The Value of Great Customer Service

Last night, we had two completely different dining experiences, which highlight the value of excellent customer service. It was a special occasion: we were celebrating the fact that my new book, Stress Express! 15 Instant Stress Relievers had been sent to press. We had invited some dear friends for a nice dinner out. We chose a beachfront restaurant, made reservations for a waterfront table, got dressed up and drove over. After we were seated, a waitress who clearly did not want to be our waitress came over and asked us what our member number was??? We explained that we were not members, that we had made reservations and no one had told us we had to be members. In a huff, she left the table, saying she had to talk to the manager.

We waited five minutes for the young, gruff and unpolished jr. manager to come over. He explained this was a private club. We said our friends so and so (whose family must have been members) had recommended the restaurant and that no one told us when we made reservations that we had to be members. He made it very clear that we had to leave now, in a rather embarrassing fashion. Completely insincerely, he said “I ‘m very sorry.” Not how I wanted my special night to start.

We called our friends, who had nearly arrived, and told them our conundrum. We then tried to figure out where we could go on a Sat. night. I called the Aqua Grill in Ponte Vedra from my cell, made reservations for four.

That was the beginning of our special night! We were greeted warmly when we came in and seated shortly after we arrived. My husband told the general manager, Cary Paige, about our unfortunate experience and how this was to be a celebratory evening. Cary empathized and demonstrated quickly his philosophy of service. After we were welcomed enthusiastically by Tricia, who artfully described the best entrees on the menu, we were treated to a complimentary serving of BangBang shrimp- absolutely delicious. We were so touched that they would make that generous gesture, but that was just the beginning. Throughout the evening, Cary, Tara and Tricia came to check on us, find out about the book and chat with us. Their interest in us and our experience was clearly genuine and made us feel valued. Every appetizer (we had three more) was scrumptious and our entrees were equally so. Generous servings of delicious food delighted us all, plus we had a lovely view of the lake. The highlight came when the dessert arrived with a miniature drawing of my book (with title ) in raspberry syrup! What a great touch. So thoughtful and so memorable. Of course we got a photo and I was absolutely thrilled. Now that was excellent customer service.

What they did at Aqua Grill was listen and make us feel valued. They took an extra few steps to turn around a special night and we will never forget it. Their interest in us was sincere; they delighted in celebrating with us. Their culture of service carried from the top down to everyone we encountered. They invested in us and they will definitely see the return. It’s now my new favorite restaurant and I will share with others how terrific they are. Although it’s rare, great customer service pays off in untold dividends. Thank you Aqua Grill, for a fabulous night!

http://aquagrill.net 950 Sawgrass Village Ponte Vedra Beach, FL 32082 (904) 285-3017

Manage Your Stress through Volunteering

Different hands placed on construction beam

One of the last things you might think of doing when you are very stressed is to take the time to help someone else. But it can truly be the best thing you can do. I know this from my own personal experience.

Not too long ago, I was tired, frustrated and upset over a business issue. Heading home with my husband that night, we turned down our street. My husband said, “There’s a girl sitting on the corner crying.” We immediately stopped the car and I got out to talk to her. Turns out, she was working for one of those magazine sales companies where they drop off youths and pick them up at the end of the day. She had no phone and no money. Her ride was two hours late. So we called her manager from my cell phone and he said a ride was on its way. She waited in the car with us, shared her tragic life story, and when no ride arrived after 45 minutes, we turned around and drove her the half hour distance to her motel. When we arrived, I spoke to the manager about taking better care of this young woman (she was 20,) gave her some money and hugged her goodbye with some encouraging words. As we drove home again, all thoughts about my problems had completely vanished. My concerns were for her and how I could help others like her in the future. I realized my problems were far less pressing and there are those who are struggling to get by every day on the streets. It gave me a whole new appreciation of how fortunate I am.

That’s the value of volunteerism. It gives you instant perspective, awareness of how blessed your life really is, and it gets you out of the worry and anxiety of stress.

The Benefits of Volunteerism

There are several benefits of community service. It:

• promotes connection and sharing

• decreases stress and depression

• improves interpersonal skills

• enhances communication skills

• increases gratitude and empathy

• improves understanding of community issues1

• strengthens your ability to cope

• makes you feel good about yourself and your gifts

• increases how long you live2

• provides a sense of fulfillment and purpose

• strengthens the community

Next time you are stressed, think about all those less fortunate and instead of giving into depression, worry or fear, take some action. There are infinite ways to volunteer. Here are a few:

• mentor a child

• help a neighbor repair their home

• work at a soup kitchen

• walk a friend’s dog

• make a meal for someone in crisis

• be kind to a complete stranger

• help at a homeless shelter

• participate in a “clean up your park” project

• volunteer at an animal shelter

• read to seniors at a senior center or hospital

• collect diapers for newborn centers

• help out at an elementary school

• collect books for literacy programs and then read for them

• run a food drive for local food banks

• teach some craft or art skill to children or seniors

Volunteering has a huge impact on your health, longevity and stress levels. For me, it is absolutely one of the best instant stress relievers around, and you can do it at any time, any place, anywhere.

