HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Personal Directions

The Doctor's Consultation by Dr. Iain Corness

Agony Column

Camera Class by Snapshot

Personal Directions:  The mother of all virtues…

By Christina Dodd,

Zooming around frantically during the week I found myself frequenting the local convenience store what seemed like a hundred times. At the end of my escapades, however, I came away with a constant “ding-donging” (that we all love) in my head and a ringing in my ears of the monotone greeting or farewell that is parroted and announced with such intensity and feeling!

Seriously folks, there really is no point to saying anything if it’s not said with at least a bit of sincerity – don’t you think! And that goes not only for when staff are saying hello and goodbye – but when they are saying the all-important “thank you” as well!

I realize every such store has volumes of customers streaming in every day and some people may say it is very difficult for staff to exude sincere enthusiasm and customer service all of the time. But to my mind, isn’t that what it’s all about?

For anyone involved in CRM or Customer Service, there are basic principles that are the key elements to servicing customers that cannot – at all costs – be avoided. I have today included a chapter from Delivering Knock Your Socks Off Service by Kristin Anderson and Ron Zemke. The chapter is titled:

Never underestimate the value of a sincere thank you

“Remember when you were ten years old and what you wanted for your birthday was that electric train or special Barbie? And your grandmother gave you underwear instead. And your mum and dad stood there and looked at you and pinched you on the arm. “Now, what do you say?” they prompted. “Thank you, Grandma,” you said. And your grandma beamed and patted you on the head.

Saying thank you is as important today as when your parents tried so hard to drum it into your head as a child. In your job, you need to say thanks to your customers every day. You need to sincerely value the gift of business they bring to you – even if it may not be as exciting as electric trains and Barbie dolls.

Nine times when you should thank customers

1. When they do business with you … every time. It bears repeating: Customers have options every time they need a service or product. It’s easy to take regular and walk-in customers for granted. Don’t! Instead, thank them for choosing to do business with you.

2. When they compliment you (or your company). Compliments can be embarrassing. But shrugging off customers’ sincere praise says, “You dummy, I’m not really that good.” Instead of behaving this way, accept it gracefully and say, “Thank you, I really appreciate your business.”

3. When they offer comments or suggestions. Thanking customers for feedback says that you’ve heard what they had to say and that you value their opinion. Something as simple as, “Thank you for taking the time to tell me that. It really helps us know where we can do better,” delivered with eye contact and a smile, can work wonders.

4. When they try a new product or service. Trying something new can be uncomfortable. And risky. After all, the old and familiar is so, well, old and familiar. Thank customers for daring to try something different.

5. When they recommend you to a friend. When customers recommend you, they put themselves on the line. If you deliver, they look good. If you don’t … well then you know the rest. A written thank-you for a recommendation or a value-added token next time you see the customer face-to-face says you value their recommendation.

6. When they are patient … and not so patient. Whether they tell you about it or not (and boy, will some customers tell you about it!), no one likes to wait. Thanking customers for their patience says you noticed and value their time. It’s also one of the quickest ways to defuse customers who have waited too long and are none too happy about it.

7. When they help you to serve them better. Some customers are always prepared. They have their account numbers right at their fingertips, always bring the right forms, and kept notes on their last service call. They make your life a lot easier; thank them for it.

8. When they complain to you. Thank them for complaining? Absolutely! Customers who tell you they are unhappy are giving you a second chance. And that’s quite a gift. Now you have a chance to win their renewed loyalty, which will give you additional opportunities to thank them in the future.

9. When they make you smile. A smile is one of the greatest gifts you can receive. Saying thank you just makes it better.

Three ways to say thank you

Verbally. Say it after every encounter. And say it with feeling. “Thank-you-for-shopping-at-our-store,” said like a freight train roaring past, doesn’t impress customers. Make your thank you’s warm, pleasant, and personal.

In writing. Send a follow-up note after a purchase or visit. Personalize it. Customers hate form letters.

With a gift. Give something small like a notepad or pen imprinted with your company name. It will help customers remember your business but they will also remember your kindness.

Five often-forgotten thank you’s

1. Your co-workers. Give credit to those who help you. Thank co-workers whose concern for customers serves as a role model for you. Doing this in front of customers every chance you have tells customers they’re dealing with a team effort.

2. Your boss. To make sure your managers give you the support you need, give positive feedback when they help you do your job.

3. People in other departments of your company. While you may be the one actually talking to the customers, support people make the service you deliver possible. Thank them, either individually or as a group.

4. Your vendors. Without their professionalism, your customers wouldn’t be receiving the satisfying service you’re able to provide.

5. You! You do a tough job and deserve a pat on the back. Give yourself credit for a job well done. And take yourself out for an extra special reward once in a while!

The most effective thank you’s are immediate, specific, sincere, and special.

