Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Customer Service sometimes means going to the beach!

Leadership posts recently have the theme of starting with your employees for best service, productivity and Customer Service - which is the place to start as a Leader.
But, there are 2 more places to start first.

A couple of posts that I bookmarked as reference:
Investing in Customer Service Starts with Employees
Top Ten Tips for Project Managers 

  1. Yourself - provide yourself with the BEST Customer Service first!
  2. Your family & loved ones - all the success in the world means nothing without your loved ones.

The Story behind ....

What the frick are you doing?
I have always been an obsessed employee, wanting to do the best job, and when taking on a role that provided direct contact with customers - I put the customers first. The customers came ahead of my family, my loved ones, my friends. It was not uncommon for me to interrupt a family dinner or outing with texting, tweeting, cell phone call etc. Even when I received icy stares from my children, husband and friends.

Yes - very similar to famous Clint Eastwood's icy stare! What the frick are you doing? - sort of stare. I was however oblivious (well mostly) - as after all, didn't I need to do my job? The job pays me money. The money is for my family and loved ones. Therefore it is ok to ignore my family - or at least put the Customer first. Right?

NO!  It is not always right. There are times that there are emergencies or that you are 'on call' - BUT, usually work hours can be set.  See @chrisbrogan and several of his posts reiterate family time and balance -Time and Your Family is just one I have bookmarked.

This came crashing down on me - or more maybe hit me between the eyes, when announcement came that work was going to stop. Company that I worked for was being sold, and we would all in time be without jobs. It happened on an early summer day last year, with the weather being unusually warmer than usual. I grabbed my keys and left the building.

First Stop ..
I stopped and picked up daughter M, who happened to have the day off and we drove to daughter E and picked her and the grandkiddies up. We drove to the nearby beach!! We took the day off, you could say.

I texted and emailed the office - "At the Beach -Emergencies ONLY!'"   A short time later I received a call on my Blackberry. After noting it was a colleague from office - I picked up, "I am at the beach, is this an emergency?" and there was a pause, and "I hear seagulls. You really are at the beach! Wow!" and I answered, "We sure are and it is a beautiful day. Is there something I can help you with?". But his response, "It can wait - you have a great day with your daughters and grandkids!" - click.
After putting the phone on silent mode and in my purse, I stood up and took my granddaughter by the hand. We played in the water and built a sandcastle - with my daughters smiling from the shore.

This became a standard - in fact I instituted Wednesday is Grandma Day - for the remainder of time that I worked. It was time for me to Give to my family and also to myself. This time allowed me to reconnect with my children and get to know them again, as well as 'just be grandma for a day' - very invigorating and comes with lots of hugs!

So take a walk on the beach 
 - or whatever you need to provide above  and beyond
Customer Self-Service, and remember to start with your loved ones - they are NUMBER 1.

Your family will love you more!

Tea Grandma?