Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Where Has All The Customer Service Gone?

I am a shopper.

I have a shopper's car (small SUV).

I buy a Partners Card from The Family Place every year without fail.

But most of all, I love Amazon.

I love Amazon, but I hate what it is doing to customer service.  Now, Amazon actually does a pretty good job when needed -- IF you can find out how to let them know your package wasn't delivered, they'll send you another one, no questions asked.  They don't care if it's UPS's fault or if it was stolen, or whatever the reason, they'll send you another.

This is volume business at it's finest -- just send another one and eat the cost to keep the customer happy.

And it works -- I am happy and pretty much order everything I can from them.  Not sure if I'll use their grocery service when it comes out, but I might.  I love them that much.

NOTE:  I do love Matt & Al and my TV more, but Amazon is right up there.

But here's the rub -- there is no customer service anymore.  The Internet has trained us to not expect much.  It is difficult to even find a phone number to call nowadays.  You have to search and search to find it.  I just searched for a local charity's phone number this morning on their website and finally gave up after about 5 minutes of searching.  Their site wouldn't even let me email their CEO directly or provide me with her email.

NOTE:  This is NOT how we do business at Community Partners of Dallas.  We truly believe that a big part of our success is personal service.  You can call me right now at 214-624-7557 and anyone else here.

But back to my point -- customer service is dead.  So that is why when a company does something extraordinary now, it really means something to me.

My first example is an experience I had with Shutterfly last Christmas -- and I am still thinking about it 10 months later, so that tells you just how extraordinary it is.  I order my holiday cards from them online every year and they do a great job.  This year the return address labels I ordered to match my cards didn't arrive.  I thought, UGH -- I'm sure I won't be able to find a phone number to call or a way to report this easily -- and fired up the desk top (which gets little use now with my I-Phone and I-Pad in the den at all times) and started looking for a way to report the missing package.

Well, what to my wondering eyes did appear but a phone number for Customer Service!  I called and the guy I spoke to was super nice and said they would expedite new labels to me at no charge.  So nice.  But what really made it an amazing experience is that the guy I spoke to SENT ME A HAND WRITTEN THANK YOU NOTE apologizing for the error.

Can you believe that?

The error wasn't even theirs -- the labels came the next day and I called them, but they said to just enjoy the duplicates. 

I have more examples of surprising service -- coming soon! 

Hope you have a great week of super customer service!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Will Lucy Make Ricky Lose His Temper Before Her Hat Is Delivered?

I woke up too early the other morning and turned on the TV.  It was in the middle of an I Love Lucy episode, so I just started watching.

I love I Love Lucy.  When I was young I watched it everyday after school (Holla for Slam Bang Theater!) and I have seen every episode about a million times.  So, when it came on the other morning, I knew just what had happened in the episode.

We join Lucy and Ethel at the hat store.  Lucy has found a precious turquoise hat with little pearls on it.  Ethel warns Lucy to put it back and walk away, and she tries, but that hat is just too much for her.  She tells the hat store woman (who plays many parts at differing times on the show -- you'd know her if you saw her) to charge and send it tomorrow.  Lucy now has 24 hours to make Ricky lose his temper.

NOTE:  The back story you missed (but I'm sure you remember) is that Ricky and Lucy bet that he could hold his temper longer than she could refrain from buying a hat.  Don't you have this bet with your husband all the time?

Next we find Lucy in bed waiting up for Ricky to come home from the club.  Oh, it was a hard night for Ricky and he had to run the numbers with the band until 3 or 4 am, so he is dog tired.  Ricky hops in his twin bed and goes right to sleep.  Lucy then goes into action:  turns up the radio, files her nails, eats crackers, spills the crackers all in Ricky's bed, cracks pecans, even nails his slippers to the floor.  She finishes off with Ethel arriving with the dribble glass that she fills with tomato juice and dribbles all down his white tux jacket (he was supposed to take publicity shots that morning, thus the white ensemble).  Ricky holds his temper.