Gratitude is not only the greatest virtue but the mother of all the rest. - Cicero

If you would like a presentation on our professional skills training or lifecoaching services, please contact me at Christi [email protected] so and take a moment to visit our website.

Until next time, have a sensational week!

The Doctor's Consultation:  Dengue Fever - does it really break your bones?

by Dr. Iain Corness

Dengue Fever is prevalent all year round, and it will peak again. It has also been very well described over the years, long before we really knew what caused it - or what to do about it!

It was first described in 1780 by a Benjamin Rush in Philadelphia (so it didn’t start here), when the name Break Bone Fever was applied, with the symptoms of pain in the bones and rise in temperature. The name “Dengue” came in 1828 during an epidemic in Cuba. The new name was a Spanish attempt at a Swahili phrase “ki denga pepo” which describes a sudden cramping seizure caused by an evil spirit!

Let me assure you that the local brand of Dengue Fever owes nothing to spirits, evil, bottled or otherwise.

Unfortunately Dengue fever is on the up and up. In the North, the incidence of Dengue Haemorrhagic Fever tripled last year. But firstly you should understand a little more about Dengue. It is a fairly widespread virus with 2.5 billion people living in Dengue endemic areas. We, in Thailand, belong to that group.

Dengue is caused by a virus, passed on by a mosquito bite, from the female of the species Aedes aegypti. It is most active at sun up and sun down and breeds in standing water around your home, as it only flies 100 metres from the breeding ground.

There are four distinct Dengue virus serotypes, but being infected by one of the serotypes gives you an immunity only to that particular one, not to the other three. This being the case, it is theoretically possible to catch Dengue four times. And that’s four times more than you want!

Dengue also comes in two distinct clinical types - Classical Dengue and Dengue Haemorrhagic Fever (DHF). Taking the Classical variety - 3 to 14 days after being bitten, the sufferer (and you do suffer, let me tell you) will begin to experience fever and muscle and bone aches. Over the next few days this gets worse so that even the skin is painful to touch. The next stage is a skin rash and even a joint pain like arthritis in some cases. It is interesting to note that Dengue Fever is the cause of between 20-30 percent of all fevers in Bangkok. Being a virus, the treatment is just to alleviate the symptoms, and paracetamol works well in reducing fever and pain. However, despite no specific treatment, the outcome is generally fine, although the sufferer may be very weak for a while after recovery.

On the other hand, Dengue Haemorrhagic Fever can be fatal - so keep reading! It appears that Serotype 2 may be the culprit here, but for some strange reason, Serotype 2 does not usually produce DHF unless you have been previously bitten by types 1, 3 or 4. In addition to the symptoms of Classical Dengue the skin begins to bruise very easily as the blood haemorrhages into the skin. Children are also more susceptible to this than adults. This also becomes much more of an emergency and is best treated in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU).

With no specific drug to combat the DHF virus, the answer in avoiding this ailment is to plan your defence against Aedes aegypti. This is done by removing sources of standing water from around your home, flyscreen windows that are left open and wear clothing which covers the arms and legs, in conjunction with the application of anti-mosquito compound DEET. Simple really.

Agony Column

Dear Hillary,
I notice that there appears to be more and more hill tribe people selling native trinkets in Thailand. They just used to be in Chiang Mai, but now they seem to be everywhere, including Pattaya, which is a long way from the Golden Triangle. Why is this, and is it safe to buy things from them?

Dear Akha,
Perhaps it is the new cheap flights from Chiang Mai to Bangkok that is bringing them down from the hills, my Petal, as I have yet to see an Akha lady in the black jacket and skirt, coloured socks and funny hat with the back turned up, on a regular flight. Why do they do this? It is the nature of free trade dam agreements, promoted heavily by the Thai government. If there is a market somewhere, flood it! But what you have to remember is that every time you see a man wearing a Hawaiian shirt, it does not mean that he is Hawaiian. Or every time you see a very well endowed woman in a bikini, it does not mean that she is a she. Likewise your genuine hill tribe ladies. If they are far from the beaten track, it is highly probable they are genuine traders in black drag, but not genuine hill tribe traders. If I am found strangled in the morning by a rope of silver coins, you will know I was wrong - they were genuine. Is it safe to buy things from them? Totally safe, there have been no recorded cases of bird flu passed on through chicken feather headdresses.
Dear Hillary,
Becaurs (sic) all the bars are going to have to shut at midnite (sic), have you any idees (sic) what us yung (sic) bloods are sposed (sic) to do in the evenings? It might be OK for you oldies to be tuked (sic) into your beds before 12 o’clock, but some of us English lads can keep going all nite (sic). It sounds as if you are all against us having our fun, but you all seem to want our
Pee Doff Lager Lout

