Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Help FOUND: Uptown Kitchen, Alyssa

Yesterday the hubby and I headed to Uptown Kitchen for breakfast. It is such an inviting place to eat with fresh food and lots of healthy options. We don't choose the healthy options, but we are glad they are there.

The host was a pleasant guy who didn't offer us a highchair even though we had our baby with us in an infant carrier. It was no big deal to us, I made myself at home and went to get one. He saw me do this as he hustled through the kitchen running food and smiled sheepishly. I was so happy to be out to breakfast that I really didn't mind, but someone else might.

Our server was Alyssa, though I am probably not spelling it right (I'm sorry!). She was an almost perfect waitress. Alyssa was warm, friendly and thorough. She was elegant and professional and smiled a genuine smile. I really appreciated how polished she was but I did get the feeling that she was this way with everyone every time. That is of course an excellent quality in customer service, but I didn't feel special...that is the only reason I didn't say she was perfect! (I am one of those quirky people who wants to connect with everyone around me like a five year old standing on the sidewalk saying "Hi, I'm Heather, what is your name?" to perfect strangers.)

Our food was excellent and when we were leaving she still had not gotten back for a coffee refill so she offered a to go cup as a nice save. We were both tickled with that and took her up on it. My husband actually handed me the customer survey card to fill out and even he wanted to overtip her...we were that happy. We had a wonderful breakfast, enjoyed her service and I just wanted to say THANK YOU ALYSSA!!!

HELP FOUND: Sephora, University Park Mall

I like to stink good: I LOVE good perfume and I prefer to only use one flavor as a signature scent. For five years (or fifteen, who's counting?) I wore Estee Lauder "Beautiful" like everyone else on the face of the planet. Then for the past six years it has been Jean Paul Gaultier in that sexy female-in-a-bustier bottle. My life has changed dramatically this year and I am ready for a new signature scent to celebrate it. I'm picky about fragrance and it does funny things when I wear it, so I need to wear it for a few days to tell if it will work on me long term. I have returned many a bottle of perfume I thought I loved after only a week of wearing it.

A few weeks ago (or a month, who's counting?) I went to Sephora to shop for a new perfume. Sephora is awesome for customer service because they will not only give you perfume samples, but they give them to you in spray bottles so you can actually apply it in the normal manner instead of rubbing yourself like a cat against a paper sample or spilling the liquid vial all over your feet while trying to get a few drops out to try on. Maddening. So Sephora is where I shop for my perfume whims.

I believe it was on July 2nd early evening when I visited store #212 at University Park Mall and chatted with Jack who has helped me several times. He is so pleasant and engaging and interested in helping me. I know I am a pain and I really appreciate that he knows this but still treats me like his favorite customer without being fake or cheesy. That is true professionalism.

We took the computerized fragrance quiz, he listened to my long boring story about becoming a mom, what I have tried and or worn for the past twenty years, yada yada yada. He gave me several suggestions, we smelled too many stinks and he sent me home with four vials to try. All of the samples were wonderful, none of them something I would have tried without Jack's help. I ended up purchasing Bulgari's Essential Rose with delight and just want the world (or the three people who read my blog, who's counting?) to know Jack is a great example of the kind of customer service we should all expect and appreciate.

p.s. Jack, after wearing this great new stink for two months, I am now ready to go back to my old flame Gaultier...see you soon!

Saturday, August 1, 2009

HELP FOUND: Neila at Walmart, South Bend Indiana

As a rule I am not a fan of Walmart. I prefer to shop locally but sometimes you gotta run in there, squint against the harsh lighting, grab cheap stuff and go. That is what I was doing on July 6th (2009) when I tried on a few tops in the fitting room. I had my four month old baby with me and after I was finished trying things on and leaving the room, Neila was taking my cast offs when I realized I wasn't quite done. Baby was cranky. With a breastfeeding baby they are pretty clear when they want to eat, and you darn well better cough it up for them on demand or else.

