How Radio Shack earned my business

The web may be changing the way we shop, but there's nothing like a good, old-fashioned, face-to-face encounter when it comes to excellent customer service. Face it, sometimes we actually need a real, live person to hold something, look at it, and test it. No matter how good a company's online customer service is or how skilled their phone reps are, sometimes you need that tangible experience. 

My mom is technologically challenged. If it glows, beeps, or was produced after in 1985, she can't operate it. So, when her smartphone wouldn't charge, I had to step in to handle the problem.

After I got the phone from her, I happened to be driving past a Best Buy. Not knowing if the issue was with the phone or the charger, I stepped in to see if someone there could detect the glitch. After standing in a long line in the mobile phone department, I finally saw a clerk and was able ask if the line was just for activations or if they could help me with a problem. He promptly answered, "No, we just activate phones. You'll have to call Virgin Mobile directly." Oh goody.

Upon driving home, I happened to remember that there was a Radio Shack nearby. I pulled right up front and walked into the tiny store. Two clerks were there and I told one of them, Mike, the problem. He took a new charger out of the packaging and plugged one end into the phone and the other into an outlet. Voila! That pretty, little, charging battery icon showed up and I was good to go.

At that point, I didn't care how much the charger was. I didn't care if I could get it cheaper online. I just wanted to reward Mike with my business. He made the effort to troubleshoot the problem and, because of that, I could return a working phone to my mom. Isn't that what customer service should be?

Although Radio Shack is a big company, the size of its stores still give it that small town, Main Street feel. And, I certainly got Main Street service--something that Best Buy clearly wasn't interested in providing. Because of Mike, I'll be returning to that Radio Shack for all my future needs. No doubt about it.

Have you had a customer service experience at a chain store that made you feel like you were shopping at a Mom and Pop shop?  Do experiences like this make you more devoted to a particular store or brand?  Or am I old school by wanting to have a real, live person fix my problem for me?

Text speak gives you social diseases

I hate it when people write in text speak in their emails and other correspondence. "U go 4 it" or "cuz U haz dat" is not proper English. I refuse to be a part of the annihilation of the written word and, as such, won't use lazy text speak. (If you've ever heard Peter Shankman present, he frequently shares the story of how he turned down a job applicant because she closed her cover letter with "4 U" instead of for you.)  Considering this kind of language makes my eye twitch and my lip quiver, I was delighted when Esta Singer tweeted me the image below (credit to the original tweeters @venessapaech and @sbadsgood):

Wow. If that doesn't say oodles about people who can't make the effort to write out the word "you," I don't know what does. Isn't it just downright amazing how writing "an individual" changes those search results? And, I didn't take this graphic as fact. I tested it myself and the results are authentic. Those who write "u" are riddled with a plethora of search results about social diseases.

Whether you're a 45-year-old professional, or just out of college, language matters. And, how you communicate tells complete strangers a lot about you. Don't take the lazy way out; use the proper word in the proper way. Anyone who writes "I can haz" should serve 20 to life as far as I'm concerned.

Gr8 2 C U here. U haz commentz?

Dogs in the workplace

Image source:
I work from home most of the time and much of my work is done with a dog zonked out on my lap. When I get a cranky email from someone or a demand with an unreasonable deadline, my happy, little furball keeps my stress in check. Who can get all red faced and angry when a dog is smiling at you?

If you're a pet guardian, you know of which I speak. Dogs are incredible stress reducers and can provide a much needed mental break from the madness of the work day. Doubt the positive effect dogs can have on your nerves? You'll want to read, "Dog Named Woolf Provides Calming Effect for Kids Testifying in Court," a recent article from the Orlando Sentinel which discusses how dogs are used to keep kids at ease during court proceedings. 

As a dog lover, this is my favorite time of year when it comes to dogs in the workplace. This week is Take Your Pet to Work week, all coming to a glorious end on Friday with Take Your Dog to Work day! If your office doesn't normally allow pets in the workplace, be sure to read "7 Tips to Ensure Your Business is Ready for Take Your Dog to Work Day" and "Win Over Your Boss" to get started.

Take Your Dog to Work day can be a really fun opportunity to engage employees, as well. How about having someone snap photos of each employee with their dog? Then, post the pics on your company's Facebook page or upload to your intranet. Or sponsor a hot dog luncheon, with treats for the dogs, too. Tweet the photos out to your Twitter followers or put them in your newsletter to share the fun! Feeling philanthropic? Why not organize a doggie-themed fundraiser with the profits going to your local animal shelter. These are easy things to do to make your employees feel good about the place where they work, and show potential job candidates the fun side of your company! 

