Tag Archives: business

For me?

16 Jun

School’s out FOREVER. It’s true. Kiddo’s school closed for good- no camp this year, no brand new school year in August. The economy and the resulting drops in enrollment have left us scrambling for options for his second grade year, and without an appropriate summer program. Eeeeek! Trying to figure it all out, trying to heal and get strong (I now have Enbrel on board), trying to get our shidoobie together as it feels like we’ve been in survival mode for far too long and that stress has taken quite a toll on all three of us.

I’m sad about the school closing, but also aware that this is an opportunity to change things up and maybe put a more holistic program into place for kiddo and for me.

Necessity is the mother of invention and the mountains that appear unconquerable at first, in time become the source of great opportunity and unparalleled learning.

Puttin’ mah boots on and waiting on a new pair of wellies for kiddo. We’ll climb the mountain, and stomp in a few puddles before this summer cools off.

xo
Bek

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Expectations

23 Feb

Wink wink nudge

Originally uploaded by CleverIndie

The more I read on various message boards about customer service – from both sides of the transaction- the more I realize that the primary role of customer service is not actually the service role, but a very different one that begins the moment the customer walks through the door (brick and mortar or virtual).

Customer satisfaction and good customer service are usually a direct result of setting customer expectations and then meeting those expectations.

In my old career of providing customer service for large corporations, I discovered that the dissatisfied customers were the ones who had unreasonable expectations that could not be met or those who had reasonable expectations that had not been met. From first contact to last, all interactions with the customer are building expectation.

Companies begin building expectation by choosing a specific location for their storefront. The build expectation through their logo design, their reception area, even the ease of navigating their phone system when you call to ask a question- before the customer and company ever exchange paper, the expectations are being set.

Some expectations are assumed, they are ingrained in our culture- whether that culture is our specific location in the world, our language, or the type of business we engage in. But beyond the cultural expectations, everything else should be set by the company, and expressed effectively.

When this doesn’t happen, people get mad. People share their anger with their friends, neighbors, co-workers, and with the blooming of the internet and it’s blogs and message boards, masses of strangers and near-strangers. The sharing of information has made company reputation somewhat precarious. There is the old scenario of someone having a bad meal at a restaurant and telling a friend, who then tells a friend, who tells a friend… Today that one person may mention the terrible meal on their blog, and instantly that information is open to everyone- that one person they told, could be 30 people in that first day – who tell 30 more people…Or it could be tens of thousands of people, who remember the negative review while making small talk with tens of thousands of their friends. Bad news is viral.
There is the argument that any publicity is good publicity, but still bad news is viral.

You want people to take the chance with your company, with your product, with you, as a small business you may be less likely to afford to lose potential customers based on one person’s negative experience.

What uses more energy? Putting out fires or preventing them?

Preventing the fires (from negative customer experience to bad press) is difficult, it’s a multifaceted, never-ending process, but once the process of identifying, setting, and meeting expectations is put into place, the results can be quite spectacular.

My first suggestion is to start a small notebook to brainstorm.

Be mindful of your start to finish experience when engaging as a customer with similar businesses. In my case, I took note of my experiences with companies such as Amazon.com and my experiences purchasing goods from sellers on ebay and on Etsy…it doesn’t have to be the same type of goods…Actually, I find that an assortment of experiences work best- a broader range of expectations and goods, and in these difficult financial times, it’s something you can study without breaking the bank, while purchasing necessities for your family and business.

If you take an experience from start (realizing you need to buy a specific widget to having the widget in your hands) to finish and really dissect the experience- from why you chose to buy the widget from that particular place to what you expected from the experience before it even began, and how any expectations changed and why during the experience, and how your expectations were met and not met and how things could have been done differently to have met all of your expectations.

Many people consider customer service to be an entity, something that comes into play only after a negative product or service experience. The more time I spend on both sides of all transactions, I realize that the most important responsibility of customer service runs throughout the customer experience. In a time of job cuts, and corporate customer service having a negative association (people almost expect bad customer service from most companies these days, regardless of their actual experience with the specific company), we really do need to examine why customer service has earned this association, and ultimately I keep coming back to the concept of expectations.

The best way to understand the areas you need to address, as far as setting, expressing, and meeting them in your own business, is to take a very close, and very focused look at your experiences as a consumer, and as a provider of goods and/or services in regards to expectations throughout the customer experience.

In the coming weeks I will be taking a closer look at my experiences with expectations, I would love to hear some of yours as well…

Best wishes!
Bek

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Creativity… A most excellent clever resource!

15 Jan

Amazing site on creativity…

Great brainstorming, creativity, thinking, teamwork tools….

I think this will help not only me, but also help teach kid some new problem solving skills….

