Posts Tagged ‘focus’

Photo Friday: I’m Watching You

March 17, 2017

As I learn my photography, through New York Institute of Photography, my best, practice subject has been my cat.  He has put up with bright lights, and having a camera shoved in his face, without a complaint.  This is my latest shot, practicing macro.

Watching You

First Look Photo: Seeds

November 9, 2016

The election is finally over, and like it or not, Trump won.  However we look at the situation, it is history now.  Regardless of this election, or any other situation in our lives, we hold the key to our own individual futures.

Today’s picture is not about the election results, or things happening in other parts of the world.  Today is a visual reminder that we contain our own seeds of the future, and it’s up to us to plant them where we need.

milkweed-bloom

Customer Service: Grounded in a Statement

July 1, 2015

When I was in high school I, like many of my classmates, decided that a practical class to take would be something in business, so I took DECA, as one of my courses.  DECA, which stands for Distributive Education Clubs of America, taught me many important lessons on things like store security, advertising, and of course customer service.  At the end of the class, we were supposed to give a presentation on a specific area, and mine was store security; more specific in my case was money, and how to spot counterfeit bills.

It was a result of this class that I started to develop what would later become my customer service statement, which is “I am not here to give customers what they want, but to give them what they need, and to help them make the most of what they have.”  Keeping focus on this statement has continued to help me give customers the best service I have in my power to give, for years.

Customer service is the culmination of what you’ve learned, and what you believe when it comes to how you treat relationships with individuals in a business setting.  Your interactions with customers will either enforce, or alter your beliefs in this matter, but when you take the time to write it down in a statement, it gives you a solid foundation to work from.  There are many situations I’ve personally come across that would have ruined my relationship with my customers if I didn’t have something to work from.

If you are in contact with customers on a regular basis, whether employee, owner, or self- employed, it would be a good Idea for you to come up with a customer service statement, that will  leave your relationship with your customers on solid ground.  I don’t want you to just copy mine, because you need to put it in your own words; this is the only way you can make it a part of your own business experience.  I will, however, go over the thought process behind my statement in order to help make coming up with your own a little easier.

I AM NOT HERE TO GIVE CUSTOMERS WHAT THEY WANT

I don’t know who said it first, but no phrase in business makes me want to slap someone across the face more than “The customer is always right.”  Not only is this not true, but it has destroyed more business, customer relationships than any other philosophy in customer service.  Some customers want everything free, they want it now, and they don’t care if you break the rules as long as you give them what they want; in short, they want everything for nothing.  That is a very fast way to losing your business.

I used to work at Burger King (yes, I admit it.) and I was working the drive through.  We had a customer pull up to the speaker, and I began with my cheerful “Welcome to Burger King, how may I help you?”  To which the customer replied, “I’m not ready yet.”

“Just let me know when you’re ready to order.”

“OK, I’ll let you know.”  He replied.

5 minutes passed, then seven, which is when I asked, “Would you like a little more time?”

“Of course not,” he snapped, “I’ve been waiting here for ten minutes, for you to take my order.”  He quickly placed his order, and sped up to the window.  The moment I opened the window to accept the money, and give him the food, he started yelling at the top of his voice how we had the worst customer service, and how it was supposed to be “FAST” food, then asked for the manager.  The whole tirade I never said a word, because I figure it was better to let him vent, than to give him the satisfaction of letting him ruin my day.

The manager came to the window, and after the customer gave her an earful, she held up her hand, and said, “Then, sir, you should have never told him you would let him know when you were ready.” As the customer drove away red faced, and humiliated, I said in the most pleasant voice I could, “Thank you, have a nice day.”

In this case, the customer was both wrong and trying to bring me down with him. In many cases the customer will be wrong.  It does no good to yell back, because that will bring your day down, and prove the customer right.  The best way to deal with an irate customer is to acknowledge their error in a patient, and respectful manner.  They may have had a bad day, and are looking for someone to take it out on, so look for every opportunity to make their day better, instead of fueling their anger.

GIVE THEM WHAT THEY NEED

I don’t care what you do for a living, sales, marketing, service, whatever it is, your customers are coming to you to meet a specific need.  You wouldn’t go to a church to buy an apple, and you wouldn’t go the produce section of a grocery store to find Jesus, unless he needs an apple.

There are two very important things you need in order to supply your customers with what they need.  One is knowledge of what you are supplying.  If your job is selling computers, a good knowledge of computers can help your customers make an informed decision.  If, however, your knowledge is poor, your customer can end up with a piece of crap, and you could lose the sale, and the customer.

The other thing you absolutely need is the ability to listen.  Customer service is all about maintaining a relationship between a business, and the customer.  At the core of all successful relationships is communication, and a key to communicating effectively is listening to the entire message of the other person.  When you try to get ahead of the conversation, or cut the other person off before they’ve had a chance to finish speaking, you miss important parts of their message, and that could lead to miscommunication, and the ruin of that relationship.