I apologized to Neila and explained that I needed to go back in the fitting room, this time to feed "Sweet Baby Girl" before she turned into "Not So Sweet Beulah The HUNGRY and MAD". Neila was so pleasant about it and I really appreciated her personality. She had been that way when I brought my clothes up to try on, when I handed back my rejects, and now even when I needed to go back in for 'official business'. We had a nice brief chat and I thought to myself, "I wish all customer service people were this pleasant and kind to work with". Neila, I hope you are a trainer, because you sure do enjoy people. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Help, Wanted? Guest Blogger George Garner

Today's guest George Garner shares some simple ways we as customers can help those in the service industry to help us more effectively. ("Help me help you help me..." anyone?) Garner has worked in the retail industry for seven years and bought stuff from it for over thirty.

Help, Wanted?

By George Garner

I’ve been in the working world for about sixteen years so far, and roughly seven of them were spent in the glorious world of retail. During those seven long years I’ve learned one very important thing: I cannot read minds. No really, it’s true. Yet, in my store on any given day, streams of people walk in and out expecting me to instinctively know what they need and when they need it.

I’ve spent a lot of time behind the counter offering help, but, like every service employee, I’m often on the other side of the counter seeking help. And those of us who spend time behind the counter have a unique perspective on how to the find help we’re used to giving. So to you, dear reader, I offer these tips on what you can do to help your service employee read your mind better:

Service people are people too. I spent a day greeting about a dozen different people, and about half of them never said a word or returned my gaze. So, consider your body language and how rude you’re being when you enter the store or ask for help. Are you saying “please” and “thank you?” Are you looking at a person’s eyes instead of some random product? It’s pretty unfair to ask a service person to be kind to you if you won’t do the same to them.

Let us help you.
We’re there to work, and our work is helping you. Don’t forget, just as you’re evaluated in your job, we’re evaluated by how we help you. While you’re “just looking,” our bosses are standing around wondering why you’re aimlessly wandering around while we’re just standing there watching you look. We have a job to do, and that job is to help you. So let us. You’re happier when you find what you’re looking for, and we’re happier when the boss isn’t breathing down our neck.
Remember, it’s okay if you really are “just looking,” just say it differently. Training manuals have pages on dealing with the “just looking” customer, so if you say, “I’m just looking,” the staff will snap into action to turn you into a buying customer. Just say the truth: “I have time to kill before my lunch hour is over,” or, “My wife/husband is next door and I thought I’d poke around,” or, “The bus isn’t here yet.” Whatever it is, just say it. Chances are the staff person will learn you really are just looking and leave you alone.

No one has learned to read minds. Tell your staff person exactly what you need with as many details as you can provide. If you’re looking for a particular product, tell the staff person when and where you saw it. This helps us narrow down the hundreds of products sold and hone in on the one product that you’re looking for.

It’s a business, not a playground. If work is your second home, then the store is a second home for those who earn a paycheck there. Treat it nicely, please. There’s no need to go around messing it all up, letting your kids run around unsupervised, or leaving a pile of unpurchased merchandise in a different part of the store. If you don’t know where something belongs, ask us. We’ll help you. Are your kids getting a bit out of hand? Ask us. We’ll help you. Don’t know what to do with that pile of tried-on clothes? Ask us. We’ll… you get the idea. Just let us.

We’re not trying to take your money.
One day I saw a customer looking at a product that I bought years ago and have enjoyed ever since. It cost about $12.50. I walk over and share my experience with him. He looks angry, and his wife says, “It’s okay, he’s just doing his job.” I felt awful. I really have used it, and I really did enjoy it, and really, I’m just doing my job – helping you. At the end of the day you’re the consumer – you have all the power. Our job is to tell you about our product and determine if it fits your needs. Most service people realize this and want to do well by you. We tell the truth. Sure, we want to make sales and, occasionally, we do work on commission. But for the overwhelming majority of service people one sale will not make or break our numbers or even earn them any commission, so we’re not lying to you just to make a sale. Instead, we’re trying to help you trust us and listen to us.

