Sunday, September 5, 2021

Understanding customer service within your business




Customer service like everything else in business is under revision. It is feeling the pressure of the pandemic and lots of promises formerly made by organizations are failing under the test of the pressure. 


You can no longer reach anyone in most organizations. The reliability of most entities have been put under pressure and they are failing to reach the most basic of expectations. 


COVID has impacted entire departments within organizations where everyone within the said department can be put in isolation/quarantine. This disconnected the organization's ability to be able to deliver on certain basic functions.


With the displacement  caused by  Covid-19  there are many organizations that do not know the experiences of their customers. Simple transactions like document processing, payments on accounts, receivables on accounts, administrative matters, and all else seemed to have gone out of order. 


Lots of organizations are blaming the broad back of COVID, and the occasional bad weather now we are in hurricane season. 


Who is suffering as a result? Well let us start with the elderly, who have having quite the challenge adjusting to using technology with which they are not fully familiar. They try to make calls for clarity only to speak with someone who can offer little more than polite dialogue since they are not even in the same country and don’t know the people within the organization they are supposed to be representing. The elderly will have issues with, among other things; online payments, health and medical insurance claims, seeing the fine print on the screens, being able to speak with someone who can offer solutions that are tangible. The world within which they must now function makes them seem obsolete. 


The youth with education programs that have instructors not fully competent with the technology themselves, but the youth get blamed for not attending class when they spend hours waiting for admittance to the class, or instructors to even show up. How do I know this? I’m a remote worker so I get to observe some of this behaviour through the youngsters in my domain. 


Those in between, who in many instances are now realizing that being able to see and pronounce a word does not necessarily mean they understand what is being communicated. The breakdown in communication is huge, and it doesn’t help when most cannot spell and are unable to adequately use grammar to ensure what is intended is being communicated. 


Can the current situation be blamed on COVID though? I say NO! COVID has caused us to pause and consider what we have taken for granted for way too long. We have not learned the lesson the first time around and COVID makes us repeat the pauses/shutdowns to see if we would identify what we missed and adjust our behaviours to suit. It feels like we are taking 40 years to complete a 30 day journey. [Only some will get this.] 


This is a time of reset in all relationships, public and private. We need to come to a place of empathy where we take the time to understand each other. In this environment, we wouldn’t be listening to respond, but to understand.


Sometimes when you listen to someone express themselves, even when they are thinking, if you don’t interfere with a response but remain silent, you will observe them arrive at the solution themselves. They didn’t need advice but a listening ear. They wanted the support of someone hearing them think. 


The other aspect is when people require the services/products of vendors who provide them. They ask for concessions, they want to negotiate already bottom out prices or they price your work then wonder why you don’t want to take their offer. However the experience has been when situations like this come up is that not only does one do the work, but then they have to beg to be paid. Many of us have learned the hard way and we’re done with it. 


To be clear, if you want to get into business, then have the money to get the business planning done - there’s no such thing as a discounted lawsuit. They don’t say that they got what they could afford but they, the customer, will malign your name and damage your reputation. Be careful when you are doing business. Take every effort to communicate clearly in this era of distorted understanding. Ensure that you put everything in writing since people learn in various ways and therefore relate differently to information. 


What have been your experiences over the past 2 years? Feel free to share. Have a wonderful Sunday. 



Tuesday, July 27, 2021

We were schooled, now what?!?

 


Over the past few years, we've witnessed some things that makes one wonder about what is going on around us, and about our existence. Here are some considerations:

  • We have higher education, yet we are waiting to get jobs so people who only have experience can tell us what to do. We are unwilling to use the education we worked so hard for and paid such money for work for us. We have ultimately achieved the education of mental bondage. 
  • Though we received schooling, we are yet to learn how to think in terms of solutions rather than dwelling on the problem. We are too readily defeated in the battlefield of our minds. 
  • We study for a grade rather than to get paid. We are taught to use our skills and education within the confines of a job. Yet, so few of us realize the benefits of applying our knowledge to our gain. We follow rules that don't benefit us, and have become a herd of sheeple following unquestionably every suggestion that is meted out to us for the gain of others. 
  • We have focused so hard upon passing subjects that we are yet to learn the true value of success lies within our abilities to form lasting relationships with people. 
  • Spas are for boosting wellness, clubs harbour and permit the formation of social relationships, gyms help develop our bodies physically, but the true champion is harnessing a close relationship with our creator; learning purpose, destiny, and how we truly fit in to the requirements this life has for us. Church is not so much where we go to receive but where we go to give of ourselves in service to others - our fellow man for the common good. 
Sure I can leave you thinking about what I mean, however I'll clue you in on where to start the process of thought. We did math yet struggle numerically - in measurements, finances, and in areas requiring calculations. 