If you want to organize a Take Your Dog to Work day event at your business, download the free Action Pack to get started. And, if you want to learn how dogs can help you become a better business person, be sure to read "How to Succeed in Business by Acting like a Puppy." 

What do you think? Would you like to see dogs in your office more often? Think dogs in the workplace can affect morale or help co-workers get to know each other better?

An open letter to Delta Airlines

This month, I flew cross country on Delta Airlines. My flight was delayed two hours and didn't leave until 11pm, but that wasn't what bothered me most. What really got me was the sleepy flight attendant.

Dear Delta Airlines,

As a passenger on a Delta flight from New York to Los Angeles this month, I had an experience that's contrary to your whole "Safety First" mantra. On my flight, there was a stewardess who kept complaining how tired she was. Eventually saying "we only get a nine-hour break to rest." This was all before the flight took off. And none of it was directed at me. I heard her five rows away.

Ironically, the last time she said how tired she was was just prior to the video with the CEO that said how Delta puts "Safety First" and how that was paramount to the Delta experience. Maybe it's just me, but I'm not feeling safe if I have to worry about a sleepy flight attendant being responsible for my life in the event of an emergency.
There are really two problems here. One is that Delta is obviously not giving it's flight crew enough down time. I'm sure I would have been tired, too, with such a short break in between flights. And the second is the lack of good judgment on the flight attendant's part. It hardly instills confidence in a nervous flier to hear one of the people in charge of passenger safety is sleep deprived.

If you're going to have passengers watch a video from the CEO at the beginning of every Delta flight, saying that safety comes first, you better walk the walk and talk the talk. I'm not writing this to get anyone in trouble. I'm writing this to remind you that branding, that slogans, that mantras (like Safety First) are nothing but rhetoric if they're not put into practice.

Perhaps it's time to redo that video and give your flight attendants a much needed nap.
Amber Avines  

Have you seen a company not practicing what it preaches? What about using a slogan that didn't deliver? How do you feel about a business when it tells you one thing, but does another?

Is guest posting for you?

I just came home from a week-long conference in New York, BlogWorld & New Media Expo. Throughout the 200+ sessions from the 175 speakers, one of the recurring themes to help content creators gain exposure was to guest post for other blogs. However, today I read a Q&A with Dino Dogan who calls guest posting "slave labor." Hmmm.

I actually met Dino at the BlogWorld conference and although I had interacted with him online on occasion, I'd never met him in person. He's spunky! And, a really nice guy. Who, by the way, is doing some great things to help up and coming bloggers. But, I have to respectfully disagree with his assessment of guest posting.

If you're a content creator and have the time to do a little extra writing, I highly suggest you start doing guest posts. This is a great way to get your name and ideas in front of a new audience. And, it's also a powerful way to solidify your personal brand.

The more places you write, the richer those Google results will be when someone searches for you online. And, the more popular the site, the higher that guest post will rank in your search results. For instance, I wrote a guest post for Spin Sucks in 2011 called, "7 Ways to Turn Employees into Brand Ambassadors." It got a ton of traffic and even made it onto Spin Sucks' list of Top Ten Guest Posts of 2011, ranking at number seven. That initial article always shows up on the first page of search results when you put my name into Google. I don't know about you, but I think that's pretty neat.

So, is guest posting for you? Here are some resources I've assembled to help you through the process:

A Blogger's Checklist for Guest Posting on Other Blogs
by David Risley

How Guest Posting Can Help Grow Your Blog
by Jeff Goins

10 Places to Find Blogs to Guest Post On
by Kwame Boame

6 Powerful Guest Post Tactics that No One's Talking About
by Tom Ewer

How to Build Links Through Guest Blogging
by Neil Patel

For the record, I think "paid" gigs that offer writers insulting wages are ridiculous and that you should never write an article for $5. However, if you choose to write for free, as is the case with a guest post, because you reap some sort of benefit from it, that's a completely different animal. I know I've done lots of free work over the years, solely because it gave me great exposure. A guest post is no different. Just like anything, you call the shots and as long as you're getting something from it, I say go for it.  

If you're new to the idea of guest posting, do you think this might be for you? If you've guest posted before, what were the benefits? Drawbacks? Any advice for the newbies in the group?

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