Deep Thoughts Part 2

The only way to succeed is to surround yourself with like minded people. Dreams are goals with wings. And dreams can be accomplished with a plan – objectives, strategies and tactics. It’s not like The Secret where you wish for a dream and it comes to you. You have to go out and get it. Take action.

Some millennials are cocky. There’s a sweeping generalization if I have ever heard one. But some boomers are cocky too. I find that there is a discernible difference between cocky and confident. Cocky is conceited or arrogant, especially in a bold or impudent way.
Confidence is a feeling of self assurance arising from one’s appreciation of one’s own abilities or qualities.

Confidence is better than cockiness

So there are 3 things that I am afraid of.

  1. Airplanes
  2. Snakes
  3. My health

So we can forget about snakes, not worth discussing. I have a plan to get on an airplane for the first time in over 25 years. I will fly Air Canada to Toronto with a pilot who is dead heading to Pearson International Airport. That way, if both the pilot and co-pilot die simultaneously, the pilot sitting with me could fly the plane.

In terms of health, I am taking 4 steps

  1. 10,000 steps per day
  2. 2 – 3 litres of water per day
  3. Reduce sugar dramatically
  4. Smaller portions

Helping others is my personal mission statement. And helping others should be yours as well. If you are lucky enough to have a roof over your head, food on the table and family / friends, then help others. Especially the homeless at this time of year. I grew up in the West Island of Montreal and discovered that there are 200 homeless youths; which was surprising considering the fact that the area is financially sound. But there is an organization committed to building a homeless shelter.

Ricochet’s mission is to create housing resources for young people between the ages of 18 and 35 who are experiencing residential instability in the West island.

Deep Thoughts

As we roll into December, I thought it was time to go deeper than sales and customer service. The quote above is comforting in so far as it makes me think about my late father and the fact that I believe he is watching over me. A humble servant of God and his community, my father worked his way from the mail room to Accounting Manager, Eastern Canads, for the Steel Company of Canada. And all that with just a high school education. After retirement, he went to Concordia and got a degree and eventually became a deacon in the Catholic Community of St Luke’s in Dollard des Ormeaux. I tell people two things about my father.

1. He was the finest man to walk the face of the earth

2. He was perfect

Of course, I get push back when people tell me no on is perfect. Well, he was.

Our past cannot be course corrected, or as I like to say it is what it is. We cannot go backwards, we can only live for the moment and create a positive future. Oftentimes I find myself looking back with regrets however, there is no purpose to this exercise except to stir up negativity. Adversity builds chatacter. The tougher your life, the stronger you are. We can only learn from the lessons of the past to create a better future. Thomas Watson, the founder of IBM once said In order to succeed, double your failures. And do I have failures. But I know not to repeat them and to learn from them. The future is friendly if you use the ammunition from your past.

Please do me a favor and with the holidays fast approaching, take some time for the lost art of conversation. I am guilty of this horrible habit we have with technology and it also ruining the art of sales. I get email pitches on a daily basis and I simply control alt and delete. If you want to make a sale, pick up the phone. The ratios of cold calling vs email selling are dramatic. Email response rates are .004% and cold call response rates are 8.21%. You decide. But also take a break from your phone. On the weekends, my son puts his phone away for a prescribed period of time. Smart millenial.

I know for some people this is a tough time of year from a mental perspective. They may be alone or suffer from depression. Take the time to visit someone that is alone. The gift of time is more precious than any gift. And pay attention to homeless people. They are probably suffering from some form of mental illness.

1. Stop and look them in the eye

2. Talk with them

3. Give what you can

Customer Service Stories

My mother taught me to make sure that I got my moneys worth when buying products or services. She would send back a meal at a restaurant that wasn’t cooked properly or return an item to a department store if it wasn’t as advertised. As a result, I can be a challenging consumer and will speak up if not taken care of in a proper fashion.

I maintain that the challenges that business face today have little to do with the economy and everything to do with customer service. Jeffrey Gitomer wrote an excellent book entitled Customer Satisfaction is Useless, Customer Loyalty is Priceless.

I am a consumer of many products and services, however, I will challenge you if your customer service is less than stellar.

I walked into a Bureau en Gros last week looking for a briefcase on wheels. I found two that I like, one made by Targus and one made by Swiss Gear. First, there is no one on the floor to help me so I ask for help. A lady comes over and I ask her about the differences in the 2 products. She says I don’t know. So I have to Google the products myself. I select one and go to the cash and ask if there is any possibility of a discount of any sort. The cashier / manager says what do you think this is, a pawn shop? Needless to say I left the briefcase on the cash and left. Once I get in my car, I check out Amazon and the identical product is $ 50 less. Wake up Bureau en Gros!

Every transaction starts in a positive way, but the seller always determines the direction going forward. I walk into a Home Depot to buy window coverings. I select the ones that I want and an older associate helps by carrying them to the cash. He asks the younger associate to ring them up but he us busy doing inventory and says no. So let’s get this straight. I am standing there with a product and money and he will not open the cash. So I ask for the manager and request something for my trouble. He asks me what I want and I say 50% off the product to which he agrees. Smart manager and smart move because I will continue to shop there. But for office products, Bureau en Gros is out and Amazon is in.

