Archive for the ‘Thanks’ Category

Service of Bonuses

Thursday, April 29th, 2010


There’s lots of talk about Wall Street and bank bonuses as well as the toys in Happy Meals, which got me thinking of the subject of the windfalls I’ve most enjoyed.

milkshakeIn college, Brigham’s milk shakes stood out. Next to a tall glass of thick coffee ambrosia–sometimes chocolate or strawberry–the milkshake-maker set down the icy-cold metal container in which s/he’d assembled–and the machine stirred–the concoction. The bonus contained almost as much as the original portion. Sigh.

lifesaverI’ll never forget the Lifesaver books my mom got as a stockholder [maybe from Kraft Foods?] at Christmastime. The packaging was in the shape of a book which, when you opened it, was filled with a remarkable assortment of Lifesavers. I’ve owned stock in various companies for eons and I’ve never received such a gift.

I’m thrilled when a conductor gives the audience an encore, which happens less and less these days. Union rules?

freeadviceShortly after I’d left Art & Antiques magazine, I helped out a stranger who called for advice about his art gallery opening. Someone suggested to him that I might help even though I’d launched a business in a different stratosphere. During our brief phone call, I recommended media he should invite and made some marketing suggestions. I soon forgot about the conversation that was similar to hundreds that I’ve had over the years. On Thanksgiving morning, the elevator man handed me an envelope from the gallery owner. In the thank you note was a very generous check. It was the first and the last time I saw a cent from someone needing “just a little information.”

When newsletters were printed the old fashioned way, large PR agencies spent a ton of money with local printers. The one we used was tremendously generous. As we left the restaurant after lunch, the waiter handed me an entire cheesecake because I’d swooned over the slice I’d just eaten. A total treat.

I mentor college and graduate students. When they incorporate some of my suggestions into their approach, or continue to ask me questions once the relationship/school year is officially over, these events are at the top of my bonus list.

What have been some of your most memorable or favorite bonuses?


Service of Too Little Too Late

Thursday, March 4th, 2010

Nancy Farrell wrote today’s guest post. A fundraiser for a non-profit, her first  post wasService of Remodeling a Business Model,” [December 3, 2009]. She’s also a frequent commenter and generously shares her experiences.

Today she writes about two vendors who missed the boat with her by being unreasonable. As a result, once she fired them, there was nothing they could do to get her back.

She wrote:

Time and again marketers have proved that it’s less expensive to reinstate a lapsed member or customer than it is to acquire a new one. But that doesn’t always hold true, especially if you’ve managed to make the customer so angry that you’ve lost him/her forever. I’ve had two terrible customer service issues lately that caused me to take my business elsewhere.

The first happened with a credit card company. I’d been a customer for 15 years when a clerk insisted that I overnight my $13 full payment. The reason: my checkbook had been stolen and the check I’d sent them bounced-which I warned them would happen because the bank cancelled all the checks–but they cashed it anyway.

The voice of customer service made matters worse by repeating that I’d lost my checkbook when, in fact, it had been stolen-two entirely different circumstances, in my opinion. I told her that the next time I heard the word “lost” I was hanging up and that I wasn’t about to overnight a $13 check because that would be silly.

I mailed them the check via First Class mail and told them I’d be canceling the card. It was only after I cancelled it that they tried to woo me back with a $25 gift card. I declined because by that time there was nothing in the world that would make me go back.

The next incident involved a large pharmacy chain that has great hours but not the antibiotics that I needed and sometimes took up to 3 weeks to refill my husband’s heart medications.

I tried e-mailing their corporate office asking how much lead time they’d need for a refill. They sent a response saying they’d contact the local manager who then proceeded to bombard us with automated calls telling us when the prescriptions were ready.

When we went to pick up our order we were handed everything EXCEPT the pills we’d been told were available and waiting for us. One time, the pharmacist assistant’s excuse was that she wasn’t working when we dropped off the prescriptions.

Eventually they found the medications but I can’t overestimate the stress this caused my husband, a man with a weak heart. Every visit to the pharmacy seemed to generate another hitch.

Sometimes they’d only fill four out of eight prescriptions and they’d drill us: “Are you certain that you’re missing medications?” Other times the meds were in two different bags and they’d bring only one to the counter, leaving the other one in a back room.

