Monday, October 27, 2014

Customer Service Done Right

Lately it seems I see Facebook and mainstream media full of people complaining about a company, organization or even waiter. I'm sure there are many times you have a good or even great experience as a customer but we don't tweet it, we don't post it on FB and except in extreme cases. you wont see media covering it. And really, how many papers would sell if the headline read "Waitress got my order correct"?

So I get it, we expect good service and take it for granted when we get it and if we don't we complain.  I'm like that too. I always get good service at my local Safeway, but I also shop 2-3 times a week (it's  a block from home) so if I commented every time about the good service, people would say I was spamming.

Today I'm going to take the time to balance out the negative things you've got in your news feed and blog reading tools. I'm going to tell you about not just good service, but amazing service.  Those of you who know me in-real-life will know most of this, but it's such a good story, it's worth reading again.

This summer, I did the impossible and took my kids alone to visit my mom in Nova Scotia. This meant taking 2 planes each way, airport transfers, cabs, rental cars, hotels, motels and more. So many places things can go wrong or go missing. Miracle of miracles, the trip was for the most part uneventful on the negative side and was so worth it.

Fast forward, and we're on our way home. From the time we left the motel until we got back to YVR was more than 12 hours. Both kids were over tired. While we have a train we can take to downtown and then just one bus and we were travelling light, I could not face public transit with two over tired kids who had been so well behaved (all things considered) and if they fell asleep, we'd be riding the train until they woke up because a) you can't wake them and b) they are too big, too heavy and I had a suitcase and a carry on too.  I opted for an Airport Limo service. The price is very close to the cost of a cab and much more comfortable.

We took Aerocar Service. We were in an SUV and the kids loved the ride. Personally, I always love the drive from the Airport to downtown, with the amazing views of the mountains. Our driver was really nice. He was a dad with two young kids himself. He got us home safe and sounds, and even helped me get the kids and luggage across the road safely.

Home sweet home! We dumped the bags in the middle of the floor and I promptly got the boys ready for bed (it may have only been 8 our time, but it was midnight where we'd spent the last two weeks). First crisis, we could not find Nathan's monkey. Luckily they were tired enough that I was able to get them to sleep without (cue extreme gratefulness that this was not Corwyn's monkey).

I next went through every pocket in every bag. We had the monkey, in his arms when we left the airport. Yes, it would normally be in his bag but the zipper on that broke and he insisted on carrying it. I went outside, checking where we were dropped off, in case it was there. I checked all the common areas in the my building in case it got picked up by a neighbor. No luck. I dreaded the morning when he would ask.

I emailed the car company.

Hi, this is a long shot.
We took one of your vehicles from YVR to the West End on Monday Aug 11 (around 7:30pm). One of my twin boys left his stuffed monkey in the car. Is there any chance it was found and turned in???
 We loved the ride back. The driver was amazing and had my kids smiling despite having been in travel mode for 12 hours. I think it was this happiness that caused him to forget his toy.
 Can you please check? It was an SUV type of vehicle.
I was overwhelmed by the series of responses I got
Hi Christine,
Our reservations agent is looking in to your reservation and what driver/car serviced you.
At our office lost and found there has not been any stuffed monkey brought in but let us also send out a message to all the drivers on there dispatch screens and see if we can hopefully locate your sons toy for him.
I will be in touch shortly.
Kind Regards,

Hi Christine,
We have sent out a message to all drivers.
We are waiting to hear back shortly.
We will contact you closer to this evening.
So we may get a response from all day and night drivers to see if any driver has turned the monkey in at the airport or to one of our greeters.
We will send you an email at roughly 8 or 9pm.
We are on a mission to find him for you son.

 Hi Christine,
We regret to inform you that we could not locate your sons toy monkey.
We were all young once and understand the attachment to our childhood toys,
What we would like to do is send both your sons two stuffed monkeys on behalf of AeroCar
If you would allow us to do so, please send us your address home or office and we will have one of our drivers deliver them to you.
Again our apologies that we could not find your sons toy but please do allow us the opportunity to make it up to your son.
We look forward to hearing from you.
Kind Regards,
Thank you kindly for allowing us to transport you and your loved ones. 
 I was disappointed with the lack of monkey but so overwhelmed with joy at the care and attention this company was taking. I cried. I'm crying thinking of it again.

So, did they come through? Yes! And with even more than I expected. They recognized that while only Nathan lost his monkey, there were two young boys involved.

Hi Christine, Hope this email finds you in good spirits, My apologies for the delay its been an extremly busy couple of weeks. I really wanted to deliver your monkies in person but the rate Im going at I may not make it over there for another two weeks. I just sent the monkies first class with UPS , they will arrive at your office tommorow afternoon. There are two boxes one red and one green. One for each son , a monkey for thier beds and a monkey to travel with them. Again my apologies for the delay, this has been on my to do list for a while now so please do not think we forgot. I hope your two boys will make some fond memmories with thier new traveling companions. Warm Regards, AeroCar

Good-bye Brown Monkey. You will be missed. The response to your loss has been so incredible though. You left a great legacy.  If you are traveling to/from the Vancouver Airport, please consider using Aerocar. Service like this deserves to be rewarded. 

Friday, October 10, 2014

The Degradation of the Spoken Word

C has always been a bit behind in speech, but since he's always made some progress the Pediatrician wasn't worried. Then the Dr retired and since he kept making small progress, I let it go. Now that he's started school, a fresh set of eyes, or rather ears has come into the picture, his teacher, Ms J. 

She called me after the first week to discuss his enunciation/diction. He can, but rarely makes the consonants sounds made in the back of the mouth. For example he usually says /t/ instead of /k/ and /d/ instead of /g/. He can make the sounds but not consistently, and rarely does. He also talks very fast and words slur together. So she asked if he had any speech therapy or any physical condition to inhibit his speech. Since he's had neither, she's recommended him for an assessment and possibly therapy. 

So while we wait, I've been even more aware of my own speech around him. Since then I've noticed some deficiencies in my speech, mostly due to laziness. Of course I wondered if others were the same way and in listening to people around me, I'm finding many others are the same, even public speakers.

Here are the three things I've noticed recently and am trying to work on. 

A simple word. It rhymes with or/snore/more. Except for many of us, it no longer does. Rather than saying 'for' ending in 'or' we are saying 'fer' ending in 'er'. I'm not sure why so many of us do this. It's not really much extra work with the muscles in our mouth to say it correctly. It does require a slight bit more rounding of the mouth but not really much in the grand scheme of things. And I don't see people saying 'fer' instead of four. In any of the other words that rhyme with it, we're also saying correctly but for some reason, not this simple word that we use regularly throughout the day.  

So this is a contraction, rather than a regular word. I get that we like contractions, a bit simpler to say we're instead of we are. Even then, myself and others I hear throughout the day are saying were not we're.

This ones is less of a pronunciation issue than I think a pure lazy issue. It used to be just kids would say 'cause instead of because. Now I find that the shorted version is making its way into every day speech. 

Listen to yourself. Do you say for or fer? What about we're  or were? Do you drop the first syllable in because? How about those around you? 

I don't know if we're more lazy in speech because we use it less, or just careless. We send text messages instead of phoning someone. We use shorted versions of words and acronyms in our emails in ways we rarely did in traditional paper mail. 

I'm practicing and having to make an effort to say it correctly. I challenge you to do the same!