Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Fried brain potpourri

The past few weeks have been post-free for me for a number of reasons: A week on Caribbean cruise (unspoiled by any sun, mind you) a week of catch-up (2 days just to revive my email which was almost fatally wounded by the avalanche of spam that built up in my absence) and a week, prior to the cruise, dealing with health issues (my own and the cat’s.— we’re both much improved thank you.)

Suffice it to say that I have:
1) A bit of fried brain
2) A lot of bits and pieces of possible posts lying around in draft.

Here then, be the bits and pieces for your piecing and, uh, biting pleasure.
  1. Reading and enjoying Danny Meyer's book, Setting the Table. I particularly like Meyer's distinction between customer service and hospitality--something I never thought about before. Meyer writes, " Hospitality exists when you believe the other person is on your side. The converse is just as true. Hospitality is present when something happens for you. It is absent when something happens to you. Those two simple prepositions –for and to express it all."

  2. I love this piece from Seth's Godin's Blog: "Here's the short version: If you try to teach a customer a lesson, you've just done two things: a. failed at teaching a lesson and b. lost a customer" Amen! If the customer receives 'service' but feels like it's being given as a favor, or worse, with reluctance or a with punitive spirit, then the customer might take their bidness elsewhere.

  3. A Customer Service Shout Out to Comcast. I dumped Verizon DSL last year after years of service because my Internet went out one day and they didn't care. And that is the mercifully short version! I promptly ordered Comcast Internet and have been enjoying their speedy connection ever since. Until my Internet slowed to near halt a few days ago and my cable tv went on the fritz at the same time.

    I called Comcast and quickly got through to a live human being (my favorite kind, mind you.) They said they could be out the next morning, but that wasn't good for me, so we scheduled the morning after. Not only did the nice Comcast man show up 1/2 hour early, he was pleasant, professional, communicative, quick, and ended his visit by saying, "of course there will no charge today." Of course!

    I don't know if it's just that my expectations have been so severely lowered by so many terrible interactions (with Verizon, with banks, with my oil company, etc., etc.) but boy did I feel good about Comcast. Even better than I did before my Internet and TV fritzed out. It's almost a bit cliche, but how true nonetheless - every service problem is an opportunity to strengthen the connection with the customer.

  4. From "Dont Coddle Me at Work" courtesy of the Chief Happiness Officer: "Before people can be happy at work, the thinking goes, they must be shielded from all manner of ills: angry customers, unrealistic deadlines, unfair decisions, overwork, boring meetings, stress, annoying co-workers, insecurity, diffiult situations, hard choices - you name it. Wrong. The best and happiest workplaces in the world haven’t become so by shielding their people from problems, but by giving their people the skills, the energy and the freedom to deal constructively with problems." Hey, that sounds just like Nordstrom. Don't set rules designed to deal with every possible worst case scenario; give your employees the power to deal with problems if and when they occur. Like Robert Spector writes in Lessons From the Nordstrom Way, "Dump the Rules!" Each one is a barrier between you and your customer.

  5. Lovin the Elf! Library Elf, that is. I signed up for Library Elf last week after attending an informative presentation by Ralph Bingham of the Gloucester County Library System. GCLS has been actively promoting Library Elf to the delight of their customers. I didn't think I would be able to participate since my library is a Triple I shop, but lo and behold the good people at Library Elf set me right up. I mentioned this to an administrator at my local library who was happy to hear the news. A recent customer survey had just revealed that "underdue" notices were greatly desired. This is the kind of simple convenient service that can have a great impact on customer satisfaction and also raise employee morale by reducing staff contacts with grumpy customers complaining about fines.

  6. Just throwing this out there... Is it time to move Library Garden from Blogger to Typepad? Blogger, oh blogger. You seduced me with your simplicity. Those come hither eyes. So easy. So cheap. You'll still respect yourself in the morning you whispered. But you've changed. Were you always this freaking tempermental? And your dirty code! Oh, is it dirty... I can write a post in 10 minutes but then you ask me to spend the next four hours trying to get my font sizes right. You don't let me spice up our posts with photos anymore. I don't know Blogger, maybe it's me. Maybe I've grown. Let's face it, we've grown apart. I need a software that's more stable, more predictable. Someone I can grow old with... (I haven't discussed this with my fellow Gardeners, but maybe it's time to go with something a little more professional. What do you think guys?? Do I spend my December vacation time tranferring us to Typepad?)


Tuesday, November 21, 2006

NJ Libraries on Flickr

Kudos to Nancy Dowd, Director of Marketing at the NJ State Library, and Blogger-in-Chief over at The M Word, for creating a new Flickr group for New Jersey library events.

[PS I'm posting this with Windows Live Writer, which I'd read some good things about. So far I like it! Let's see how this looks on the other end...]

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Broken signage

I've been away from the blog for what feels like a while--but for a good reason! My wife and I met up with some friends that came from the west coast and we did a seven day cruise to the western Caribbean. Lots of rain, no sun, but a good time was still had by all. We swam with dolphins, played with monkeys, ate, slept, read. Who needs the sun anyway?

I never had any desire to vacation on a cruise ship, and while the service and food was generally excellent (with a few notable exceptions), the cruise ship experience is probably just not my bag.

Anyhoo, I'll get around to getting the monkey and dolphin pics up on flickr, but in the meantime I thought this picture was worth sharing. Yup, that's the emergency exit door on deck 1 of the Carnival Valor. What message does this sign send to the passengers? I think it should be subtitled, "In case of emergency, good luck suckers!" Hey Carnival, let's barter: You give me a free seven day cruise and I'll give you a kick-ass signage audit. :-)