Thursday, February 28, 2008

My Perspective on Customer Service

Oh Baby!

Just a little bit ago I got off the phone with the Los Angeles Times regarding a delivery problem. Last year, they offered me a subscription for 4 days a week at a very low price. I took it, and for a while I received my paper without much incident.

Within the last few months, though, I didn't receive it for about a month. I didn't call because I really didn't want to be bothered. I had other things going on, and more often than not, the papers were left unread.

However, in the last few weeks, I have called to cancel, and have been convinced to stay a subscriber, being told that my account would be escalated, blah, blah. It sounded good, and I wanted to give them the benefit of the doubt.

Now, mind you, I wasn't paying much for the subscription. However, in my mind it was the principle of the thing. If I was paying, then whatever I was paying for I should be receiving without having to call several times to get it.

The last time I spoke with them, I explained that this was their last shot. If I had to call again, I was definitely going to cancel. My paper was delivered the days it was supposed to be. It was a beautiful thing.

Then this week arrives, and no paper. I called to cancel. Once again they tried to get me to stay a subscriber. I asked what would be different this time. They verified information about where I lived, and so on, and said that they would let the Regional Manager know.

I was told that previously.

What would be different THIS time? All I was told was to give them time to resolve it. My question was, "And then what?" I already explained how much time I had spent calling them over and over. And for what? I was barely, if ever reading the paper.

I told the guy that I was speaking to that if the Regional Manager would call me, then I would stay on as a subscriber. I realize that maybe there are LOTS of problems, and the Regional Managers probably have "more important things to do" than address a single subscriber's issues, however, I have heard that the Times is having difficulties keeping subscribers for various reasons. Regardless of whether that is true or not, wouldn't it make sense that any company would want to keep the customers they have? (Most companies will tell you it costs more to acquire a new customer than it does to keep one). And if my call after call wasn't rectifying the situation time and time again, shouldn't they have some better CUSTOMER SERVICE mechanism than to tell the customer over and over the same thing each time he or she calls after receiving the same ineffective service?

When he said he couldn't guarantee that the manager would call, he said he would cancel my subscription. Ironically, he asked me if I knew of anyone who would want a gift subscription!

I am writing this, in part, because it seems to me that, except in a few cases, customer SERVICE has become a noun, instead of a verb (not that it ever was one - however, there was implied action within the term). It is a word that has very little meaning (in my mind) for most companies. The people who work in the "Customer Service" departments have little, or no authority, and are given preset things to say that in no way empower them, or the people that they are talking to.

I remember another time I was talking to a credit card company (another interesting topic in and of itself) and the person I was speaking to said, "I understand, mam." I was so angry and frustrated at that moment that I said, "You don't understand... anything!"

People are often told that for a person to hear them, they have to feel validated, heard. So, in a case like what I was experiencing, the rep - a "paid voice" as far as I was concerned, since he couldn't seem to help me - was probably told to say, "I understand." The unfortunate part of that, though, is that, unless a person is truly in another's shoes, or has been in a similar situation, something like that can come off in a way that is less than genuine and manipulative.

This is more a function of company policies than that of an individual employee. I feel badly for those who have to work in that kind of environment. They have to deal with the public without any decision making authority, without any real ability to truly help.

I once worked as an Information Operator - the kind that you might call from your cell phone to get a number. In order to me to keep my job and/or be eligible for pay increases I was required to keep my average call length down (if I remember correctly) to 20 seconds or less. Occasionally I was required to help people with directions, and sometimes people called with other issues, and I would do my best to help. Sometimes I would stay on the phone, just to do what I could do in the name of providing "service." Oddly, that was not what I was paid to do, and was often penalized for my more than willing nature (which the callers certainly appreciated).

I lasted in that job only as long as I had to. It really was most unenjoyable. I love to help people, so it was quite apparent I was in the wrong place. They wanted people who could "think," or so they said. I suppose any company can do anything that they want to, do it any way they want to, and call it a "service".

I find myself wondering how does that effect us in the long haul? If companies are focused on the bottom line over the customers who provide the income that provides that bottom line, is it really in their best interest? What could it be like if we had a Miracle on 34th Street world? Just in case you've never seen the movie, Santa at Macy's actually tells people where to shop for Christmas gifts - including shopping at the competitor - Gimbells. After some upset, Macy's decides that it should be the store that helps the customer, and makes it company policy to tell people where to go for the things they need, if what is desired is not within their store. The idea flabbergasts Gimbells, while it brings Macy's even more business! If I remember correctly, Gimbell's counters Macy's move by doing the same thing.