Enjoy!: CreatingMinds.Org

xo

bek

Easter grass dispenser…

23 Mar

Old easter grass dispenser

Originally uploaded by CleverGirlBek

Here is my old easter grass dispenser… For those of you that haven’t experienced my packaging first hand, I typically use shredded paper for my box stuffing…. But my shredder is the cheapo jamming sort and the shredded paper was very linty and frankly, it was driving me (and our sensitivity to dust) bonkers….

A couple of years ago I bought Easter grass for boyo’s first official “old enough to know the day is different from other days of the year” easter basket. As many of you know, I am an official liason for the Easter bunny, and I enjoy the special job of assisting him with some of the smaller details of his journey to our home. This year he brought a couple of books, by the way, as boyo is getting very good at reading.

Anyway, at that time I did not fully understand the whole easter grass to basket ratio. Clearly, I had no grasp on the expansion of easter grass when expanded and fluffed as I purchased 10 bags from Target, of the green paper variety. 10 bags. There is one child in this family.

But I couldn’t just throw it out or recycle it, and as it is shredded our local recycling/waste management organization will not accept it. So I sealed it up in a plastic box with other paper goods and forgot about it.
As many of you know, hunting for decorations for a specific holiday will always turn up decorations that were lost when you were looking for them the previous holiday (ie Christmas reveals Easter, Thanksgiving reveals Halloween- well, except in our house. I have made a large effort to incorporate a pumpkin theme into Thanksgiving. Hey, I’m disabled and I’m freaking tired and I love pumpkins and orange. It’s all good. It’s better than a sharp stick in a sensitive place, or *gasp* no decorations at all, which I have been informed would make me a lazy, terrible parent. By the way, thanks Mom. You are so very inspiring with your gentle words and yearly addition of a faux Christmas tree to our bursting collection in the garage.)

So at Christmas I got a fabulous gift… My giant collection of easter grass… So I switched to using a few strands as cushioning in my little Gocco printed slider boxes. Much neater. And prettier. Goes with my whole lust for contrast…Faux grass, faux bois… Lovely.

But, the question remained. How to neatly store the grass so it would still be easy to just grab a tuft when gift wrapping outbound orders…A plastic ziploc did not work as it was quickly confiscated by boy and used as a projectile until the ziploc opened and it rained grass everywhere. Don’t fret, I will be posting about the new portable emergency vacuum soon…. Well, one bag of grass down the crapper…. I sat looking at a sealed bag and put my thinking cap on….

Well, those handy plastic containers (read my labelmaker post…the short story: I compulsively purchase plastic containers…) came in handy once again…. With a quick stab of my sheet metal sheers I shaped a hole in one of the lids…. You can see, in the image, a tuft poking out….

The problem? Dust. We live in SW Florida and we seem to have an endless supply of dust here. Eek. And we love garlic and hubby makes tacos for himself once a week. Old cooking odors are nasty and really adhere to papergoods. So I have been trying to find another, handier, sealable containment device as I have stubbed many a toe in the frantic dash to shield my packing materials from garlic. The mere sound of olive oil in the pain makes me panic these days…

I was in Target the other day and I was looking at the lovely snapware containers…. Someone put one back in the wrong place and I knocked it over when reaching for something else and Eureka!

A cereal dispenser!

With an opening big enough that I can fit my fingers in to advance a tuft of grass and a lid (with a rubbery gasket!) that clicks securely and conveniently shut…

Problem solved. Hope this helps someone else with their easter grass dispenser needs….

And I am proud to announce that now I can find my labelmaker and my easter grass. And for those of you that are curious, I did not label this container.  It took much restraint, on my part.  But it’s faux grass in a clear container.  Doesn’t really need a label…Or does it?  ha. ha.

Just a quick hello!

25 Jun

I hope your weekend was everything you wanted it to be!

I’m playing with some new ideas this week and attempting to keep a sketchbook as part of my grand scheme to create some balance in my life. Don’t get me wrong, flying by the seat of my pants is great from a creativity angle, but it usually leads to a massive 20 car pile up somewhere in the middle of the apartment. (note: that is a figurative pile up…other pileups have been contained with my monstrosity matchbox parking garage. Construction of phase 3 begins at 10am tomorrow.)

So I’m trying to find the elusive balance between (in alphabetical order so I don’t have to feel guilty about subconscious thought patterns and such) art, business, family, and health.

If you have any thoughts, please share! (either comment here or shoot me an email or a convo if you are on Etsy) I’ll share what I’m doing and what works and what doesn’t work as I weed through the mayhem! Perhaps if we put all of our creative squashes (squash? squashi? ugh. more tea please!) together we can find something that works and actually helps…

Hugs all around,

and some kisses

Bek

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