We don’t run the company – we just work there.
I cannot tell you how many people choose to vent their frustrations about company policies to me. I get it, I really do. But please, vent to me as a fellow consumer – not the head of the company. I don’t make the policy and I don’t make the product. Talk to me as a person, not as the CEO. I promise I’ll do the best I can to help.

Stores cannot carry everything all the time.
I cannot control the fact that you, as a size 3 petite or 24 long, cannot find clothes anywhere. I’m sorry that the Whizz-Bang gadget is out of stock. Yes, it sucks, but there really aren’t enough of you to make it profitable for a company to carry all products all the time. I can sympathize, and really, I do, but I cannot change it.

Hold us accountable for how we do by you. At the end of the day, if you’re kind, considerate, your needs are reasonable and you communicate them well, then it’s my job to make you happy. If I don’t, tell me. There are many, many service people out there who hate their jobs and/or don’t do them well. Sure, customers bear some responsibility to help us to help you, but some of us just stink. Tell us, or tell someone that your experience was poor. At worst, it’s a learning opportunity for us. Oh, and if we do well by you, tell us or tell someone. Reward the good of us, point out the bad, and you’ll be helping hundreds of customers find help happier, speedier, and easier.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Help FOUND: Times Square Restaurant

We checked out the new restaurant by the airport for you! (I know, another food review...I swear this isn't a food critic blog hiding inside a customer service blog) I want to share our wonderful experience at Times Square Restaurant on Lincolnway across from the South Bend airport. You can see their menu via their other location under "Bravo Cafe" here.

The first thing I noticed was they had environmentally savvy florescent bulbs in their outdoor lighting...you know the twisty kind we are all supposed to be buying. I also really liked the landscaping outside of the restaurant. It is unlikely you spend a lot of time hanging out on Lincolnway but it isn't the nicest part of town from a curb appeal standpoint. Their bright flowers, borders and raised beds make a difference.

Everyone was "opening week nice" so we started off well. They didn't have highchairs which was kind of odd for a family restaurant but they are getting some soon. It was fine, our baby bucket fit nicely in the comfy booth. The physical menu was probably created in house by the owners and looked kind of funky-not-cool to me, but the offerings on it were extensive and tempting. I don't care what the menu looks like if the food is yum and it was. They had all the standards you expect form a good family restaurant-pasta, red meat, sandwiches, breakfast all day and a good menu for the kiddos. Everything looked good and the prices seemed reasonable so we were glad we stopped in.

I had the gyros plate which came with a large Greek salad that had Greek olives, feta, red onions cucumbers, tomatoes and whole anchovies on it! There was tons of food with the Gryos meal plus a whole second plate for my yummy Greek potato and rice pilaf for just about eight bucks. Hubby had the half slab of ribs with a salad and baked potato for ten dollars. He was kind of afraid to see what the whole slab would have looked like there was so much food on his plate. (Did I mention he is a pretty serious eater with a big appetite?) We chatted happily about the great value for our carefully budgeted dollar. The waitress came back several times to check on us and an owner or hostess stopped over too.

You could tell they might have cut corners on little things like napkins and menu creation, but the food is the point right? We were very happy with the service, food and bang for our proverbial buck. I'm looking forward to checking out their breakfast options some time soon. Nice going Times Square!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Help WANTED: Riverfront Cafe Niles MI

A restaurant by any other name, or even the same name, just isn't as sweet. The Riverfront Cafe used to be a place with fabulously mouthwatering food and a happy eclectic atmosphere. When it closed down a few years ago everyone I knew in Niles was disappointed. When it reopened under new owners about a year ago we were elated. Now we are back to disappointed again.