Our practice of languages leave us ineffective at communicating with the oral, written and verbal dexterity so necessary for living at levels of comfort many dream of but few attain. Our inability to adequately communicate leads to a myriad of misunderstandings that result in broken relationships, mistrust, disharmony and all the other complications that compromise interactions. 

As a people, our ability to competently use information is key to our successes. As the title says, we were schooled, now what are we going to do given our situations we're facing. Plan to be a winner. 




Sunday, July 11, 2021

COVID can't take all the blame


As you know, COVID has been around for some time now. We are all aware of the challenges and trauma it has caused to people of all walks of life. People, businesses, countries all felt the impact of COVID. We know it well. 

As things restart, we are doing business once again for both private enterprise and for the government. Everyone wants their work done, with a matter of urgency. 

Claims of how you come highly recommended are common, along with the other lofty reminders of your reputation - so the marketing seems to work. Then comes the "sob" story of the predicament they are in and why they so desperately need your help. Afterwards the closing arguments of how their situation took up their resources and they will pay you in one/combination of the following ways:

  • they want to negotiate your fees downwards 
  • they want a payment plan that permits installments; which they never stick to
  • they want to offer you shares in their business and they are not even incorporated
  • they want to pay you on the back end of the assignment
  • they even go as far as saying we as a people need to support each other; really
  • now there's a new boy, with broad shoulders that took the brunt of licks in the last year - the COVID-19 pandemic [very specifically] got things hard and difficult
In short, they want you to pay using your own resources to do their work. 

Recently, there was one that was heard: The hurricane damaged their many properties so now they have to fix them and then get back to you - who was on assignment to help them get money in the first place. 

People who sell products are raising their prices like crazy and blaming shipping costs. Services, not so much, since they are not aware in many instances that their costs have increased and in what areas and therefore are, in many instances, unable to justify their increases so they work at a loss. 

There's something all business people seek and it's called success. Yet they seem to miss the point that the businesses they deem as successful also have challenges but instead of dwelling on the problem, they focus on a solution. 

The leadership of these successful entities hold themselves accountable and work towards developing plans and utilizing resources that will enable them NOT to stay in an area of challenge for too long. 

There are many articles written about successful people and the surplus they have accumulated over time. Some articles even make it seem downright unfair that these people are being rewarded in the way they are. Yet those same successful people worked tirelessly, making personal sacrifices of time and energy, and sometimes relationships to build and expand their sphere of influence through their organizations. DON'T GRUDGE THEM. 

They use the same principles available to everyone else who is willing to put the work in and invest the time/resources necessary to GET THINGS DONE. 

Stop the blame game, it's doing no one any good. Get the success habits. They are all over begging to be taken up - but we don't want to read, listen, attend to the details and get the information that encourages success. 

Some of us go the other extreme, watching the successes of mega successful people who told their stories and live in the euphoria that we too will make it. Yet ignore those who are a little more successful and identify what they are doing; often within our own environment that makes them successful. 

Just as there is information on what we can do that is right to succeed, there is information on the wrong to avoid so that we don't fail. We all need to be aware, researching both approaches so that we can step closer to success while avoiding the pitfalls of failure. Someone has made those mistakes before, there is no need to try to make them all over again. 

Now that the world is resetting, this is your time to DO IT RIGHT. Strategize, plan and execute, this way you too can build your legacy. Remember, COVID cant take all the blame. 

