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Thursday, September 24, 2009

A Heartfelt Apology

Sometimes I feel as though I’m one of those people that likes to nitpick. I’m so fixated on customer service and get so disappointed when it doesn’t live up to even basic standards that I’m often “whinging” about the dodgy hotel experience I had or the conference I attended that did such and such.

I almost think that sometimes I’m a little programmed to see the wrong, which is why it was so nice that a bad service experience yesterday turned into something kinda great.

I’d emailed a property manager to meet my husband at a property at 1.00pm amongst a whole swag of other things, they’d confirmed with “all done”. At 1.13pm I got a call from my husband – no-one had been there to meet him. I called to chase up and long story short, the property manager hadn’t read the part of my email about the appointment.

Her boss apologised to myself and my husband which was fine, but the thing that had me leave the experience with an uplifted feeling was her apology to me on the phone. It was heartfelt. It was genuine. She didn’t offer any excuses. She just assured me that it wouldn’t happen again and took her lumps. She then followed it up with a further email.

We’re human. We mess up. All of us (I know I certainly do!). It’s what you do when you mess up that determines how that relationship will progress.

Option number 1 is:

1. Own it
2. Convey your apology in a heartfelt way
3. Put a plan in place so that it doesn’t happen again

You easily have the power to turn a bad experience into a positive. Where you run into trouble is if you follow the dodgy conflict resolution strategy of Option 2:

1. Bury it
2. Deny it
3. Shift the blame

The next time you mess up – and we know it will happen – what 3 steps will you decide to do?

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By Kirsty Dunphey with No comments

Friday, September 18, 2009

Hidden Secrets: The Corporate Alleyways

On a recent trip to Melbourne I found myself, yet again, past dark sidling up a seemingly deserted alley way. I was in search of “La la land” a bar.

You might already know that seemingly all the very groovy bars in Melbourne are hidden in laneways more befitting a morose mugging than a civilised cocktail. It’s part of the culture and thankfully I have my Bar Secrets Melbourne cards so that I can try a new one each time I’m there.

I have to lurk in a laneway in Melbourne to manifest my mohito, but did you know in the corporate world you’ll also have to do some covert skulking?

The corporate alleyway you might have to lurk in could be:

• Knowing the right after work drinks place to network with your target demographic.

• Knowing which receptionist to turn on the charm with to get your messages delivered on time.

• Knowing what bottle of wine is the client’s favourite to ensure their repeat business.

• Knowing that promotions at your office get decided by a select few at a monthly luncheon.

There’s secret “laneway-like” world in almost every workplace and every industry. How many corporate secrets do you know? Too bad there isn’t a card that can help you out with that one. But you could try:

• Finding out where the most successful person in your industry has their after work drinks (you could even, shock horror, offer to buy them a drink).

• Charming all the receptionists at your work place (being nice to the front face of your business always pays off in the long run, they are your tie to the rest of the world).

• Ask your best client’s assistant or partner what their favourite drop is so that next time you get them a gift you know it’s spot on the money.

• Find that person who got the promotion you wanted and take them out to lunch to try and unearth their secrets (a good mohito helps with this too).

Good luck in uncovering the hidden laneways of your industry and workplace.

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By Kirsty Dunphey with No comments

Thursday, September 10, 2009

The Value of Pancake Promises

When I was about 6 years old I was at my Mum’s workplace running amok as I always did. When it was time to go I’m not sure what came over me, but I refused. I hid under tables, I ran from my Mum and I basically caused all sorts of fuss and embarrassment for her.

I then got the brilliant idea that with this newfound leverage over my Mum I’d start making demands (genius I know!) I wasn’t leaving the office until she promised me that we could go out for pancakes.

After much to-ing and fro-ing my Mum finally gave in. I’m sure I let out a yelp of delight and we left the office.

I’m sure it comes as no surprise to you that, sadly, there were no pancakes that night or for a very long time afterwards.

It taught me a really important lesson though – making demands is pointless if you’re looking for a good long term relationship. Even if you are able to demand your way into what you want, the animosity created by that demand leads to ongoing acrimony.

I’ve seen it time and time again in workplaces where employees will make demands of their employer and wonder why neither party ends up with what they want. So, how about this – the next time you want something, rather than demanding it, why not show some VALUE.

If you want a new coffee machine at work, put together a quick proposal that will show your boss that it’ll give each staff member an extra half an hour in the office a day (rather than going across the road to get coffee) thus providing him with X number of extra work hours a week, that’s a VALUE.

