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Danica Partick Wins!

Danica Patrick in FOUR WEEKS IN MAY

We just heard very exciting news about Danica Patrick. As many of you may know, Danica is featured in our two-part training program Four Weeks in May and T.E.A.M.W.O.R.K. She won the Indy Car race on April 25th in Motegi, Japan. It was her 50th IRL IndyCar Series race! And I think that makes her the woman in history to win for Indy Car Racing. Click here to read about Danica’s win!

Posted under Talent, Product Reviews and Articles by Stewart on May 02, 2008 | Comments: 0 | Post a comment»

Loving "Love Your Customers"

John O’Hurley with violin from Love Your Customers

We just received a review from Training Media Review on our new John O’Hurley program, "Love Your Customers" and "Love Your Difficult Customers." It’s a thoughtful review - and could be helpful! The review ends with this recommendation:

Love Your Customers and Love Your Difficult Customers are good investments for a customer service basics program. They cover the classic customer service principles humorously, yet straightforwardly. It is fortunate for customer service managers and training directors that both are high-quality programs. Be sure to add them to your list of academy award nominees. You will definitely "feel the love" of customer service dedication in these selections.

You can read the entire review at Training Media Review’s Website.

Posted under Customer Service, John O’Hurley, Product Reviews and Articles by Stewart on Apr 04, 2008 | Comments: 1 | Post a comment»

Customer Service Experiences - Good and Bad

Before I tell you this story, I have to confess, that I don’t know much about wall-to-wall carpet. But despite this shortcoming, I need to purchase new wall-to-wall carpet for my home. Since I have to replace all the carpet in my condo, I consider this a big sale (at least it is big for me)! So I set out to purchase some new carpeting and had two totally different customer service experiences - and I think they provide good lessons about customer service. Here’s what happened:

The first place I tried is a trendy carpet company in Boston called Landry and Arkari. They have all kinds of fancy carpets. I went there because my sister told me that they often have special sales. I walked into their store one Saturday about two weeks ago. There were several people working in the store and one other customer (I think the other customer was an interior decorator). I walked over to the carpet rack (clearly clueless) and started poking around. After a while a sales rep came up to me (the same sales rep was also helping the decorator). She asked one or two questions and then pointed to a few racks of samples and said, "The wool carpets are here and the sale carpets are over there." I didn’t get any advice, assistance, or help on pricing.

Now, I really needed some advice because I don’t even know where to begin. Carpet selection can be overwhelming! What kind of carpet? Wool or synthetic --- pattern or plain??? But the sales rep wasn’t interested in helping me. It was clear she was interested in helping the decorator. She didn’t want to answer my (clearly very basic) questions. So, after about 20 minutes of poking around (and waiting for help) I left the store with no better idea of what I wanted or how to proceed.

Fortunately, I had the name of another carpet company, Harry’s Carpet One in Quincy Mass. This store was a referral from some friends who had purchased their wall-to-wall carpet there last year and I even had the name of their sales rep. I walked in this store last Saturday... and wow! What a difference! Phil, the sales rep was incredibly helpful. He explained the different kinds of carpet to me, the difference between wool and synthetic, and the difference between different brands. He offered to send me samples and was patient with my questions. I left the store with a good idea of what I wanted, what everything cost, and how to proceed. I was a very happy customer!

My friends had the same experience at Harry’s when they purchased their carpet last year. They even told me that when a seam started to appear in one of their rooms last month, the people from Harry’s came right over to fix the problem. That customer service follow-up closed the deal for me... Harry’s really cares about its customers.

So needless to say I’ll be buying my carpet from Harry’s. I know they deliver great service, and I know they are interested in me as a customer.

So what are the lessons from this story:

  1. Every customer counts - even if they are just a "walk in".
  2. If you have lots of sales reps in the store, maybe they should approach a customer.
  3. Ask the customer questions and give them advice. Be patient.
  4. Good customer service leads to referrals. My friends had a good experience at Harry’s and told me and probably many others about their positive experience so I went there and will buy my carpet from them too!

Posted under Customer Service, Miscellaneous Thoughts by Stewart on Mar 27, 2008 | Comments: 0 | Post a comment»

Interesting Site on HR Issues

I just stumbled onto a very cool site for our industry. It is www.about.com. Actually, I have known about this site (I use it to find out about urban myths), but I didn’t realize what a wealth of information was contained in it on a whole variety of HR topics from leadership to customer service.

Just poking around quickly, I saw an interesting article about the power of laughter.

I also uncovered a lot of interesting information on customer service.

I have bookmarked this site as a resource, and thought you may want to as well!

Posted under Customer Service, Miscellaneous Thoughts, Training Ideas by Stewart on Mar 21, 2008 | Comments: 0 | Post a comment»

Desktop Learning vs. Classroom Learning

The newest trend in the training business has been to move instruction to the desktop. There are a lot of compelling reasons to provide learning at the desktop aside from the convenience. The learning is self-paced so it can work with everyone and it doesn’t require complex scheduling.

I also think that there are a number of problems with desktop learning:

  1. Interruptions. Let’s face it, we can have so many interruptions when we’re sitting at our desk. The phone rings or you hear the "bling’ of a new e-mail arriving in your mailbox. Someone comes by your cubicle to chat. You hear a funny joke. It can be both difficult and frustrating for some people to learn while having all these interruptions.
  2. No interaction. Some training topics have more impact when you discuss them with your colleagues. How do you deliver the best service to your customers? What are the unique challenges that your company faces? What really does diversity mean in your organization. How can we do a better job to meet the unique needs of our customers? These tough topics can benefit from a group discussion.
  3. Perception of importance. I am not sure of this, but it seems to me that people may not perceive learning at the desktop to be as important as a training session that is in a classroom. I wonder if desktop learning may be considered something of an afterthought while classroom learning may be viewed as a priority.

So, what to do? I think the best solution is a combination. For high impact training, the classroom may prove to be superior. For ongoing training, "refresher sessions," skills improvement, and other quick updates, the desktop is probably better.

As you approach your organization’s training priorities, you should probably consider using a mix of these different methods.

Posted under Miscellaneous Thoughts by Stewart on Mar 10, 2008 | Comments: 0 | Post a comment»

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