According to our receipt our server's name tonight was Jennifer, but I am not certain she said her name. Poor Jennifer; she was a sweet young girl without an ounce of spark and only minimal wait service training from my estimation. I would love to work with the waitstaff there and help them enjoy their work. I wish someone had spent time with Jennifer, she has potential to be a great server and to really enjoy her job. If she was awesome I'll bet just her repeat customers alone could bump up business at this struggling cafe. I wanted her to enjoy taking care of us, I wanted to have a great time at the restaurant like old times. I wanted to covet everyone else's meals because they all looked amazing....but that was not the case.

Jennifer was pretty prompt in greeting me and the other woman who just arrived at the table. She took our drink orders and brought them back fairly fast. We said we needed a bit more time to select our meals and we didn't see her again for fifteen to twenty minutes. I finally got up and asked the host if someone could please take our order. In a few more minutes she did come and take our order. When listing sides she neglected to mention the fresh fruit side I noticed on the menu...a side with an extra dollar charge among fatty standards like coleslaw, french fries and potato chips that may be of great interest when waiting on a table full of women!

A friend and I decided to order French Dip sandwich and the Garlic Rosemary French Fries with blue cheese dip appetizer and split it. Bad idea. The sandwich was on the smaller size and really not enough cut in half. It was also pretty salty to me, but my pal thought the roast beef on it was good. The fries we paid seven dollars for were normal fries but a large amount of them. They had a flavored salt on them, a few sprigs of real rosemary on the plate and a 'blue cheese dip' that was mostly mayo with a bit of good old fashioned cheap salad dressing. I was dissatisfied, but getting used to it at the new Riverfront Cafe.

The last time we were there I returned the fried chicken I ordered to the kitchen...it was under cooked, too salty and not like any fried chicken I had ordered anywhere else. I cannot recall ever sending food back in my life. I am embarrassed to do it. But what was even worse for me, a real foodie, was my appetite was gone. I was so turned off by my food I didn't even order a replacement. I should have remembered this and eaten before I met the girls here this time, but I keep hoping it will all turn around. The menu reads like a foodie's heaven, but what arrives at the table doesn't quite hit the mark in my hungry opinion.

When our club met at the Riverfront Cafe two months ago the service was pretty good then even if the food was not. I wish I remembered the server's name from that visit. She saw us again tonight and thoughtfully commented on how much bigger my infant daughter is now. I was very touched by her effort and consideration. She wasn't waiting on us tonight but I wish she had been. I was really impressed by her thoughtfulness.

After the meal, our waitress offered our checks without offering us dessert! Again, not the best route for a bunch of women out for the evening. This was a chance to increase our bills and therefore potentially increase her tip. I asked about desserts and the other women then chimed in as interested parties. Of course, when she showed us the dessert tray I could understand her disinterest in up-selling us: Each dessert only cost two dollars and was the size of a shot glass. No Kidding....creme brule in a shot glass. Two truffles the size of marbles. A teeny piece of cake that may have been the size of a deck of cards. SIX WOMEN PASSED on dessert. And none of us are supermodel thin. We are definitely dessert eaters. The teeny desserts could be cute in Hollywood, but not here in the Midwest. We eat dessert because we adore it, not just for show.

We lamented our choices and wished there was another place to go get good dessert nearby. We raved to each other about another restaurant in Granger, Yesterday's, and their phenomenal desserts. (I cannot say anything critical about Yesterday's...except do not get the blue cheese salad dressing, blue cheese roasted garlic, blue cheese crusted filet and a huge heaping succulent dessert all at the same meal. I discovered you can indeed eat too much blue cheese. Bummer.)

I hope they figure it out soon. I noticed both times we visited this summer that the patio was about one third full and there were maybe only two tables occupied inside. A few years ago it was bustling all the time and I remember raving about every menu item I tried. I want Riverfront to step up; it is such a great location and such a tantalizing menu. No matter what it is named, the location won't be enough to keep it running...it has to be the food, it has to be the customer service. When the waitstaff and cook staff find a sense of ownership, a spark of excitement in the work they are doing I know I'll eat there again. Until then I'll just enjoy a glass of iced tea and a good plan for afterward.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Help FOUND: Milkbands FREEBIE Contest!

