Very rarely do I need to post in my “Opportunities for Excellent Service” section. Companies need to show a complete inability to ensure customer service based on their own warranties or what is expected. When I do run across an experience that is egregious I need to let everyone know what to expect and how the company can work towards communicating better with the public.
Let me start with this, vacations are a luxury regardless of the discount or deal provided. Understanding this, a company that offers something that is 100% optional to the public should tread lightly and go over and beyond to create an experience that makes a vacation necessary. Especially in this world of outsourcing and tech-service. No one wants to call a company for a non-essential service and receive service that they can receive by just using a computer or an app. Otherwise why even bother calling.
With this understanding, I need to explain why there are far more options for cruises and vacations than carnival cruise lines. I need to try to keep this short. The experience it self is long and drawn out and still not resolved.
I booked a cruise based on a promotion I received boasting reduced down payments back in January. I went on a cruise with Carnival the year before and it was not horrible, so I decided it was a great deal. I received notification that the final payment was due. Since it was summer, and I am a substitute teacher, I called to ask if an extension would be possible. I spoke to an agent who said yes. When I was ready to make any type of payment, I could call back for an extension. I called back for an extension. I spoke with an agent who said she can provide a 7-day extension with my 50.00 payment. I said that’s wonderful. However, I needed a little more time. I said is it possible to push the trip back. She said yes. We agreed on a date that would allow me until the end of August to pay. I pay her 50.00 to extend the trip.
I received an email itinerary. Everything looked wonderful except there was an extra 100.00 admin fee that was never disclosed. Of course, I called back to dispute the fee. I will spare you the drama and just tell you since then I have been hung up on and yelled at by agents defending the actions of other agents. I have asked to speak with a manager and I was told no such thing can happen. It was my fault for listening to the first 2 agents.
As stated in the 2nd paragraph, cruises are optional. They are not necessary. My husband and I travel often. I have never received such horrible treatment for such a simple request that should have initially either been denied or approved. Here are things Carnival can do to improve their service:
In previous blogs I have discussed the challenges of being black in the work place. As a brief recap: I cannot seem too smart, I must control my passion about any topic as not to seem like the angry black woman, I can’t be too happy, I can never be upset, and my appearance “ethnic neutral”.
Recently in the news we have heard the insidious calls to the authorities while African Americans do life in their daily routines. We can’t bar b que, fall asleep in dorms, drive, or even go to a coffee shop. It is becoming Jim Crow all over again because of the feckless (thank you Samantha Bee) response from entitled Caucasians to black people trying to live.
If this pattern is not corrected, I fear this will have a negative effect on ethnocentrism in the work place. I am using my platform to acknowledge there is fear. However, we cannot let this fear dictate the progression of equality. This will have a negative effect of the types of jobs people of any ethnicity can have. The effects have probably already segregated ethnicities in some work environments, and we are not seeing the full effects yet.
Let’s be clear, this is not something that just affects African Americans. The trending issues are the tip of the iceberg. If we are not socially aware and have the conversation that we have been avoiding for years, we could set back the equality movement started in 1942 when the Congress of Racial Equality was established.
The conversation needs to start at home. Discuss frustrations and fears in a non-hostile way. Then work your way through your circle. Remember your circle should be your close friends and family that complete your positive network. If you have minority adult children, discuss fears by other ethnicities that may cause them harm and how to they can make safe decisions without compromising their dignity. Do not fear correcting racist attributes of friends and family.
Even if you are not in a minority household, there needs to be an understanding of what is trending in terms of the racial divide and how important it is to embrace other cultures and be social leaders of embracing the narrative of equality and love. No one is blameless in the regression of equality even if you are not “BBQ Becky”.
Let’s work together to preserve current freedoms that have already been fought for and established. Let’s work further to create positive conversations that lead to equality for everyone. We need to fight back against those who wish to passive aggressively segregate ethnicities and genders in America. The message needs to be we all belong to one race and that is the human race.
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Investopedia reports the income range of the middle-class population is between 30,000 and 100,000 as defined by the Urban Institute. Working class adults who pay bills and follow the law are the least supported group. It is easy for affluent individuals to judge the lifestyles of less fortunate without understanding the middle-income hustle. It is also easy for people with jobs to judge those who are not working as if there is a choice. However, there is merit to the struggles of the working class who are always 1 paycheck away from being homeless.