Monday, July 5, 2021

The Lessons - The Test


Over the last year, we have been subjected to tests of our preparation more than ever in this segment of the globe where we live. Sure we've seen all kinds of things on the news and various other programs, but nothing is quite like when it comes to your own doorstep.

Global pandemic, volcanic activity, hurricanes, flooding, massive death tolls; they all seemed to be happening all at once. This is like bad news on steroids. Sure we've had situations before, but they seem to pale in comparison to what we're experiencing and perhaps, what we are yet to experience. 

For some reason, though we have advanced in our "standards for living" we still seem to have at the same time regressed. What do I mean?

  • Fibre optics promising greater speeds, yet we can't keep them powered when the electricity goes off like we did with the old copper technology. 
  • When electricity goes, so does communications, water, ability to process payments, and perhaps some other things that are not readily coming to mind. 
  • There are more formally educated people and less thinkers that actually come up with sound solutions. 
  • There are too many hauling around cliches like "you have to spend money to make money", and other such like fancy sayings with unsatisfactory results.  
  • Too many people think that you must have origins within a metropolitan country to truly make it big and successful. 
One of the things that defeats us as a people is our lack of discipline. The willingness to stay the course doing seemingly mundane things. We want to be creative and complicate things. Yet those who keep it simple are the ones who tend to do way better. 

Why is it that when we are put to the test we choke. 

We need to be prepared so that we can function under pressure. Like clean ups and restorations. They can take a toll on the crews. Long hours, demanding timelines, with entire groups of people awaiting the positive outcomes; we need to really know our work so that we can function flawlessly under pressure. 

Life will test us! The thing is, how will we cope? 

Sunday, May 9, 2021

Resetting and restarting your business - some considerations

The pandemic has taken a toll on everyone globally. For many, we have been kicked in the teeth one time too many and it has stirred up wide and varied emotions.


The environment has sparked so much uncertainty that many are distracted from planning and developing. What do I mean? We are so busy paying attention to the news in its various forms, that we are not doing what is necessary to make the news.

Too many are waiting for ideas to come since they are in varying states of depression. People who are in charge of technical assistance entities are stuck in suspended animation with their creativity shot.

This is an environment where one needs to squarely examine the situation they are facing and decide on what is required to win. How does one become a winner when everyone seems to be looking up at zero. Put another way, we are trying to climb out of the basement and there are no stairs nor pathways for escape.

What can we do?

  • Examine the remnant of our businesses and see what can be salvaged. Within our environment within which we have to function, how can we offer help in a manner that allows us to eke out a livelihood while assisting others in being able to sustain their lives.
  • Identify how vulnerable our markets served were and look for where opportunities lay in areas we may have serviced infrequently. Do they offer enough of a market to be served where we can make a profit?
    • Remember to look for every available opportunity to expand outside your immediate area/country. Often when your market is slow another one is busy and booming.
  • We must recognize that it is not just enough to remain operational in business but we must engage in an activity that results in a benefit that SMEs seem to be afraid of - profitability. We must become more sophisticated as business people and use the education available to us and grow the value of our businesses.
  • As business people we need to build up cash reserves that enable us to replace aging assets and pursue opportunities for expansion without having to get the assistance from the banks who seem intent on making business people jump through hoops since they quite casually say they don't understand our businesses, they are in banking and finance.
    • Recently, a client needed $1 million in financing, presented a business plan, and documentation showing that there was over $2 million in business to be done within a short time frame and still was declined financing.
    • More businesses are paying for professional help to help them realize their business goals and are still subjected to the old practices of revenues being "dumbed down", a practice where submitted revenues are further reduced and then when the various accounting ratios are applied the business is no longer attractive according to the numbers returned by the ratios.
  • Use your networks, too many business people become involved in networks but do not know how to utilize them. Remember if you don't blow your trumpet there's no music. Who do you need to meet that can help you get the required business to facilitate growth, and do you know anyone that can make the connection for you?
Join us on Telegram concerning what you can do to enhance your business. If you are on Telegram follow us here: t.me/CaribbeanSMEs some new things are going to be taking place there soon to assists small and medium sized enterprises. Follow us at www.bladesandbladesconsultancy.com our other social media links can also be found there.

