Tuesday, 29 December 2009

A Christmas Gift to You

And back to blogging after the Christmas holiday. If you didn’t celebrate Christmas, I trust you enjoyed or perhaps are continuing to enjoy the ‘down time’ with family and friends. I do love this time of year. I enjoyed time spent with family particularly an excited two and half year old who ‘likes pink’ and Santa Claus, nativity plays where the shepherds wore hoodies and late morning walks in the snow.

Well the snow has stopped falling here and been replaced with rain, lots of rain as I write. I ventured out earlier today and the shops were busy with SALES, SALES and more SALES. Maybe it’s the Christmas gift exchange time? Whatever the reason, lots of people milling around and lots of shops full of people wishing to dispose of their cash. Streets, shops and houses are still decked with festive decorations, twinkling lights and Christmas trees.

I’m not good with sales shopping. In fact shopping is not my favourite thing but sometimes it has to be done! I’m much happier wandering and walking at an unhurried pace, taking time to absorb the surroundings as I amble along. I had the opportunity to factor in some reflective walking time just before Christmas with a group of colleagues and friends through the lovely Savill Gardens, Windsor. My friend and colleague Jacqueline Harris runs an organisation called Breath of Fresh Air which encourages us to get out of the office and commune with nature every now and again. Outdoors thinking is very effective and therapeutic too! Come and try it for yourself if you are in the neighbourhood.

The walk before Christmas invited us to celebrate our successes of the year, share them with others, consider what we would like to gift to ourselves for the forthcoming year. I’ve gifted myself ‘more time for creativity and writing in 2010’. What gift would you choose for you?

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

... and we shall have snow

We've got snow, lots and lots of snow! Due to the fact that we are not too well equipped for big snowfalls, it creates chaos here in the South East of England ... big time!

Yesterday I attended a meeting in a local hotel, about 10 mins car drive from where I live. Nothing unusual about that except that when the meeting was over I joined the mile long queue of traffic slipping and sliding all over the place - no gritted roads, no anticipation of futher snowfalls. It snowed and snowed. I felt like one of those Father Christmases or Snowmen in the plastic bubbles. Remember those - shake the bubble and see the snow storm. Like many others I sat in my car and waited and waited ... and waited while the car in front slipped and slid a metre or two at a time ... I listened to at least three news programmes, tuned into several radio stations until I decided to park up my little car and walk home. By this time it was quite dark and the roads were lit up with cars and vans trying to make their way home ... several vehicles had been abandoned, some were refusing to move any further.

I walked into a winter wonderland, moved away from the chaos and scrunched my way home in the deep and beautiful snow. The child within me made tracks in the freshly fallen snow where paths no longer existed. The night was dark and houses were lit up with twinkling Christmas trees and lights. The scene looked quite magical. The peace and tranquility hung heavily in the air. So beautiful. Picturesque. My journey lasted a couple of hours however I so enjoyed the early Christmas gift from Mother Nature and I somewhere in the distance I'm sure I heard sleigh bells ring ...

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

What makes your customers smile?

Some time ago I started receiving short films on a Monday morning from Nic Askew (with my agreement!) - not just me, lots of other people too. Nic has quite a following. His reputation as a film maker has developed over the years and although I don't claim to be 'in the know' about film making, I do know that he produces some excellent films. Films that inspire, provoke and touch the heart. He has a particular gift for capturing something special about the people he meets and there is a certain magic woven into the stories he hears and films. Often these people are part of his life journey. But don't just take my word for it, check it out for yourself at Soul Biographies.

Why am I telling you this? Earlier this week I decided to order a couple of his films on DVD. A Christmas present for .... me? ... somebody else? Anyway, when I ordered them I had a confirmation note back from the supplier thanking me for my order and assuring me that it would be with me soon. The reply really made me smile and I thought I would share it with you.

Please rest assured that we've taken great care in the shipping of your DVD.

We hold true to an ancient DVD shipping tradition passed down for over 5000 years. This very intensive practice is only achieved after years of training, meditation, purity of mind, and deep breathing exercises.

After a rigorous 17 step process of verifying the authenticity of your DVD, we donned silk gloves and placed it into a sacred box made of magic and lined with Unicorn fur, tied the box with a strand of Gypsy hair, and wrapped the whole thing in a snazzy looking faux gold leaf paper, with elm leaf inlay from Costco. Unfortunately, by the time it gets to you, all of that fancy stuff will likely have been picked clean by the greedy postal service employees. Please don't be surprised to see just a plain cardboard box.

We hope you enjoy your films and that you'll visit Film Baby again soon to browse all the great independently created entertainment!

Nothing like a little humour to lighten the wait. It worked for me!

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

What makes for good customer service?

Not the well worn, 'have a nice day' phrase used so often that it begins to sound like a deflated balloon, not the totally dis-interested checkout assistant or the one who ignores the customer in the queue because he/she (usually a she!) is finishing off a conversation with her neighbouring checkout buddy.

At the risk of this post sounding like a 'grump post', I can report that customer service is alive and well. Found a little example yesterday in a doughnut shop in a neighbouring town - an employee with a welcoming smile, a very pleasant way with her customers and most helpful with customers queries. She looked and sounded happy too. That makes a difference. As a result of this, I came away happy too and so impressed that I wrote to her organisation to tell them so. I don't know what they will do with their customer feedback. I don't know if the employee will be recognised. I hope she is as she did provide really good customer service. This is a good demonstration of the difference a person can make for their organisation and to the organisation.

What does it take to become excellent at customer service? My blogger friend Caroline writes an excellent blog that makes us think about, consider and contemplate how we may consider working towards excellence in our respective roles and jobs. I invite you to stop by and read 'Getting to Excellent'. It may not provide the full doughnut experience however it will provide much food for thought, of that I am certain.

I have to add that the chocolate iced creme doughnut tasted delicious ! All in the interests of my customer service research you understand.

Thursday, 3 December 2009

Life's little learnings.

Blogging for me is one of those new 'learning experiences'. I love learning new things, trying out new hobbies and experiences. There's something about that YES feeling I get when it all comes together ... even after numerous ill fated attempts ... like when you learn to ski for the first time as a mature learner or is that a late starter?

When that tough, laborious, knitted brow, 'I hate skiing' snow plough movement flows gently into a beautiful parallel turn and ... YES, you've got!

And so it was when I finally managed to include a photo with a blog post - YES I did it!

Thank heavens for such achievements to us non techie mortals.

What gave you that 'YES feeling' recently?