Social service departments and other organizations that offer aid to those in need only aid low income individuals. There is a benefits finder https://eur04.safelinks.protection.outlook.com/?url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.benefits.gov%2Fbenefits%2Fbenefit-finder%23results&data=02%7C01%7C%7C1294ad0e04044112c19e08d5bf8edc9c%7C84df9e7fe9f640afb435aaaaaaaaaaaa%7C1%7C0%7C636625542658230359&sdata=UZS4BQmbTC2wMWduOzJVyyMKPNKohU1phkQrT25TjJ0%3D&reserved=0 If you follow the long line of questions the results will offer random assistance that are not even an option for immediate assistance such as rental assistance or transportation assistance to a working class adult. Some of the options are specific to low income individuals.
This is not meant be a rant. There should be an awareness of the huge gaps left in America’s economic divide. As a low or no income person, you qualify for free or discounted housing, free food, free cell phones and the list goes on. If you are affluent you now qualify for a huge tax cut and you have resources that are limitless. A middle income American working and paying bills is typically one decision or paycheck from being homeless.
This is why choosing your employer wisely is important. Understanding what benefits a company offers can make a huge difference. Knowing that you have a company that not only donates to charities for low income individuals, but they also offer employee services to help in times of need. While this is rare these days due to outsourcing and automation, there are companies that understand employees struggle. They offer free lunch, free snacks, economic assistance and counseling. The company Boxed located in Henderson is reported to pay for weddings and baby showers for employees.
As we learn communication effectiveness and promote awareness, we need to be aware there is a population that makes up over 50% of the American population. These populations may include: teachers, police officers, and employees of large corporations. Some members of this population can be misunderstood as bitter or negative. Please take the time to get to know what the true issue is before judging. They are just frustrated. Maybe you know something they don’t know that can help. Keep the conversation open. This is one way we can support the middle-income hustle. Our government and companies in America can do more. We need to start voicing these needs.
It is easier to comply with what society tells us to do be and how to live. However, this makes us a prisoner in our own lives. Some of us become use to taking orders from friends, family, and societal trends so much that we don’t even realized we have imprisoned ourselves to a life we don’t even want. The daunting part of his news is you can go an entire lifetime without knowing who you are or what you want if you don’t recognize your own self imprisonment.
I am not saying run naked through the streets and disobey laws, but eventually you have to recognize that you have to establish your own true authentic goals and pursue them regardless of what other around you say.
I have said many times before, the path to success is a long and for the most part lonely road. There is not really an exception to this. When Thomas Edison was inventing the light bulb, there was no mention of the lavish parties and familial participation in his process. From what we read there was not even acceptance of his pursuit until he was successful. Sadly, this is the human reaction to the pursuit of goals and happiness. No one is truly there for you when you are in the try and fail process. They are there for you when your goal comes to fruition. This reality actually sucks.
As a pursuer of greatness you have to make a choice. You must choose to be a prisoner of what everyone wants you to be or choose to be a victor for your goals and eventual success. I cannot express enough to you, this a lonely road. You will be sad far more times than you will be happy, but if you focus, envision, and pray, you will be victorious.
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When I graduated from junior college in 1998, I was ambitious and ready to conquer the world with my Associates Degree. I had a Paralegal Certificate and a plan. The goal was to build a world class paralegal service that offered forms preparation, court runner services, and field collection services for small companies. Since this business was going to be funded by me, I had to keep by employment in the call center environment. One other thing, in 1998 I have birth to my 3rd son. So, I was going to build a company from the ground up with my own money and raise 3 sons. What was I thinking?
Express Professional Services remained in business for almost 15 years. There was no way I could afford to hire employees. I didn’t want to bother with loans and credit cards. There just became a moment when I realized, I needed to choose employment or self-employment. I chose employment.
