Posts from the ‘Books’ Category
August 7th, 2011
You probably know I’m very vocal, and I not only speak my mind but often I blog it, Tweet it, Facebook it, and now Google+ it. The other day, I was struck by the kindness of others, and I thought “Wow, I had a good day.” But frankly, the kindness hasn’t stopped.
I departed on my #Crowdsourcingbook Tour in complete OPEN mode. I have been soul searching for my purpose, my direction, how I should be spending my time and energy. I’m not a religious person, but a woman I admire recently asked if she could pray for me (I think so God would help me find my way). I wasn’t put off by that at all but comforted by her gesture and her willingness to spend her precious moments of prayer on my behalf.
In the last few days, there have snafus and mixups and all the usual bumps of life and work, but there have been equal amounts of #kindness and people going above and beyond the call of duty, seizing opportunities to be kind.
The latest series of events that I want to note have to do with Customer Service. As a consumer, I don’t think I’ve ever correlated Customer Service with Kindness. Respect, yes, but kindness? Yet since I’ve been at the San Diego Marriott Marquis and Marina at the Convention Center, I’ve been struck by the kindness of their staff. Now I’ve stayed at many Mariott hotels and my stays have been fine, but I find my experiences here to be extraordinary.
It’s all about the little things – and sometimes the big ones. I wrote about this here: How Brands Can be Heroes…Or Not about a series of opportunities a hotel in Florida didn’t take to make my stay memorable. I summarized simple ways brands can excel with customers this way:
5 Tenets of Good Customer Service
1. Listen. Keep your real ears open and your figurative ears open, too, by monitoring the social mediasphere for mentions of your brand (at a minimum).
2. Respond. If you hear something warranting a comment or answer, be there with a thoughtful comment or answer.
3. Engage. Don’t broadcast – stimulate and encourage multi-directional conversations.
4. Acknowledge. Give kudos, honor and celebrate others doing good things including customers saying nice things.
5. Serve. Provide heartfelt, deeply respectful customer service and put the customer first.
Here are just a few things Marriott staff did since I’ve been here:
- I ordered room service the first morning and coffee with cream. When I went to pour cream into my coffee, I realized the little pitcher of cream was empty. I called room service and was going to ask for cream but then decided it was too late, and I had to be on my way.”Are you leaving now? We’ll meet you at the elevator,” the person on the other end of the phone said.
And sure enough, when I got downstairs, there was a vente Starbucks with cream waiting for me. They didn’t have to do that. But they did.
- The day before I was scheduled to leave, I received an express checkout notice and realized that somehow, my reservation was booked with me departing a day before the conference I was attending ended. Panicked, I went downstairs to the front desk to explain my situation.”Let’s take care of that,” the woman behind the front desk said with a smile. No admonishments, no questioning me on how it happened. She heard “problem,” and simply said “solution.”
The rest of my encounters with the Marriott staff in San Diego fell into the category of complete and utter willingness to be at service. And I know that is no small feat, especially with droves of guests with a myriad of demands and expectations.
More than anything, each time I approached a staff member, I was greeted with a smile. That simple gesture is like kindness in a bottle. Even when I was feeling a little stressed or panicked, I was disarmed by smiles. Never underestimate the power of a smile.
What have been your recent encounters with kindness in customer service?
August 3rd, 2011
I thought as I wrote about my #crowdsourcingbook tour, I’d be keeping a diary simply of the day’s events as I worked my way from San Diego to Los Angeles to San Francisco, Napa and Oakland. But already something else is taking shape so I’m just going to go with it.
Today, I was struck by the kindness of others. It all started when I had lunch with a woman I’ve known for years, mostly through online networks. I actually don’t think we’ve ever met in person or at least not sat down before to chat. I was struck with how energetic, enthusiastic and creative she was. And how kind. She generously offered to help me with a project, and together we brainstormed another. I felt lucky to have had the chance to spend some time with her.
