Why I Became a Vegetarian

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I dine out with clients regularly. And when it’s time to select a restaurant or order my entree, the subject often comes up: Why did you become a vegetarian? I don’t mind the question at all. I love sharing my story of why I became a vegetarian. FullSizeRender

Vegetarian Sushi from Osaka in Tulsa for my daughter’s 15th birthday.

Last year I did a 5-day juice cleanse to rid my body of toxins and to help me lose a few pounds. I liked the way I felt after the cleanse. (I lost 8 pounds and noticed more energy and more vibrant skin.) After the cleanse, my body craved vegetables. I simply lost my appetite for meat.

But within a few months the novelty wore off, habit kicked in, and I began eating fish and chicken again. Then my friend Toneille recommended a book: By Any Greens Necessary, by Tracye McQuirter. One Wednesday in January I sat down and began to read the book. The book described the horrific suffering animals go through to get on my plate. I realized, through this profound book, that animals feel afraid and sad, just like us. They feel suffering. I put the book down and haven’t eaten meat, eggs or milk since. I eat very little cheese and my goal is to ultimately give up cheese as well. IMG_7175

Lovely vegetarian snack my client, Make-a-Wish of America, sent up to my room the evening before my big keynote in Scottsdale. The thoughtfulness of my client nearly brought me to tears. 

I explored being a vegetarian because a plant-based diet made me feel better and it increases my chances of living a long life filled with vitality. I committed to a plant-based diet when I understood the treatment of animals. That is the story of why I became a vegetarian. :-)

Kd’s Southern Customer Experience: Kevin Durant is the MVP of the Customer Experience

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The name is what draws people to the restaurant. Kd’s Southern Cuisine, owned by NBA MVP Kevin Durant. The name, more specifically, the owner is the sole reason I chose to dine at Kd’s.

A photo posted by @kdsbricktown on

Kd’s looks like an unpretentious café in a new development, but it’s actually a fine restaurant flawlessly delivering southern cuisine, ambiance and a jaw-dropping customer experience.

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So here’s my experience at Kd’s. Once seated, the hostess handed us menus bound in leather. The leather on the menu casing was strong, worn and beautiful, like a pair of beloved cowboy boots.

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And when I opened the menu, it lit up like a Christmas tree. Lighted menus! What a novel idea. This is especially helpful to those of us who are ready for readers or those who have left them behind. It was as easy to read the menu as it is for me to read a book on my Kindle in a completely dark room. Kd’s had me at lighted menus.

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The food was exquisite. We started with Fried Green Tomatoes as the appetizer. The fried tomatoes were topped with a housemaid remoulade and laid on a bed of cucumber salad. It was delicious and a complete joy to eat. I was disappointed that I had to share it.

I chose the Arugula salad with a side of braised greens for my entree. The salad, oh, the salad! Bite after bite it blessed my palate with roasted beets, pine nuts, goat cheese and apple vinaigrette dressing. The colors, texture and flavors were like a well-rehearsed symphony. Perfect.

And the greens…mustard and turnip greens with onion and garlic. When I looked at the little bowl of greens and took in the aroma, I drifted to my mother’s kitchen and I was standing over a big pot of greens on a holiday. The greens were “slap your mama” good.

A photo posted by @kdsbricktown on

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The bar area in Kd’s Southern Cuisine restaurant in Bricktown, Oklahoma City.

As amazing as the food was, and it really was amazing, that wasn’t even the biggest wow for me. The service experience was the big wow for me. Four things stand out from my dining experience at Kd’s.

1. Success is in the details. As a Customer Experience Designer, I notice the details. The lit menu was a detail that told me Kd’s cared about presentation and that ease of reading menus was a focus.

2. Polished and professional people working as a team. Another detail was the team approach to the customer experience. A poised, confident gentleman walked about the restaurant topping off drinks. His presence was so powerful that I initially thought he was a manager. He was watchful and attentive, serving the entire restaurant. Each time he stopped by our table to refill water or tea, he took a few seconds to make small talk. He showed genuine interest in us and he was charismatic, and a joy to speak with.

3. Everybody served everybody. Our server was great. He spoke with grace, made eye contact and had a wonderful “at your service” attitude throughout our dining experience. He was perfect and needed no assistance from his team to take care of us. And yet, several other servers stopped by our table to check on things and to say hello. It seemed that everyone’s job was to make sure everyone was having a great dining experience.

