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Tragedy Strikes Reno Once More: People Stick together to help our Community

November 18, 2011



Our community here in Reno Nevada cannot seem to catch a break. We have dealt with tragedy after tragedy followed by another tragedy. First we had the air races where we lost many of our community members as a plane crashed into the audience. Then we had a devastating shooting out in our states capital at an I Hop, loosing yet more of our family and friends here in Nevada. Now on November 18th into the evening hours of the 19th our city is fighting yet another tragedy. Fire burst through homes in Reno near the Caughlin ranch area. Thankfully only one life has been lost, although that in itself is a tragedy. Many homes have been burnt to the ground. (25 so far) and many people have been forced from their homes.

This is a time where “people” are our best hope. I right blog after blog about customer service and how we need to learn to get to know the people who we are working with in order to serve them. But tonight I move down another road and take a look at the people who are serving me. The men and women who have spent hour upon hour out in our city trying to contain this fire have caught my attention in more than one way. Not only are they doing their job, but they are risking their lives so we can do ours. One of our local reporters here in Reno almost lost his home to the fire, and on tv he said that he asked one of the firefighters if he should start watering down his house and land, the firefighter, who has already most likely been up for hours insisted that he go ahead and head to work, that he (the firefighter) would take care of his home.

Firefighters battle the Pinehave Fire in southwest Reno the morning of Friday, Nov. 18, 2011. Photo by David B. Parker.

These are the type of acts that make a world worth living in. This fire is devastating, and unfortunately many people are left without homes.  But what we can see is people coming together to help people. People coming together to help those who have lost their homes have food, and shelter, for not only themselves but for their pets as well. Face book, and twitter have blown up with people offering services of all sorts to try and help. Even our local news stations who have be on the air non stop all day making sure that everyone is aware of what is going on and how to proceed with finding out information.

It is incredible to watch.  This is not machines, or products at work trying to keep our city safe. It is people helping people.

When I got to work this morning the very first message on our answering machine was a family offering out their home to a fellow co-worker of mine, who has a family and lives in the evacuated area. It is amazing. Although this is a terrible time for Nevada, and we seem to be catching one flu after another, our city has stayed strong. People are taking time out of their lives to do whatever they can to help others.  This is not of a time to feel sorry for our city, but a time to celebrate the hard working citizens we have here. All those who have lost family members or homes over the past few months should know they have a wonderful community behind them

Radio stations, Television stations, and local shops are putting together all sorts of help stops for all the families that have been affected by the air races, Ihop shooting, and the caughlin fire.

Bob Weiner hoses down the area around his Ridgeview Drive home to help protect it from the nearby Caughlin Fire in southwest Reno the morning of Friday, Nov. 18, 2011.

Although all of these incidents have been tragic it is beautiful to see our little city stand up and work together to ensure the safety of our people.

If you haven’t already I encourage everyone to jump online and find a way to help!!


Have Trust

November 17, 2011

I work in an environment where it is absolute controlled pandemonium. What I mean by this is everyone is doing what they are suppose to be, but it is loud, busy (with both work as well as many people being in one area) and extremely tiring. I spend a lot of my time trying to talk on the phone to sell out program while also checking in students and helping their parents. With over 1000 families enrolled it is hard to do everything by yourself.

When we place new employees up at the front it is my responsibility to train them. I am responsible for teaching them how to multitask, work with our computer system, customer service skills, sales skills and much more. Initially I take over and have them watch me work. Then I slowly start letting them do it on their own. And finally in the end, they have the knowledge and skills to take over all task without any supervision.

I have one trainee that I have never really “let go” I cut in a lot while she was talking because I was afraid she was not going to give the correct information. I gave her more simple tasks because I felt it was too hard to for her to do the others correctly. And I made her feel like she “wasn’t good enough” . I could also see it on her face that she was annoyed that I wouldn’t let her do things on her own.

Finally, tonight I made some changes. After a week of stressful presentations and overbearing workload I finally stepped back and allowed her to take the rains. It was once again a crazy night filled with upset parents, scared children, loud energetic children, and many phone calls. For the first we got all of our work done, no one was upset or stressed out and we left on time.

I stepped back and realized I cannot do it all. Sometimes you have to put enough trust into not only yours staff members but yourself as well. You must trust that idea that you taught your employees well and they are capable of doing the work they are suppose to do. You must also trust yourself to let go and allow for others to help.