Dear Pee Doff Lager Lout,
You are an opinionated young man (sorry about the big words, Petal, but look it up), aren’t you. I most certainly don’t want your money, (though champagne and chocolates are always accepted - even from you), so count me out, as Sam Goldwyn used to say. (He was the movie mogul in the middle between Metro and Mayer, as I am sure you would not have heard of him either as the Beano and the News of the World probably didn’t carry much stuff on America.) While I am not in agreement with the early closing, I can certainly see good reasons to be a little more selective at the immigration visa desk. Looking again at your letter, I think you should spend more of your money learning literacy than on lager libations. Instead of being Pee Doff, you can always just P. Off! Night, night.
Dear Hillary,
I think I’ve been robbed. The other night I went out for dinner, had a couple of bottles of red, and then went for a walk. After ten minutes I began to get thirsty from all the exercise, so I popped into a bar for a refreshing ale. I left there as it was too noisy after a couple of jugs and went next door, because one of the ladies outside thought I was very sexy. She shared a couple of drinks with me, but then suggested I should lie down for a while, but since I wasn’t tired I stalled her by suggesting we order some more beers instead, but I left when she went to the ladies room. About five minutes down the road and I could feel that thirst coming on again, so I went into a nice place that had dark windows and the door was kept closed, so that the girl from the other bar wouldn’t see me if she walked past. This place had a lot of dancers, so I decided I should stay there until they had all done their dances, and I can tell you that I reckon it’s one drink to one dance, or thereabouts. They began to shut the place around three in the morning, so they shut off the beer. By now I knew I should go home, so I walked the 500 meters back to the hotel and woke up at 10 the next morning. It was only then I checked my wallet and found I had 20 baht left out of five thousand. Do you think I should report this robbery to the police, and was it the girl who thought I was sexy?

Dear Todd,
I would not report this robbery to the police, because you might have to re-enact the crime for them, and it might end up costing you another B. 4,980. On top of that, there might be charges laid by the bar owner, whose young lady you left in the loo (and in the lurch) having done a runner from that bar and the last two beers you ordered. It is to protect people like you that the Ministry of the Interior is shutting the bars early. Don’t go out again till after the 1st of March!

Camera Class:  Avoid children and animals

by Harry Flashman

I have often been asked to take photographs of somebody’s child. I have refused as often as possible. Staying away from children and animals used to be the maxim for stage performers. You could say the same for photographers. While every mother and pet owner wants wonderful photographs of their charges, it is very difficult to get one that you will be happy with, let alone the owner of kid/pooch/cat (delete those not applicable).

The biggest problem is the short attention span demonstrated by children and pets. Around 2.5 milli-seconds if you are lucky. Hang about composing, focussing and other photographic fiddling will see the child turn round, the dog assume a position you would not want recorded for posterity and the cat will just stalk off, tail in the air.

The answer is to be totally ready. You have to visualise the shot first and then make it happen second. It is not a case of following the child and/or pet around and going snap, snap, snap and hoping one will turn out OK. It won’t, and you’ll get tired.

What does help is to look at photographs in magazines and books, and when you find a pose that you like, then work out just how did the photographer get the shot. This is important if you are going to try to capture that same “look” with your shots. By the way, this is not cheating or copying, all you are doing is seeing how you can technically get a pleasing result.

Chances are, when you have found the shots you like, you will find that to get it, you need the camera on the same level as the subject. This goes for about 99 out of 100 shots of alert kids/pooches/cats. When they are asleep, then take from above - the 1 in a 100 shot!

It is for this reason that pro children’s portrait photographers have a couch they put the ankle biters on - just to bring them up to normal camera level. Likewise, those demented photographers who make their money by photographing animals do the same. After all, you look a right proper idiot crawling round on your belly taking shots in front of the startled owners!

OK, let’s get down to action with your kids and animals. Begin by setting the scene and you begin with the background. A dull mottled material background works well as it does not have fussy details to take your eyes away from the main subject. You should also position this background at least 1 metre away from where the subject will be placed.

Now position something in front of the camera to represent Fido or Phillip. Place it where you expect the subject to sit and pre-focus and set your exposure details (or just set the camera on Auto and let it do the work). Now look through the viewfinder and make sure you have all of the background material in the frame, as well as the child/animal sized dummy. Harry has mentioned his pet tiger before, but this was a large stuffed toy that I used for this purpose. Tiger was photographed so often he almost knew when to turn and say Cheese! If you have a tripod, it is a good idea to use it here too.

Now get a favourite toy (for the children) and some bacon fat for cats and a box of matches for dogs. Speed is now the name of the game. Position the child where the stuffed tiger or whatever was seated and give the child the toy. Start snapping NOW! If you are lucky, you will have caught that “magic moment” of childish glee. If you’re lucky.

With the cat, smear the bacon fat on its mouth and it will reward you with the tongue lick shot. With the dog, rattle the matches and it will prick its ears up for that “alert dog” shot. That is just before it lunges at you from the table! Stay away from kids and animals. You have been warned.