4. Employees sought out guest contact. I noticed an employee entering the restaurant to start her shift. I noticed her because as she walked through the restaurant, she looked in our direction, made friendly eye contact, smiled and said hello. Her eye contact and smile gave me a real sense of connection with her.

She then went to the employee area, put on an apron and re-appeared to serve customers. She stopped by our table just to check to see how we were enjoying our meal. How easy it would have been for her to simply walk by and report to her station. But instead, she stopped to say hello and that was delightful.

Kd’s very clearly has an established culture of teamwork. All employees speak and make small talk with guests. All libations are taken care of by one capable server. All servers serve all customers, not just guests at their tables.

Take-away: How might you adopt a team approach to your customer experience?

Use my experience at Kd’s to spark discussions on your own customer experience. Here are 2 questions to get you started.

  1. How might we adopt a culture of teamwork where everybody is trained to help everyone? How might this speed up, improve or change our customer experience?
  2. What if our employees sought out customer contact (make eye contact, say hello, offer to help) instead of simply focusing on their jobs?

The name, Kevin Durant, drew me in. But it was the stunning team approach to the customer experience and the exquisitely prepared food that will bring me back.

Myra Golden is a customer experience keynote speaker and trainer who travels North America looking for great stories to share, and new ways to help her clients deliver the best possible customer experience.

Related post:

We all want to feel known: “The Norm Principle of Customer Service”

The Secret to Being in Business for 60 Years: Patience, openness and warmth (Sanders Barbershop in Broken Arrow, OK)

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A few weeks ago my daughter and I went on a photography walk in downtown Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, where we live. We saw many interesting sites, many familiar, but some new finds as well.

Just as we were heading back to our car, I spotted Commercial Street. I couldn’t recall ever walking down Commercial Street. My daughter, 14 and easily aggravated when she has to be away from her iPhone for more than a few minutes, said, “No, let’s go to the car.” I had encouraged her to keep her phone tucked away so we could focus on conversation and street art.

So, we turned onto Commercial Street and started walking, the setting sun at our backs and deep shadows marking our path. The shadows seemed to be pointing to a barbershop pole. My eyes lit up and I pulled my camera to my left eye and focused on the pole. My daughter sighed. She probably rolled her eyes too, but I chose to not look close enough to see.

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Sanders Barbershop, Broken Arrow, OK

You just don’t see barbershop poles much these days. I began taking photos of the pole and through the windows into the shop. The Sorry, we’re closed sign was up. But to my surprise, a man with a broom filled the frame. He startled me and I was suddenly embarrassed to be snooping through his shop with my camera. I saw cut hair in a pile near the back. Ah, they’re closed, but he is still here cleaning up. I was sure the man was going to come out and tell me to scramble away from his store.

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Original sinks and cabinetry in Sanders Barbershop 

I took my hands off of my camera and let the camera hang from its strap around my neck, as if that gesture would make my curious lens invisible. My daughter had a look that said I told you we should have just gone to the car.

He opened the door, smiled and said, “Why don’t you come in? You’ll get much better pictures from inside.” I nearly leaped off of the sidewalk! My daughter looked at me and tried desperately to speak to me with her eyes. She was probably saying, “Really mom!” But in I walked.

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Mr. Sanders is his name and he owns the shop. He told me his family has run his barbershop in downtown Broken Arrow for more than 60 years. Mr. Sanders took the time to give me a tour of the vintage shop. We talked about the furniture, fixtures, antique cash register and his years of service with the US Navy. As we talked, my camera shutter fluttered.

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Each of the barber chairs looked like this. My jaw dropped as I ran my hands across the soft leather and took in the sturdy antiques.

My daughter and I stayed a good little while and then I realized Mr. Sanders must have someplace to be this beautiful Saturday afternoon. I knew my daughter was past bored. I thanked Mr. Sanders and we said goodbye.

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Mr. Sanders told me this cash register is 100 years old.

When I walked into Sanders Barbershop, I felt like I was being welcomed by an old friend. He smiled as we talked and I felt good, excited and at ease. He was open with me. My many questions, my large lens and my moving about his place of business didn’t make him impatient. He seemed glad I was there. I imagine Mr. Sanders treats his customers with the same warmth, openness and patience. Perhaps this is his secret to being in business for more than 60 years.

