Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Campaign 2010 Part 2

Here is another email I receive.
This time from Meg Whitmas

Plus they want money!!Also your free time, unpaid of course.

Campaign 2010

Here is a typical letter I get for the Governor's Position.

It seems like almost every week that Meg launches a new, false attack ad, and we quickly debunk it. But it's not just our campaign -- independent and non-partisan newspapers, news broadcasts, and bloggers are all calling her ads false and misleading. But despite all the independent fact checks, Meg keeps spouting the same lies.

Now, we've got a video to demonstrate just how upside down she is. Watch this video, share it with all of your friends, and chip in $5, $10, $50 bucks to help us get the resources we need to get the facts straight and make our case to California.


Steven Glazer

Attack Attack Attack . This election will be won on tv, not by either candidate.Note the chipping in of dollars.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Is your company treating you fairly?

I recently witnessed two incidents that had me shaking my head on how they were handled in local stores. At Safeway in San Leandro on a day when the temperature was near 100 degrees, a checkout clerk turned around and took a sip of water. A supervisor came up to her and said not to drink with people in her line. She could have easily told her that on a break.

At a Wal-Mart in Livermore,on a busy express checkout a supervisor told the harried person at the checkout to apoligize a little better to the people waiting. Why the supervisor did not open up another line is beyond me.

It seems like some companies treat their copiers better than their employees.

Stress and customer service go together like love and marriage. They have been intertwined since someone first realized that customers will go elsewhere if there is no service to back it up. However, a corollary is that whenever service and customers come together stress is not far behind. Since the majority of our employees are human there is little doubt they are affected by stress. I believe it is the major reason for poor service regardless of the service industry.

But the stress that typically causes employee burnout or frustration is caused not by the customer, but by the environment created by management. For example, take a look at your exit interviews (you do them don't you?). Now look at them again. Are you reading just what is on the surface or are you really looking at the root cause that is there?

When customer service personnel know that management treats each employee as an individual, has created an environment that is supportive, and understands that stress is a part of the business day, they will be able to tolerate and bounce back from even the worst day.

Know your employees. Each employee works for a different reason, whether for recognition, advancement or just wanting to be "shown the money". Management must know those reasons otherwise productivity and attitudes will suffer.

Let your employees vent. Listen to them. Don't judge. Don't fix. Just listen.

Honor work schedules. Do not try to force your part time employees to be full time employees. You may succeed in coercing them to work in the short term, but the risk of losing them permanently or damaging a great attitude is not worth the risk. They, like you, expect commitments to be honored.

1. If you desire a mediocre workforce, make sure your employees know you don't trust them.

Nothing spells "You're dirt to us" like a corporate culture that screams, "We don't trust you as far as we can throw you." I refer to company policies that require employees to clock in and out for lunch. When employees know they're not trusted, they become experts at "presenteeism"—the physical appearance of working, without anything getting done. Congratulations! Your inability to trust the very people you've selected to join your team has cost you their energy, goodwill, and great ideas.

2. If you want to drive talented people away, don't tell them when they shine.

Fear of a high-self-esteem employee is prevalent among average-grade corporate leadership teams. Look how hard it is for so many managers to say, "Hey Bob, you did a great job today." Maybe it's a fear that the bit of praise will be met with a request for a pay raise. Whatever the reason for silence, leaders who can't say, "Thanks—good going!" can plan on bidding farewell to their most able team members in short order.

3. If you prefer a team of C-list players, keep employees in the dark.

Sharp knowledge workers want to know what's going on in their organizations, beyond their departmental areas. Leaders who can't stand to shine a light on their firms' goals and strategies are all but guaranteed to spend a lot of money running ads on Marketable top performers won't stand for being left in the dark without the information they need to do their jobs well.

4. If you value docility over ingenuity, shout it from the rooftops.

How fearful of its employees would a leadership team have to be to forbid people to gather together to solve problems? The most desirable value creators won't stick around to be treated like children. They'll hop a bus to the first employer who tells them, "We're hiring you for your talent—now go do something brilliant."