Win a useful & unique gift (my favorite combination!) for any nursing mother...also a fantastic shower gift. I'm offering THREE free milkband bracelets from "www.milkbands.com" and I'll even cover the postage for you.

I posted in May about Udder Covers from www.milkbands.com and the great service I received from them. Unfortunately I did not receive my package in a timely manner which surprised me. I called Jenny at their 800 number and left a message. She called back mortified and together we figured out it must have been a snafu at the Post Office. Jenny continued the great customer service streak by reshipping my order that day and including five milkband bracelets for me...super nice. I'm sharing like the thoughtful gal I am, of course.

To win, simply comment on this post with a customer service experience story I can share on the blog. It can be good or bad but must be truthful and as detailed as possible. The first three stories win bracelets, all stories may be shared.

Good Luck!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Help FOUND: Hiatt's Poultry at Farmer's Market

I want to buy my chicken from Hiatt's Pork and Poultry at the Farmer's Market but I stopped. It is free range and naturally raised, it tastes GREAT, but I wouldn't buy it. At one point I was not so sure I could keep buying my eggs and cheese there either...this is why:

A few weeks ago I went to the market and bought cheese from the Hiatt's booth. The gentleman who waited on me was very pleasant, patient and courteous. This man gave excellent customer service with one exception: his dirty hands. He took my cheese out of the plastic bag to cut it in half per my request without washing his hands. Also without washing he took my money, gave me change and handed me back the cheese. I worked in a deli a jillion years ago but I would imagine food safety processes are all the same...money and food should not be handled with the same bare (or gloved) hands. I almost didn't buy the cheese, but I figured I could pop it in the freezer overnight to kill any extra bacteria. I realized that everything in the case could have been handled and packaged like this- that not seeing it didn't mean it was done differently.

I used to buy their chicken- big gorgeous chicken breasts, deliciously succulent chicken apple sausage and Thanksgiving turkeys. I stopped buying them after watching several times as a variety of employees handled my chicken barehanded, then my money, then the outside of the chicken bag all without washing or using gloves, wax tissues or anything at all. I was grossed out by the dirty slimy scales with a variety of chicken juice marinating there all day long.

I was too 'chicken' to confront them then, but I did call them to discuss it today. The lady told me to call back after six o'clock when someone would be there. I wish they had an email address or some way for me to all during the day to encourage them to tighten up their food handling practices. I want to buy from them-- I want to buy more chicken, cheese and eggs from them because what they are doing well is so important and special!

I know salmonella and chicken love each other. I work really hard at home to respect bacteria and not give it a good place to hang out. I plate my meat in the fridge so juices don't wander over something else. I wipe down my counters with bleach, I do not use my main cutting board for raw meat and I wash my hands well before touching anything else after handling meat and poultry.

Hiatt's, please tidy up for me, even just for me! I love what you do and want to encourage you. I want to give you my money and support the free range,all natural and hormone free work you do that so so special. Will you help me help you help me eat more chicken?

UPDATE: I talked to Catherine at the Hiatt's counter yesterday. She was very helpful and said someone else had complained too. She said they had been overhauling their food safety and she was now trained and training the other employees. She said she even had a title "Food Safety Manager". I talked with her openly about Cheese Man and the scales. Catherine was wonderfully through in explaining to me what they were doing now and what she was teaching to everyone else. The wipe their hands with a bleach rag. They are using more care in retrieving items from the case and bagging them. I felt a lot more confident and even bought their ridiculously good chicken apple sausage. I love being able to touch the person who made the food...and knowing they are always improving how they do business. Thank you Hiatt's, for helping me buy more chicken from you...keep up the clean and tidy work!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Help Granted: Great Cloth Diaper Information

The website www.diapersetc.com offers so much wonderful information. If you are horrified, curious or dedicated to using cloth diapers check this out and get some great knowledge!


