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Month: December, 2012

Perceived Value & Value Added Service

December 28, 2012

  

The question I always ask when doing this part of my workshop is simple. What is your perceived value? And do you know what value added service means? And all I ever get is silence.

It is amazing how many companies purport to train their employees in customer/quality service and yet their employees have no clue what these 2 very common or should be items actually are. When I ask these and then wait, I am told by Eileen that I get dumbfounded looks.

And even after I explain it, they’ll look at me quizzically. They don’t think that these 2 things should be included because that part of customer/quality service is just too complicated and hard to implement. That’s what I get from some of their questions and the looks I get.

So what is Perceived value and value added service? Let me tell you in a few short paragraphs. It’s really not that hard to either understand or implement. And if you just listen and follow my words, in the workshops, then you’ll see that. AND it can help your company in every single transaction you conduct with customers.

 

Perceived Value

I use that one word a lot and it’s intentional. Perception or perceived is a word that you have to realize is even more important in this economy than at any other time since the dawn of science.

To state it succinctly, you are only as valuable to the customer as they perceive you to be. If the customer/client/supervisor doesn’t perceive you to be worth what they are paying you and their perception is that you’re lazy and that you’re incompetent, then you are exactly that. It doesn’t matter what you do on the job or how much you do. If they don’t see it and perceive that you are a bum, then you might be on your way out the door!

As unfair as that may be its true. Go to a restaurant and evaluate the wait staff. Does your server treat you like a child and sounds mad or upset with you? Your perception of them is that they are just an a**h*** and won’t have that job long. And on top of that, the restaurant isn’t worth going back to if they hire people like that to serve customers. Am I correct?

The only issue is that the server may be having a bad day for some reason. Should they have come to work that day in that mood? Probably not. Personal problems need to be left at the employee entrance and carried into work. But it doesn’t work like that and your perception is that it’s a worthless place to eat – no matter how the food tastes.

 

Value Added Service

Every person reading this has heard the line ‘Going above and beyond the call off duty’. That’s what this line means. In order to curry the favor of your customers you need to add value to the service you give to them. That means, basically, go the extra mile.

If you’re a nurse and a patient asks you for a piece of paper and a pencil to write a letter, what do would you do? You would probably give it to them. But when would you give to them? Would you go the extra mile and trudge back to the nurse’s station and search for them and then trudge all the way back to their room just for a pencil and paper?

As long as you’re involved in an emergency or covering for someone who is, why not? Is it taking that much time out of your day? Is it that hard to grab a few pieces of paper and a pencil from the station to take to them? Will it make them smile and thank you for your effort? Will it make the hospital look better on the evaluation form at the end? Assuredly yes!

And it doesn’t matter whether or not in a service industry or not. In retail you could take an extra few minutes to look up where an item may be found, if you don’t have it in stock. And then you could offer to have it shipped to your store if the location where there is one is too far.

In a service business, do you have to charge the client every time you answer a question? While many doctors will make you come to the office before answering any questions, which is not exactly right either (no matter why they do it), the answer would be no. If they are constantly calling and picking your brain, then yes, but for only a couple of questions then no. And the same goes for every single business out there.

 

We’ve all heard of the police officers who go out and either fix a home for an elderly person or the Good Samaritan who buys toys and food for the family who lost everything to a burglar. Or maybe the nurse who allowed an elderly man to get into bed with his dying wife on last night on earth.

These are examples of going the ‘extra mile’ and providing value added service to your customers/clients. Wouldn’t this be a good thing if everyone started doing this again? The world would be such a wonderful, safer, and better place to live if all of us decided to add value and make that perception turn good.  

It Can’t Happen Here – Can It?

December 21, 2012

 

It’s been a week since the tragic events in New town Connecticut. 20 children, all under the age of 8 were killed by a mentally unstable 20 year old. To top that he also killed 6 more people in Sandy Hook Elementary School. But before that he killed his own mother and then to end it all he killed himself.

Apparently, the school district took every pain to ensure the kids safety. They had a written disaster plan. They’d practiced it. Teachers and other staff having been further trained on an active shooter/disaster situation. However, one thing that they didn’t count on. It could actually happen in tiny New Town. They had implemented many of the suggestions I’d made in my book ‘Never to Grow Up’. But one thing they never counted on or practiced for

That one little thing is what often is over looked in every incident of either SV or WPV. They never thought it could happen to them. The most dangerous attitude of all was present in the school district, employees, and the parents – CHH.