5. If you fear an empowered workforce more than you fear the competition, squash any sign of individualism.

Leaders who want the most docile, sheep-like employees more than the smartest and ablest ones create systems to keep the C players on board and drive the A team out the door. They do it by instituting reams of pointless rules, upbraiding people for miniscule infractions ("What? Twenty minutes late? Sure you worked here until midnight last night, but starting time is starting time.") and generally replacing trust with fear throughout their organizations. Their efforts will be hamstrung by their talent-repelling management practices.

How long will it take these enterprises to figure out they're shooting themselves in the foot? It doesn't matter—you'll be long gone by then.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Customer Service and Political Campaigns

Managing a political campaign is a demanding job that requires intimate knowledge of all aspects of campaigning, including communications, volunteers, fundraising and accounting. At any time day or night, campaign managers can have access to all of the campaign records in their system. Just like a business.

If you have received phone calls, canvassers, campaign mail and ads, you have seen how people want your vote rather than your service or money. Oh, excuse me. They do want your money. I get several emails several times a week from the Jerry Brown's the Meg Whitman's, the Barbara Boxer's all asking for at least $5 to $50. Never mind the sky high unemployment rate, just gimme what you can afford.

Using phone banks, canvassing teams and direct mailing you will get bombarded with information, twisted truths, accusations and most of all we want your vote, Sometimes if records are not kept correctly, you may get more than one call or visit.

With elections for Governor, US Senate, seats in cities in Oakland, San Leandro, Alameda and everywhere in the East Bay, you can count on a busy fall of all of the above services.

If you get a phone call from someone asking for your vote what you can do right away is ask if they are a volunteer or paid staff. They are required to answer that. Volunteers come and go, do as they please and do it because they believe in the candidate or issue. Most staffers have to make a certain quota of calls and are expected to get so many "yes" commitments.

Campaigns can post news, articles and endorsements to their website, as well as uploading photos and video content. This makes it easy to accept contributions and recruit volunteers online.

The campaign’s relationship with voters is an undeniably important part of success. To be able to effectively communicate with them, it is essential that a campaign be equipped with a detailed database of voter information which you probably did not know existed.

In addition “easy update technology” allows them to update records with the latest information without losing any of the details the campaign already collected. Sounds like Big Brother has your back covered here literally.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Ellison and the Warriors

If Larry Ellison wants to whine about not getting a second rate basketball team for his own fantasy means and be like Mark Cuban or Dan Snyder, why doesn't he REALLY do something for the Bay Area. He has $300-400 million to throw around so why not put it to better use and hire about 500 people at Oracle.

Working at Comcast and ATT

Having worked at both places there are striking differences. ATT is unionized and people are treated fairly and rules do not change as you go along. There are raises and people are far more apt to stay. Comcast is not unionized and changes policies on the fly. Their customer service center in Livermore, CA has a lot of turnover not to mention poor morale.. No wonder people say things like Comcast service is lousy and post complaints on Twitter, blogs and Facebook. After all there are invisible managers there, supervisors who refuse to take escalation calls and leads who say they will call a customer back and don't. They have a person and group who regularly checks the web for nasty things that people may say about them, but in Livemore that is kept a secret from the employees. If they were aware of this,their service would not rank at the bottom of JD Powers constantly. Soon customers will soon get it and post their issues on the web. They will get a quicker response and better deals and credits.

Job Connections in Danville

Job Connections at one time was a fine group. Now it is a standard good old boy's and girl's network. Most people I spoke to did not feel welcomed to the Saturday meeting. Most of the "staff" just say mix and mingle.There are no intros made, you are on your own. The speaker's are more interested in hawking their books and services.They have success teams which support small groups 4-10 people to focus on job searching. However there seems to be two types.If you are on a success team you will find yourself with winners and may find it helpful.If you end up with a suckcess team you will encounter whiners who will go over all their personal woes and take up a lot of time. You can find groups that are better off in libraries and other churches.