It is not until he gets a call from some agent trying to book a ventriloquist (Does anyone miss ventriloquists?  Really?) and is able to hold his temper and gets the guy at a rock bottom price that Ricky realizes that Lucy helped him and he calls off the bet and tells her she can buy any hat she wants.  After a quick faked call to the store to supposedly "order" the turquoise hat with the pearls, Lucy hangs up the phone and the doorbell rings with the hat delivery.  Ha, Ha!

If only it was this easy to teach someone how to hold their temper.

The kids we help every day at Community Partners of Dallas live lives of terror waiting for the next shoe to drop.  For dad to have a bad day at work and start yelling and drinking and worse.  For mom to scream "I hate you and I wish you'd never been born" because her boyfriend decides to go out with his buddies because boyfriend is sick of being around kids for 2 hours.

A turquoise hat is not a big deal in the grand scheme of things.  A child is.

Let's be Ricky and count to 10 before we react today.  Ricky did it in Spanish, but I'll let you choose your language.  Spanish would be fun, though.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Four Favorite Things I Love Right Now! Part 12

This week is pretty full with lots of events and the Community Partners of Dallas board meeting is next week (meaning I have to get out the board packet email today -- ugh), so this seemed like the perfect week for another post of my Four Favs.  In case you missed it, you can see the most recent one here:

This week's favs (in no particular order) are:
  1. My new door mat -- I seem to go through door mats quite often (And yes, I can think of lots of door mat humor to go along with why mine wear out so often, but that is for another day when we're out to dinner with drinks...).  I picked this up at The Sample House last weekend and while it is more plain than I usually buy, it was $6.95.  Come on down -- the price is right!
  2. Is there any better service than Jack Boles Valet?  I am always pleased when I drive up to an event or a business and I see that Jack Boles is handling the parking.  Of course, I love seeing Gary or James or Cathy as I pull up to park, but all of their staff members do a great job and are always friendly.
  3. You haven't lived until you've tried Brown Cow Cream Top Yogurt.  They sell it at Whole Foods and it is delicious.  I've been eating the Greek Style lately, but it's all good -- just be sure to get the cream top kind.  Maple is my favorite flavor -- yum.  Pay no attention to the cookie in the otherwise healthy picture, please.
  4. I am a relatively new subscriber to The New York Times Sunday home delivery and I love it.  I must admit that it does sometimes take me almost a week to read it, but I really enjoy it.  Love the Broadway news and the magazine, but really it's all good.  And yes, it does make me feel smarter -- even if it's not actually making that happen.  I like to appear smart, people.  Is it working?
What are your four favs?

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

OMG! Oprah and Me? Really?

Yes, I saw Oprah.

If you are a regular reader of this blog (and I know that there are literally TENS of you), then you know that I love Oprah.  I admire her.  She is a mentor to me even though I've never met her.

NOTE:  Of course, I did try to see if I knew anyone who could have gotten me backstage, but no luck.

NOTE TO SELF:  Get some fancier friends.  Pronto.

So, even though I saw Oprah from 50 yards away, I still saw her and was thrilled to be part of her Lifeclass here in Dallas last week with Bishop T.D. Jakes.  I told my friend Jeanne that I would report on my experience, so here goes...

My sister-in-law Lucy and our friend Lori went with me that morning.  I bought our tickets at Ticketmaster ($100 each, plus fees, plus $25ish for parking) and I bought them the same morning I got the email from Oprah telling me to buy them.

NOTE:  Yes, I mind Oprah.  She needed me there, otherwise I'm sure she wouldn't have come to Dallas.  You can thank me later.

These seats were the best you could buy and there were no floor seats available at that time (you know I would have done it -- budget be damned). 

Next, skip to the night before -- Wednesday night, August 28.  I called Lucy and told her I'd pick her and Lori up that morning.  I told Lucy that I thought we should look pretty cute just in case they had scouters looking for good looking people (don't laugh -- we can look pretty good when we want to) to sit down front (I've upgraded to first class a few times, people.).  I also know that back when they used to tape The Oprah Winfrey Show they always asked people to wear color (not black) so Lucy and I were ready.  I wore flats, slacks (no jeans), a turquoise Tory Burch sweater and a chunky necklace (this is pretty much my casual uniform).  Lucy had on white pants and a blue and black patterned top.  Lori wore a colorful top and white shorts (I guess Lucy forgot to inform her of my plan to stand out for the front row scouts, but I would have left both of them in the dust if the scouts singled me out, so NBD.).

