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When Big Business Fails the Little Guy



When I started writing my blog I made a promise to myself and to you, that I would work hard at making sure the same passion I put into my business, would be put into my writing. Hopefully my heart and my passion has been reflected properly in the words I have put down. And there is nothing I am more passionate about in business than exemplary service. Whenever I see an opportunity to catch someone doing something right, I do my best to provide praise, positive feedback and a good old “attaboy.”

Hopefully, I will get through to one person that can make a change, make a difference and make a plan.

Over the last 14 months, I have written about 70 blogs and approximately 90,000 words. If you include my book, which is about 40,000 words and my guest blogs of about 25,000 words, I would approximate that I have written over 150,000 words in about 60 weeks. The vast majority of the words that have spilled out of my brain and onto your computer screen, tablet and smartphone have been positive. By design, I like to make people happy. So when there comes a time for me to air something out and complain, please know that I am doing so to make a point and not for the sake of just hearing myself rant. Hopefully, I will get through to one person that can make a change, make a difference and make a plan.

Big Business, you know who you are, you’ve really let us down. But, you haven’t just let me down, I could handle that. Instead, you are letting down a whole bunch of people. As I share my Big Business experience with others, they are also telling me their stories as well. I think you owe us all an apology for being so challenging to deal with, so taxing on our patience and for creating so much stress in our lives. We know there is so little that we can actually do about it and we know that you will be very slow to change your ways, but we thought it would be a good idea for us to write an apology letter that expresses how we think you feel. Since I know you will never write a letter of sincere apology, I thought it would be appropriate for me to write an apology letter with a Big Business spin. Here goes:

Dear Mr. Little Customer, 

We want to care but:

Our systems are too complicated and we really are not sure how they work exactly. We actually don’t know what the other departments in our big company actually do, so we will go ahead and transfer you to them.

We don't understand our technology, and although it may sound like we are taking notes when we discuss things with you on the phone, we actually are just going to hit delete when we hang up with you.

Our departments don't communicate with each other and even if we knew what their procedures were, when we transfer you to them, you will accidentally get disconnected. If you do happen to get through to them, they will tell you that you have reached their department in error. They will try to transfer you back.

Our employees can't make decisions. We will escalate your issue to the guy in the cubicle next to us, but he will just ask you to repeat everything you just said so he can delete the notes too before he takes no action.

We prefer not talking directly to you, so we are going to try and get you caught in our automated phone system. Please listen carefully, our menu options have all changed. Next time you call back, they will change again. But first, we will make you wait on hold 30 minutes with badly distorted music playing in your ear.

Those are just our policies. Sorry, we realize that the policies we have in place don’t make sense to you today, but you will thank us next time you call, because they will not make sense then either. Hey, we are consistent.

Please let me stick to my script. Please do not ask me to be human, have any empathy or show compassion. It’s troubling for us to stay on script if you don’t play by our rules. Before you call next time, we will send you the customer script so we can follow your part as well.

We appreciate you waiting on hold for 30 minutes. It gives our people a chance to take a break. It’s hard listening to complaints all day and they need a break to complain about you.

Pardon all the background noise and the sound of my breathing on the headset. We're really packed into these cubicles. You do have another option though. If you prefer you can get online and chat with us there. Our answers will make no sense to you but at least you won’t hear us breathing.

We are going to ask you if we resolved your issue and ask you to take a survey after we are done, even though we never plan on using your answers to make improvements.

We know our fees are high and are services are substandard. But we know our competition is just like that too. 

Sorry. Not sorry.

~Big Business

PS - We know we have inconvenienced you many times over the last several decades, since becoming so big. As a sign of our sincerest apologies, we are raising our fees effective immediately. Thanks for the business and have a nice day.

As a sign of our sincerest apologies, we are raising our fees effective immediately.

One day, things will be better. Meanwhile, the best I can do is laugh about it, write about it and hope that in the not too distant future, something will change. Do you have a Big Business horror story? If so, we need to band together for a giant group hug or something. In the meantime, accept the letter above as an apology for a job poorly done by Big Business.

Doug Sandler, helps organizations build better relationships with their customers. He strongly believes that Big Business (and little business) need to add the human element back into business. Doug’s book, Nice Guys Finish First, is available on Amazon.com. He is available for keynotes and workshops for your organization.