No one ever thought that they would have an active shooter in their school. Not the students, teachers, administrators, district, or the parents. And yet it did. And now, is the finger pointing over what went wrong. And I can tell you one thing that went wrong, maybe 2

The shooter was mentally unstable. He was jealous of his mother and father getting divorced and his mother, a former teacher, volunteering at Sandy Hook. He walked to the school numerous and disturbed her and her work. His neighbors stated, after the fact, that they thought there was something wrong with him. He had many of the classic signs of a shooter. And as usual, no one did anything to ‘connect the dots’ and figure it out (thank God he’s not my kid/problem).

The other is just as simple. They all fell into the CHH attitude, It Can’t Happen Here. They trained and trained. They went through all the necessary steps. But did they even for a second believe that it would happen? In my experience, no they didn’t so therefore they ignored things that they’ll notice when they review the incident over the conference table in 6 months.

That is the sad part of all of this is that no one saw it happening from the beginning when they could have stopped it. Remember, if you don’t connect the dots then we are ignoring the warning signs. And no amount of security will ever stop a determined person from killing out loved ones.

Now, the media and so many others are talking about curtailing our 2nd Amendment rights. Is this a larger plot by the Democrats? Under Jimmy Carter we eliminated funding for mental health facilities by more than 80% in the late 70’s. Now that people have no place to go to figure out what’s happening in their heads and get the proper care…

These ner’do wells are by no means all crazy. Most of these murderers of men, women, & children are perfectly sane. But we rush to judgment so often and look for someone to blame it’s always the video games/movies/music, or firearms are too easy to get, or they were just crazy and ‘snapped’ (please).

The fact of the matter is that there is usually not a single reason why people do these mass shootings. Are some having mental issues? Of course, of that there is no doubt! But there are a multitude of other reasons why they do these horrible things and usually it’s the warning signs that all fall inline together and align before they do. That’s why it is so important to ‘connect the dots’ and tell someone.

A security expert’s view of ‘gun control’

December 18, 2012

  

Every time there is a shooting in the workplace or in schools, the liberals and the media have a feeding frenzy on gun control. They want to ban all firearms and keep that control for themselves and their cronies.

On Friday, after the shooting in New Town Ct. Representative Knadler of New York stated for the New York Times, a notoriously conservative newspaper, that President Obama needs to take advantage of the situation to push for more ‘gun control. Why is that not surprising?

In both Portland Or. And New Town last week the firearms were stolen from their owners. One was a friend of the shooter and the other murdered his mother with HER legally owned firearms. So, how would gun control stop these incidents? They wouldn’t, not one iota. Let me put this in front of you this way.

We can’t stop illegal immigration or drug smuggling from across the border. We can’t stop terrorism around the world. So how is banning firearms going to stop these incidents? It won’t. No matter what we do, the criminals will always have access to firearms. That’s not so you say.

Then you have to answer this one itty bitty question that nags me to no end. If felons aren’t supposed to have firearms, nor illegal immigrants, then how do we arrest so many of them with firearms? Fresno California last month. For example. Look at the arrests of everyone accused of using a firearm, you’ll find innumerable incidents of felons having committed a crime with a firearm! Which of course is not supposed to be. And the argument that if we ban them then no one will have them. That is laughable!

We have had violence in our world since Adam and Eve were forced out of paradise, God punished them harshly for their transgressions and banished them forcibly form the garden. It started then and continues to this day. If we ban firearms then criminals will just find another way to commit their crimes. But not with a firearm the liberals scram!

This may be true, but what other items will we ban when they start causing crime and death? Knives, pencils screwdrivers, pipe wrenches? What about cars? Alcohol – it’s dangerous too you know. Now I’m being ridiculous you say.

A firearm is not dangerous, unless it’s used improperly, is that correct? In the same way both vehicles and alcohol are the same. If used improperly cars and booze are just as dangerous as firearms. Why not ban them completely as well? Just support the government in its attempt to turn the United States into a ‘nanny state’.

