But I’m The Customer!

 

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When did it become ok to treat your customers as an inconvenience?  Has technology put such a barrier between a businesses staff and the people that spend money with them?

What’s more, why are customers putting up with this?  I shouldn’t be impressed when someone does their JOB!  But more and more I am; this shouldn’t be happening.  I’m now conditioned to be let down by the organisations that I want to spend money with.  I’m actually surprised when something does go to plan. Technology is meant to free us up to focus more on what matters but it seems to be doing the opposite.

For the past few months I’ve been dealing with an International hotel brand that will remain nameless and more and more I feel like I’m an inconvenience with an open wallet to these people.  I know with only 100 people at the event that we are a small party in their world, but you know what, this is the first time I’ve been made to feel like that by a venue in a very long time.

I’m angry that I’m being made to feel apologetic for daring to want to hold a successful event that suits my customers at their venue.  I’m angry at myself that I’ve allowed a business to make me feel this way.

Is it that I’m being unreasonable?  I don’t think so.  I’m beginning to think that it’s because I’m an email to these people that I’m not “real”.  Even phone calls haven’t seemed to soften the hard line our way or the highway and you’ll pay for it as well attitude that I’m getting.  Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind paying (gouging on the other hand, don’t get me started on hiring AV equipment for a function!) businesses are not charities; they need to be suitably remunerated.  It’s when they know they have you and then the additional charges for every little thing come out of the woodwork.

So are we losing our ability to connect with people and is customer service dead?  With AI and automation set to become an even bigger part of the customer experience how do businesses make sure that their employees see customers as important and real?  I don’t know the answer but I do know that I’m not standing for it any more, you want my money, you treat me as valuable!

Crossed Wires

 

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I’ve offended someone, didn’t mean to, but I have and I’ve decided that I don’t care!  That’s a bit of a breakthrough for me, normally I would.  Here’s how it all unfolded…

Friday night I headed off to dinner with Super Sammie and a friend of hers that I’ve never met, let’s call her Jane.  Jane seemed nice enough and it turns out she spent a lot of her younger life in the same area as me.  We didn’t know each other, but we know the same people.

Normally around new people I’m pretty quiet, I let others do the talking and rarely share. Yes, I have trust issues, especially around people that have a connection to the place that I deliberately left behind and distanced myself from.   However with just the three of us there was nowhere to hide.  So after a while I shared that I’ve been reading some blogs, Mummy was a Secret Drinker in particular (if you haven’t read Sober Mummy’s blog, please do, she’s funny and engaging).  I know I’ve shared this with you dear readers, but I’ve never actually admitted it IRL before.

I’ve been concerned for a while that I have the capacity to develop a problem with alcohol and even mentioning out aloud that I’m interested in this space is pretty big for me.  That probably says more about me right?

Anyway, a nice dinner ended (Lickerish, check it out Adelaide people) and farewells were exchanged.

Monday morning I boot up the PC to find a brand new shiny blog from Sober Mummy, which was nice, she doesn’t post as often as she used to (yeah, yeah, I know, people with semi abandoned blogs shouldn’t throw verbs or nouns or whatever – I can never work out which is which).

So without thinking too much about it I shot of a quick Facebook message to Super Sammie and Jane saying “Hey ladies, this is the blog I was talking about”.    Almost immediately I get a message back from Jane, curtly asking why I’d felt the need to send this to her.    Clearly I’d offended her, so I clarified that it was just that we’d been talking about it and I thought it was good blog and that it had been nice to meet her on Friday.  I’d hoped this would calm the situation.  Instead, Jane accused me of not being truthful!

(I can only imagine her reaction if I’d sent her my other fav blog Mr Money Moustache! )

Great, just what I need to start my day.  My first instinct was to defend myself, but that sixth sense that tells you more information will only make it worse kicked in.  So I acknowledged her feelings (they are hers, she has every right to have them) and let her know I didn’t mean to offend and I’ve left it at that.

I wish Jane nothing but good things in her life but I’m not sure I want to see her again.  I hope that Super Sammie isn’t being dragged into a drama that isn’t of her making. That is the last thing I want.