Anyway, here we are driving up to the American Airlines Center about 8:15 (show was scheduled to start at 9 am, so Lucy and I wanted to be early -- we weren't -- apparently everyone else thought the same thing -- people everywhere) and


Everyone looks WAY nicer than we do.  Tons of people in dresses and heels -- fabulous color everywhere.

I know immediately that the seats in Section 117, Row N, seats 3 and 4 are ours for the duration.

NOTE:  Lori got her ticket a few weeks later and wasn't sitting with us.

So, Lucy and I find our seats and settle in (as much as you can since we are having to stand up every 5 minutes letting ladies in and out of the row).  Every electronic sign in the place is telling us to "Tweet Live with the Hashtag #Lifeclass".  There is peppy music playing (Blurred Lines, Gaga, etc.) and you can tell everyone is super excited.  One of my neighbors is sitting behind me, one of Joanna's friends is on my row, and I saw another friend as we were leaving -- there were tons of people I knew in the joint of 15,000 people.

NOTE:  For this post, I'm just going to give you the report of how they made the show and my impressions, not really talking about the content (which was great, BTW -- be sure to watch it on OWN this Sunday for part 1).  I'll talk about content in future posts for sure, though.  Bishop Jakes was fabulous.

Here's the rundown:

9 am (time it was supposed to start):  Some gal comes out (don't think they told us her name) to acclimate us to what was going to happen and to put crowd noise/reaction on tape.  She told us to tweet, and to download a flashlight app.  She told us that Oprah wanted us to use the lights instead of clapping, but Oprah never asked us to hold up our lights -- only this gal did.  She also made us practice these all together:
  • polite applause
  • medium applause
  • boisterous applause
  • standing ovation
  • chuckle
  • medium laugh
  • hilarious laugh -- I got a few head turns from our section during this.  I'm a great audience member.  Actor friends always tell me that they hear me laugh and hoot when they're on stage.
She then said that if you end up commenting to keep your comments general, like don't say "my father" say "a family member" and she said that if you comment, you need to stay after to sign. 

NOTE:  No one who wasn't approved in advance spoke people, so this wasn't necessary.  Just gave me a little more false hope for a potential meeting with Oprah.  Drat.

The gal talked to us about keeping up the tweeting (#Lifeclass was trending even before Oprah came out, so it worked).

NOTE:  Of course, I was tweeting up a storm, thank God -- you'll know why I'm thanking God later.

9:30 am:  A comedian did a short set.

9:45 am:  An inspirational dude spoke to us -- got the crowd worked up.

10:00 am:  Oprah takes the stage with Bishop Jakes!  The crowd goes wild!  She was wearing a gorgeous green dress, V necked with 3/4 sleeves, great shoes (at least the lady behind me liked them -- she had binoculars, I didn't).  Super exciting.

The show is about fatherless/motherless sons and daughters and problems with family members/forgiveness.  I took lots of great notes and will definitely be using some of Bishop Jake's wisdom myself in speeches and blog posts.  But here is the closest I came to fame with Oprah...

As I mentioned, I am tweeting up a storm (feel free to check out my twitter feed at @paigemcdaniel -- you can see them all there from August 29) and I even see my picture go up on one of the screens behind Bishop Jakes (across from Oprah), and I nudge Lucy that I see one of my tweets, but it is too far away to read it, of course.  The feed of tweets is ever changing and up until this point Oprah had not read any of them out loud.

BUT THEN IT HAPPENED -- Oprah read my tweet out loud!

NOTE:  I can't wait to see the show this Sunday night because what if someone else wrote the same thing and really she was reading theirs?  But I just know it was mine, at least for now.  And I need this -- it's been a hard week already.

My life is complete. 

At least until next time Oprah is in town.  My search for fancier friends is on.