Thursday, April 15, 2021

COVID 19 - School Leavers and the Workforce

 


Every year, there's a question that rears up within the work force? Can these new school leavers do the job? Questions seem to crop up, not so much over the academic achievements, but over the competency to fulfill the requirements of the job role. Despite the presence of the pandemic, we must be aware that the next few years will surely be different as it relates to recruitment and the job market. Will job hunting be tough as always? Yes, but this time it will be on steroids. 

Academia Vs Competency

In many instances, educational institutions rarely have had the opportunity to prepare school leavers for the world of work. With the pandemic last year and a great deal of this year, coupled with volcanic eruptions affecting the region, education has been disrupted quite badly. Given these instances, they are situations where people are not coping well with remote schooling. There are still some elements of the curricula that require physical teaching methods which are not easily replicated in the virtual world; especially when students don't have the foundation experiences to draw upon for a full appreciation of the information being conveyed. 

Inabilities to communicate effectively

Have we recognized that, with all the methods of communicating, that actual communication is at an all time low. It is a skill that is actually suffering quite significantly. Even people within the same household can't seem to get along since they may be of different generations and interact differently. We have developed a displaced approach to culture, whereby we think that speaking in dialect is common place for every situation. We are now failing to recognize that there is a time and place for everything; including verbal, written and other forms of communication. 

There seems to be a lack of respect for others and it is growing. People seem to believe that since they are qualified they can interact with others as they like and the rest of the world must conform to their standards. 

There will be a requirement that organizations address their standards in the early so that those serving the company in varying capacities know how to interact. 

Employment opportunities and the job seeker

In short form, it is going to be tougher to get a job. Why? Well, everyone felt the impact of the global shut down due to the pandemic. It came in waves causing people and organizations to have to endure multiple shutdowns impacting income in a negative way in most instances. 

Currently, school leavers of all ages are not being adequately prepared for the world of work. The emphasis is on education in a very academic sense and competency is taking a blow depending on how those programs are being executed. 

Another consideration is that job seekers will now have even more limited work experience and try to embark on businesses which if they don't receive technical assistance to guide them will result in massive failures among start up enterprises and SMEs. The work ethic which usually develops from applied learning will suffer since the metrics for ensuring discipline are not able to be readily enforced due to the remoteness of the current educational environment. This results in limited checks and balances that provide feedback to the student as to how to translate their education in to practical settings required for the world of work. 



Training systems in a disoriented and displaced workforce

To become/remain competitive businesses are going to need to invest in the training of their human resources. Prior to, but especially during COVID-19 the methodologies of training have evolved. We have gone from beginning to embrace online to being predominantly online; with many not becoming used to the virtual world despite the best of efforts. 

Despite the best of preparation, we have the instability of the internet through the service providers which serve to increase levels of stress due to the uncertainty. At times there can be challenges with the competence using the technology on the part of the presenter/student (participant). 

Conference call clashes seems to be the order of the day which in many cases may also result in work/study stays being extremely long. Remote workers and students can become faced with fatigue of being in front of the computer or being sedentary for too long. Presenter skills have to be en-pointe to hold the attention of the participants to the various programs. 

Employment and employees - Who's ready?

The environment we are currently facing is one that is unprecedented. Yes, we have faced challenges before as countries within the Caribbean. However, in this instance they are not spaced out as in the past and all of these environmental challenges have a multi-pronged impact on its residents. What is meant by this? 

  1. COVID-19 Pandemic
  2. The volcanic ash flow
  3. The hurricane season
  4. The rainy season
Additionally, there is the issue of man-made challenges through the instance of disposal practices especially as it pertains to modern conveniences. 

Are we prepared? No one was/is! There is a need to innovate, to pivot, to revise and revamp. To create this system of what I'll term "neuvo-employment". 

We have to identify how we can harness the imaginations of the youth and the experiences of those who are older. 

Fine tuning competition with existing workforce

Make no mistake about it, we can decide if we are going to compete or if we are going to innovate. Attention has to be given as to how we will be sustainable in this environment. How can we ensure that the necessary resources are accessible. 