Myra Golden is a customer experience keynote speaker and trainer who travels North America looking for great stories to share, and new ways to help her clients deliver the best possible customer experience.

Myra has worked for 14 years delivering riveting keynotes and behavior-changing customer service workshops. Her clients include McDonald’s, Coca-Cola, Frito-Lay, Ally, Lincoln Financial, Montage Furniture Services and Proctor & Gamble among others.

100 Energizers for Corporate Customer Service Training Sessions

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So, I’m sitting here at my desk preparing for a 2-day Customer Service training event that I’ll be delivering in South Dakota next week. Two days is a long time for adults to sit. I know I have to energize my group in order to prepare their minds to receive my ideas for customer service improvement.

While brainstorming group energizers, I came across this Slide Share presentation that features 100 Energizers for training. This is exactly what I was looking for!

I am so excited about these 100 Energizers that I stopped to share them with you! If you are a trainer, you might want to explore some of these great exercises for your team. Energizers are a great way to up the energy level, break the monotony and engage your people.

If this helps a trainer somewhere, I am thrilled. :-)

What a Myra Golden Customer Service Training is Like

I am best known for my classroom customer service training – and it is amazing! If you poke your head into one of my training sessions, you know this training is different. Participant involvement is astonishing. People are having fun and they are completely engaged. Most importantly, my participants are learning real-world strategies that will absolutely empower them to deliver exceptional customer service. Take a peak inside one of my recent customer service training sessions below.

Every one of my customer service training sessions is custom designed to meet my client’s objectives and every session delivers a measurable return on investment. All training development starts with a “Launch Discussion” where I spend 2 hours or so exploring my client’s training objectives and I learn what keeps them up at night about their current customer service situation.

Training design and development continues with research. I ask for recordings of customer service phone calls and I listen to them so that I understand fully what my clients need. I work with my clients to design realistic case studies, role-plays and learning activities that are relevant. The result: A completely custom, objective driven training session that changes behavior.

Customer Service Training topics include:

Beyond WOW! Customer Service
Telephone Techniques
How to Deal with Difficult Customers
Empathy Training
Social Customer Service
Read what my clients have to say about my customer service training. Why not explore my customer service training offerings?

Related articles

Ways I Engage My Audiences

Never Be Boring: 5 Ways to Never Be Boring as a Keynote Speaker

Are you a corporate trainer who is looking for customer service training to deliver to your team?

How Not to Talk to Customers…A great example from a hotel front desk of what not to do

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If you’ve attended one of my keynotes or training sessions, you know I like to teach by sharing real-world examples of exceptional customer experiences and I also like to share real examples of jaw-dropping crappy customer service. Both sides of the coin can teach you valuable insights.

Well, today, as I travel back home from Dallas, I am going to share a bad customer experience, with the intent of inspiring you to do better when it comes to talking to your customers.

The hotel stay started out pretty great. Check-in was quick and easy and the front desk lady was friendly and warm. My light vegetarian dinner arrived quickly and it was so tasty that I literally ate every bite.

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The next day, I returned to my room after lunch around 2pm and my key would not open my door. I tried again. I turned the key upside down. Then backwards. Still nothing.

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So I went to the front desk. There stood the lady who impressed me the day before with her friendliness and warmth. I explained that my key would not open my door. What happened next stunned me.

“We changed the lock on your door. My co-worker told me not to let you in.” What the hell? “Why would you change my locks?” I asked. “Because your card is no good.”

Okay. Stop right there.

If, in fact, my credit card was no good, isn’t there a better way to handle this? How about calling my room or my cell number and asking me about it so I could fix it?

How about phrasing your words better, like, “Ms. Golden, we weren’t able to authorize charges on your credit card.”

But here’s the thing. I prepaid for my room when I booked it on hotels.com. Right there at the front desk I pulled up my email on my iPhone to verify it. Then I went to my Bank of America app and verified that the charge had cleared. It had.

What could possibly be the problem with a paid up front and in full room? Additionally, the hotel had successfully hit my card for a deposit and dinner the night before.

I showed the front desk lady my phone with the paid in full receipt. And she said “Your card is no good. I cannot let you back in your room.” My head started pounding.

I asked to speak with a manager. “No one else is here.” But before I could lose my mind, a man walked up. I don’t know if we was a manager, but I was grateful to have another employee to speak with.

Here’s how Jamie (I read her name tag) explained my situation to the employee who walked up.

