The local credit union put a twist on the usual “visit from Santa” by hosting a live reindeer to celebrate Christmas. His handler, Mrs. Claus, wouldn’t let me pet the reindeer but she did share some Reindeer Facts that could impress the guests at your holiday gathering:
Reindeer hair is hollow, and the warm air is trapped inside each hair. Their coat is soft, dense, warm and waterproof.
Reindeer differ from other deer in that both males and females have antlers.
Reindeer antlers are a soft, rubbery, mass of blood and marrow covered with soft furred skin called velvet. Toward the end of August, the blood stops flowing and the bone begins to harden.
Reindeer have broad hooves, designed for walking in snow and ice.
Reindeer can pull up to twice their own weight, making them an ideal animal for pulling a sleigh.
The entire time of the visit, Mrs. Claus remained in character and spoke as if the reindeer next to her would be flying Santa around tonight. Who knows!!
Two takeaways from my encounter with this famous animal: 1) Santa is seemingly everywhere so kudos to the credit union for doing something different, and 2) If you do an event, bonus points for doing it right. Not only did they have the reindeer, but Mrs. Claus had a beautiful costume, cards with reindeer facts, cookies and candy canes, etc. It was a celebration.
I hope you’ve been on the Nice List and the reindeer finds you tonight!
I received an early present that was an autographed CD – and I love it. Of course, the music is good but having that Sharpie-scroll from the artist makes it extra special. I treasure my autographed books, too, and this gift caused me to lament the loss of autographs and cover art that has been supplanted by Kindles and streaming and all forms of digitization.
I wonder if selfies have become the new autograph. Now, instead of a signature, people take pictures with the “famous person” as I have done with presidential candidates coming through town. It’s nice, but not the same.
As you move to new technologies and update your operations, think about how you can preserve some of the aspects that made things special. Autographs may be old school but they’re still endearing to some.
At a basketball game, I was fortunate enough to sit next to Sophie, a gorgeous black lab. Sophie is a service-dog-in-training and was at the game to help her become socialized and accustomed to loud noises.
What intrigued me about Sophie is that the family who brought her is fostering her – just for this weekend. It’s part of the socialization process to have the dogs spend time with different people in new environments. This family has this weekend with this dog, then another weekend with another dog, etc.
So often we think of commitments as all or nothing but there really are many more options in between. Maybe you aren’t in a position to own a dog or foster it for extended periods, but could you socialize one for a few weekends? The same is true in most other settings: you can volunteer for one night at the soup kitchen without having to sign up for every week; you could make calls one time for your candidate without volunteering to canvass nightly, or you can help with one event without committing to the committee.
The next time you do nothing because you can’t do everything, think of Sophie and say yes to one part.
I just finished The Christmas Shopaholic novel and it occurred to me that the holiday has spawned an entire genre of its own. There is a whole section of Christmas-themed books at the Library, both in print and audio. Radio stations devote their entire playlist for weeks to Christmas music. Hallmark has a cottage industry with its holiday movie series, but many others on television as well as in the movie theater base their plots around the Christmas theme. When taken as a whole, it is an amazing amount of art produced with one holiday at its core.
Consider whether this presents an opportunity for you or your organization. Maybe you can create your own Christmas-based story or video to add to the offerings. On a personal level, maybe you can craft a gift basket of books, music and movies that celebrate the occasion and use it as an actual present or as the prize in a raffle. Perhaps you can organize a holiday-art swap and exchange Christmas favorites so that others can expand their themed consumption next year. Or maybe you can start with Christmas as a theme for your next writing prompt since it appears to stimulate others’ artistic production.
Whether you create it or consume it, take a few moments in the craziness of the next week to enjoy some of the holiday magic that authors, artists and musicians have compiled for you.
Contrast yesterday’s dot about abysmal service at Best Buy with the Apple Stores and their Genius Bar. For those unfamiliar, the Genius Bar is where the technology experts take appointments to solve problems with hardware, software or just user capability. When I recently had to make a visit, my laptop was fixed and cleaned in 15 minutes, all while I sat on a stool and gazed out lovingly at the many other Apple products that I would like to buy.
When something goes wrong with a product, it’s a point of frustration and anger with the user. Apple has anticipated that things will not be 100% perfect and created a way to make the repair process as pleasant as possible. In fact, by doing so at the Apple Store, they turn what could be (should be?) a negative event into a sales opportunity. Now that’s genius.
Think about your product or service and where the failure points may occur. What could you do to minimize the impact that they have on your clients? Can you add extra attention and focus on helping things go right after they have gone wrong so that you net a positive outcome from an otherwise unpleasant experience?
Direct your geniuses to address the pain points, rather than the ongoing functions. Those who handle the hiccups well enhance their customer loyalty more than when things remain smooth.
My friend bought a new iPad and we went to Best Buy to purchase a case. When the salesperson came up to us in the Apple section, we explained what we wanted. Even though we showed him the tablet that we had just purchased, his first comment was: “I hate Apple.” Seriously?
He proceeded to show us cases and tell us what was wrong with them, finally conceding that they did not have any in stock that fit the iPad we had. We were more than happy to leave.
I hear all the time that brick and mortar retailers are facing two challenges: 1) more people are shopping online and 2) it is difficult for them to hire good help. I think the two problems are related. Why should I put up with a condescending salesperson in person when Amazon is happy to outline the features side by side and deliver a case that fits right to my door? We went to the store to get assistance and, ideally, an expert perspective of which product was right for my friend’s needs. We did not go to have the choice of a brand-new product belittled.
If the service is great, it will draw people into the store. I think about how nice it is when I shop at small boutiques or places where the clerks are actually helpful. If you have front-line service staff working for you, do some secret shopping and learn whether they are helping or harming your sales efforts. One bad apple can spoil the already-fragile in-person retail experience.
At a meeting of the local city council, an economic development representative from the neighboring community was on the agenda. It was a goodwill visit – just providing updates and not asking for anything at this juncture – but it went a long way to prime the relationship so that it is solid when the time does come for a favor.
Here are some examples of how he did so:
Showered great appreciation to the mayor and city administrator for the time allocation on the agenda
Shared highlights of economic development success – and gave the council credit as “part of a team that worked together.”
Showed deference to all the city officials, referring to them by their formal titles
Promised that he would be “candid and unvarnished” in his report and answers to questions
Answered with “excellent question” to all of his queries
Ended with the statement: “If you are ever feeling down, call me to make you feel good. Seriously, you folks are great. Keep doing what you’re doing.”
He spoke for less than five minutes, but that time was well invested. The council knows who he is, knows that he knows who they are and that he sees them as partners in the economic development efforts. The next time he does need something – and surely, he will – he’s starting from a positive position instead of from scratch.
Think about the relationships that may benefit you down the road. The time is now to invest in them, rather than waiting until you need a favor. Make it a resolution to do a goodwill visit and purely show appreciation to one of your partners, with no immediate requests.