The Professional Unemployed

Who came up with the term 99er? Is that something you should be proud of like a 49er? The math says almost two years collecting unemployment and they want more??? There used to be what was called professional students now it is professional unemployed. Now some of course need money coming in , but others...gimme a break. Some people I know spend the day, walking the dog, playing golf with the boys,shopping with the girls and other leisure activities other than LOOKING for work. Time these freeloaders received a reality check not an unemployment check. I guess they will soon be called 125ers with a brand new 26 week extension of benefits.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

On those slackers on the job

One of the great problems in a company is the impact that one bad employee can have on good employees. This one bad employee can lower the standards of good employees to the extent that an entire department can suffer.

What makes this really puzzling is that the reverse does not seem to be true. Good employees rarely can elevate a bad employee. To paraphrase Winston Churchill, "How is it that so few can do so much to so many?"

What's a place to do?

Someone once said that it is not the people that you fire who are a problem, it is the employees who should be fired, but aren't, that are the problem. Think about these points:

* Do you find yourself grumbling every day about a particular employee that just exudes an attitude of not caring and makes those feelings known to everyone within earshot.
* Are there some employees that never get motivated no matter what threat or incentive is offered?
* Do you have a certain employee that "gets by" somehow by doing the minimum amount of effort each day and your employees know it? In other words , a slacker.
* Do you find yourself apologizing for a particular employee that you know is not putting out anywhere close to the same effort that the other employees are trying to do?

Why are they still working here?

The answer is that in today's environment it is extremely difficult to terminate someone. It takes an incredible amount of paperwork, time and effort. These type of employees can be found in a local mom and pop store in Oakland or a huge company in Oakland.

However, I can tell you it is a certainty that it's worth the time and effort to do the paperwork. Your work in elevating the standards of customer service will be greatly diminished by having this person(s) stay in your employment.

Keeping the weak links makes it appear like you are only talking the talk and not walking the walk. Your employees know. It is only human nature that if the boss doesn't care, then it is very tempting to not care. Even good employees with very high personal standards will start to relax those standards if bad employees and good employees are treated the same.

The termination step is drastic and should certainly be the last resort. Everyone deserves a chance to do well. After all, people in your employment started off wanting to do a great job for you and for themselves. Was their downward trend partly your fault by ignoring them or having low standards?

Take the first step: talk to your human resources department, your boss or yourself and make sure that you know how to document the path for terminating a recalcitrant employee. Your customers and your employees will thank you, big time.

World Cup terms explained

With the World Cup over and Spain the winner, I thought it would be helpful to review several phrases you heard during the broadcasts and where they may have originated from.

Advantage Rule: This used to be when a company had a monopoly on a service. Like the old Ma Bell days.

Assist: When you are in a call center and you put a customer on hold and ask a colleague a question. They get an assist. Don't overuse it or you may hear the dreaded RTFM.

Back Header: This is when you have been with a customer a long time and you simply bend your head back and ask "why me? "

Banana Kick: Common in fast food or take out places. You slip on a wet spot and your leg kicks up but you keep your balance and (hopefully) you don't get hurt. If you due hello litigation.

Bicycle Kick: When you arrive at work and see no more bicycle slots available. So you kick the one that you haven't recognized before.

Chest Trap: This is when you are reading a magazine at work and your boss walks by. You expertly put it into your chest and fold your arms. No harm, no foul.

Chip Shot: This occurs in retail when some anxious customer walks up to you and says I need a television or computer right now. How can you blow this one?

Creating Space: This is when you move from a cubicle into an office. Congratulations, you've just been promoted.

Flick Header: Popular in large stores where you walk up to a clerk and ask say where is the shoe department and they nod their head in a direction and say "over there."

Juggling. This when you are talking to someone at your desk and have two other people on hold. This takes practice.

Near Post: The closest place to eat when you are at work. Sometimes it may refer to a bar.

Outlet Passes; This is when you can transfer a call to another department because it was misdirected to you.