 

“Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.” Leo Buscaglia

 

1. “National Survey of Giving, Volunteering and Participating: The Benefits of Volunteering,” Canadian Centre for Philanthropy research Program, 2000 http://www.nationalservice.gov/about/volunteering/benefits.asp

2. “The Health Benefits of Volunteering,” Corporation for National & Community Service, from the Office of Research and Policy Development April 19, 2006

http://www.worldvolunteerweb.org/fileadmin/docdb/pdf/2007/07_0506_USAbenefits_health.pdf

 

Staying Healthy as a Way to Keep Fired Up!

Warren Whitlock, author of Twitter Revolution, wrote of my last post that he wanted more information about how to prevent illness. So for my friend Warren and the rest of my friends, new and old, here are some stress management tips and health tips to help prevent illness.

be proactive, especially when it comes to your teeth. A recent tough lesson for me came when I ground my teeth so badly that I abraded my front tooth. My dentist told me it was infected and required a root canal in a few weeks! Uggh! Teeth grinding is a very common problem, and it results in broken teeth, TMJ, headaches, neck aches and shoulder problems. Fortunately, it can be treated with cranial-sacral work, massage, mouthguards and good dental care.

• Find a way to exercise that’s fun for you, and do it three-four times a week for 30 minutes. The best way is one that does not feel like work. Get an exercise buddy and go to the gym together, go for walks and catch up on your day, or do a sport you love. My husband and I are ballroom dancers, and it’s a great workout that is fun and challenging. Find what you enjoy.

Watch your food consumption, especially sugar and sugar substitutes. Over 1 billion people worldwide are obese, and many of them are diabetic. Read Sugar Blues by William Dufty to learn about the dangers of sugar, and check on-line studies on how sugar substitutes can damage your liver and kidney. I have a sweet tooth, so I use stevia, which is an herb with no calories and no side effects. Check with your doctor for what works best for you.

Get enough sleep- 7 hours of more. The World Health Organization says less than 7 hours may be a carcinogen- cancer-causing agent!1 Less than 7 hours lowers your immune function, makes you 3x more susceptible to colds, contributes to diabetes and creates a large drop in concentration and productivity. 40% of Americans are sleep deprived, are you one of them?2

Be careful of dependency on outside stimulants, whether they’re caffeine, alcohol, prescription drugs, or sleep aids. All of these can wreak havoc on your immune system and you body’s ability to relax naturally. A study published in Harvard Science Review said that walnuts and molasses may be just as effective at fighting depression as prescription drugs!3

Spend time in nature. Nature is soothing to the system on so many levels, from the physical contact of bare feet on sand, to the soothing relief of negative ions from oceans or waterfalls. Drink in the beauty of a crimson sunset on a lake, giggle as sea gulls dive for a piece of bread, or inhale the soft fragrance of a fresh rosebud. Nature is healing; spend time outside.

This is part one. Share your suggestions with me for more tips on staying healthy! Write me at orders@firedupow.com
1 Fisher, Anne, “ Make sleep work for you” Fortune Small Business, Sept. 2008, p.86-90
http://money.cnn.com/2008/08/19/smallbusiness/make_sleep_work_for_you.fsb/index.htm

2 Schwab, Dave, “Study: Naps improves brain power,” La Jolla Light, CA, April 1, 2009

3 . “Eat your way happy and healthy,” Woman’s World, May 5 2008, p.12
http://www.harvardscience.harvard.edu/medicine-health/articles/food-ingredients-may-be-effective-antidepressants

When Illness Threatens to Put Out Your Fire

victorious girl in wheelchairIt always amuses me when life gives me opportunities to practice what I preach. I am just finishing up my fifth book, which is about stress, and someone asked me if I felt I had to create more stress in my life in order to write the book. And if you looked at the past year, you might think that.

Tragically, our 41 year old sister in law died of melanoma after a five year courageous battle, leaving behind her husband and six year old son. Over the past few months, my husband and I have both had pneumonia and one of our cats has had a severe bacterial infection. We are normally a very healthy family but all of this illness has reminded me never to take that for granted. I originally learned that lesson as a young girl when my mother became terminally ill when I was six. She died 15 years later, and I discovered how important it is to tell people you love them when you have the chance. And how celebrating the wonderful, fun, joyful moments regardless of someone’s health is what fuels great memories later on.

So what about you? What do you do when you are sick? Do you have any nurturing rituals that help you feel better, besides your arsenal of vitamins, medications and syrups? My friend Lisa swears by very hot baths with Epsom salt; she claims they knock out everything! I myself love napping with my kitties and getting extra rest, doubling up on my Echinacea cold care tea and vitamin therapy. And I am not above asking for help. My husband Spencer is a loving, compassionate caretaker, when I let him be. As I Kleenex® my way through a nasty cold, he has been massaging my shoulders, making me dinner, fixing me hot beverages and bringing me magazines.

A very dear friend is once again battling breast cancer. And I love that she shares with me, asks questions, requests support in key ways and lets her honest fears and pains out. She is such a vibrant, courageous inspiration. She is not looking to die; she is embracing life fully and sometimes gets knocked down. But she just gets back up. Her Fired Up! attitude enables her to face something awful, cancer, in a positive way and she lifts every one around her with her tenacity, joie de vivre and laughter.