A duck and a dream

I had the pleasure of watching arguably the world’s best magician David Copperfield live in Melbourne recently. The magic itself was awesome...

17 reasons you should always carry a book with you

1. As someone who used to spend a lot of time waiting for real estate clients to show up – I know that clients / appointments / people in general are often late...

Reality Television your way to Success

I think I’m one of the only “motivational speakers” (not that I call myself that) who will openly admit that I watch television. I watch bad television too… even… dare I say it… reality television.

Where is the love?!

One of my businesses, Elephant Property, works in the notoriously under appreciated category of residential property management. The old adage in property management...

The power of the word

I’m quite distraught. I was eating my personal trainer approved afternoon snack of 12 almonds (my suggestion of 12 Tim Tams: not approved)...

Friday, August 26, 2011

The One Star Review

I was recently asked (most flatteringly) to give the opening address for a former staff member who has just opened his own real estate agency. As the words tumbled out of my mouth: “I’ve known Richard since his first day in real estate, I’ve seen him get his first listing, make his first sale, receive his first glowing testimonial.” It was at this point Richard with his trademark smile and honesty interjected with “She also saw me get my first complaint!” The audience laughed, and so did I.

Complaints, especially in service based industries like real estate are a common occurrence. Obviously great players attempt to minimise them, but I’ve always been of the opinion that when a complaint occurs, it shouldn’t be something you dread or push under the rug. It should be something that highlights a service or procedural error that you can improve on going forward. It's something that can make you better at what you do.

5 days before the launch I’d gone out on a lovely romantic dinner with my husband to celebrate the day upon which 8 years ago he’d proposed to me. We arrived home around 10.20pm, Saturday and I checked my phone to find a text message from one of my business partners informing me that there was an unfavourable review posted on our facebook site.

I logged on to facebook straight away. After reading the review I texted the two staff members who may have been involved and heard back from them within minutes. From there I spent the next hour in repair mode.

The review gave us one star (this alone was mortifying for me when every other review on our facebook page had given us 5 stars). It stated that the person had called our office and hadn’t had their phone call returned in a reasonable time.

Devastatingly two of the reviewer’s friends had commented on the review already and it had only been up a matter of hours. That’s the power and the curse of instant social media beautifully illustrated. If 2 of his friends had felt they needed to comment, how many others had already seen it and not commented and how many had seen it just by looking at our page.

My first step was to comment on the review that I was looking into the situation and would be in touch soon. I also left my direct email address on that comment. I then went to the person’s facebook page and directly messaged them again stating that I was doing my best to get all the details and there I gave my direct mobile and email address and asked for some more details on the situation so that I could appropriately respond.

From there an email went out to all potential staff involved and all business partners as an update and a request for more information from those involved.

Sunday morning I heard back from the complainant with the details. His frustration was completely justified, we had not gotten back to him in an appropriate time and I let him know where I was at in my investigations, I let him know he had been heard and that I was just waiting on a few more pieces of information to not only find out how he’d been left without contact, but also to resolve the enquiry he’d contacted us with. I told him when he'd next hear from me.

8.30am – I had the information he required from us that he was after in his initial phone call to the office and had that side of the situation resolved fairly quickly.

By midday I also had an explanation as to how the return of his call had been delayed. We’d had a staff member away from the office on medical grounds and this contributed to the delay. However, most importantly, when I relayed this to the complainant, to me the most vital thing was that I let him know that these were the circumstances surrounding the issue, but they were by no means an excuse. Every office is busy, every office has people away sick and every office should have appropriate means in place to deal with these everyday occurrences so that the experience to the customer is seamless.

In damage control mode I wanted to make sure that while I was working on resolving this issue that the unfavourable review wasn’t the first someone saw when they looked at our reviews page. As such I asked a number of clients if they'd feel comfortable in reviewing our services on the page and quickly we had a couple of lovely reviews from very happy clients showing at the top of the page. Now, back on to resolving my one star.

Tuesday - Wednesday
I went to the office in question so that I could speak to the staff members involved and conduct some training based on the feedback we’d been provided. I kept contact with the complainant informing him of the training I was doing and the progress we were making in attempting to have delays of this sort not be an ongoing issue.

I touched base a final time with the complainant to make sure he was 100% happy with the way I’d handled the issue. When he replied that he was, I asked if he felt comfortable removing the review. His reply was that I’d gone to a lot of trouble and he was happy to remove his review. He was extremely reasonable the entire time I dealt with him. And my final follow up to this gentleman will be to pop something in the mail to him next week thanking him for his feedback and for helping us become a better service company.

Ultimately, with social media, you can typically find ways to remove unfavourable posts and reviews by deleting them. For me that was never an option. If I couldn’t find a way to resolve this issue for the gentleman so that he felt comfortable deleting the review himself, I would have left it there (as sad as that would make me).

Was it a lot of work to go to get him to delete the review? Yes, it was quite a big investment in my time.

Was it worth it? Absolutely. It highlighted an aspect of my business that I wasn’t aware of and that needed addressing.

I’d go as far as to say that I’m grateful for the complaint because of the flaws in our service delivery that were easy to address and rectify that it illuminated.