Later, I ran into Lisa Stone, one of the founders of BlogHer, at the elevators of the conference hotel. As always, she was incredibly gracious and engaged in our conversation as we rode the elevator. I am always so impressed with how accessible the BlogHer founders are and how generous with their time and attention. Lisa, Jory des Jardin and Elisa Camahort, to me, are the epitomy of powerful, influential successful women who are also kind.
I don’t know why I’d think they’d be otherwise, although I have met many women who have achieved a wide range of degrees of success who are not so nice. And I know how much pressure there can be with the myriad of demands on one’s time and attention. Yet every time I see the BlogHer women, I am struck by their warmth and their attention to the moment, to the person in front of them. They are incredibly kind.
Finally, I went to get my hair done for my book party (will post about the party tomorrow after I get some sleep). I showed up at the salon, and they told me that I was an hour late for my appointment. It was probably my fault – I’m really bad with clocks and calendars. I was so stunned and upset that my best laid plans were screwed up. The guy behind the reception desk was starting to protest in that “well, there isn’t anything we can do” way, but then he paused and went to the back room. He returned with the hair stylist who I had apparently “stood up.”
I was bracing myself for some admonishment for my tardiness or for a snide “Sorry, we just can’t fit you in.” But instead, she looked at me kindly and said “Let’s see what we can do. I’m not sure if I can take care of you the entire time, but let’s just go back and see what we can do.”
No scolding, no refusals. Just the kindest approach that melted away my stress.
“Just breathe, just breathe,” she said gently, and even apologized for not being able to spend more time washing my hair. I was just grateful for being able to get properly prepared for my first book tour appearance. A silly thing, I know, but at the moment it felt important. It felt even more important to be treated so kindly.
Her name is Kelly, by the way, and the salon is called Tonic.
Kindness. It doesn’t take much (or maybe it does for some). A kind word. A kind smile. Making time, giving attention, offering help. I hope I was kind today to those around me to put those good vibes out into the cosmos.
Have you been kind today? Who has been kind to you lately?
August 2nd, 2011
I’m here in the land of sun, sand and surf, for the start of my #Crowdsourcing Book Tour. As I took the Advantage Rental Car shuttle to the rental office, the bus driver commented on the heat.
“How hot is it?” I asked, resisting the temptation to check the Weather app on my iPhone. This was, after all, real-life conversation.
“Must be 75 degrees,” he said. I checked a little while later. It was 88 degrees, not 75.
At Advantage, they kindly upgraded me from a Smart Car to a Toyota RAV 4 for a “few dollars more.” Well worth it since I was going to be picking up nine boxes of my Crowdsourcing book and some uTest swag to giveaway and would need to haul it all up the West Coast for my upcoming book parties.
I then got my first lesson in using a GPS device in a car. I’ve relied on my iPhone and Google Maps for getting around the parts of Alaska where there is cell signal and have never actually used a GPS unit. Particularly not one that spoke to me. It immediately reminded me of this video “Tomorrow (GPS).” Worth watching (only 1:10 min).
As I drove to see a friend, Aparna, I realized that I hadn’t remembered how arid San Diego is, and was grateful for A/C, something I haven’t had to use all summer in Alaska.
Had dinner and an animated conversation with Aparna about careers. I was really conscious of how many times I grabbed my iPhone during dinner. Once to take a photo of my beer because, well, because it was Negra Modelo, and you can’t get that where I live. Plus, it made a cool Instagram image. And once more to take a photo of my meal. Foodspotting, of course! I think that was it.
In this day and age of constant connectivity and uber-sharing to social networks, I have found that we all have the tendency to reach for our smartphones out of habit, carelessness, automatic reflex. And when you’re with someone who totally doesn’t give a hoot about social media , their look of horror when you reach for your smartphone at dinner at a restaurant is telling. But do we even notice anymore?
When you’re with someone who lives and breathes this social media stuff, you can both end up sitting in the same space, across from each other, and barely look up from your screens, accepting the fact that the person you are having dinner with is sucked in by the vortex just as you are or at least resigning yourself to that fact.