One of the jobs I had was working at Inness Photo.  This is one of those stores that processes photographs, and sells cameras.  Being a nature photographer, I understand cameras, and what people can use to get the shots they want.  I can’t count the number of times a customer came in with a copy of Consumer Reports looking for the wrong camera.  The best example I can think of, and there are a lot, is the customer looking for a point and shoot to photograph birds.

Most birds are unapproachable, and point and shoots don’t have the range to get close enough to most birds.  She pointed at the 12x digital zoom, and I told her about the differences between digital, and optical zoom.  In the end, what I sold her was a Canon Digital SLR with a 300mm through 600mm zoom.

She came in a couple of weeks later to print her pictures, and to let us know how happy she was with the purchase.

HELP THEM GET THE MOST OUT OF WHAT THEY HAVE

This part of my statement came from my own philosophy of helping people get the most out of what they already possess.  I think the company that best illustrates their commitment to helping customers get more from what they have, is Best Buy.  In order to help customers who aren’t computer savvy, but who own computers, they came up with the Geek Squad.  Not only have they helped me find a decent computer, that fit in my budget, and equip it with the latest version of Microsoft Office, but they have fielded my calls with computer questions, and helped me in wonderful ways.

Another thing that has happened numerous times, at Inness Photo, is that customers will come in looking for help with camera equipment that they can’t yet figure out.  It was for these types of customers that I added this to my statement.

If I sell a camera to a customer and send them away, I would be no better than Walmart, whose sales staff, in my personal experience, knows less about the products than the customers.  If you can help people achieve more from a computer, camera, phone, whatever they have, you can not only gain a possible customer that you didn’t have before, but you can also keep an existing customer that you might have lost if you couldn’t help them.

This isn’t limited to just products. You can help customers get the most out of a service you offer, to help them save time, and money.

Here is something that just happened to me recently to illustrate this. My wife, and I have been Verizon customers for a number of years, and last February our latest contract was up.  It was time to see about their latest deal to upgrade from the I-phone 4.  I did a little research, and with the amount I saved up, I was able to go up to an I-phone 5.  I thought it was a great deal, so I went to Verizon to exchange my old phone.

The sales representative pulled up my account and shocked me with a bit of good news.  He informed me that as good customers, with a long history, we qualified for the edge program which meant we could get the 5s for a few dollars each month instead of paying for the phone now, and the only thing I would have to pay for at this moment would be any accessories I might want.  On top of that, because of staying with them so long, our monthly bills could go down, instead of up.

I agreed to the 5s, got the Otter Box, to protect my phone, and took the service changes, which ends up taking ten dollars off my monthly bill.  As he was processing my order, he made the comment that saving customers like that is great for the customers, but probably not for Verizon.  I told him what I will tell you now.  What he did was the best thing he could ever do for Verizon, to which he gave me a puzzled look.  I told him that what he did was keep a customer for Verizon.  It was his concern to save the customer money, and give the best deal that will keep me coming back anytime I need a new accessory, or help with a problem.

I’ve been working with customers, in one way or other, for over 37 years, and maintaining a good relationship with those customers, using this statement as my guide.  As you come up with a statement of your own, some of you will do it in only a few minutes, and some of you will take a while longer.  It doesn’t matter how long you take, just make sure it is a true reflection of your customer relations philosophy, and that it benefits both you, and the customer.

Success Sunday: How You Do Anything

March 8, 2015

How You Do Anything

I was listening to a Secret Seminar on Audible, and T. Harv Eker was having the audience stand up.  Some of the people weren’t standing as fast, and he said something that now makes perfect sense to me.  “How you do anything is how you do everything.”

Since my last computer crashed, one of the ways I found to keep me entertained was to add pool on my IPhone, where I can play others online.  I would play 20 or more games in a sitting, and spend most of the time losing, fast.  I would get lucky on some games, but for the most part I would lose, then, a couple of days ago, I remembered that saying, “How you do anything is how you do everything.”  (I know I said it in the first paragraph, but it is worthy of repeating)  I started playing to win, not just to play, and I started winning more often.  The first day I played 10 games, and won 9.  Even when I lose, now, the games are much closer.

I know it may seem silly talking about online billiards when discussing success traits, but there is a lesson to be learned from this.  How I treated these simple games is how I’ve treated everything in my life.  I approach my goals with the attitude of trying to reach them without the effort needed to excel.  It was only when I applied a little effort, and focus that I saw the results I wanted.

In all my successes in the past, and there have been a few, I saw the same effort and focus.  It doesn’t have to be complicated, or strenuous, to bring you to success, but there does have to be effort, focus, and you may have to leave your comfort zone to see the desired results.

I could go on and on with this subject, but instead of boring you with the War and Peace of success, there are just a couple more things in line with “How you do anything is how you do everything” that should be mentioned.  You must be persistent when doing things towards your goal.  You are going to run into temporary defeat, often, but if you are persistent, you will learn from your mistakes, and ultimately reach your goals.