I won’t even go into the issue of attempting to overturn the 2nd Amendment to the Constitution. Think that is impossible? There are movements afoot to re—write the Constitution and take away many of the Bill of Rights. Freedom of speech, expression, religion, assembly, the right to bear arms, the right to confront our accusers, and many others. This is a troubling sign of liberals taking over the media and the country. All they want is complete and total control of our lives.

As a patriotic citizen we can’t let that happen. And yet we keep re-electing them to power. There is no such thing as gun control in the world. The places that have strictest laws regarding firearms can have some of the worst murders you’ll see. Look at Norway. They have some of the strictest laws in the world for firearms remember what happened in 2010?

A man, fighting to keep Muslims out of Norway shot and killed more than 70 people at a camp for young people. How is that keeping a lid on firearms in a country where they are banned? Look at the statistics of open carry states. Those with open carry laws have lower violent crime rates than those with strict firearm laws!

Look at Oklahoma, Arizona, Alabama, Alaska, & Texas. Compare their violent crime rates with California, New York, Michigan, and Illinois. They have the most population, but also have, per capita, the highest rates of violent crime. And have the most restrictive firearm laws in the country!

As Benjamin Disraeli, British politician, stated in the late 19th century. I may not agree with what you say, but I will fight to the death your right to say it! This goes for firearms as well.

Why Can’t We put it together?

December 14, 2012

  

It seems that no matter what we do we can’t seem to put it all together and stop the sort of madness that we saw last week. Why can’t we? It seems simple enough and everyone, after the fact, says we should have seen it.

In Portland Oregon, a young man walked into a shopping center and shot and killed 2 people and wounded a teenage girl. No one seems to know why, at least the talking heads/experts on TV and radio. I can tell you why, if anyone is listening and reading.

As I have said for years, the warning signs are always there. It’s whether we decide to act upon or ignore those signs. And in the Portland case and the tragic incident in Newport Connecticut there were signs that something was wrong.

But because of the litigious society we live in, no one wants to step forward and say anything against someone else because they’re afraid of being sued for defamation! The signs are there but no one wants to be sued or seen as a rabble rouser.

There are a myriad of other excuses why people don’t say or do anything as well. I’ve talked about them in the past. But when these things are so blatant as they were in Portland and Newport, I would have thought someone would have done something. So you’re asking what do I see that no one else does, except those of us that deal with the ne’r do wells of society. Let me tell you.

In Portland, the young man sold everything he owned, quit his job and, supposedly, bought a ticket for Hawaii. He was going to move there. He then missed his flight because he got drunk. That’s a little unusual don’t you think. After all, how many people would get drunk and miss their flight and dreams of a new life?

Then his mother comes forward and says that she’s been worried about him for a long time. Why? His drug use over the past decade. He bought several firearms the week before the shooting and then got rid of them, according to a friend. He was going to go shooting with the friend the day before the shooting.

His My Space page had several cryptic comments as well. They have even said that they were not like him. This is not mentioning the one poetic line that had a cross through it.

In Connecticut, another young man, this one only 20, went into an elementary school and started shooting people. When he was done, he had killed 28 people. 8 adults, including his mother at home, and 20 children! How could someone do this you ask? Hmmm, let’s look at that.

From the limited information I’ve learned so far he was mentally ill. His mother, whom he was living with, was a school teacher. To me it seems all too apparent that he had issue with his mother, in his mental state.

And because she was a teacher, he took out his actions on a school. If you’re mentally ill, then none of the things you do are very rational when it comes to these actions. I’m sure that as time rolls on, you’ll find out more about both of these young men. And not all of it will be good.

Ah, one last thing about it. Everyone around them, at least interviewed so far, said that ‘He was a good boy. So friendly and willing to help’. I certainly believe that that is one thing you’ll hear about 99% of all cases of either WPV or SV.

More information on what I’ve said in the past, check the past postings in this blog.

Why Don’t We Count Suicide?

December 14, 2012

  

While the Bureau of Labor Statistics does count suicide in its rate of on-the-job deaths, why don’t we or the media do that? When someone commits suicide it is certainly a tragedy that, that person didn’t feel that anything could help. But don’t they deserve to be counted at work as well?