Get On Track For Success

pixaby.com werner22brigitte

pixaby.com werner22brigitte

It’s 8:00am and you are sitting down to read over your email for the first time today. Of course you checked it a couple of times on your iPhone before you actually sat down in front of your desktop computer to read it, but you haven’t actually responded to any of them yet. As you start to scan over your in-box you glance to your right and notice a pile of papers sitting on that side of your desk. Yesterday’s unfinished administrative stuff. Your eyes scan your desktop to the left and they lock on three envelopes yet to be opened. One of them is American Express bill. You’ve been meaning to go paperless on that bill but haven’t taken the time to go on-line to take care of that task. The second envelope is junk and you pitch it. The third envelope is from your local grocery store and contains a bunch of coupons. You open it, scan through it and find something that might be of use the next time you go shopping. You pick up your phone and remember those two phone calls from yesterday that you need to return. Well, it hasn’t been 24 hours yet, you still have time, but you jot down the names on a scrap piece of paper. You’ll get to that, later.

Before you know it, it’s 9:30 and a second cup of coffee sounds really good right about now. Although you haven’t really done anything yet, you already feel way too busy today and although it’s only 9:30 you realize the day is going to go by way too fast, and will probably be over before you even have a chance to get started. The coffee tastes good as you look over the handful of business cards you picked up at the networking event last night. You’ll send your new contacts a handwritten note. On second thought, an email would be much faster, so you pick up one of the business cards and start to compose an email. As you look to your computer screen to compose the email, you notice nine more emails have come into your in-box. Uggggh, you seem to be going backwards, getting nothing done, losing traction and destined for finishing the day with more items on your to-do list by the end of the day.

Half of your day gone and you have accomplished absolutely nothing, but man, you are busy.

No better time than now to check your social media hotspots. Facebook, the ultimate social media time suck pulls you in, 26 more minutes gone. Well, you are scanning your competition’s wall, so it really is considered competitive research, right? A check of LinkedIn, 2 new connections and a scan of the job postings yields another 12 minutes gone. Twitter feed, 4 more minutes lost and before you know it, you are hungry for lunch. Half of your day gone and you have accomplished absolutely nothing, but man, you are busy.

Does the above scenario seem familiar? You’re not alone, Salary.com reports that nearly 9 out of 10 employees either waste time or misdirect their time during their work date. Businesses in the U.S. are spending billions of dollars a year on wasted, distracted or nonproductive time. Lost time can result in lost business, lost opportunity and possibly a failed business. With so much time focused on the wrong activity, how can you possibly manage to get back on track after being derailed for so long.

Erase the thought that in five minutes you can accomplish nothing.

Here’s how -- Studies show that if you can get your brain focused on shorter, easier to obtain goals, you can trick yourself into action. Short, attainable micro goals will do the trick. Set a 5 minute goal to take notes about the activities you need to accomplish during the course of your day. Don’t look at the overall day, 42 emails, 4 phone calls, 2 projects, a partridge in a pear tree and counting. Tackling all of those tasks is overwhelming and thoughts of too many tasks will create negative energy. Erase the thought that in five minutes you can accomplish nothing, so you may as well hop onto social media to do some looking around. I’d rather have 5 minutes to focus on something important and productive than waste 30 minutes on YouTube. Once you hit the 5 minute mark, go for another 5 minutes. Keep beginning until you reach the end of a big task. You will find stringing together 10 tasks of 5 minutes each is much easier than taking on one 50 minute task.

Here are a several other “tricks” that will help you get back on track:

Stop multitasking. Try to avoid the temptation of doing many things at the same time because your day is filled to the max. Focus on one task at a time to help you manage your time better. Turn off your email or put your cell phone in the drawer while you are working on a project. Unless you are fully focused on a task you are not being your most productive self.

Half baked is half assed. Complete each task before you move onto the next one. If your task isn’t complete it is going to stay on your to-do list and that is not good news for anyone. Get it done, check it off the list and move on.

Look at where you are going. Success is a huge motivator. The more you have it in your life the more you want it in your life. Success makes you happy, helps build your self esteem and puts you in a proper positive mindset. You don’t have to cross the finish line in first place to feel satisfied, but you do need to cross it to be successful.

Look at where you are going. Success is a huge motivator.

Delegate where you can. We all know that no one can do it better than you -- or can they? Give someone else a shot to run with ball. You do not need to go it alone. Ask for help, you will be amazed at how well other people will rise to the occasion when given an opportunity to help.