Initially I was really upset by this.  I open myself up and am immediately rejected.  However as you can tell from my opening line, I’ve moved on from that to pissy.  I’m sure I’ll calm down and get to acceptance at some point, but at the moment it’s a bit raw.

What I’ll do about the rest of what I’ve mentioned above I’m still not sure.  I think I’m ok.  Speaking of ok, I do have some other blogs half written and I promise to be here more often.

Be kind to yourselves good internet peeps.

Winter Is Upon Us

gotI thought the manoeuvring and strategy around the Iron Throne was extreme but that has nothing on this week at my clients!

Talk about cut throat. We’ve had it all: lies, betrayal, manipulation and the deposing of a King resulting in an empty throne.  The only thing missing has been a poisoning, but we haven’t had Christmas drinks yet, so it’s not too late.

We now have a number of claimants scrambling desperately to fill the power vacuum!

Unlikely alliances are being forged in the dark water cooler corners of the castle, potential raiders are skulking around the walls trying to find weaknesses to exploit using end of year phone calls to probe for intel.  The main plot characters are reminding old friends of long spoken promises of support and posturing with loud public hearty handshaking and holiday greetings in full view of all the offices. Aged advisers* look sombre and concerned as they enter closed door meetings and banner men are being rallied via email and text.

The troops are faithful but rattled as uncertainty on who will take the throne runs rampant.  Will it be a mad king who will destroy the old ways or will a noble leader arise and bring new glory to the realm/department?  Only time will tell.

This warrior consultant will remember her oath to protect the client made when she took the black and strategically retreat to the wall to defend it against those who would destroy our way of life…. I hope that the light I can see coming isn’t dragon fire and that the winter is a short one!

Wish me luck; it’s going to be a long six months……

*Mostly Fiance people** it must be said. They look worried a lot, so it’s kind of hard to judge how concerned they really are.

**A joke I promise, I love all you Fiance peeps, you know just how to advise me to get around the budget when I need to.. Much love 😉

I’ve Quit Guilt & So Should You

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I gave it up about 18 months ago. If you haven’t already done this, give it a try it is liberating.

I was a 3 pack a day guilter so it wasn’t easy.

I always had that feeling that whatever was wrong was my fault somehow. It comes high school where I was bullied everyday then moving straight into a job where the company culture was to sit the staff down and tell us that we should do anything they told us to because no one else would hire us. I already knew from school; comply and conform is the only option for acceptance. Doh, talk about negative reinforcement!

Closed doors, must be talking about me. Something goes wrong on a project that I’m only slightly connected with, must have been something I’ve done. CCB in bad mood, yup, must have been something I said or did. It got to the point where guilt was starting to control my life.

My light bulb moment came after a particularly trying day at work where it was announced that “not everyone will be going” to a long awaited event that I was a critical part of the planning for. I immediately thought; Well, I should take one for the team, I’ll talk to the boss tomorrow and tell him to leave me out. Then I went home and got ready for my walk and CCB got cranky because he wanted me to go and do something with him, he didn’t need me to do it, it was just that what I wanted to do wasn’t about him*

So I went for my walk feeling guilty and then it hit me… why am I feeling this way? I deserve to get fit; I have the right to want what I want.

Then I thought about the work situation. I didn’t notice any of the boys volunteering to step back, so why should I? I’m a key part of this team and I should be at this event. I’m proud of the work I’ve done to get this up and running. Bugger it, I’m not having that chat with the boss tomorrow and I refuse to feel guilty about it.

So that is the day I gave up guilt.

I feel lighter and strangely more confident when I reply “That’s a shame, what is being done to resolve the issue?” instead of immediately trying to find a way that I messed up and jumping in to help “fix” it.

Guilt is a highly addictive, nasty, destructive habit that is bad for your mental health. Giving up is hard, but not giving up is worse. Take a hint from Tay Tay** and Shake It Off, Shake It Off.

* He’s working on that

** I wonder how different my high school years might have been if Ms Swift rather than Mr Farnham was the soundtrack!

Resiting The Urge To Crack

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Today I’m frustrated beyond belief. I know it will pass but the overwhelming feeling at the moment is to crack it. I’ve even gone as far as typing the email with a sting and a swing, professional right? Yeah, I know, I won’t hit send; I’ve applied the cup of tea theory* but still haven’t calmed down.