I often ask myself was I overwhelmed, or just distracted. When I look at other successful small businesses, I can unequivocally say I was distracted. Running a business takes all of a person. Working an 8-hour job and giving 100% to clients is impossible. In addition, what kind of mother was I being to my 3 sons. I took them with me to client’s houses, to the office, and to court. I made more than enough to support myself with my self-employment. I was just distracted by work, new shiny things from the combined income, and my own guilt as a mother if I was unable to provide for them.
Here is the thing, once you establish a goal you must stay focused on the prize. This will require tunnel vision and lonely days perfecting business plans and platforms. Even when I started Communications Camp, I listened to some of my prospective vendors and clients. I decided I needed to refine the branding and establish the product.
It is easy to become distracted right now especially in this economic and political climate. It is just as important to understand your goal and why it is important to you. This way you can eliminate distractions that can diminish the longevity of your brand. Small businesses begin with a dream, then move on to a goal, and end with a true-life reality. This reality can be yours if you understand what your distractions are and eliminate them, stay positive and pursue your dream.
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Being a mom in 2018 is vastly different than being a mom in 1972. To meet the economic needs of a family these days, most mothers must work. It is typical for a mom to prepare breakfast, lunch (or at least know how the kids will eat), dress their kids, and equip their kids with school supplies right before dashing off to work. While at work, the cell phone is being monitored for emergencies. Once out of work a working mother will pick up her kids, take them to afterschool activities. When she is finally home, she still must go over letters from school and make sure homework is done, while making dinner. When this is finally done, she can sleep just to start all over again the next day.
We are certainly not June Cleaver anymore. It is so common for women to work versus the 60’s and 70’s where it was common for the mom to stay at home and manage the household. There is no sympathy for the demands of a working mother.
There were times when I worked an 80-hour week when my sons were younger. I also went to school. When I was finally able to see my sons in the evening, I still had to make sure they ate dinner, made sure they took baths, and still go over letters from school, and make sure homework is done.
I don’t see this trend changing anytime soon. Therefore, moms need to figure out how to work smarter to work less hard. Now before anyone misinterprets what I am saying, I am simply saying for the sake of being sane and healthy let’s figure out how to give our super mom cape a rest sometimes. The question is not “can we do it all”. We have already answered that question and the answer is “hell yeah”. I am proposing that we review all options and opportunities to make our life a little easier.
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The call center industry has seen growth in the last 15 years. Companies want to adhere to their customer needs in an efficient manner. As a result, corporations set strict standards to capitalize on the multitasking skills of call center agents who are willing to enter this work environment.
The industry has become so diverse agents have the opportunity for telecommuting, offline work, and advancement in cross skills training. At first this seems like an ideal profession that is continually growing and always seeking ambitious individuals who want to grow within a corporation.
There are dangers in working in call centers that I have previously discussed is past blogs. It is easy to ignore the dangers to your own personal health and social well-being. It is also important to understand the benefits your company offers to endure your health.
Consider other fields of employment such as construction workers, bank tellers, or even police officers. Each of these fields ensure safety measures to ensure workers have a measure of safety provided. These measures are governed and ensured in most cases for the safety of the employee and the clients they assist.
Similarly call center agents enter dangerous environments that are deadly. Even with extensive training there is no way to prepare a human for:
In addition, to these life-threatening illnesses, there is also the variant pay scale. Call center agents can make anywhere as low as 7.50 per hour or as high as 30.00 per hour. The higher rate in pay the increase in danger to the individuals who choose this line of work. There are corporations who provide reasonable health insurance and other benefits to try to assist. However, considering the risks there is more that can be done that corporations are not willing to pay for. Some benefits to provide a safe work environment can include:
It seems like navigating through the corporate shield to protect your health and social well being is difficult. If anything, it is scary. There is a fear of losing employment trying to ensure your own protection. Therefore, it is imperative you are not afraid to ask the scary questions. Consult your supervisor to find out what is available to you. If your supervisor cannot help you, consult your H.R department.
At the end of the day of a company is not willing to provide you with what is needed to protect you from the dangers of the job they created for you may have, it may not be a good company to work for. Don’t give up without a fight and always take care of you first. You are your best investment and you are only marketable if you are alive and happy.