We were finally able to determine that part of the problem stemmed from the fact that they were calling the doctor when he requires Faxes. So then they’d call again and he’d tell them to send a FAX. So then they’d call again.

After nearly two years of this nonsense, we’re now dealing with a locally-owned pharmacy that fills prescriptions for antibiotics in five minutes. The hours aren’t as convenient as the other store’s but at least they have the meds we need when we need them and they deliver. And Joe, the pharmacist, is a guy a person can depend on.

Within one business day of our asking Joe to transfer the prescriptions, the chain got wind of our plans and left us a voice mail message asking us if we were switching pharmacies because of the service and could we please call back. No automated call that time.

We wouldn’t go back to that pharmacy if the meds were free because we need them when we need them, not when the pharmacy gets around to rounding them up.

Joe said something to us I haven’t heard in years: “Thank you for your business.”

Do you have examples of vendors who let you down and once you’ve left them, try to make amends? Have you gone back?  

Service of Anniversaries

Thursday, November 5th, 2009

Celebrating milestones is universal. The Happy Birthday song is so well known that doctors and public health officials tell children and adults to sing it twice so as to sufficiently clean away flu-generating germs when they wash their hands with soap and water.

Today we celebrate the first anniversary of The Importance of Earnest Service. Thank you for your responsiveness–583 comments and lots of e-mails noting that you follow and enjoy the posts!

In all there have been 106 posts in 80+ categories starting with “Accommodation” [22 posts] through “Writing” [3] with “Customer Service” garnering the most coverage–40–and no surprise.

I wonder: Is a year of posts equal to a book or to three human years, something like a human year is equal to seven dog years?

Bloggers will tell you that the number of comments you get about a post is irrelevant. Evaluating the success of a post is a bit like hugging mercury–hard to do. Yet I’ve tried to figure out why some bloggers with gazillion readers generate few comments. What is it about some posts that trigger an avalanche of responses? Maybe some posts cover all the bases and there’s nothing more to say or the readers who follow certain blogs are not communicative, don’t want to be heard, have no time or hate to write.

In any case, until today I’ve never looked back to count the comments to see which subjects generated the most conversation. The first post got 18–wishing me good luck–followed by “Sales Dressed as Charity & Service,” [November 11, 2008], where 15 let their opinions be known about the practice of grocery and bookstores that try to embarrass customers into buying a book, toy or food–from them of course–to pass on to charities.

“Service of 1,000+ Supermarkets vs. A Pair of Bread Boutiques,” came next. Fourteen people shared their happy experiences with Publix and/or their favorite supermarkets. Although I love the number 13, we didn’t get that total number of comments though a dozen thoughtful readers commented both on December 15, “Coffee Service with More than a Smile” about Sam and his midtown Manhattan coffee cart and on February 5, about “Rewards for Top Performers.”

“Service of Awards,” [May 1], “Good Service is in the Air, Isn’t It?” [January 29], “Service Cut Short by the Clock,” a guest post, [January 2] and “Click-N-Shipped,” another guest post, [December 9] inspired 11 observations each.

A bunch of people tossed their thoughts into the ring in virtual roundtables and I didn’t count those posts. Along with the spontaneous reactions to them, they might actually have generated the most comments.

I love celebrations–other people’s birthdays or my and our friends’ anniversaries. I take advantage of any opportunity to shoot photos of the festivities and to bake-cupcakes, chocolate cake, cookies, brownies, pies. Wish I could figure out how to bake a sweet blog and share the slices.

What inspires you to comment ? Why do you shy away from thought-sharing? What are some of your favorite blogs?

The Service of Awards

Friday, May 1st, 2009

Doesn’t everyone have a favorite children’s book? Mine is “Madeline” written and illustrated by Ludwig Bemelmans; my friend Judy’s: “Make Way for Ducklings.” Robert McCloskey wrote and illustrated it.


I love buying books for children and wonder if any I’ve chosen will become their favorites.


If you can’t consult a child or parents whose children are the right age and you don’t have a reliable, convenient bookstore with knowledgeable staff, it can be tricky to be sure you’re selecting an appropriate book—especially if you’re looking for newly published ones to help ensure that the child doesn’t already own a copy.