If you want a payrise, put together a list of your VALUE (not demands) to the company. Show the improvements you’ve made in the past X months, the increase in revenue to the company, the benefit on office morale and then go to your employer with a plan for how you can continue increasing the VALUE to them.

As a child, how much better would I have been when Mum wanted to leave the office for me to say, sure, let’s go now, and by the way, is there any chance you could look at us having pancakes at some stage in the next little while if I clean my room and do the dishes as soon as we get home? Ahhh… if only I’d known!

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Friday, September 4, 2009

Put The Magic In

The highlight of every weekend I spend in Melbourne is a trip to the magic shop in Southbank. Yes, I’ll happily confess I’m crazy for the magic. I’ve always loved it. But I don’t go into this shop just to buy magic tricks.

Every time I go into this shop it’s an experience. The staff are all dressed in bow ties and when asked, or even sometimes when you don’t ask, they’ll start demonstrating their wares by performing fantastic magic tricks. I adore watching their demonstrations (they’re flawless and funny) and it’s great for business. I want to do EVERY trick they show me and I tell all my friends (and now you guys!) that they have to go into the shop.

Cost to the shop? Nothing. When the staff are busy serving, they don’t do tricks, it’s just in between customers buying. The benefit? Immeasurable I’m sure.

Now while a magic shop can literally create magic in their shopping experience, I don’t think it’s a feat beyond any business.

The restaurant Bubba Gump (based on Forest Gump) in the States did it for me by having a sign on each table that could be flipped to say either “run forest run” or “stop forest stop” depending on whether you wanted service for your waiter. I loved it so much I thought about getting my own portable version to take to every restaurant with me (it’s so frustrating to wait and wait for service!)

How will you create magic in your business today?

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By Kirsty Dunphey with No comments

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Feedback – why, when and how?

I recently published a blog based around an inappropriate text message that my dentist had sent me. I said in the blog that I wouldn’t be letting the dental surgery know that I wasn’t happy with the text. Many thanks to all the people who wrote to me regarding this blog (and for the various dental referrals I received!), but there was one lady who seemed pretty upset with me for not taking my complaint to the dental surgery. She said something to the effect of why vent in a blog when you could go and get the situation resolved.

There are many reasons I blogged about this instead of going to the dental surgery directly, the first being that it’s my personal preference not to provide feedback when I’m not asked.

You give me a feedback form or a questionnaire and I’m usually the first to fill it in. I LOVE to provide feedback (both positive and constructive) and I adore writing testimonials when I’ve been provided with a sensational experience.

BUT – I no longer provide constructive criticism to a business unless I’m asked for it, or unless I’m actually making a complaint about service. Why? Well, I used to give constructive feedback for many years and was increasingly disappointed to see my feedback not implemented.

I’ve now come to the conclusion that businesses that want feedback and want to implement it will usually ask for it. I do so in my own businesses, which is why, as an example, any of you that have trialled www.reallysold.com, had a property managed through www.elephantproperty.com.au or have purchased one of our books at www.unleashedknowledge.com will have received a request for you to complete a questionnaire based on the experience.

Also – I’m kind of a nut. If I gave feedback to every business I saw that could be improved, it’d be all I’d do with my life and my friends would refuse to ever go to another restaurant, bar, spa with me again!

So my questions to you today are: Do you want feedback on your business? If so – how are you giving your clients an opportunity to provide this?

Also, whenever I make mention of a business that’s done something I don’t love in a blog. It’s not to vent. It’s not in the hope that someone will read that blog who works at that business and will change their wicked wicked ways. And you’ll rarely see me list their name (unlike when I see a business that’s doing something positive).

I write because thousands of people might read the blog and if one business is doing something in a certain way you can guarantee they aren’t alone. I write in the hope that there’s a reader out there who sees the article and checks the text messages their business sends out, or puts a new feedback system in place etc and that something positive comes from that article.

Now, don’t even get me started about the hotel I just stayed in… ok, that one might be more of a vent! I’ll save it until I’ve found a lesson that I need to learn from that experience!

And as always, if there’s ever any feedback you want to give us about our newsletter, blogs or books, what you enjoy or don’t enjoy, please head to www.kirstydunphey.com/contact.html and write away. While I can’t guarantee we’ll implement everything, we do read it all and take your feedback on board.

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