The next time you get a complaint – will you see it as an opportunity to get discouraged or an opportunity to improve?

By Kirsty Dunphey with 4 comments

Friday, August 19, 2011

Dadpreneur: myth or man?

I recently wrote a blog about my experiences combining my most recent adventure (motherhood)with my ongoing passion for business. A bit daunted with the slightly different take to what I usually blog on I sent it to some fabulous working mums I know to proof and give me their opinions.

A fabulous entrepreneur and mum – Tina Tower from Begin Bright wrote back and some of her comments really stuck with me.

Tina wrote: “A notable change is before in media I could be referred to as a 'young gun woman in business' where as now I get 'Mumpreneur' in everything! I figure I am showing my sons that a woman can be good Mum, a good wife and have great self fulfillment through running companies. The balance I find is never perfect, (you) just have to do what works best for you and family.”

Tina hit the nail on the head with the balance aspect that I’m struggling to find now. The other thing that struck me when Tina mentioned “Mumpreneur” is that I hear that term a lot these days, but didn’t think I’d ever heard the term “Dadpreneur”.

Take Donald Trump: like him or loathe him, I find one of the most amazing things about the Donald is that he seems to have raised his children with an amazing work ethic and appreciation for education. Where other children growing up in households of great wealth have gone off the rails or live out their days on trust funds, Ivanka and his other children impress me with their business nouse and what appears to be extreme level headedness. That said, can you imagine anyone describing Donald Trump as a “Dadpreneur”?

So my next challenge was to find an out and proud Dadpreneur.

Facebook search asked me if I meant “mompreneur”… hrm… not encouraging. Twitter’s @dadpreneur is an inactive user… back to the drawing board there.

So, I googled “Dadpreneur” and the top links were to a blog that hadn’t been updated since 2008 and a website that didn’t work.

Link number three however was more encouraging and was an article about Chris Pegula’s (@chrispegula) business “Diaper Dude” (making nappy bags Dad’s want to be seen with) and on top of being a spunk, Chris is a father of three with a nifty looking website who’s getting some great press right now.

Dadpreneur found! And while it’s unlikely Bill Gates (father of three Jennifer, Rory and Phoebe) is ever going to be described as a “Dadpreneur” they’re out there.

Now… as to how I’ll feel if I start getting described as a “Mumpreneur”… we’ll have to cross that bridge when and if we come to it!

By Kirsty Dunphey with 2 comments

Friday, August 12, 2011

The Bachelor vs The Applicant

I’ve unashamedly said on many occasions before that one of my guilty pleasures is trashy reality television. Survivor, Amazing Race,
the Apprentice – I’m hooked.

My current outlet from reality through reality television is “The Bachelorette”. For those of you with far more varied and interesting lives than I (who haven’t watched this show) it’s one bachelorette with a whole bunch of potential suitors. Each week the bachelorette eliminates men until at the end (after the grand sum of around 8 weeks), she’s left with someone who, in most cases, proposes marriage. Not surprisingly the success rate from this show, in terms of relationship longevity, isn’t great.

What I’ve always found so fascinating is that there’s only ever one star of the show – the Bachelor or Bachelorette - and yet almost all the people brought in to “date” this person seem to fall head over heels in love. Unrealistic? Absolutely.

My theory is that people are instinctively competitive and want to “win” the show and in competing, they manufacture emotions that perhaps aren’t as strong as they would be if they’d just met the bachelorette at a club one night. That or people out and out lie about their feelings to stay longer on the show.

It reminds me, in some ways, of a heated job interview. 20 candidates vying for one job at a company. In most cases the employer does the interviewing. They ask the questions. They decide whether the employee is right for them.

To me, a longer lasting relationship might be gained if the employee (respectfully) does some interviewing of their own to find out if they feel the company is also right for them.

An employee employer relationship is similar in so many ways to a romantic relationship (albeit a bit of a twisted one!) Is it realistic to expect that you’ll find job-love if you don’t do your homework as well?

By Kirsty Dunphey with No comments

Saturday, August 6, 2011

I’m so sorry I had no idea who you were…

A few years ago I was introduced to someone “important”. He was “important” due to all that he’d achieved in his career – some fairly impressive accolades. I was excited to meet him.

He was… less excited to meet me. We were introduced, he briefly said hi and then left while I was mid sentence to talk with someone “more important” than I.

I was a little disappointed, but, thems the breaks right? Not everyone is going to want to have a yack. I soon got over it.

The next day, I got on stage and gave the speech I’d been flown into the country to perform for the organization this important fellow worked for. Later that day Mr. “Important” asked to take me aside. Suddenly – he was excited to talk to me. He even went so far as to apologise for his rudeness the day before. He said “I’m so sorry, I had no idea who you were”. He didn’t realize I was the guest speaker. He didn’t realize I was “worthy” of his time.

I worked with this company for many years and never formed a close relationship with this chap. In that initial interaction he’d told me so much about himself. When he thought I was no-one, I wasn’t even worthy of a minute of his time. When he thought I was important, suddenly I was worth common courtesy and more.

It's been a great lesson to me over the years that every person I interact with no matter how "important" others might think they are deserves my attention, my respect, my common courtesy.

By Kirsty Dunphey with 2 comments

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