Leadership is key in this environment. Fortunately for Barbados, our government and in particular our current Prime Minister Mia Mottley has to capacity to communicate at levels that no one is left out. I would use this opportunity to say thank you to our government for their practical measures in helping us to ride these waves of uncertainty. 

It should be noted that in this current and future environment there will be a requirement for teams to work collaboratively with experience harnessing innovation. We have some insights as to how this can be done and will share more in the near future. Keep locked in to your media channels. 

You may also keep updated on our website about various business topics and discussions at www.bladesandbladesconsultancy.com 

The impact on the workforce is real, but not insurmountable. You must however have a plan. 

Thursday, March 18, 2021

Announcing - The Arrival of an Illness




In Barbados, West Indies, there is a lady who is known for working out to keep fit, yet she suffered a crippling illness; not from any external factors but from within her own body which she sought to keep well through a healthy lifestyle. 

Background

Heather worked at one of the leading department stores most of her working life until just before retirement age when there was restructuring. Her job was demanding, standing for many long hours and interacting with locals and tourists alike to ensure they got the items they sought as they entered the store. 


She maintained her health through daily exercise, using total gym workouts, constantly doing step aerobics to various video workouts as well as walking various trails in the outdoors. It was a lifestyle habit she maintained coupled with eating healthy and cooking healthy dishes. Heather was active in church, being a steward, she functioned in various roles within the church for which she was entrusted and was always on time. 


Her Methodism caused her to serve in the Dorcas Society and the Women’s League as well as she’s always had an internal prompting to be of service. 


Married to her husband Watts of many years, they have been pillars of support to each other. Together they have two children and six grandchildren. 


What happened?!?

Heather was preparing for a life of healthy living especially as she aged. Then along came 2017. 


  1. She noticed that her feet began swelling by the ankles

  2. Her joint flexibility became limited

  3. Knee pain limited her walking since it became too painful to do so

  4. This developed into the inability to stand normally

  5. The degenerative illness caused her to become bow at the knee and it was increased pain

  6. Weakness stepped in depriving Heather of her independence

  7. Muscle weakness spread throughout her body

  8. She eventually became bedridden



The path that was followed

 Multiple visits with Doctors, Specialists, Physiotherapist, Neurologist was a process that came afterwards and no one was able to correctly identify what was wrong. The feedback was frustrating and expensive, yielding no results. 


The process included the following from the aforementioned:

  • Multiple X-rays

  • Diagnosis of secondary arthritis

  • Osteoporosis

  • Spinal Stenosis 

  • Spondylolisthesis 

  • Administration of Fosamax, medication which made the situation worse

  • DVD reports which were prescribed and not used 

  • Confirmations of misdiagnosis 

  • Psychological assessment suggested 

  • Nerve and Muscle Tests

  • Blood tests [revealed an Alkaline Phosphatase of >500] 

  • More X-rays 

  • Referred to therapy - got weaker 

  • Referred to pain management doctor - prescription caused severe reaction 

  • Another pain management doctor 

  • Neurosurgeon - suspected Paget's Disease

  • Referred to Rheumatologist

  • Finally the Mayo Clinic, who asked for the following:

    • Urine test

    • Blood test

    • Samples sent to them overseas

    • Confirmed disease by the Endocrinologist as a Tumour induced Osteomalacia [TIO] 


Conclusion - Tumour induced Osteomalacia [TIO] 

Here is where we are:

  • This disease is quite rare

  • The most successful treatment is surgery once the tumour is located. Which is hard to do. Full body MRIs are required and are not available in Barbados. 

  • The temporary alternative is an annual injection series which costs US$200,000 per annum. 


Action steps have been taken by her daughter Lisa who is based in the USA to assist with covering the costs of treatment via a Go Fund Me fundraiser. We hope you can help and though we understand the tough times of this pandemic, every little bit helps. We hope you can help if it means just sharing to your friends and family, especially since treatment for this condition is not readily available outside of the United States of America. 


Thank you for reading and sharing. We hope you can pledge your support. We are living, something that can happen to any of us - The Arrival of an Illness


Understanding customer service within your business

Customer service like everything else in business is under revision. It is feeling the pressure of the pandemic and lots of promises formerl...