When did this shift happen? When did it become okay for companies to disregard those who they are supposed to be there to help? I am pre-supposing, of course, that companies begin because they want to "help" others. That opens up a whole other conversation, and if I keep going, that will take me down a whole other path. So I think I will end here.

Would, as always, love to know your thoughts!

Monday, February 25, 2008

The Comfort Zone Perspective

At the moment, I am thinking about comfort zones. Specifically, I am thinking about MY comfort zone. Lately I have been antsy. I feel like I am on the verge of a change, and in some ways, I feel like I am holding myself back.

It is a paradoxical thing that happens. We know we want more in life, or want things to be different, and yet oftentimes we are desperate to hold on to the things that make us comfortable - even if they are to are detriment. If it's comfortable, it's familiar, and we THINK it's somehow safer to stay where we are. The only problem is that if we are meant to do something else, or be someone else, and we hold ourselves back we usually get a jolt, a kick in the butt, and have no choice but to make changes.

I share this with you in part because one, I want to see what I can get out of my sharing it, and two, because when things like this happen, how one feels about it has to do with their perspective at the time it is happening. There is a part of me that is focused on the feeling of fear that I have. There is another part that is excited about the possibilities. It's the part that has brought me to where I am now.

I once was interested in a guy who was fearful of getting involved with me, and yet, for a time, we were still moving forward. I asked him at one point how he did that, and his response was that he didn't think about the things that would have stopped him.

I can face these things that are calling me to act, and move forward, or in my comfort zone I can start to feel uncomfortable. It kinda sucks, really. A friend of mine said that she has noticed that things are always changing. Sometimes she says, "Can't I just stay here a little bit longer?" I laughed when she said it, and could totally identify with it.

When I was learning to ride a bike with only two wheels, it seemed that I could ride the bike in the driveway, but not beyond it. The driveway was in between two relatively close houses. My guess is that the "walls" that the houses represented gave me some feeling of safety.

Had I never been willing to venture outside the driveway, I would have missed out on going places that could only be gotten to outside of the range of that pavement. I needed to get out of my comfort (safety) zone. I needed to expand my available options.

I needed to focus on what was "out there" that could be exciting and accessible if I would just get beyond the driveway, instead of focusing on the limited space that I was then operating in. In the end, as scary as it was, I did it, and now I can ride a bike any where, and more importantly, I survived :-).

Had I chosen to stay where I was, my options most certainly would have continued to be limited. As long as I focused on the driveway, I couldn't see what I was missing. I didn't even realize that I was "stuck," as I was riding my bike, after all.

So now what do I do with this? I realize that as long as I am unable to get past my current thoughts, I am stuck. I am living life. I am doing things, after all. But, what am I missing by sabotaging myself, and not allowing myself to move forward? And what are others missing as a result of my not acting upon the things that are calling for me to do them?

My comfort zone is quite uncomfortable, as I find myself back in the driveway today, and looking to find my way out. I'll let you know how it goes. In the meantime, maybe you want to think about what your "driveway" is, and how you might be able to venture out, and find what you've been missing.

Thanks, as always, for listening...
and have a great day!

Monday, February 18, 2008

Facing the Giants

Once again, YouTube has provided me with inspiration for a blog entry. I was wondering how to approach it, as it is labelled as "Christian." I have nothing against it, however, sometimes I find that something with that label can be discounted, or not listened to.

However, as with everything I discuss, this is about perspective. The nice thing about perspective is that everyone has one and, oftentimes, perspectives vary. The whole point of a perspective is to give a person a reference point. By having a perspective, you have a place to come from. For that reason, it's important to be aware of the place that you stand in relation to your thoughts and, therefore,your life. If you discount something based on its label, you may just miss out.

With that in mind, I share this video. Interestingly, you could also label it as "for teens" or "for football fans," and also not watch it. However, with an open mind you may see something in it for yourself.

What I saw was the idea that oftentimes we don't know how far we are from where we're headed, and we get tired, or are hurting from our efforts that seem to be going no where, and we stop. We give up. Sometimes we lose sight of our goal, and it can seem so far away, or perhaps we start with no particular end in sight, so how do we even know where we're are going? Sometimes we may be able to see the end, and that is enough to have us give up. It's too much. It's too far. It's...

Sometimes it's fear of what will be at the other end. What will it mean? In the end of the clip I referenced, the teen is being asked to be a leader. If he knew that what he was doing was going to, in the end, have him stand up and take on a leadership role, would he have done it?

Whatever we do, or don't do, this life is what we've got right here, right now. You can choose whatever you want to choose. That is the beauty of it all. You can choose to stay where you are, you can choose to refrain from stepping up, you can stop anything and everything you are doing. Of course, there will be results that will come from your choices, but you still get to make the choice.