The last thing I should mention is to prioritize your goals.  Life is full of distractions (like my wife, lol) and when you let those distractions get the better of you, you will eventually lose interest in your goals.  Yes, there are bills to pay, and there are chores to perform, but you must make your goals a priority, if you are ever going to succeed.  When you give your dreams the time and attention they deserve, you will be happier, and they will pay off.

Photo Friday: F-stop Video

February 20, 2015

A little later today, I will be posting a video to my photography channel on YouTube.  My video is going over some of the basics of what an F-stop is for, and how much control it gives you over your picture.

In today’s Photo Friday I thought I would show the three photos I took yesterday to use as examples.  I added the f number, and the shutter speed using Adobe Photoshop Elements 13, to illustrate how f-stops effect shutter speed.

f56

f16

f32

Here is the link to my new photo video.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8HVdmhYD098

Changing Perspective with a Focus Statement

October 17, 2014

It goes without saying, but I’m saying it anyways, that 100 percent of people around the world have problems, and worries. The sad part of this figure is that 99 percent of the population have become victims of these problems and worries, and use these as an excuse of why they are unable to succeed. A few years ago, a small percentage of these people took it on themselves to speak for the 99 percent, and complain about those who learned to succeed in spite of their problems. Successful people have problems and worries, just like everyone else; they just don’t focus any attention on them. What we are talking about here is perspective.
When I first started with my job, I believed that my job was hard. I found it difficult to get through big nights, and my percentage remained at less than 90 for years. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t get past that 90 percent. The supervisors would right me up, use threats of disciplinary action, all to no avail. A couple of years ago, I started studying success, and something hit me. I was focusing on the problems I was having getting my speed up. I was spending all my time worrying about the consequences of not improving. I was not focusing on what I wanted to see, which was a better percentage, and work speed. I then learned about auto-suggestion, and came up with a focus statement, “every day I am working faster, and more efficient.” I would start each day at work with saying that to myself, for 15 minutes. Within 2 months, I noticed that my percentage and speed was noticeably increasing to both me, and my supervisors.
I was recently able to give someone the same idea of a focus statement, and he’s been seeing similar results. Before he came up with his own statement, he asked what I thought about the statement “I don’t want to be slow.” The problem, I told him, with this statement was that he was still focusing on being slow. I told him that to make it work in a positive direction, it has to be a positive statement.
When we take a problem we’re having, and create a positive focus statement, we change our perspective, and open ourselves up to the positive. Here’s my way of overcoming my weaknesses at work. The problem was low productivity, and trying to justify why I was so slow. My first step was to take responsibility, and get rid of the excuses. I knew I didn’t want the low productivity, so I had to decide what I did want, higher productivity. Then I came up with my focus statement, “I am working faster, and more efficient.” Then I would repeat this daily until it became a regular part of my thinking, and whatever you focus your attention on will cause your body to react. Eventually your body will perform the actions required without thinking about it.
This is not the only way to change your life in a positive direction, but it is the one that has helped me the most. The only advice I have for you, if you have problems that still seem overwhelming, learn what others have done, and pick the method that works best for you.
Allen

Focus on article publishing

August 15, 2009

About ten years ago I wrote an article, quickly proofread it, and sent it into a magazine that handled that type of article.  After waiting one month, it felt much longer, I received a reply in the mail.  The rejection letter was a standard form letter; “Your article doesn’t meet our needs at this time…”  and at the end was a note saying,  “The article was too tangential.”  In the end, I just threw both the rejection letter, and the article out, frustrated.  My bad!!!!

Last night after reading the article “Life After Almost” in the September issue of  “Writer’s Digest” I now realize it probably would have sold if I would have rewritten it with more focus.  Today’s blog is not about the encouragement you should receive from personalized rejection letters.  That was covered perfectly in the article.  Today, I’m going to approach the subject of focus.

While writing, it’s easy to get off the subject and follow a new line of thought.  This is perfectly fine in the first draft, and is something almost expected.  As we free write our articles, we tend to write as thoughts enter our mind, so going off  will happen.  If you try to send in something that is random, or “tangential” you will be rejected.

After your initial draft, you will need to edit.  While you are going through the first edit look for any common threads that will make up the article; don’t forget to file away the material you don’t use, they can become future articles.  Once you have the common threads, these will now become the skeleton of your article.  This skeleton is your central theme on which to focus your article.

Now that you have your focus, you will need to add a little muscle, nerve and heart.  At this point, you’re still “taking notes” but this is where your article’s structure will come from.  At this stage you also need to write down any questions that you will need the article to answer, and do the research that will give you the information.

The final phase in writing a well focused article is adding the skin that will hold all the pieces together.  Now you will need to organize all the pieces in a coherent order, fill in the missing transitions and connecting words, and write it in the best possible way to convey the message you are trying to write.

Also, in the final phase, you will need to proofread carefully to make certain there are no grammar, and spelling errors.  Keep proofreading until you are comfortable there are no mistakes.

I realize every writer has a different method to approach writing, and there is no “one” method to writing a perfectly focused article, but this is the one I’ve found the most helpful.  I hope it does the same for you.

Enjoy,
Allen