I walk into a Couche Tard convenience store to buy a phone charger but the one I purchased didn’t work. Back into the store to get my money back and the cashier says that I need the bill. Well, I just bought it 60 seconds ago and threw out the bill to which she says sorry, no return. I am flabbergasted at the ignorance and stupidity of this move. So I tell her that her decision is stupid and she starts yelling at me. I stand there in stunned amazement.

Always consider the long term value of the customer. And always remember that when you play by the corporate rules without exception, you may be putting a customer at risk. Use your common sense. Employees should be empowered to make decisions that are right for the customer, not right for the company.

For more customer service stories, check out my new website at http://www.awesomecustomerservice.ca

Another Birthday for Nana

So Nana, as she is affectionately called, celebrated a landmark birthday yesterday, but she won’t let me reveal the number. But it doesn’t really matter because she is filled with energy, enthusiasm and a zest for life. She is one of the smartest persons that I have ever met. But her smarts revolve around the lost art of common sense.

Growing up during the depression, Nana learned how to face adversity and always do the best she could with what she had. Her father owned a soda shop on St Viateur and sold candies, cigarettes and magazines. He often let his customers pay on credit as times werw tough. A proud Irishman who loves his family and fiercely protected them.

The best gift that you could give to Nana is your time and a conversation. She loves to talk about old movies, family stories and her grandchildren. She is sharp as a tack conversationally and can discuss politics, nutrition and Irish history. Although I usually beat her at Scrabble, she never gives up; even with three letters left and behind by 100 points.She was devoted to her family amd stayed home to raise her kids. One of her regrets is not getting a drivers licence and having to rely on orhers. She was the rock of our family and enabled my father to become a permanent deacon in the Catholic Community at St Lukes church. He got all the accolades for performing wedding ceremonies and baptisms and she stayed in the background.

She taught me many lessons including actions speak louder than words. One day I spoke to her about a sales slump that I was experiencing and she asked me are you doing the best you can? and I said yes to which she said that’s all you can do. Simple.

She is like a private investigator. Sometimes I feel like its the Spanish Inquisition when I call her and she grills me with questions. And she’s not afraid to tell you what she thinks. Once I mentioned that I was going to buy a condo to which she responded no you’re not. Guess what. I didn’t buy the condo.

I look forward to spending the next decade with you Nana. Love you to the moon and back.

Saturday Morning Musings

Kindness is defined as the quality of being friendly, generous amd considerate. And being kind is simple and easy. However, kindness is quickly becoming a lost art; which is something that requires some skill but most people do not do anymore like writing letters. It doesn’t take much to be kind and the result is always positive. Talk to people, hold the door for someone or buy a coffee for the person behind you in line at Starbucks and let them pay it forward.

Is there anything more fulfilling than a brilliant conversation. Did you ever get together with someone after many years and the interaction was amazing. I would pay any amount of money to be able to have a conversation with my late father. Anything. So take the time to talk with others, especially those who are alone like seniors. You won’t regret it.

At the end of the day, this is it. We all only want one thing. And that is peace of mind. The peace of mind to know that everything will be all right. The peace of mind to know that you will make it through. And the peace of mind knowing that someone loves you and has your back. Simple.

We grow through adversity. My depression and subsequent depressions made me a stronger person and equipped me to handle life, which is not simple. Life is a series of obstacles and challenges punctuated by sporadic moments of happiness. No one ever said that it would be easy and it isn’t. Next time you are stressed think about a brain surgeon driving into a hospital to perform surgery. Still stressed?

If you believe in a higher power, then you can gain strength from that belief. It doesn’t have to be God or a church. My grandfather was a fundamentalist which means that he believed in God and what God represents but did not belong to a specific religion. At the end of the day, God is love. That’s all you need to know.

Enjoy the day

Starbucks Stupidity

I had to blog today because of what happened at Starbucks. As I was just about to buy this insulated coffee mug, I asked the cashier if it came with a free coffee. She said no and I said are your sure to which she replied with those infamous words . . . OUR COMPANY POLICY BLAH BLAH BLAH

Why isn’t Starbucks empowering this young lady to make smart decisions. She actually said that if she could, she would have given me the free coffee. She’s smarter than Starbucks. So I put the outrageously priced container back on the shelf, got my double expresso macchiato and went on my way.

Empowerment. Wake up and smell the coffee, Starbucks

10 Worst Lines from a Customer Service person

So the number one worst customer service line goes to the branch manager of the National Bank on Sources Blvd in DDO.

I walked in one day and after waiting half an hour to cash a cheque, I asked to speak to the manager. She responded to my complaint by saying ” well you came in at lunch” I could not believe my ears. I would have fired her instantly.

After waiting for an inordinate amount of time in line at Walmart Vaudreuil, I ask the manager what’s happening. She said that 4 people called in sick. That’s why there were 2 cashiers in the Express line with 25 customers waiting. Well, guess what. I don’t care if everyone called in sick. It’s your job to replace them. Or how about getting behind a cash yourself.