People are your best tools to help with stress or heavy workloads. They are the tools we need to utilize. We need to not spend our time trying to make organizational lists or alarms to remind us to do all the things that we could be delegating to others. Spend your time utilizing your people. Trust me, if you give them some freedom, they will do their work with better quality then if you are not allowing them to do anything.

Boredom breeds bad behavior

November 11, 2011

Misbehaving in the workplace is common. It is also common at home, or in school or at family dinners. Why do people misbehave? Is it because they are negligent? It is because they are bored? Is it because they just want to? The answer is yes. It is all of them. People misbehave for many reasons. Normally it is not because they want to upset you. But in some cases that is the reason.  

 A  study done by Bruursemaa, Kesslerb, and Spector (2011) showed that employees that are bored are more likely to misbehave then those who are not.  I have seen this in many of my current co-workers. When business is slow many people try to find other things to do, so they get into trouble. Spot these people early and make sure you find things for them to do.

Don’t just give them busy work, because even with busy work to do people are going to get bored. Take the time you have when business is slow to get to know your employees. This is the time to give them some more responsibilities and to motivate them. When business is crazy it is hard for you to really get to know your employees because you are so worried about trying to make sure the building doesn’t fall down.

So do not take forgranted employee’s free time.

Don’t allow for employees spend their free time getting in trouble, let them spend their free time exploring new areas of the business. You will be surprised what you find. You may find that person who has extraordinarily good customer service skills, or that person who is amazing with computers. The problems we see in many companies is high turnover. People leave because they don’t feel like they had a chance to advance or move forward with a company. If you really look at your employees you are going to find many hidden talents that you or they never knew they had. If you give them the opportunity to find their own talents, you will be able to utilize your employees in more ways than ever noticed.

 Finding these talents within your already existing customers will really help your company promote within. This will help your company build their credibility as a place to work and a trustworthy place to work.  Promoting within will also help your company with recruiting, retention, cost savings, flexibility, and culture fit, (On Staffing, by Aaron Green)

So pay attention to your employees, see them when they are bored, see them when they need help and most of all see them as an asset to your company.

Seinfeld and Customer Service

November 10, 2011

When we watch television the things we find funny are the things that remind us of our everyday encounters. When kids are running around the grocery store, or you get in a fight with a co-worker, or even when you encounter horrible customer service.  The following video is a funny clip from Seinfeld where the lady at the car rental has to deal with a somewhat upset, sarcastic Jerry Seinfeld. What do you think about her customer service?

So you notice that Jerry was extremely sarcastic and angry about the fact that their reservation was not upheld and they did not receive the car that he had wished. You notice the first thing the lady says that is something we want to avoid as customer service reps is, “I know what a reservation is”. In this situation thankfully, Jerry was not as angry as some customers could be. You want to avoid undermining your customers. If they say you don’t know something, just move on.

Another thing to keep in mind is when you move to talk to your supervisor all the creditability you once had is now lost. The customer will assume that you do not have any authority, thus will not treat you with respect, especially and angry customer. Customers want to talk to people with power, and the second you let them know that you don’t have any, they will move on.

So now lets look at one more clip from Seinfeld..


Sometimes customers don’t actually want a solution for a problem. Sometimes they just want you to admit you did something wrong. Sometimes it is ok to admit, yes I did something wrong, how can I help to fix it. You want to make sure you are not admitting to something that you or your company is not responsible. For example, in this clip, the dry cleaner actually admitted they had done something wrong; in this case, it was the companies fault. If policies are broken by the customer and there are legitimate sources such as sighed forms by the customer or consent releases make sure you do not admit to something, just because your customer wants to hear you say, you are wrong.

So remember, do not admit to something just because you have a customer who is forcing you to. Think of what it is they are actually asking, and then determine if it was the companies fault, or lack of understanding by the customer.

Do not let yourself Blow: Dealing with holding in frustrations

November 9, 2011

Okay, so we all have them, and unfortunately there is no way of getting away from them. Those bad days ,that turn into bad weeks that turn into bad months that ultimately turn into a total meltdown, typically at work or in the public eye, because you spilt your coffee and there is not one more empty space for you to store that frustration. So you blow!

The good thing is this happens to everyone, so you are not alone. We are people and unfortunately sometimes we think we are far stronger then we truly are. We think that we can bare multiple blows and not even flinch. We tell ourselves, “It’s ok self, it was only one person, one time and they didn’t really mean what they said”, or, “listen self, don’t be oversensitive, people will think you can’t handle your responsibility.” The truth is, we as people continually convince ourselves not to deal with our problems, whether they are personal or work related. And consequently we do not contain an endless amount of storage inside our hearts and minds, so when that final piece of criticism comes rushing in WE BLOW  

 So, how do we deal?

