Thursday, July 28, 2011

Good Customer Service Keeps Customers

I have worked a few jobs in which my pay was dependent upon good customer service. Mainly as a server, if I didn't produce good customer service then my tip was reflective of that. That doesn't mean that every time I gave good service I got a good tip, but if I gave bad service you can bet that my tip was almost always reflective of that.

Recently a new bike shop opened on Franklin Road near our church. With a few triathlons coming up I knew that I needed to get my bike tuned up and ready for the upcoming races. It's not the closest shop to my house, but when I called they told me that they could get my bike in and out in less than 24 hours. This was win #1 since the shop that closer to my house told me it would be 10 days before I could get my bike back.

I took my bike in and, as promised, I was called less than 24 hours later and told my bike was ready to be picked up. When I got my bike home I noticed that I couldn't get into the top chain ring. No big deal, I made the adjustment and planned to go for a ride the next day. I rode my bike a few times and noticed that the chain was starting to rub the front derailleur. Again, I made an adjustment, only this time after making the adjustment I couldn't get into the top chain ring once again. After this I took the bike in to have the mechanic look at it. After a few minutes, several adjustments to the derailleur and cleaning the shifter all appeared to be good to go. Because I had just been in for a tune up he didn't charge me anything for the time it took to get me going again. During the Music City triathlon, however, I was not able to get back in the gear after getting in and back out one time.

The day after the race I took my bike in again and left it for the mechanic to take a look at. I was told that I may need a new shifter, but they would definitely try to fix the one I currently have. The next day, again less than 24 hours, I got a call that my bike was fixed and there was no need for a new shifter. On top of that, he only charged me for the parts it took to fix my bike. I took the bike out yesterday and everything works great!

Because of a few small things, R.B.'s Cyclery in Franklin has not only earned my business, but I will tell everyone I know that rides or is in the market for a bicycle about them. First, they gave my an expectation and they met that expectation. Jason, the mechanic, told me that my bike would be ready the following day twice and both times it was ready. Second, they managed my expectations well. I was prepared for the fact that it may be an expensive fix. I wasn't told one thing and then sold something else.

In my opinion, customer service is not hard. If you manage your customer's expectations and show them that you are willing to work hard to get their need taken care of you will earn their trust and their business. I can tell this first hand. And I will continue to give my business to R.B.'s.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Lessons from My Triathlon

This weekend I participated in The Music City Triathlon. This was my second time to complete this race, and my third triathlon overall. I have at least one more that I and racing this year and possibly a second. Last year's Music City triathlon was my first and so I went into it not really knowing what to expect. I knew the events and the distances, but I didn't really know how I would react, how my body would react, or even how well I would do. This year, however, I had a plan going in as well as a goal. I accomplished my goal and completed the race 10 minutes faster than I did last year! As I have thought back through the race several things have come to mind that I think I can apply, not only to triathlons and other races that I compete in, but in life in general.

It all begins with preparation - I trained a lot for this race. I don't know that I trained more this year than I did last year, but I think I was more consistent over the previous 12 months. The results are that I am in better overall fitness, therefore faster on race day.

Have a strategy going in - I had a goal that I wanted to accomplish in the race and a plan on how I was going to attempt to get it done. I thought about the things I believed it would take to accomplish my goal and worked to implement the strategy.

Don't be afraid to make adjustments on the fly - My plan going into the race was to use the run/walk method for the run portion: running 4 minutes and walking 1 minute. As I started the run I felt strong but immediately came to a steep hill. After a few cycles of the run/walk, however, I felt pretty good and knew that if I was going to keep up my time I would have to run more. I was able to run more than I planned and this helped me achieve my goal.

Encouragement along the way is HUGE - This may be the biggest part for me. I am pretty sure Allison has either competed in or been a spectator at every race I've done with the exception of one when she was pregnant. She and Cooper get up early and fight traffic only to see a few glimpses of me along the way and to see me at the finish line. This, however, is great motivation for me. To see them smiling on the side of the road, cheering, and yelling my name is such a great feeling. Every time I see them I get a burst of energy that keeps my feet moving.

I have completed several races other than the three triathlons. I don't think, however, that I've ever really come away with things that I learned from the race or at least I never took the time to think about it. From now on, after a race I will definitely try to sit down and think through some of the things that I learned and can possibly use going forward in other races or in life generally.

Have you ever competed in a triathlon or other endurance race of some type? If so, what did you learn in the process?

Thursday, July 21, 2011

The Need to Unplug?

I have recently read several articles about unplugging and how most people either don't or at least hide the fact that they don't unplug on vacation. I have been on two trips in the past 3 months. One trip I didn't even open my work e-mail from the day I left work until the day I returned. On the other I deleted unwanted e-mails every 2-3 days, but left all others to be taken care of when I returned. That has never really been a problem for me. When I leave work I am typically able to leave it at work.

In my mind, social media is a whole other animal. Allison and I took a hiatus from social media during Lent. We didn't check or post to Facebook or Twitter during this time and I will tell you, both of us are glad we did this. It showed us how much time we spent looking at these and I don't think either one of us have gone back to the level that we were at before Lent.

I will admit, I love social media. I love community and I am a natural extrovert. I have an account on many of the social media outlets and check many of them daily. I also realize that sometimes we should be unplugged. Allison and I have certain rules that we try to go by with regard to our phones and computers. I haven't done this, but I wonder if from time to time we should just unplug completely? Turn off all forms of communication or at least don't answer them unless it appears to be an emergency. I can't guarantee this will happen, but I think I may try to do this on a regular basis.

What about you? Do you go by any rules when it comes to social media, smart phones, e-mail, ect? Do you unplug on a regular basis?

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Not Another Empty Promise...I Hope

Okay, I'm calling do over, or start over, or second chance. Maybe it's past my second chance, but that's not the point. The point is that I am starting over. I have considered a new blog and even created one, but I am not sure that will help my lack of writing or inspire me, in any way, to write more regularly. I am, however, committing to post on a regular basis. If I still have any readers left, I am committing to you that I will post more often then, say, every 114 days. I am not committing to posting every day. I am starting with twice per week, on Tuesday and Thursday. If I decide to post more than that, so be it. But for now I am only promising twice. Feel free to call me out if there is no post on any given Tuesday or Thursday, I may need encouragement and/or prompting.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Really? 114 Days?

I am not sure if I'm lazy in writing, not interested, not creative, but I just noticed that I haven't posted here in almost 115 days. That's almost 4 months. It's not because I don't want to, because I do. I think I have just hit a block on what to say. I can tell you one thing though, it's not because nothing has been going on. Since the last time I posted I or we have: celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary, been to Africa, ran a 5k, trained a lot for a triathlon or two, gone on vacation, hosted 71 people at our house for a 4th of July party, and continued work on our house. We have done other things as well, but these are the major highlights. Things are well and hopefully I will get back to a normal routine of posting to the blog. We'll see about that...