast out to all of your followers at specific times
each day?

You are just so efficient, right? Good for you!

There’s just one problem.

I actually wanted to have a conversation with you and perhaps build a
business relationship. However, I know you aren’t there.

You are on autopilot. Every single Facebook and Twitter post shows that you are
using an automatic service to spread your message while you are out and
about working on something else with someone else.

I’ve figured you out through my stealth observing. After all, you are doing
the equivalent of running down the hall broadcasting what you know, want and
feel.

hand holding

 

What do you know about me? What do I like? How do I feel? What do I have to
offer you? How much am I willing to spend when I find a product that I like?

Do you know?

You may think you know, but let me assure you…you don’t.

Right now I am moving further and further away from your business even though I’m
still slightly curious. It’s kind of like you are the popular guy or gal and I just can’t help myself, but in reality it just won’t work. Our values are different. We have different interests. We treat people differently.

It isn’t just your loss. It is my loss too.

We might have been a good fit.

You might have had a product that I would like and that I could share. Or, you might have
liked what I do and wanted to introduce your friends to me.

So sad. Our relationship is dying and the bad part is that you didn’t even know
it existed. You were just so busy automating that you didn’t notice that I wanted to
talk.

We will now part ways.

If we could talk, I’d end this all with a popular phrase with a bit of a
twist:

“I’m sorry. It’s not me. It is you. It really is.”

Photo of a burned rooftop
Customer NeedsCustomer RelationsEmergency PreparednessPlanning

Fire! – What to do if your office goes up in flames

Yesterday started just like any other day. I got the laptop started up, communicated with co-workers, answered emails, drafted a program plan, and …even ate lunch at 11:00 a.m. before the cafeteria rush.

Around noon, the fire alarm rang out.

We’ve had this before. A lot of false starts. The smell in the hallway just seemed to be a smell from a microwaved lunch slightly overdone. No big deal, right?

After the entire building was outside, we looked up! The gabbles on the roof had smoke coming out of them. Yikes! It took a couple of minutes, but the fire department did arrive and got as many trucks and hoses lined up as they could to squelch the flames.

Photo of a burned rooftop

Damaged roof of our building

 

Except, it didn’t die down. In fact, I found out today that they stopped working on it 11 hours after it started and the fire started up again around 10:30 p.m. at night.

So, what next?

We don’t have access to our office space. There was a concrete floor above our heads and so that most likely means no fire, but LOTS of water damage. Most of us grabbed personal items, but left our laptops. Ironic, since most of us carry our laptops everywhere. But, when push comes to shove, we are going to take a few personal meaningful items – phones, keys, wallets, a stray family picture, right?

So, really, what next?

What happens if your space goes up in flames? Do you have a plan? Will it have a massive impact on YOUR business?

Here are some tips to think about right now:

  • Back-up the Computer– Regularly – “regulary” depends upon how much you use it. I am on the computer all day creating, modifying, designing, organizing, etc. I should be backing up almost daily in some way, shape or form. There are a lot of services online that provide secure backup services. However, take a look at the next tip if you don’t want to tackle this today.
  • To the Cloud – You’ve heard about it on the news, in the blogs and at work. It’s actually been here for a while and you use it more than you think. Take Hotmail, Gmail or Yahoo – they are in the cloud. You may set up your computer to get them delivered right to your Microsoft Outlook, but they ultimately reside out there somewhere. If I edit an important presentation or document, I often email it “to the cloud.” That way, even if something happens to my computer, I’ve still got access to the document. It’s a big deal with photos! Scan in those old pictures and upload them to Flickr, Picassa and/or Photobucket. That way you’ve got three copies – physical, digital and online. We all know photos aren’t replaceable, like a laptop.
  • Keep the personal valuables small – Do you really need a lot personal stuff around the office?Most of us were able to put all of our personal items in a bag and walk out – within 5 – 10 seconds of the alarm. Would it take you longer? A co-worker brought in all his personal books and manuals he had collected over a period of 20 years to round out his office space. It is probably all damaged now. Would it have been safer at home? Maybe/Maybe not. Take a look at your space now and make that determination.
  • Damage Control & Contingency Planning – If you do own the space, have you thought about what could happen to it in an emergency? Does your building have cement walls and floors? Is there amble protection of your inventory if say a flame bursts through a door or water pours from the ceiling? How will damage impact your ability to meet customer needs? Will it be a minor inconvenience (e.g. system down for a day) or will it incapacitate your business (e.g. cafeteria closed, no other location) completely. Thinking through this before a crisis may avert a real crisis down the road. Some questions to ask:
    • Can those that support me do so at another location? with other computers/materials?
    • How will I prepare now to address customer questions? Facebook/Twitter announcements? Radio spot? Phone calls? Flyers?
    • Am I willing to change my business approach in order to meet both my employee needs and my own (e.g. willing to pay for telework vs. expecting everyone to stop work without pay)?
  • Create cheat sheets – Now is the perfect time to make a few simple lists and put them on a sheet or a credit card sized reference guide. Here’s a few suggestions:
    • Contact Sheet– Yesterday we used a small credit card sized laminated list to make sure everyone was out of the building. The card listed the name/phone/email of each person. These were alternative phone/email info, not our organizational info. Phone tree arrangements should also be listed.
    • Key Inventory Quick List– How many laptops, iPads, scanners, copiers or other equipment will need to be accounted for in case of disaster? Have a quick list available “in the cloud” and in hard copy to quickly access. Include on this list top items that should be picked up quickly on the way out if the need arose.
    • Emergency Sheet (from the business owner) – Wouldn’t it be nice if each person already had the emergency sheet/reference card on them? Whenever and wherever – they’d have info on what to do in case of emergency? Make your own to give out to the people you pay to support your business. It will remove a lot of the questions and worry that arise while in stressful moments. Note: It might be good to include any of the contingency planning details on that as well.
  • Discuss and Listen – Now might be the best time to set up an online space or a series of meetings for the different players in your business to work through “what if?” scenarios and to create a plan. Make sure to include all areas to gain greater insights into the impact an upset could cause. In DC, a derecho storm hit at the end of June 2012. Grocery stores lost power for days. It had a massive impact on the entire supply chain. They couldn’t buy groceries because they couldn’t freeze/refrigerate them which in turn meant that warehouses way out in the Mid-West couldn’t sell their inventories fast enough. A lot of business was lost in the weeks that followed as a result of a couple locations in DC being out of power.

Today I’m lucky. I’ve just lost the laptop and nothing else. I’ve got a paid day off as the powers that be work through the logistical and performance issues that the fire caused. I’m lucky. I’m an employee during the day and an entrepreneur by night. But, what about George? He owns the contract that runs the cafeteria. His workers have no where to go and most likely no benefits or vacation days. Hopefully they have backup plans. If not, some of us will step forward to help…and probably will anyway. It is the right thing to do.

Have more thoughts?

Please share.