One great solution is to choose among the winners of an awards program such as the one The Christophers has conducted for 60 years. The organization recently honored the 2009 winners not only of children’s books, but adult books as well as feature films, broadcast and cable TV programs. Over six decades, they’ve tapped 1,436 authors, illustrators, screenwriters, producers and directors. It’s a relief to know that a responsible organization has vetted and praised the book you’re planning to give.


Judith Trojan directed this year’s gala. She explained, The Christophers recognize media that remind audiences and readers of all ages and faiths, and of no particular faith, of their power to make a difference in their communities and the world-at-large.” The Christophers, guided by the ancient Chinese proverb—“It’s better to light one candle than to curse the darkness” —is rooted in the Judeo-Christian tradition of service to God and humanity.


This year’s children book winners are: Preschool, Close to You:  How Animals Bond (Henry Holt Books for Young Readers/Henry Holt and Company, LLC) by Kimiko Kajikawa. Ages 6-8 That Book Woman (Atheneum Books for Young Readers/Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing) by Heather Henson, illustrated by David Small. Ages 8-10, Clementine’s Letter (Disney-Hyperion/Disney Book Group) by Sara Pennypacker, illustrated by Marla Frazee. Ages 10-12 Shooting the Moon (Atheneum Books for Young Readers/Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing) by Frances O’Roark Dowell and Young Adult Sunrise Over Fallujah (Scholastic Press/Scholastic Inc.) by Walter Dean Myers. To check out all the other winners, visit


By the way: What was your favorite children’s book?

Withholding Thanks

Saturday, February 28th, 2009


Why do you think bosses, clients, customers or patients don’t thank?

Five of the participants in the previous virtual focus group that covered The Service of Thanks, share their opinions about the people who don’t thank, be they bosses, clients, or patients—and some note just why they think this might be.


Joan Marbit, CLTC, [certified in long term care], insurance broker–“As a storeowner for 17 years and former manager of a retail shop, I find that a kind word buys you millions because it reinforces an employee’s feelings of self-worth and makes for a happy environment. I always complimented someone who designed a handsome display or our messenger for coordinating deliveries efficiently. It’s the decent thing to do.


“However, I’ve known people in retail businesses that never pay their employees a compliment. I had a miserable boss in a different industry who would only tell his employees what they did wrong and he was mean about it. Occasionally, he’d show some appreciation with a check.


“Why are these people this way? I don’t really know, though I would guess that some people are unhappy and aren’t up to being nice.”


Lucrezia, activist–“Such a statement fails to ring true. Thanking others reflects appreciation of sensitivities and a positive outlook.  No profession has a monopoly on surly behavior. The boss, who thanks, when appropriate, usually gets greater output than a dictatorial grouch.  A doctor is more likely to bend over backwards for a cooperative and grateful patient, even if the condition is terminal.  A ‘thank you’ needs not be vocal.  It may show up at any time – such as an unexpected helping hand, return of a long forgotten favor, or a surprise box with goodies.  A fine dental surgeon and his staff receive a yearly subscription to a favorite magazine from a happy patient who got his smile (and health) back because of their Herculean efforts. 


“Before anyone reading this visualizes a bleary-eyed sentimentalist, note that rudeness or intimidation activates swift retaliation here. Lucrezia has no patience for bad manners and did not earn this moniker for her sweet disposition!


Thomas Yip, fulltime MBA student, Baruch College—“I think the main reason that people often don’t show their appreciation is their emphasis on monetary rewards. Perhaps they expect the best possible service, which they paid for, but when service providers aren’t emotionally satisfied, I feel they won’t be inclined to go above and beyond at work.”


Tom Williams, Partner, Hale-Williams Interior Design –“It is unforgivable for a boss not to show respect to his or her employees by withholding a ‘Thank you.’”


A McG., retired editor, associate in a major department store’s fine china department and hospital volunteer—“Bad manners. Good manners make the other person feel good.


“No breeding. First class people don’t cheat their employees-or try to manipulate them–and they don’t withhold appreciation.”


Why do you think that some people never thank for service?

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