“This lady’s card is no good and I also told her she cannot get into her room.” 

I am speechless… and that is a good thing right now.

The man did not introduce himself or even speak to me. He simply asked for my card, read something on the screen and ran my card, then picked up the phone.

Jamie tells the man that 3 other guests today have had “bad” credit cards and that their doors have been locked. Could this not be a system problem? What are the chances that 4 hotel guests in one afternoon have “bad” credit cards? 

The guy hung up the phone, handed my card back and said, “You pre paid for your room. It’s fine. We were not able to authorize your card for dinner in the restaurant. The computer says your card is declined because it’s expired, but I can see your card expires 9/18 (It is currently January, 2015). The problem is on our end. Don’t worry about it. You can now enter your room.”

He didn’t apologize, but he was a lot better at communicating than Jamie.

There was likely a computer glitch causing the problem. I get that. My problem is with the human glitch. Jamie didn’t know how to talk to customers. Here’s where she went wrong.

  • Jamie bluntly exclaimed that my card was no good. In matters of declined credit cards, employees need to be discrete and tactful. “Ms. Golden, we weren’t able to authorize charges on your credit card.” would have been better. Even better still would be to call up the hotel guest and try to resolve the issue over the telephone.
  • Jamie made no effort to resolve the problem. She simply repeated her “Your card is no good” statement and made no effort to resolve the problem. She didn’t even ask me for another credit card. She didn’t offer to re run the initial card. She didn’t bat an eye when I showed her my paid in full receipt. She just stood there.
  • Jamie didn’t apologize or show empathy. She simply tooted, “Your card is no good.”

Teach your employees how to talk to customers. It’s really a matter of empathy, effort, and respect.

Don’t let your employees be caught talking to customers like Jamie talked to me.

On Demand Webinar – A video recording that you can download immediately and have forever.

How to Talk to Customers: Empathy, Tone and Making Personal Emotional Connections

The biggest problem with the customer experience in most companies is how employees talk to customers. All too often, employees come across as indifferent, cold, uncaring, rushed or rude. This employee “attitude problem” can be the tipping point that sends customers to the competition. This attitude problem is what drives customers to tweet and blog about a poor customer experience. The great news is, with the right training, monitoring and coaching, employees can learn how to soften tones, truly convey empathy, make customers feel taken care of and even make memorable personal emotional connections with customers.

In this extended training event, Myra shows your employees, step-by-step, how to talk to your customers. You’ve gotta read this outline!

View outline/download

Client Review of a Myra Golden Keynote

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Myra Golden (Customer Experience Designer) states that customers are more savvy now than ever before.
Myra Golden (Customer Experience Designer) states that customers are more savvy now than ever before.

Myra Golden, Customer Experience Designer, author of Beyond Wow, and a noted expert on customer service, shared with the group her insights and techniques on the concept and delivery of outstanding customer services.

Difficult customers—yes, they exist
Ms. Golden opened by noting customers are more savvy now than ever before.  Although this sounds like a good thing, the net result is an increase in stress for consumer services professionals.  How much of an increase?  Well, according to Newsweek magazine, the stress level of consumer services professionals is comparable to that of air-traffic controllers and police officers.  In short, the role of consumer services now ranks as one of the 10 most stressful jobs in the U.S.

Golden shared stories and a new vocabulary* with the group.  Sometimes, she noted, difficult customers can be categorized as the consumer vigilante.  These consumers are determined to force corporations—via the consumer affairs professional—to give in to the consumer vigilante’s demands—reasonable or not.  This means the consumer affairs professional must develop a response plan.

OK, what is the solution?
Golden uses the concept of verbal Aikido—a response plan that stresses non-resistance, harmony and assertiveness.   She encourages customer service professionals to recognize each spends more than 50 percent of their time on the dissatisfied customer—meaning the customer for whom nothing will be right (even if nothing was really wrong).  That focus creates a huge drain on resources for those customers who have a solvable issue.  The dissatisfied customers, or consumer vigilantes, need to be recognized as such and placed in a strategic “customer recovery plan.” The plan identifies those customers who really need to be fired and gives customer service professionals the skills and authority to do just that.