I have found that when I am aware of what I am doing, it helps me to be conscious of the choices I make, and the great thing for me about that is when I am conscious, I am a lot less likely to regret what I have done. The times that I am unconscious of my choices are the times I am likely to be unhappy with myself or the situation.

Sometimes it is difficult being conscious about everything. It is so much easier to be unconscious. It certainly feels like a lot less work. However, I can tell you that the times of being conscious of what I am saying and thinking are getting easier and easier to experience (and more and more frequent).

Just in case I make this all sound so easy, let me tell you that I wouldn't say that it was. For the record, as well, I haven't always looked at things this way, and it certainly isn't perfect now. It is something that I come to see and experience by being open to the things I have found.

I am certain your journey is just as interesting, and even more so. If you're inclined to share, I'd love to hear from you.

Have a great week!

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Be Careful What You Wish For...

You might just get it.

In less than a minute you can see an example of how wishes being fulfilled can lead to something you don't want...Click Here to see the video with Benny Hill.

Do yourself a favor, and take a minute to check it out, before going on.

Hopefully, now that you've seen it, it brought a smile to your face, as it did mine.

Perhaps it also gave you a moment to think about the things you have asked for in your life, and didn't get. What were your feelings at the time? Were you disappointed? If so, consider that there is a different perspective that would allow you to actually be excited.

Sometimes you may think you know what you want, or what's best for you, however, it turns out that there are possibilities bigger and better than your imagination at the time could conjure up. Had it turned out the way you wanted it to, it wouldn't have been nearly as good as it was. Or maybe, if you had gotten what you wanted, it would have turned out the way the video did.

Unfortunately, the outcomes of our actions aren't always so clearly defined. Sometimes we have no clue how it all comes together. I just love the movie It's A Wonderful Life. (I can watch it again and again and...)

In it, for anyone who hasn't seen it, a man gets to see what life would have been like without him in it. In the process he gets to see how the choices he made affected those he cared about and interacted with. He gets to see the difference in those people's lives that HE made.

However little he valued his life (until he got some perspective from an angel in training) he got to see how wonderful his life was just the way it turned out.


The next time something doesn't go the way you want, may I suggest that instead of being disappointed, you consider that you may have actually averted something you didn't want, and wonder what wonderful, better thing might be headed your way.

Have a GREAT day!

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Afraid of the Shadows?

I just saw a video today - - that shows a young child who sees her shadow, and cries, from what seems to be fear.

I share it with you because, to me, there is a message about the fears that we have. The child is afraid, it would seem, because she doesn't understand what the shadow is. She doesn't know what it does, or what it could do. She is afraid of the unknown.

It made me think about the fears that we have. How often have you been afraid to do something to, afterward, have it be ok or even better than ok? How often have you acted a certain way not understanding fully the circumstances that you are reacting to?

There are two acronyms that I have heard for F.E.A.R.
Have you heard them?



If you think about it, it makes perfect sense that if we are caught up in fear that we would forget everything, including the potential GOOD outcome, as well as potentially misinterpret what we experience. Of course, not every situation that includes fear would be the same. However, how many occasions is fear an unproductive and undesireable part of the situation?

The next time you are afraid, if possible, consider changing your perspective from what could happen to what you'd like to have happen, and focus on that. Even now imagine a situation, and see and feel how the outcome would be much different than the one that would play out from a fear perspective.

It's so much easier to see things from outside the situation. When you're immersed in fear it may seem impossible, or at the very least difficult, to alter your perspective. However, I can promise you that with practice you will find that you will get over your fears quicker and easier than you ever thought possible. You could even use the image of that video (or think of your own past experience with succeeding in spite of your fear) to help alter what you're thinking about and feeling in that moment.

Wonder if I am right?
Wonder if this is right for you?
Well...There is one way to find out.

Have a great day!

Friday, February 8, 2008

A New Perspective on an Old Message

Several years ago, (around 2001/2002?) I had an email newsletter. While, sadly (for me), it seems that I no longer have copies of all of the issues, I was glad to see that there was one that I still did have. In re-reading it, I thought part of it would be appropriate to share here.

What follows is an excerpt. As with anything I write, it is my hope and desire that what is written will have the reader consider a perspective, perhaps never before considered. Maybe it's for you, and maybe it's not. The world is full of people's perceptions, and I truly believe that the best gift we can give ourselves is the one that empowers our own self the most, and you just never know when you may find one that gives you a reason to stop and consider a change in the way you look at things.

Here is the entry:
...I am compelled to speak to the power we have as human beings to manifest our lives and our world. I have been on an interesting journey in the last couple of years, and believe that whether or not I have known what I was creating, I've created it all.

