Returning to Linda’s Bookbag – Happy Thanksgiving!

GratitudeHello everyone,

As I was thinking about sharing my bookbag with you this month, I realized that some of the things in my bookbag aren’t really books.

I read dozens of books a year and I add to my reading through a host of magazine subscriptions such as American Libraries, Chief Learning Officer, Harvard Business Review, Psychology Today, and one of my favorites for “living life,” SUCCESS Magazine.

When I first saw an issue of SUCCESS several years ago, I will admit my cynicism. I concluded that it must be about how to become a millionaire by the age of 25 or some such fantasy. And although the magazine does sometimes speak to the idea of managing finances or growing a business, what I found interesting then and still find very helpful are the many articles on topics ranging from leadership skills to networking to decision making, to expressing gratitude for each day, which I think we can all relate to, especially at this time of year.

To give you an idea of the breadth of topics, a recent article was titled, “Would Today Be a Good Day to Die?” Sounds rather macabre, eh? Actually, it was written to encourage readers to think about how they move through each day – and how, at the end of the day, they would answer that question. If life must end, and we know it does for all of us, will I be able to look back at that specific day and know that I lived it well? Did I help someone learn something new? Did I simply help someone? Did I do something to encourage my own growth? Did I play with my kitties and throw toys for my dog? Did I enjoy the beautiful Florida weather? Did I notice how blue the sky is or how the birds at the feeder are sharing nicely? Did I take time to reflect on fond memories of those who are no longer with me?

Obviously, we all suffer from “blah” days now and then. Sometimes we even suffer from very bad days! The key is to recognize whether those types of days are the exception or the rule. If the blah or bad days are the rule, perhaps we need to find ways to lessen their frequency.

Although I strive to make most of my days great days, I decided to begin a simple gratitude list rather than a journal. I already use a journal for other writing and I didn’t want this to become another thing on my “to-do” list. Instead, I begin each day by writing at least one thing I’m thankful for – sometimes two or three or more. I actually number them to remind myself of what I have to be thankful for. Even though I only started a few months ago, my list is already close to 500! I amuse myself when I look back and see something I’ve recorded more than once without realizing it – my fuzzy blanket, for instance 😊. Sometimes those duplicates come within days of each other, which seems to indicate that I am particularly thankful for those particular items, since I don’t even realize I already recorded them!

I just jot down a word or phrase that describes what I’m thankful for that day. Sometimes it’s a person’s name. It could be hot water in the shower, an email to let me know someone is thinking of me, a kitty asleep on my lap (when they aren’t asleep, I’m not always so thankful, lol), a new booking I received to conduct training for someone – and a hundred other things if I just pay attention.

This ritual, for me, accomplishes two things: it requires me to look for things I’m thankful for every single day AND it allows me to look back and remind myself that I do indeed have much to be thankful for.

So…what are you thankful for? Was today a day well lived?

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What do Customers Really Want??

We’re going to take a break from Linda’s Bookbag to discuss an upcoming webinar topic.

The discussion of customers and what we can do to really impress them with our service is what might be called an “evergreen” topic – it never dies!

Just when we think we have all the bells and whistles they might want in materials, programming, databases, and even technology (if that’s ever possible!), they still don’t seem to be what we might call “delighted” with our service. Why is that?

Let’s take a moment to think about what’s going on in our world. As hard as organizations work to figure out what you might like, much of that attempt has become automated by technology. Have you ever searched Google only to have something pop up that you looked at the day before? Maybe even asking if you are sure you don’t want it? It’s almost scary, isn’t it? Although I’m sure Google thought they made my day by wishing me a happy birthday last year (complete with dancing cupcakes!), it really felt almost creepy.

I don’t know about you, but I really don’t want someone looking over my shoulder and invading my space through technology when I am simply going about my business. So, from my perspective at least, I don’t think the latest and greatest in programs and/or technology is the be-all and end-all of making customers very happy with our service. Do we need dynamic, ever-changing programming? Sure. Do we need to stay up-to-date with the latest technology as much as possible? Of course.

Instead of expending all our energy in those areas, though, maybe there are other areas we can look at to see if we are really pleasing our customers as much as we think we are.

Let me give you a personal example. Some of you know that my husband passed away in March of this year after 10 years of health issues which had escalated over the past 3 years. Just before he went to the hospital for a minor surgery, I picked up a routine prescription that he would need when he got home. Sadly, he never made it home. In my frantic effort to gain some control over my life during that awful time, a few days after his death, I took the prescription back to my pharmacy – Publix. I was certain they wouldn’t be able to take it back and sure enough, the pharmacy tech informed me that wasn’t permitted through their system. She asked the pharmacist and he agreed. They were not permitted to accept the drugs back. Now…here’s where the “delight your customer” attitude comes in. The pharmacist expressed his condolences and told me they would give me full credit, even though they couldn’t accept the drugs. The other pharmacist on duty came from behind the counter to give me a hug. Wow. It was “only” $47, but $47, especially in those circumstances, can seem like a lot of money going down the drain. But they gave me that $47 back. Could they afford it? Yep. They probably do $47 in business every minute! Did they have to do that? Nope. Do you think I will ever get prescriptions through any other pharmacy if I can help it? No, I surely will not.

Okay, so that’s a pretty dramatic example of exceptional customer service. But let’s look at life through the lens of your patrons.

What “stuff” are they bringing with them when they enter your library? Personal health issues? Relationship problems? Financial problems? An argument with the teenage child? Too many obligations? A negative customer service experience with some other entity in the past 24 hours? As we all know, those kinds of experiences are all too common these days!

If you think about it, the chances of them having had an exceptionally good customer experience in the recent past – with anyone – is fairly small these days. At least that’s the way it feels to a lot of people I speak with as I travel in my work.

So, what can we do to delight our customers in our current “customer-centric” culture? That’s just what we’ll talk about in our upcoming webinar on Thursday, September 14, 2 p.m. CT. Register now!

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What’s in Linda’s Bookbag?

Those of you who’ve met me or attended any of my training sessions know that I love to learn. And of course, one of the best ways to learn (besides attending training, of course!) is to read. I don’t often have an opportunity to attend training sessions unless I’m presenting them, but I do love to read. Imagine that!

The term “personal development” sometimes gets a bad rap these days, but if you think about it, those of us who help others learn in any context are really helping with their personal development, aren’t we?

In light of that, in my PLAN blog posts, I’d like to share some of the tools that have helped me in my own personal – and professional – development.

One book that quickly comes to mind is Continue reading “What’s in Linda’s Bookbag?”

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