I love it when a site or a business goes above and beyond like this to serve their customers. WAY TO GO!

Help FOUND: Udder Covers and Mothering Magazine

I was visiting the web site for Mothering Magazine and saw a promotion for Udder Covers where they offered free nursing covers, hilariously named "Udder Covers" if you simply go to the site, enter the promo code "onefree" and pay about $8.00 shipping. I ordered one to give as a gift to a girlfriend who is expecting. I already have a 'Hooter Hider" from another vendor and I probably paid $28 on sale for it. For those of you who are beyond confused at this point, allow me to explain that a nursing cover is basically a HUGE APRON you wear over you and your nursing offspring which protects any modesty you may care to have and (hopefully) keeps you from being harassed for feeding your baby in public. It is an indispensable item for a nursing mama and I strongly recommend them to everyone. (Thank you to my friend for recommending it for me in the first place- Ila, you are AWESOME!)

I was very impressed with this company just giving away a valuable item in order to support what they believe. After I ordered my free Udder Cover Tuesday night I spent a bit more time on the site and found additional items I wanted to order. I sent an email asking if my additional items could be added to my cover order in order to save shipping costs. I was delighted to get a phone message from Jenny (the Owner!) Wednesday morning on both my cell and home phones. She was very warm, friendly and accommodating. She said they could add the items to my first order and could I call back to verify details.

I called back to square away the details. I then asked Jenny more about how they came to give away a $30 item for free. She explained they wanted to encourage women to breastfeed since it is so healthy for the babies. Jenny also said they had a lot of stock and felt it was a good use for it. She even added value by explaining the covers are a great lightweight material perfect for nursing in the coming summer months. She was 'selling' a free item to me! This is AMAZING customer service in my book. Thank you Mothering Magazine and Milk Bands for making a positive impact professionally and personally, I am a Raving Fan!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Help Wanted: Carter's Store in Michigan City

HELP WANTED: Went to the Carter's store in Michigan city to return a duplicate infant outfit.

I've never been much of a kid person, so as the new Mother of a charming three month old Cupcake you can imagine my confusion when it comes to baby clothing! Everything is presented in a range like 0-3 months, 3-6 months and so forth...BUT depending on the actual SIZE of your kid they may not follow the typical monthly sizing. Our dearest Cherub, for example, wears a cloth diaper and diaper cover so her heiny is COMICALLY ENORMOUS and this requires larger sizes. Given that I am not so great juggling math, trying to figure out what size she could be in a month or two plus adding size for her Big Bottomed Girl Self and adjusting for potential change of seasons I am pretty overwhelmed when I finally do have to shop for her.

My dear Father bought The Princess an adorable Carter's outfit we already had, so I took it to their store in Michigan City Indiana to exchange it for something different. The girl who greeted me immediately went to get a manager before even looking at my return. I would think returns or exchanges(the easier of the two) would be very common and that all staff would be equipped and confident in handling them. Maybe she was brand new there? The manager glanced at my offering and even without a receipt she cheerily said "Go ahead and pick something else out!" I was delighted and began to cruise the store. My delight faded quickly.

The floor plan of the store was haphazard with little girl clothes strewn throughout and no organization for items and their uses as far as my untrained eye could see. I was interested in bibs, shoes and sunhats, perhaps a bathing suit. I had to ask for help locating items twice...the first question for bibs gained a vague wave and "They are with outfits." from the first girl who greeted me. I made a few comments about feeling confused and overwhelmed buying baby clothes. Then I asked for infant bathing suits and the same girl waved towards the back wall saying "Three months? I dunno you will have to look over there." I didn't feel like they were too busy to help me more effectively, just too disinterested. Did I mention my Mother-In-Love was waiting in the car with my aforementioned Enfant Terrible?