About the plan
A customer-recovery plan empowers consumer affairs professionals to understand how to create calm; how to work with customers; how to reduce complaints; and how to create a positive conversation. This is done by:

Understanding the issue is not always the issue—many consumers will accept a mistake, but will not accept if the mistake is not quickly and fairly handled.   Therefore, to determine how best to handle a complaint, consumer affairs professionals are encouraged to:

Know what the customer’s expectations and perceptions are—by asking questions to get all details possible, and

Have a consumer recovery plan ready to create confident, assertive (not aggressive)  responses to address the consumer vigilante.

Strategically calm the consumer by:

Acknowledging emotion

Golden points out that anger must be recognized as such or it will escalate into a bigger problem.  Consumer affairs professionals who show genuine concern and acknowledge the consumer’s anger are better equipped to handle issues.  Golden urges the path of non-resistance to create calm from within—thereby inspiring a spirit of calm in the irate customer.  Consumer affairs professionals, rather than feeling defensive, need to use comments such as: “I hate it that you even had to make this call.” “I can understand how frustrating this is.”

Relate and respond in the here and now

Consumer affairs professionals are not expected to know everything.  Even stating uncertainty for the next step is an OK response.  This response shows the professional as one who does not make assumptions and who treats the consumer as an individual.  By allowing the consumer to be treated as an individual, with individual emotions and feelings, consumer professionals can work with the consumer without escalating any negative—and avoiding  lock up.  Comments such as, “I want to get to the bottom of this as much as you do,” have been known to unlock doors and save consumer relationships.

Harmonize

Active listening with a complaining consumer enables consumer professionals to obtain more and necessary information to help structure a lasting solution. Consumer professionals are encouraged to control the pacing of the conversation by asking questions and learning more—about the situation and the consumer.  However, Golden cautioned, take the cue from the customer—a bottom-line customer just wants answers—therefore asking lots of questions may result in a negative encounter.

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Once control has been established, it’s the consumer professional’s responsibility to move the customer to closure—meaning the emotion has been reduced and the rational has been re-instated.

Golden expresses how asking three back-to-back, close-ended questions can help diffuse a situation.
Golden expresses how asking three back-to-back, close-ended questions can help diffuse a situation.

Golden notes this return to the rational as a “magic wand” that can be invoked by asking three relevant, closed-ended, questions, back-to-back.  Why?  Well, the relevant, non-repetitive, and genuinely necessary questions will force angry consumers to shift focus from emotional to factual information.  In forcing this shift, consumer services professionals can lead the consumer toward a solution.  For the insurance industry, suitable questions include:
•    The first thing I need from you is….
•    In case we are disconnected, what is your number?
•    Name of your insurance company is…
•    What is your claim number?
•    Can you give me the exact date of occurrence?

Apply the skill
The consumer professionals attending were challenged to adopt, adapt, and apply the concepts reviewed to the insurance industry (whether regulator or carrier).  As a group, two strong ideas were generated to enable consumer affairs professionals to calm down the attack.  These included:

  • Associating the irate customer with someone you know to help establish your empathy.
  • Providing job shadowing opportunities to see the other side of the fence to help understand issues—so have producers work with consumer affairs professionals or invite a regulator in for a real-time visit.

Finally, all participants were encouraged to identify activities to commit to start doing, stop doing, and will continue to do.  Golden noted this written commitment with all aspects of our lives would help empower change for the better—at work, home or play.

For more information regarding the Insurance Consumer Affairs Exchange (ICAE), including membership, please visit their website.

4 Best Practices to Handle a Wait at Your Spa or Salon – So your clients still get a great customer experience

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I spent my Friday evening at a spa. My experience didn’t start out luxurious or relaxing like a spa experience should. But I did enjoy a glass of red wine while there.

I had a 5:30pm appointment. Downtown no less. I left my office 50 minutes before my appointment to ensure I was on time. I very much wanted to respect the spa staff and other customers by making my appontment time. I’m glad I left early because I encoutnered not one, but 3 car accidents that brought traffic to a hault on the expressway.

But I made it to my appointment just fine and in fact, I was a couple minutes early. Whew!

I walk into the spa and…I see no one! I stood at the front counter for what felt like several minutes, though it was probably less than a minute. What I recall clearly is that no one was there to welcome me into the spa.

Momentarily, the spa owner appeared and greeted me enthusiastically. She told me she’d let my guy know I had arrived. And then she led me to a dark room illuminated only by candles and invited me to have a seat. And she offered me wine, which I accepted gladly.