I am happy to report that my dinner with Aparna had few smartphone interruptions. Other than my post to Instagram and Foodspotting, Aparana sent a few texts to her babysitter and her husband and later I saw she had sent one tweet about our dinner.
And then we talked. You know, face to face, with voice sans Internet. Yeah, TALKING.
While I’m excited about documenting my two week tour on all my favorite networks using all those handy mobile apps, I’m even more excited to meet people, connect with people, reconnect with people, and just talk.
If you’re on the West Coast, hope to connect with you along the way!
July 30th, 2011
Any time I travel from Alaska down to the Lower 48, it’s a big deal. I have to get to the airport – either Anchorage seven hours away or Fairbanks, almost a four hours drive. Cell signal is spotty and moose are prevalent.
Moose impact usually totals a car, very often kills the driver. As long as the weather is good, both of these trips are great drives. When it isn’t, it is white knuckles all the way.
In case of an accident, on some long stretches of Alaska highways, there are no houses for miles and no cars for hours. If you do go off the road, you often can’t call anyone for help and just have to sit and wait.
In Alaska, we keep our cars well stocked with survival gear, non-perishable foods, blankets, camping matches, water. With barely any radio for much of the trip to Anchorage in particular, I spend hours catching up on podcasts like Managing the Gray by C.C. Chapman and Marketing Over Coffee with Christopher Penn and John Wall. I also like Double X and Freakonomics.
I always try to leverage my time away. If I have one conference, I try to find others in the area or clients I can meet or friends I can connect with while I’m in a city. This time, I turned a single appearance at Women Create Media on August 4 (speaking with my co-author Danielle Smith about c0-writing a book and working with editors and publishers) into a West Coast book tourfor my crowdsourcing book. Next is BlogHer (just attending).
Then Los Angeles, San Francisco, Napa, and I end my travels on August 14 with a keynote address at Second Life Community Convention in Oakland. Then I fly back home, stay overnight with friends, and drive back to rural Alaska.
What am I looking forward to most? It’s hard to narrow it down. The sunshine. Please let there be sun. Driving up the California coast. The ocean. Even traffic. I actually feel calmer, safer, in traffic. And it is a great time to catch up on my podcasts. Or listen to the news live on air. Or music.
I love road trips. I spent over a year on the road by myself from September 2000 to November 2001. You can read about that trip on RVGirl.com. This 12-day road trip is going to be so different from road tripping back then. Today, I’ve got Instagram, Foursquare, Intersect, Foodspotting, Facebook, Twitter and more, all at my fingertips on my iPhone that will probably work much of the drive.
I’ll be keeping a road diary here (and syndicating it on my Crowdsourcing Book Site and posting dispatches at The Daily Crowdsource) as I travel. And if you’re along the way between San Diego, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Napa and want to connect, let me know. Coffee? Tea? Lunch? I’m game.
Where do you like going when you go on a road trip?
July 23rd, 2011
Tune in Monday, July 25th at 12noon EST / 9am PST for Breakthrough Business Strategies Radio with host Michele Price. I’ll be chatting with Michele about the ins and outs of crowdsourcing.
Here are some of the aspects of crowdsourcing for business we’ll be talking about
- Ways to Crowdsource
- Communities of Crowdsourcing
- How Does Crowdsourcing Happen?
- The Upsides of Crowdsourcing
- Potential Pitfalls Sourcing Crowds
- Crowdsourcing Applications
- Crowds For Work
- You can listen by calling in via phone/mobile 646-200-3742
- You can listen on your computer CLICK HERE
- You can listen podcast by subscribing to itunes
You can also find the transcript to last week’s #SpeakChat where I tweeted with Michele about crowdsourcing. (Transcript link in middle of page).
Don’t forget that I’ll be in California promoting my book starting August 3. Check out my book tour details.
Have you tried crowdsourcing yet? If so, how did it go?