Play On: When you are still talking to a customer and your break/lunch is due. You hope this winds down quickly.

Shielding: This is when you have to make excuses for another department that fouled up an order or installation. Most likely your customer is a bit ticked.

Shorthanded: When for no particular reason a lot of people call in sick one day and you have to hustle to make it through the day. You hold your breath and try not to curse them.

Striker: Your go to or point person. They will have the answers to any question. Why they are not in management is a mystery.

Throw-in: When you add something to a customer's order. A coupon, free sample or just a plain credit.

Timeout: After thorough and exhausting research, I could not find that this term exists.

Yellow Card: This is when you are called into a closed door meeting and are told that certain behavior will not be tolerated in the future.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Government and Customer Service

As the former Governor of Alaska likes to say, YOU BETCHA !

You may not be able to fight City Hall, but you sure can call or contact them. Customer service here comes under the heading of serving the public.

This is what cities from Oakland to San Leandro to Fremont and all points in between should provide:

1) One main number for citizens to call for information or service request and a walk-up information counter to provide personal service to our citizens. This is a natural.
2) Develop knowledge-based definitions for call takers to answer most frequently asked questions quickly and correctly. Like where is the DMV.
3) Provide a management system that identifies and warns of potential problems.
4) Resolve all problems experienced with any fragmented call system.
5) Bring innovations to the relationship with citizens.
6) Have web access for citizens to initiate a complaint or check on status of a previous request.
7) Allow County staff to focus on handling the complaints and other job duties.
8) Relieve the Emergency 9-1-1 Center from the strain of handling non-emergency calls and prevent the need for more higher paid 9-1-1 dispatchers.
9) Provide good communication, which always avoids problems. In other words go the extra mile and provide stellar customer service by exceeding citizen’s expectations.

In addition the mission of the Voter Registration and Elections Office is to promote and facilitate voter registration, properly maintain all official voter registration records, conduct fair and impartial elections in accordance with state and federal election laws, protect the integrity of the election process for all, and provide quality customer service for every citizen.

In other words:

1) Register or explain how to register citizens to vote
2) Update and maintain all voter records
3) Conduct federal, state, district and local elections
4) Administer absentee precinct for all elections
5) Maintain political district maps
6) Provide voter education and outreach program
7) Provide a method to look into lost complaints and lack of follow-up to citizens once they have filed a complaint
8) Be prepared to address citizen frustration with government.
9) Concerns for Animal Issues, Broken Traffic Lights, Flooding, Potholes, Street Lights, Permit Requirements,Telephone Numbers, Environmental Issues,Emergency Information and Event Schedules should be responded to.

As a citizen these are what you expect from elected and appointed people.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Oakland, Mehserle Verdict and Customer Service

With all the hype,anticipation and fear surrounding the Mehserle verdict, the city of Oakland has taken a positive step as far as serving the public with a special section on it's city website. This has updates for the community and businesses which include Spanish,Chinese and Vietnamese languages.

Considering that most disasters or demonstrations or riots catch the population unprepared this shows that any violence will not be tolerated. The website is

There is also a number to call 510-777-8814 to report tips, rumors or information related to disturbances regarding the Mehserle verdict. In companies this would be referred to as disaster preparation. The city of Oakland, for all the criticism it takes shows real customer service for keeping people in the know.

There has been enough fear and loathing generated by the local media on the subject. Television stations want ratings, papers want to sell copies and radio wants listeners. On the day of the verdict you can count on pushing and shoving in the media to be the first to interview the prosecutor, the defendant's attorney, the families of Oscar Grant and Johannes Mehserle and they will also have reporters front and center in Oakland, Los Angeles and San Francisco to report on any violence, protests or more.

We have already seen and read enough about people not wanting to be anywhere near Oakland that day or Merchants bracing for the worst or police preparing for mob scenes. Let the media give it a break and when the verdict is announced let justice be served and if you do not agree with it demonstrate peacefully and orderly.