2 weeks ago a football player on my favorite team committed suicide at the team’s practice facility. Jevon Belcher was a promising young linebacker with the Kansas City Chiefs. And then he killed his girlfriend (Cassandra Perkins) and then himself. And while this will show up in the official statistics, it will not show up on our minds or the media as an incident of WPV. And that is sad in and of itself.

Believe it or not suicide accounts for over 300 deaths per year at work. It helps the rate of violent death at work a fairly high 17% of all workplace deaths. Many of these are done because of the individual offing themselves after perpetrating an incident of WPV in their workplace or former place of employment.

66% of all perpetrators of WPV will commit suicide after the fact. It doesn’t matter whether it was a domestic violence i.e. the incident in Cleveland last weekend, or the employee coming back into the building as with this summer at the Empire State Building.

We as a nation and public need to start counting WPV deaths as they are and not what we are fed by the media. Domestic violence, child abuse, suicide, whatever the reasoning may be, if it is WPV. Then let’s call it that. If it happens at work or because of work then it has to be WPV.

With the economy times, we’re coming to (the fiscal cliff), we will see more homicide and suicide at businesses in the coming year, of that I’m positive. It’s all tragic, but when we just explain it away and give the proper credence to it, then we really are helping to commit another tragedy.

Do you Teach or Know Customer Service?

December 11, 2012

        That question may seem like a simple, and possibly stupid, thing to ask. But do you teach your employees customer service? And do you even know customer service that well yourself? And do you know how to teach customer service so that it’s relatable to your employees?

       More than likely I would think you’d say yes you do know those 3 things. But do you really? Do you teach your employees how important customer service is to the client (internal or external) and yourself? Do you know it yourself and how to teach it very well to your employees, that is the bigger question?

       When customer/quality service began to gain momentum and become a corporate buzz word 25 some odd years ago, it was all about ‘smile training’. Smile training was simple and irrepressibly stupid to either teach or implement.

       It meant if you smiled at the customer and talked to them in a slow calming voice, everything will be all right. I have but one thing to say to that. WRONG! It doesn’t work that way in the real world. I have been on the ‘bad side of the world for long enough that I can tell you that answer emphatically.

       If you ask 99% of all employees about customer service, they’ll tell you one or two things. Smile a lot and be polite to the customer. And oh yes, the customer is always right.

       While being pleasant and speaking courteously to everyone is a sign of professionalism and common courtesy it’s not the whole answer. The employees need to know how to talk to customers as well, and not just the corporate handbook.

       Employees need to know how effecting great customer service will affect their paycheck. That is the best way to bring it home to them. Not to threaten them with being fired, but teaching them how customer service will affect their paycheck as well as that as every one of their co-workers.

       If you don’t do that then they will never get it. Use the customer/quality service clock when teaching them this information. If you do that then you have a good chance in getting through.

       Additionally, if you don’t teach them about value added service or perceived value then you’ve missed the boat and you’ll probably sink soon. Larger companies can get away with bad service much longer than a smaller company, no matter how good the products are. For example look at the world’s largest retailer, Wal-Mart.

       Since Sam Walton died 2 decades ago, the customer service of Wal-Mart has went down-hill. Of course you’ll find employees who still hold Sam’s ideals in their hearts and head. But most don’t and even the managers don’t.

       Perceived value is one of the biggest. I used to think that Wal-Mart was the best place to go shopping in the world. Now that perception is definitely tainted by the interactions I’ve had with some of their employees. Part of this is hiring by the managers. Some of the people they hire don’t know how to speak English! And those who were born and bred Americans not immigrants!

       Oh yeah, I almost forgot to talk about this. The customer is not always right. I have come across many clients and customers who were out and out wrong. I wasn’t supposed to tell them that for fear of losing the account. A couple of times, I told them anyway and lost the account, but the client liked my honesty and came back to us within a couple of years because of my honesty.

       Customer service is a lost art, even in today’s economy. I’ve ran across employees who would have been better suited digging a ditch than dealing with customers. I’ve also ran across menial wage workers who could teach many managers and CSR’s how to deliver customer service. In this day of bad economy every business has to be aware of how they affect their customers and what their customers perceptions are.

       Now that the economy is in the dump is when to find out about these things. That way when it finally turns around in 10 – 20 years they’ll be prepared and take their rightful place at the top.