You need to realize that along the way you will have urgent matters that pop up, problems that need to be fixed and people that need your time and attention. It’s ok, don’t get overwhelmed, it will all get done. Once you are able to start ticking items off of your list, 5 minutes at a time, your days will become less stressful, much more productive and you will feel much better about yourself.

Please share on LinkedIn , Facebook, Twitter and your favorite social channel by clicking on the "SHARE" button below. I welcome your comments. My book, titled Nice Guys Finish First, will be sold on Amazon. very soon. Stay tuned for details.



A Problem Worth Solving

Photo Credit - pixabay.com

Photo Credit - pixabay.com

Problems don’t ever seem to creep up on me. Instead, they lurch out of the darkness and create a detour in my already jam packed day. As a business owner, I have worked hard, trying to reduce the number of problems that arise, and I have worked even more diligently at trying not to let a problem that surfaces wreck my day. Regardless of how much effort, time and energy I exert to preempt problems, the little gremlins seem to find their way into my schedule.

I may not go about solving problems in a straight line, but eventually, I will get there.

Since problems are a fact of life, I have spent a considerable amount of time in problem solving mode. I would not consider my problem solving skill level on the scale of Sherlock Holmes or even Detective Columbo. More likely, I would compare myself to Chief Inspector Jacques Clouseau from the Pink Panther movies. I may not go about solving problems in a straight line, but eventually, I will get there.

Here are 5 tactics I put into use when trying to solve problems:

Be passionate about the solution, not the problem. When a problem is presented to me, my initial instinct is to go into defense mode. I can feel the pulse in my neck begin to throb as my emotions kick in. Instead of denying the feeling, channel the energy into a passion to find a solution. As difficult as it may be to believe, the problem presented is not about you, it is more likely about your product, service or a situation that occurred in need of your attention. If you focus on the solution and not the problem you will see things in a whole different light.

Put the rules aside. When a problem is presented to you, and you start to work on the solutions, write down as many solutions as possible. Initially, do not focus on the rules, policies, procedures and guidelines. What you are actually doing by working this method is training your brain to be solution based. Once you have exhausted your “solutions list,” go back and strike out the bigger rule breakers. There is a possibility the rule bender solutions may fit the problem perfectly and that your company may be willing to make an exception to the rules for this specific situation. One step further, there is a chance that a problem presented is worthy of a rule change, making you a Class A problem solver and influencer. Nice job.

I would highly recommend you put the problem into perspective and evaluate it through the eyes of the source.

What does your gut tell you? When presented with a problem, it is usually presented with a “gut check” as well. Instinctively, you may have that sixth sense that evaluates the situation and presents its findings in a split second. If your gut instinct is usually correct, I would encourage you to present that as one of your initial solutions. If you are experienced in your profession, your gut is best guide for problem solving.

Keep everything in perspective. I would highly recommend you put the problem into perspective and evaluate it through the eyes of the source. Your customer wants to hear solutions that are based upon their needs, not the policies of your company. You will need to present solutions that show empathy, compassion and an understanding of the problem based upon the needs of your customer. You will find that solutions come much faster if you focus on the needs of others instead of your needs first.

Problems are bound to happen, it’s what comes next that is important.

Don’t go it alone. Bigger problems may require the efforts of more than just you. No need to be a solo superhero, let others help generate a solution with you. Batman had Robin and Speed Racer had Chim Chim, you too may need help. You will be amazed at how supportive others are when you ask their advice. Although your goal is never to pass the buck, the ability to enlist others should be within your problem solving tactics. Teamwork provides a great opportunity to resolve the most complex problems.

While problems are never fun to deal with, problem solving provides an great opportunity for you to grow, think fast on your feet and work magic into your day. Problems are bound to happen, it’s what comes next that is important.

What other techniques do you use to resolve problems during your day? Please share them in the comments section below. Also, take a moment and share my Nice Guys Finish First message on your favorite social media channel. LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook have been very successful at amplifying my message. Also, check out my writing on Huffington Post as well.

The launch date for my book is coming very soon. Amazon.com will be taking pre-orders for Nice Guys Finish First in the next few days. I will be emailing anyone on my mailing list. As we put the final touches, edits and designs together, please help me with the HUGE task of deciding the book cover design. Which design would look nice on your bookshelf?

Click design to enlarge

Click design to enlarge

Cover Design Choice *
Help me select my cover design. Which do you prefer? You will be entered into a drawing for a chance to win a signed copy of my book. On release date, I will be announcing the winners. Stay tuned for details on launch date.