 Remember not to approach a situation only thinking about the solution. You must understand the entire problem. When you go to the store you do not just think, I need to eat, so I need food. You think of all items you need in order to make the food you need so you can eat. You think of dairy items, meats, and vegetables, and in my case beer.  So approach a problem you are having the same way.

 With that, do not hold on to you linear mind. You do not always have to approach a situation from the front end. You can move in on any angle. For example, after diagnosing your problem, you don’t have to move from front to back. Conversations had with your co-workers do not have to be in any specific order. Choose what the most important aspects are and start there

 Keep in mind, many problems have many solutions. Many of the underlining reason s why we get so frustrated in the workplace is because someone came up with a solution that was not the one that you had ultimately hoped for. So, make sure you include your solution in the conversation. You do not want to leave an argument thinking, damn, I wish I would have told him this!  And do not wait until you get into your car and start yelling at your steering wheel. It doesn’t care about your problems! Go back inside and tell the person your solution or ideas.

 In the end, if you tackle your problems head on you will not have to worry about cleaning up after your blow out! Blow outs are messy, so do not put yourself in a position where you have to sit down with your hr manager just to make sure you are “ok” Be responsible for yourself and get involved with your issues. Do not let them take over your life!


November 4, 2011

We have learned that when trying to motivate people to do some sort of task in the workplace or outside, it is impossible to motivate them all the same way.

You do not motivate people based just on the job they are doing. Some jobs require more work then others. Some jobs require more physical or hands on, while others require more cognitive and creative thinking.

You do not motivate people based just on the person they are.                          Some people are more intrinsically motivated while others are more extrinsically motivated. Some people are shy and do not like public praise, others are extremely extroverted.

You do not motivate people based just on their sex.                                                    Women do better in social situations, men do better with labor, and women like to be publicly recognized where men like to compete.

You do not motivate people based just on their location.                                              People who live in a richer dominant neighbor hood may not be as motivate by money as those who live in the projects

You do not motivate people just because

So the question is what do we motivate by?

The answer, ALL OF THEM

You can not just motivate people by one aspect or another. It is important to really analyze the people you are working with to find a specific specialized way of motivating that person. You gift wrap each individual persons motivational techniques and hand them directly to them. Not one motivational technique should be alike.

A video done by RSanimate goes into detail via words and pictures about what motivates employees, how certain rewards motivates them, and why certain motivational techniques do and don’t work. In the video he mentions “as long as the task involved only used mechanical skills, bonus rewards worked as expected, higher pay resulted in higher performance, but once you go beyond rudimentary skills the rewards do not motivate Mo the same way.

Motivational techniques depend on a number of different variables. There is not one right way to motivate all employees. But you can find a way to motivate each employee individually.

@ what price??

November 1, 2011


What is the price to pay when your company promotes bad customer service. You lose current customers, potential customers, and customer respect?  On top of that you will lose the 2 most important aspects of a company; competitive advantage and your company’s good reputation.  Jan Ferri-Reed wrote in the Journal for Quality and participation an article entitled Driving Customer Service excellence. Within this article she goes into details about ways to bring customer service excellence into the work place. Here are some of her ideas.

She states that “the average unhappy customer will tell 8 to 16 of people” about their problems with your company. This is probably increased since then. People don’t talk and praise a company about the good things they do, they only critique the bad. With social media on the rise, there are plenty of ways for angry customers to share their experience with the world, including Yelp, Facebook, and twitter just to name a few.

She also shares how “90% of unhappy customers will never purchase from you again”. This is absolutely the truth. How many times have you been so angry with a business that not only you tell everyone you know not to shop there, but you yourself have never stepped foot into that place again?An overwhelming amount of people will have one bad experience and never return to that company. This is due to the large number of substitute products we have. Within most industries the amount of rivalries are enormous, not to mention barriers to enter into that industry are low. Keeping the customers you have happy is the most valuable tool to create a sustainable competitive advantage.

Jan shares says “it costs 5 times as much to attract new customers, then it does to keep one.” I myself overwhelming agree with this statement.  The amount of effort, time, and money you must put forward to bring in new customers is insanely high. Why waste all your time trying to convince people to use your service when you could be convincing people who are already sold to stay.

Convincing a person to buy a puppy isextremely hard they have to put time effort and money into the animal and that is stressful; convincing a person to keep the puppy after they have named it, played with it, and built a relationship with it is a whole lot easier.