The price tag on the outfit was $24 marked down to $18, so that is the amount I was trying to spend in exchange...or so I thought! After wandering through the store several times I had selected five items I would need to narrow down to four to stay under my exchange amount. When I plunked the down on the counter I said "Twenty four dollars, right? I'm trying to decide which of these to get." The manager cheerily replied, "Actually this outfit is on clearance and valued at seven dollars, so that is your exchange amount." SEVEN DOLLARS? Are you kidding me? I asked if they had any other outfit sets like this I could exchange and she said no. She said I could just pick a different size, but I explained I already had this set. I was still new to baby togs...I was thinking like an adult where you would not want two of the same outfit! I settled on one pair of tiny pants and completed my transaction.

I left the Carter's store frustrated and unimpressed. It didn't seem like a great deal to trade in a three piece outfit for one pair of pants my Babe will wear for fifteen seconds before she grows out of them. After I was 20 minutes into my drive home, I realized I would have gotten a much better deal if I had simply exchanged the same outfit in a much larger size, say a 15 month size Our Darling could wear next Spring...wouldn't it have been great if the Manager had been helpful with that solution? Since I was so obviously desperate for help it would have been nice if she had explained that I could buy a larger size of the same outfit for NEXT Spring...I was too clueless to figure that out until I was already on the highway home. ALAS. A hard lesson learned.

Help Wanted, Help Granted!

The standard HELP WANTED sign is black and white and hangs in a shop window. It implies a need or desire of one human being for the assistance of another. (Usually paid, or underpaid as the case may be.)

We do not have to own a business to hang out a HELP WANTED sign. Without regard to our business ownership, social status, age or profession we are all looking for help. It is a simple thing, a need that drives our daily lives: Help with our homework, help in the kitchen, help doing our work smarter, making our lives simpler, our fun bigger and our days more joyful. What does your HELP WANTED sign look like?

In my daily life I see so many opportunities to give and receive help that are missed, or at the very least done badly! Customer service is something we each offer and receive every day and it impacts more than just our work life. How we are served and how we in turn serve others affects everything we do and who we are as people.

We may be looking for help but we also display our own HELP GRANTED sign. Each of us offers help to the people surrounding us: family, children, friends, colleagues, strangers. We want to be supportive and make other people's lives better because we are in them. We want to be the person that someone else can rely on in a pinch. We want to be needed and effective in our relationships. This is a basic human desire.

It seems that people forget this basic desire to be needed, to be considered helpful. Poor customer service is everywhere because people have lost hope in themselves and others. We have given up believing that the small gestures of life matter, that how we treat each other MATTERS. We forget that we want help, that we want to be helpful. We may have the smallest, simplest, least exciting job on the planet but what we do MATTERS. We need to do what we do well. We need to help and be helped with a sense of purpose and worth.

With today's record unemployment and uncertain times people at every income and educational level are taking smaller jobs or are out of work and searching for Help Wanted signs. Many people are unhappy with their jobs and have forgotten that they can make a difference at all. What we do doesn't matter as much as how we do it. I could be a high powered attorney or a sandwich artist at a Subway restaurant for a living. That just may be the HELP WANTED sign I answered. IN either job I have a choice each day about how will do this task: I can slap those sandwiches together with joy or I can grudgingly take orders with a sour face. I can ruthlessly pursue my career goals or I can seek to serve and help people. Either way I am doing the same work, but who I affect and how I am affected sure does change.

I encourage you to pay attention to service as you go through your days. How can it improve and what can you learn from other people? When you see good customer service tell someone, tell lots of people! When you see bad service, speak quietly and encourage that person or business to reevaluate what they do. That is the purpose of this blog: to evaluate service in all of its forms and to offer HELP. I look forward to hearing your stories and lessons from the Help Wanted signs you encounter and I trust that mine will help you along your life and work path too.

The sign is out there: HELP WANTED! How are you going to answer it?