It’s hard to believe that we culminate from high school hoping to be around accepting professionals only to find out that you are either being bullied, or you are a bully. Company cultures establish villages and tribes like the clicks in high school. These villages and tribes determine your career and social status within the company. This can be damaging not only to current and future employment, but to one’s confidence to succeed.
It’s important to recognize that adult bullying is just as debilitating as childhood bullying. It is important to recognize when bullying is happening even if it is not happening to you. We can all take part in either controlling the environment and or consoling the person being bullied.
Since adult bullying is a little subtler and less obvious that childhood bullying, we must be a little more observant. Here are some things that are easy to miss:
Giving someone a nickname they are clearly uncomfortable hearing.
Taking possession of someone else’s property without them offering or you even asking.
Whispering about a person right in front of them thinking they can’t hear you.
Starting gossip within the office with purpose and intent to defame the character of another person.
Violating the personal space whether they are in the space or not.
Passive aggressive comments about someone’s family.
I know when you are reading this list you are thinking “I do this and I don’t consider this bullying”. Well you are wrong. Compare these behaviors to similar behaviors in school. The way it felt to watch someone being bullied or even be on either end of bullying. These attributes are the same and have the same effect on socialization and performance.
We can all take an opportunity to reflect on our personal and professional environments. Make sure that we are not the bully or they person being bullied. Even more important are you watching the behavior and doing nothing to stop it. We can’t be successful if we ignore even the smallest details that are preventing success. Bullying is one of those things.
Last year the jobs report showed an increase in jobs added to the job market. “Nonfarm payrolls increased by 200,000, beating the median of Bloomberg's poll that had forecast 180,000 net new jobs. The unemployment rate remained at a 17-year low of 4.1%.” (Oyedele, Akin, US economy adds 200,000 jobs in January and wages rise at fastest pace since recession, Business insider, February 8, 2018) We are in a competitive job market coming into 2018. Millennials are leaving college ready for the job market and competing with Generation X, and Baby Boomer professionals that have gone back to college to re-skill and compete in this job market. If it sounds overwhelming, it certainly is. However, there are strategies you can use to be competitive in this aggressive job market. It is no longer just the degree, just the resume, just the job experience, or even just the presentation that will sell you to a future employer. With many progressive companies marketing to employees who are tech savvy and team players, you need to establish a strategy that works for your own success. Currently Communication Camp is offering free virtual coaching to those who want to “sharpen the saw” and or establish a strategy to ensure success. (Communicationscamp.com) Until you make the call or visit our page, here are a few tips to think about while going to interviews:
· Know your value and what you can bring to the company.
· Be confident in your abilities.
· Be willing to accept change
· When you answer your personal phone, consider it may be a future employer. Make sure to sound professional.
· Edit your resume to include only relevant experience.
· Upon arrival to an interview, dress for success.
· Speak clearly at the interview and eliminate filler words.
These are only a few tips. I invite you to visit Communicationscamp.com to build a strategy that works for you. Remember in this competitive job market, you are a product that is worthy of all resources available for you to be successful.
Working with new people can be difficult. If you are the new guy hired in with experience to work with someone with seniority, this can be intimidating. However, there is a reason you were hired, and you can’t ignore your worth.
There is negativity that can come with articulating your knowledge. Those with seniority my not be as welcoming. You have a choice to make. You can remain introverted as not to make any waves, or be comfortable with displaying your experience.
I recently had the pleasure of working with autistic students on an assignment. The class was assigned an aide. The aide had been with the school for a few years and established a flow that worked for her. When I came in, I was excited to not only follow the lesson plan provided by the teacher, but also to use my skills as someone who has worked with special needs kids (including my own son) for many years. She was not really open to this change. I had to decide; 1) Do I allow her to run the class as she is comfortable, or 2) Do I follow the lesson plan using my own skills and knowledge. I chose what was natural for me to do, which was provide the lesson using my skills and the resources provided. The bottom line is, her method was based on calming the room to make her job easier. Sometimes easier is just not better.
It was important for me to use the experience and be respectful of her seniority. This is a choice many of us must make in our professional lives. There is a strategy that that can allow this transition to be easier.
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Juanita Espino B.S. Comm., M.A.Ed.
Communications Consultant and Professional Advisor