There I sat in the candlelit room for nearly 30 minutes sipping my wine. No one checked on me. There were no updates on my estimated wait. Because the room was so dark, I couldn’t even while away the time with a book. If only I had brought my Kindle. Then I could read in the dark.

I just sat there sipping my wine. In the dark. And thinking about how I took such care to arrive on time….I carefully allowed plenty of time for the drive. And I recalled how I stressed about arriving on time when I encountered heavy traffic and traffic accidents. I wished the spa took as much care in getting me serviced on time. I continued to sip my wine.

My guy appeared in the dark waiting area just shy of 30 minutes past my scheduled appointment time. He was apologetic and gracious.

I was pleased with the service experience from that point on. But my overall experience was negative, based on my first impression.

Customers will have to wait from time to time. The wait doesn’t have to ruin the customer’s spa experience. All you have to do is follow a few simple tips to turn lemons into lemonade when clients have to wait.

The basics are:

1. Greet clients immediately

First impressions are the most impacting in the overall customer experience. When clients walk into your spa or salon, make sure they are greeted within 10 seconds of entering the salon or within 10 feet of entering. This is known as the rule of 10-10 and if you’re one of my retail, spa, restaurant or library clients, you’ve heard me preach about this.

2. Provide a comfortable waiting area

There will be times when clients have to wait and that is really okay. Provide a waiting area that is comfortable, exquisitely designed and well lit. While spas tend to be dimly lit, the waiting areas need to be well lit. Clients need light in order to interact with each other and the light gives them the opportunity to read or work comfortably on phones or tablets. If you serve a drink to clients, make sure they have a table to place their drinks on.

3. Check-in on waiting guests

After about 10 minutes, waiting clients begin to feel frustrated. Check in to give clients updates and to see if you can offer them water, tea, wine or whatever. Checking in puts clients at ease and keeps them from wondering if you’ve forgotten about them.

4. Apologize genuinely for the wait – and explain why the wait occurred

Welcome the waiting clients with enthusiasm, like my guy did. Then, offer a sincere apology with an explanation of why the wait occurred. For example, “Good evening. How are you? I’m really sorry about the wait. My last client arrived half an hour late and that threw my schedule off.”

Greet clients immediately, make their wait comfortable, provide updates and genuinely apologize for the delay. When you do, you’ll make the wait more pleasant and you won’t leave clients with a negative impression. 

Will I go to this spa again? Yes. The services are always top notch and I love my guy. But next time I’ll be sure to bring my Kindle so I can catch up on my reading.

Myra Golden Mystery Shopper Service

Did you know that I conduct Mystery Shopper services for my clients? I have mystery shopped salons, dental offices, retail stores, boutiques, a church, car rental locations and more. I analyze every component of your customer experience. I check the integrity of your brand promise and ensure it follows your standards through every contact channel.

If you’d like an analysis of your customer experience from a trained eye, give me a call. www.myragolden.com.

Recording an eLearning training for a client. Can I create a training for you? www.MyraGolden.com.

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I just wrapped up a module for a client’s eLearning project and I’m pretty excited about the project so far.

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Can your company benefit from our eLeaning solutions?

Our eLearning solutions feature:

  • Full webinar digital recording
  • Unlimited viewing within your organization with no expiration
  • Rights to download and save webinar video
  • Rights to incorporate webinar within your Learning Management System (LMS)

Once a month I go into my studio to record eLearning solutions for clients. Give me a call if I can create a custom training solution for your company.

Are your emails to customers as good as this email I got from Nik Collection?

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Some of  you know photography is my passion. Whenever I can steal away to take photos, I seize the opportunity. I had just such an opportunity yesterday.

Yesterday afternoon, after wrapping up a big and successful project for a client, I sat down to edit some black and white photos from my family’s Thanksgiving dinner. Earlier this week I updated my iMac to OS X Yosemite, Mac’s latest upgrade. To my horror, and I mean absolute horror, my photo editing software was not compatible with Mac’s latest upgrade.

After a couple of moments of sheer panic, I realized that certainly there was a quick fix for this. I’d either remove the Mac upgrade or I’d contact the photo editing software maker and get this sorted out. So, I emailed Nik Collection and explained my problem.

Within an hour or so, I got this reply from Nik Software (You’ll need to click the image to enlarge)

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Nik Software blew me away with this email response. Here’s what I like about it.

