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8/31/08

Balancing Family and School

ASK MONA: Insights into perplexing questions

Dear Mona,

I work, go to school, and take care of my family, so I feel I have to do everything I do, but I never feel like I accomplish anything. How do you feel accomplished?

Frazzled Student

Dear Frazzled Student,

I think part of the problem comes with your feeling that you “have” to do everything you do. Life is all about choices. With everything there is tradeoffs. You have chosen to go to school to better yourself, and I encourage you to choose to attend class and choose to do the homework and choose to study.

You have a family that you choose to take care of, so choose to go to the grocery story and choose to prepare meals and choose to do laundry or cleaning as a way of showing your love. Making things your choice is a great stress reducer over the dread of “have to”and also lends itself to a sense of accomplishment.

May you truly enjoy your family in the midst of your learning experience.

Mona

8/23/08

Creating Customers For Life

People vote with their feet. If they do not like a product, they quit buying it. If they do not like the service rendered, they look elsewhere. People interact with people and do business with businesses that add value to their lives. Following are insights into improved customer service.

Check and recheck your focus of people. People are our most important assets. Businesses have to continually assess the bottom line, and I would suggest that people are the bottom line. Businesses have two kinds of customers, internal and external, or, employees and clients. How each group is treated will be a major factor in determining your success.

Develop Social Capital. Not only does a business need financial capital; it also needs social capital. Remember the old saying, “It’s not what you know, but who you know.” And you get to know people by networking, not just at networking functions, but in your everyday situations. Everyone you know, and those yet to meet, are major players in your social capital.

Understand your sense of purpose. There is a big difference in making a living and knowing how to live. You are in business because you have clients, not visa-versa. To help you better understand your sense of purpose write a mission statement and develop a code of ethics.

Embrace diversity. Author Thomas Friedman declares “The World is Flat”. Like it or not, we are living in a global society. In order to thrive in this new economy, learn to appreciate and embrace cultures, personality types and changing technology.

Develop communication skills and empathy. If you think communication is all talking, you haven’t been listening. The word origin of client is the Latin cliens that means listener. When we listen with purposeful understanding we become better able to communicate to our customers how our product will benefit their lives.

Continually take initiative. Be innovative. You can’t keep doing what worked one time because everything around you is changing. To succeed, you have to meet the challenge head on and stay in front of it.

Get customer feedback. New York Mayor Julianne was famous for asking the man on the street, “How am I doing?” Ask for input through surveys, evaluation forms, call numbers and signs inviting comments or complaints. Honestly evaluate the responses for praise and areas for improvement.

Never give up first. Persistence is paramount. It is through spaced repetition that we learn and how we become acquainted with services offered. Wait one more day. Go back one more time. Call once more.

The customer is always right, even when s/he is wrong, s/he is right. Never argue with a client/customer. Empathize with their point of view and acknowledge how your company failed in their eyes. Sometimes all a person needs is validation. When validation occurs, the customer can be extremely forgiving and willing to give you another chance.

Be Systems Oriented. Develop an operating system, hone it to be a well running machine, and train all personnel to use it effectively.

Our continuation of business depends on service rendered. Put the above principles into practice and monitor the effectiveness.

CREATING VALUE: True success involves mutual gain. Mona’s book, Creating Value, an intangible in a tangible world, deals with developing a dual bottom line of being cost-effective and people effective by balancing a three-legged stool of being, doing and having. It explores Einstein’s Theory of Relativity and applies the physics principles to human relationships. Buy it today.

8/15/08

Children and Culture

ASK MONA: Insights into perplexing questions

Dear Mona,

In our culture, we have a coming-of-age celebration on the 12th birthday. Mine was a big deal and I loved it. I want the same thing for my daughter, however, at age five she wants to wear make up and carry a purse and I want her to wait. I have said “No” to make up until age 12 but she still wants a purse. What should I do?

Young Mother

Dear Young Mother,

Give her a purse. Does she have a doll even though she is not of child-rearing age?
Sure she does. It’s a toy. It is a way of looking forward to being a mommy and practicing nurturing skills. Let her do the same thing with appreciating her female status and budding femininity. Be pleasantly firm in the boundary of a certain age before wearing make-up while allowing her to have pretend toiletries such as plastic lipstick and compact. And give her a purse to keep them in.

In the process of learning about and respecting your culture, allow your daughter to be true to herself.

Mona