In any other circumstance I’d get rid of this service provider. They rarely deliver on time or to brief and to top it off when they don’t like what I’m asking them to do, they go over my head to my boss who promptly rolls over. The problem is they are part of the “family”, a sister company and what is worse, based in the same offices as the rest of the team – I’m not.

It doesn’t help that the MD of this company and I are both control freaks who don’t like being told what to do. I don’t think it’s chauvinism at work, I don’t get that vibe, more a not invented here syndrome.

My concern is also that at some point I know the companies will merge and I could be seen as this person’s employee.   My boss rolling over reinforces this guys impression that my direction can be over turned and that I’m not a valued member of the team. I think that frustrates me more than anything else.

Over the years I’ve faced up to a lot of difficulties that working remotely throws at you. Building relationships over email is difficult, missing out on the tiny details about projects that office chatter gives you, those little nuances that lubricate navigating the business. For the most part these have been overcome with time and patience, but this, I’ve applied every strategy I have in my toolbox and nothing works.

Sigh, it is what it is I guess, so I’ll just put my big girl pants on and deal with it.

Rant over

*Always have a cup of tea before replying. Or if you prefer, “Scritzy’s Coke Rule” works just as well.

Insecure Co-workers & Conflict: A Tale Of Two Sides

Co-workers, love ‘em or hate ‘em it’s hard to avoid them.

So what do you do when you work with someone who is insecure, fixates on tiny problems (that they must tell the world that they found) and won’t move on long after an issue has been thrashed out?

confictAs I work from home I’m normally insulated from any office hysterics caused by  Tiny Details Exaggeration Syndrome or TDES**.

My usual protocol is to sigh, roll my eyes at the offending email and get a cup of tea while I formulate a measured, non-threatening response while asking one of the cats what on earth was going through their mind when they decided to;

  1. Pen the email instead of call me
  2. CC everyone under the sun including the boss over something so minor

However, I recently found myself in a situation where I did allow a person to get under my skin face to face.  I won’t go into details except to say I believe it was a complete misinterpretation of my actions, it certainly was of my intent.  I was measured and (I think) rational  in my response until my integrity was attacked.  That’s kind of my hill to die on.

Now I know that this person is pretty emotional. Normally I make allowances for them, as outside of work I quite like the guy and I also understand from personal experience just how irrational insecurity can make you.

So, what do you do when someone attacks you and then can’t or won’t provide examples of the behaviour?  My response was to continue to push for one, that only served to make them more defensive.  In the end I did something I rarely do, I tried to justify my perceived actions on one of my offences.  This was also a mistake as it gave them the opportunity to tell me that they didn’t believe me.  It was at this point I said there was nothing more to be discussed and walked away.  Neither party was abusive or rude during our robust debate, but it wasn’t our finest hours either.

So, what would I do differently?

  • I’d have stuck with my original plan of discussing the issue at a later date when we were both cooler headed
  • I would have been less blunt when I called them out on this issue
  • I’d have had a clear strategy on the formal move forward position*

What did I learn?

  • Someone’s perception is their reality and it is very had to change
  • Remember who you are talking to and respond accordingly
  • Walking away after making arrangements to discuss at a different time is usually always the smarter move long term
  • Emotional responses are not always logical
  • Putting the event behind you and treating the person professionally will help restore at least a working relationship even if the personal relationship is destroyed
  • My boss will back me 100% when I’m right (he’s awesome)

Do I regret what happened?  To a degree, but I don’t regret defending myself.  I know that in a year from now they’ll still be harbouring a grudge and trying to make my professional life difficult wherever possible and that isn’t ideal. However, I’m a big girl and fortunately they aren’t in a position to do any real damage to me.

Any tips on how I could have handled this differently or what you’ve done in the same situation

  * This all took place after a work social function. I asked for the perceived issues with my performance to be tabled in a formal manner so they could be addressed openly.  The response was they “might decide to in the future”.  I’m not a fan of anyone holding something over my head as such, so I’ve already flagged the discussion with the powers that be.

 ** Credit to Mr Money Mustache for creating TDES