Number 3 is quick. I come across the border from Ontario into Quebec and stop at the first service center. I walk up to the Tim Hortons and place my order. The kid says ” no speak English” Who’s coming across the border? Ontarians. Wake up and smell the coffee.

Visa Desjardins shuts down my new credit card arbitrarily and leaves me without any money after driving downtown to the casino. When I call them, the ignoramus on the phone sounds cocky and doesn’t give a shit. Well neither do I. Cancelled my card and never again.

The TD bank could not garner a mortgage for my new townhouse after 3 weeks so I lost an opportunity to buy a house at 50k less than its value. There was an outstanding statement on my credit bureau form from a house transaction last year. So after the deadline passed, I lost the opportunity. The next day I called the notary, secured the radiation form, sent it to the bank and in 15 minutes, it was done. So how come Pawel at TD Vaudreuil couldn’t get it done? He lost me 46k. I am suing him for opportunity lost.

The cockiest customer service person that I have ever met is Mark Reilly of TD mortgage. He was supposed to return a phone call and it took 45 hours. When I finally reached him, I told him that he was incompetent. He said then I guess our relationship is off to a bad start; I will have someone call you before EOB today. Guess what? No one called and I left TD and went to a morrgage broker. Bad move Mark.

So Bravo Pizza in St Lazare makes the Top Ten list. I have been ordering from them for 10 years. I move to Rigaud, just across the border from Hudson and order a pizza. They say we do not deliver to Rigaud. I said that I am less than 500 meters from Hudson but they refuse. Did they lose a pizza order? No they lost the next 10 years of pizza orders. Bad call.

The worst customer service organization, other than the National Bank is Apple. They are experts at stonewalling. Their customer care agents don’t give a shit. I had a problem with my iPhone and they washed their hands of the problem. So I called Telus and spoke to the VP.in Vancouver. Guess what. The next day I had a new Apple phone on my desk from FedEx and a note saying sorry for your bad experience. And it’s not even Apple. Telus. Stellar.

Petinos in DDO lost me in one breakfast. My mother and I go out for breakfast every Saturday and had been going to Petinos for 10 years. My mother asks to replace the beans for some fruit and the waiter says no. I ask for the manager and he says no. So I say that I will never come back. What did they lose? $ 15 000. Do the math. Stupid. And then they closed their doors.

The biggest mistake that customer service people make is this. “Our company policy . . .” Keep following company policy and your business will fail. Just remember, customer first.

Pet Peeves and Random Thoughts

Communication is a wonderful thing! As some forms of communication continue growing, like texting and Snapchat, it’s inevitable that other forms of communication, like phone calls, will dwindle.

It’s a trend that’s all too apparent among Millennials, and one that affects how businesses and organizations will need to approach their audiences. But what’s happening? Why aren’t Millennials answering your phone calls?

And it’s not just millennials. The vast majority of people that I call do not answer their phones. I suppose that it’s just easier to text. However, the art of conversation is slowly fading away. Before you know it, marriage proposals will be done via Skype, lectures to your kids will be via Facebook messenger and two old friends catching up will be done via Instagram stories.

So I walk into the Samsung store in downtown Toronto. Ever since I abandoned the horrible Apple products, I have been a big Samsung fan. I dumped my iphone and ipad for a Samsung Note 9 phone and a tablet and never looked back. Did you know that Samsung supplies perhaps the most visible feature on the iPhone X: Its screen. The manager of the store was a sharp young man and my sales guy was Bruce. I wanted to buy a cover but they were out of stock so he offered me the display cover at a substantially reduced rate. Sharp move. And my sales guy, was also a clever young man who was very accommodating as well as very attentive. Top flight sales people are hard to come by these days. Samsung has two of them in downtown Toronto. Solid product, sharp salespeople equals business success.

This quote really got me thinking. It’s seems as if eveything starts to fall into place later in life. Why couldn’t this have happened 20 years ago? But you know what? Maybe it was supposed to happen this way. Maybe we have to experience obstacles and challenges on the way to happiness and success. And when I say success, I don’t mean materialism. My top ten list of success does not include money.

  1. Health
  2. Peace of mind
  3. Happiness
  4. Love
  5. Family
  6. Friends
  7. Fun
  8. Adventure
  9. Travel
  10. Music

Did you ever notice that some things are a blessing in disguise? Something terrible happens and it leads to your finest hour. My depression led me to several things. First, it built character to the point that I am a stronger person than I was before. It also taught me to treat everyone with respect because we don’t know what someone is going through at any given time in their lives. And third, pay attention to homeless people who are probably suffering from depression. Stop look them in the eye, talk to them and give them a little something whether its $5 or a coffee.

Finally, don’t hesitate to fight the stigma of mental illness, homelessness, or any other legitimate societal problem. Too many peope are afraid to admit they suffer from depression or anxiety or are too broke to afford their next meal. Speak up. Fight the stigma. It’s ok to be down on your luck. It’s ok to be depressed. It’s ok to be broke. Its not your fault. Let someone help you. Swallow your pride. And one day you can pay it forward.