The One Big Thing I Learned From Starbucks #starbucks #customerservice


It’s so simple it hurts my brain.  I have heard it many, many times in the business literature that I have read…. and it’s actually quite genius.

Ready?  The one big thing I learned from watching Starbucks employees serve customers is that they are all trained, each and every one of them, to learn a customer’s name.

That’s it.  Learn the customer’s name.  Not just listen for it and try to memorize it… but instead, actually ask for it. Many even make an effort to know how it is spelled.

I had to go back to one of my favorite books, How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie to be reminded why.  Dale states that the thing that people want to hear most is the sound of their own name.

Starbucks “pwned” that, big time.  They do it everywhere, in every store, every day with every employee.  Take that, Walmart greeter.

5 Tips To Remember About Being A #Director Of #Technology


Overflowing with customer service?

1. Get Shoes For the Cobbler’s Children.

There’s an old saying in business that the “cobbler’s children have no shoes.”  Nowhere else in business is it especially true than in technology delivery / technology services companies.  I have seen it many, many times.  Do networking and servers?  Then your own are being patched together with duct tape and glue (figuratively speaking).  Write great software?  Then you are resigned to entering expenses by hand in triplicate and faxing them to some black hole with the large Darth Vader looking behemoth from 1987.  It happens, I know.  It’s just tight budgets, I know.  Don’t have the money?  I know.  The only answer is to toe the line.  Ask for what your people need.  And put laser beam focus on getting at least ONE thing they absolutely should have to do their jobs.  Remember, you are a profit center (see below).  Your team will thank you for it and that loyalty will lead directly too a good team attitude.

2. Team Attitude Matters.

Got a hot coder or security expert on staff?  Great!  Can they talk to customers?  No?  Can they talk to your sales staff?.. or the marketing team?  No?  Goodbye awesome techie.  You are, as I said, a profit center.  Technical chops are required, but having a culture of nice is an absolute must.  To quote Jeffrey J. Fox, “nice costs nothing.”  To quote me, “a culture of nice makes money.”  A techie who can fit in well, speaks well, is genuine, has a great attitude and is nice is an enormous asset.  Keep them.

3. All Money Is Customer Money.

The money you take home and the money the rest of the team takes home is not money coming from the company.  That money actually flows through the company from… you guessed it, the customer.  All that money is customer money. Similar to #2, above, I am once again saying in a different way that technical chops are important but customer service is key.  Everyone in your area (and everyone in the company) needs to remember that all money is customer money.

4. Understanding Marketing Is Critical.

Don’t like marketing?  You’re at a disadvantage.  In a customer focused technology delivery company you really need to know your market so you can tell what technical direction to go.  You are, after all, a director, right?  So, set the direction based on what customers want (and not necessarily what they need, another nugget from Jeffrey J. Fox) rather than what technology is cool.  Yes, you do need to know which way the technical wind is blowing.  That’s a certainty, but ignore marketing at your own peril. And oh yeah, read Mr. Fox’s marketing book.  Right now.

5. In A Technology Delivery Company, You Run A Profit Center.

Once again, you have to remember absolutely, unequivocally, un-apologetically and without hesitation, that you run a profit center.  This simple truth can and should drive almost all your decision making.  That means, your team is the product (even if they make products) and they directly impact the “making of the money.”  So, do not waste money but spend it on things that make the team more productive.  Focus on efficiency of delivery.  Focus on quality.  Focus on serving customers. Profit.

Top 5 Things I Learned About Getting Started Recording An #Audiobook


Mic for recording an audiobookMy very first endeavor into recording an audiobook is live.  I learned a few things along the way that I thought people might want to know.  Frankly, with a little persistence and open-mindedness, it was easier than I expected to get started.

Getting Started Recording an Audiobook

1. Setting up a home studio is less expensive than I thought it would be.

I spent $65 on a high quality USB microphone and cheap pop filter.  That’s it.  Granted, I already had the PC that I plugged the microphone into and a nice small office that was very quiet, but you do not need to spend the roughly $1500 that ACX recommends to get started.  You also do not need the software they recommend either.  It’s very good, but the open source and free Audacity works very, very well for mastering audio.  That said, I still recommend watching the ACX videos on setting up a home studio for great tips.

2. Know the few key quality assurance points for submitting audio files.

According to the ACX submission guidelines, there are specific parameters that you need to follow to be able to upload your audio files without them being rejected.  Read those!  To start though, remember to record your audio at a 192Kpbs rate into an MP3 file and at 44.1kHz.  The good news is that Audacity does that pretty much by default.  Also, do not forget to add between 0.5 to 1 second of room tone at the beginning of each chapter and 1 to 5 seconds of room tone at the end (room tone is basically silence, ACX gives you more information on that).

3. You do need to think ahead regarding taxes.

ACX needs to know tax information to be able to pay you.  So, be prepared to give that information.

4. Finding the right type of book to record for your first time around is not too tough.

ACX has a wide variety of filters to be able to find the right book, particularly around payment types.  Most are royalty based which means that you will be paid for each audiobook sold.  Some have a payment per finished hour of audio ($50 PFH for example).  To start, royalty based payment holds the least risk for the book publisher so audition for one of those.  You are more likely to get the contract.

5. Do NOT expect to get rich…but do expect to feel really good when your first recording gets published.

Tell all your friends, feel good about it and have fun with it!