One is too Many

December 7, 2012

  

                Well, it’s almost done and complete. My book on workplace violence that is. The title, as the title of this post, is ‘One is too Many: Recognizing & Preventing Workplace Violence’.

                It hasn’t taken that long to write, compared to other writers. To be arrogant, I could say that it’s because I’m so much better than they are. But being realistic I will say that I am enthused about the project and my expertise in the field and that I want my ideas to get out there.

                It’s divided into 3 sections and each is fairly long. In fact the entire book is longer than I wanted it to be, but that’s because I’ve ran into both clarification and explanatory modes. The sections, hopefully, will make it an easier read than you may think.

                The first section is the introductory section. Talking about statistics, what is and isn’t WPV and the differing types of it. This is where my ideas may come into conflict with so many others. Things that I’ve thought of as WPV for years and are just now becoming recognized and talked about from other ‘experts’.

                Section 2 focuses on the differing warning signs of WPV. I will tell you, without letting the kitty out of the burlap, that there are 21 of these warning signs. It’s up to each and every member of society and the business to connect the dots and figure it out. Either ignore the signs or fall victim to them.

                The last section is for prevention. Taking into account so many of the different ways to prevent an incident of WPV. Will these methods fully eliminate the possibility of it? Not on your life.

                Being realistic, nothing can ever prevent anything from happening. No matter what you do there will always be the possibility of an incident occurring. I am hopefully giving you the information you need to at least ‘lessen the liability and reduce the risk’.

                I am grateful that I have a list of professionals that I am going to rely on to give me feedback on this book. They are going to read and make suggestions to me for changes, deletions, or additions to each chapter and/or paragraph. People who are in security, HR, front line employees, & even those not even in the security or HR field. I have no doubt that this diverse group will help me ‘perfect’ the book to its fullest extent possible, and then sell 100 million copies so I can retire and live on Maui!

                Actually, I would be happy if this book helps save lives. And even if that’s only because it blocked a bullet and not of the ideas I put forth. At the very least spark a conversation and discussion in companies, large and small.

Re-defining SV

November 30

This is a question that everyone should ask when their child is at school and also one that

demands an answer from the school administrators. And if you have an interest in keeping our kid’s safe while they area school, then you should ask this question. And before you say anything I know exactly what you’ll say, because I’ve heard it dozens of times before!

SV is when one student bullies or physically assaults another. Well, I hate to tell you

This, but you are wrong. But then again, most all school administrators, some security professionals, not to mention the so-called experts are as well. Violence in our school is much more than that and it may surprise you about the complete open honest truth.

Look at our world today and you’ll see what I mean. Did you see the incident that occurred in Miami just before Thanksgiving? A young girl was shot and killed on the school bus on her way home.  This should have been considered SV and most people didn’t acknowledge it as such. But it was violent and it did happen on school property. And it doesn’t matter that it was all an accident by a stupid young man, showing off a firearm he had brought from home.

SV is any incident that results in the assault on a student. This can be a threat, harassment, bullying, verbal or physical assault – and this has many avenues as well. And the surprising aspect of this is that it can happen both on AND off the school campus. Yes I said off campus as well.

If an incident occurs because it started at school it is school violence. If it ends at school or on the way to or from because it started at school, then it is school violence. It doesn’t matter whether or not anyone believes it so or not, it is. If your child is beaten up after school because of an argument at school, what do you think?

We need to examine what we consider violence in our schools and how we can deal with the bullying and violence that occurs in schools. And then obviously, we need to examine any incident that occurs off campus to one of our kids. Our kids are more vulnerable off campus traveling to and from school than actually at school.

And how do we do this? The first thing we have to do is train people to learn the warning signs and connect the dots in discussing violence. The conversation can’t stop at the property limit. Nor can parents, guardians, and others be absolved of their responsibility in preventing school violence. We are all too blame for this issue not just the school.

There are many things that schools and parents need to do to help prevent violence. It can’t be legislated away. It can’t be solved with metal detectors or locking the kids up all day and strip searching them. And it can’t be solved by turning the schools into gulags. It takes time and training of everyone concerned to learn and deal with the problem.

 

Robert D. Sollars has more than 29 years of experience in the security field and now owns his own company in Mesa. Today’s Training LLC is a training & consulting company that specializes in workplace & school violence prevention.