Human beings create all of the time. Much of the creation is unconscious. Can you imagine if it was conscious? The difference between the two can be as simple as an awareness of the ability to create. But sometimes it just isn't enough. I read something recently that distinguished elements of manifestation for me. (Perhaps) you've heard the expression "what you think about, you bring about" well, many people create from a place of lack. They think about what they lack as they think about what they want, but because the primary focus is on the lack, guess what they get more of?

Now imagine you could change the way you look at your situation from a lack to an opportunity. It would mean, as an opportunity, it could be right around the corner. A lack, however, how would you know when it no longer exists? How do you begin to measure "enough"?

I have learned that the universe does not know the difference between something imagined and something so-called "real" (that which we, has human beings would call real) - to the universe it all has "reality". If what I just typed is true, consider for a moment what the repercussions are. Think about what your thoughts have been today, yesterday, in the last year, the ones you've had, like, forever - the ones you've had so many times you don't even know you're having them. Think about what they have created.

Next, consider that we do not exist in isolation. Consider that we are all connected (hmm, I think there is a slogan in there somewhere...but, anyway...). Consider that we, at our core, are energy. Energy knows no bounds. Because energy knows no bounds, consider what is possible when you have your thoughts. They just don't stay up in your gray matter. They work their way into the consciousness of the world, creating the world in which we live. Wow, didn't know you were that powerful, did you?

So...where am I going with this? Well, I have been thinking about how I want to make a difference for people, and what I had started with was giving information that people could use that could enhance their lives. I think I always thought there was more to it, but it wasn't until now that I get what that something more is...and that is that people's lives are not enhanced by the focus they put on themselves and their stuff, it is enhanced by a focus on those outside of themselves.

Now, I am not saying that your own life is unimportant. But what I am saying is that oftentimes people think that if their life gets better, their life is better. But what they don't realize is that the lives around them affect their lives. Think about it for a minute: people are growing more and more concerned for their safety. If they focus on their own home, and forget about the world beyond themselves, the world beyond themselves may come barging in.

This really hit home with me as I was reading a book recently. The book, written 30 years ago, was speaking to this exact thing. It was speaking about a different way of looking at the world, and our "family" took family out of the "usual", historical context, and brought it to a more universal stage.

We, as human beings, are family. We need to be making a difference for one another. We need to be looking out for one another. We need to be concerned about another's welfare. Our world needs to be more than just about us. If we are to survive, it will be by expanding ourselves, not by contracting.

The world has changed, and will continue to change - whether we like it or not, and whether we want it to or not. The great thing is that we have a say in the matter. It is my greatest desire to see humanity as a whole awaken to its power, and to use it to create a world of Love and rather than one of destruction.

I wonder if you might join me in this idea? As an alternative to random acts of kindness, consider making it a habit to ask people what you can do to make a difference for them, and then do it. If you do it once a day, watch what reaction you'll get, and then watch what happens. Each person has the ability to make a difference for themselves and others when they focus on others. Think about it, with yourself what do you have? One person, you, and it is limited. Focus on others outside of yourself, and what do you have? unlimited possibilities.

With all of this in mind, I am going to wrap this up with the Gettysburg Address, written by Abraham Lincoln in 1863. It might seem to be an odd addition. However, when you read it, consider that the words in [ ] (which are my thoughts) could be what it is speaking about. This corresponds with the macro-vision that I have been speaking of.

Four score and seven years ago [Once upon a time] our fathers [God, Our Father, Higher Being] brought forth on this continent [earth] a new nation [life], conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men [all people, everywhere] are created equal. Now we are engaged in a great civil war [man against man], testing whether that nation [life] or any nation [life] so conceived and so dedicated can long endure [can life as we know it continue?]. We are met on a great battlefield of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field [anywhere on earth] as a final resting-place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live [that life as we know it can continue]. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this. But in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate, we cannot consecrate, we cannot hallow this ground [it is already dedicated, consecrated, and hallowed]. The brave men, living and dead who struggled here [people throughout all time] have consecrated it far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note nor long remember what we say here, [human memory can be short-lived] but it [God, Our Father, Higher Being] can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living rather to be dedicated here to the unfinished work [the process of learning and growing for which life has been created] which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us - that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause [the pursuit of life and living] for which they gave the last full measure of devotion - that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain, that this nation [life] under God shall have a new birth of freedom [a renewed vision of life], and that government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth [that people - who are all One in humanity - will allow the cycle of human life to continue].

"Maybe life is about something you didn't expect." - Buddha
As always, thanks for journeying with me on this road.
and there you have it (with a few edits from the original). I hope you found it as interesting as I did. Would love, as always, to know YOUR thoughts. Have a great idea day! with Love.