  • It was a quick. I fully expected to have to wait 2 or 3 days for a response. So many of my corporate vendors take days to respond, so my expectation for a quick response from Nik was low.
  • They proactively also emailed my business email address. I sent the email using my personal gmail account, but I must have also had my business email on file. Nik, perhaps thinking I might have quicker access to my business email, also emailed me at work. That really helped me out as I was sitting at my work computer when the email arrived. This literally wowed me.
  • Instructions were clear and easy to follow. The simplicity and clarity of the instructions to solve my problem were right on the mark. I was able to instantly follow the links, upgrade my software and boom – have access to my video editing suite.
  • There was an option to reply to the email. I don’t have to tell you how rare it is today to be able to reply to a customer service email. Companies don’t want you to email them back. They’d rather you go back to the website and fill out a tedious form.
  • The email offered an apology. “I am sorry you are experiencing problems with your Nik Collection product keys.” I perceived this as a sincere apology and that impressed me.

How do your customer service response emails measure up?

Pull out one of your email responses to a customer. How does it measure up to my reaction to the Nik Collection email? Does your email surprise and delight customers? Or does it frustrate customers?

Here’s what I want you to do.

Look for ways to make the customer experience over email as quick and smooth as possible. And add a little surprise and delight when you can. When you do, you’ll make someone’s day with your great emails and you’ll have people bragging and blogging about you!

Here’s one of the photos I recently edited with my Nik Software (My niece on Thanksgiving)

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To learn more about my black and white portrait photography passion, visit my photography website.

These 3 Tips Will Help You Increase Your Likeability in the Digital Age

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Decades of research prove that people choose who they like. They buy from them, vote for them, and promote them. Not only do people choose who they like, but being likeable gives us several additional advantages in the workplace. Being likeable helps us accomplish things through people, resolve conflicts with grace, get promoted faster and be seen more positively among colleagues and clients.

In the digital age, where much of our communication is over email and text, you can significantly improve your likeability factor and standout by focusing on 3 key elements: Bringing back the art of handwritten notes, putting your smartphone away when talking to colleagues and ditching email when it comes to delivering bad news.

Get in the habit of sending out handwritten thank you cards

Every Friday afternoon I sit down and I handwrite 3 thank you notes. I thank clients, colleagues, vendors and anyone I feel gratitude towards. I write the thank you notes by hand because in the digital world, the art of handwritten notes is all but forgotten and I know my handwritten notes stand out.

Commit to writing handwritten notes to 3 people this week. Take the time to write out a heartfelt thank you. You’ll make someone’s day and you’ll position yourself has highly likeable and memorable. Then, consider this as a weekly practice.

 

Put your devices away and focus squarely on the other person

It’s very common to see people check their smartphones several times during business meetings and even take calls or send texts. It’s the world we live in today. When I’m delivering a keynote, my cellphone is on Airplane Mode. I don’t want any vibrations or alerts during a keynote for any reason. My attention is fiercely focused on my audience, as it should be. When you’re meeting one on one with an employee or coworker, or having lunch with a colleague, consider putting your phone on silent or, even better, put your phone away. Focus your attention completely on the other person. When you remove the distraction of your phone and choose to squarely face the other person, make eye contact and truly listen, you’ll send a powerful message that will result in a stronger business relationship.

 

Don’t Use Email to Give Bad News

Tim Sanders, best-selling author and former Yahoo! Executive, said in a keynote address: “At Yahoo!, I always told my folks, ‘Email is for saying yes and for exchanging information. If you want to say no, criticize or get into an emotionally charged issue, pick up the phone or do it in person’. Email fails to communicate your intentions, so it usually looks pretty insensitive.”

Certainly, it’s going to make more time and effort on your part to pick up the phone and call a customer or colleague to communicate bad news, but you really need to take the sacrifice. Speaking to employees and clients by phone in the wake of problems gives you the opportunity to establish rapport, re-build trust, offer alternatives, or to offer a sincere and unreserved apology. Email communication is so vulnerable to miscommunication. Make life easier and be perceived as friendlier by picking up the phone when you need to deliver bad news.

Make the effort to make personal connections with people through handwritten notes, putting your devices away and not relying on email for sensitive communication. When you do, you’ll strengthen work relationships and increase your likeability factor.

 

Sources Cited

Tim Sanders, keynote address, “The Likeability Factor,” Society of Consumer Affairs Annual Conference, Miami Beach Hotel, Miami, FL, October 13, 2003.

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