“Relocation is stressful. You as a person change more than your address, regardless of how often you do this. You’ll begin to navigate the new culture, appreciate the new place, make new friends, find your comfort zone in your new office, and more. The hardest part is moving on and leaving it all behind.”
Would you believe it if I told you I have changed residences 10 times in the last 10 years? If you have experienced relocating, you know what it takes to move from one place to another. This relocation madness involved 4 countries in 3 continents. Just last year, our twin boys were born in South Florida and here we are, 11 months later, living in South Texas.
All the relocation is from the same company I have worked with for 13 years now. I am a pretty loyal soldier, don’t you think? I have allowed my superiors to move me where they need me. During the expansion years of the company, I was relocated because of post merger integration projects. I have always been open to relocating, even though I know it is hard. The last one though, with the infant twins, was the hardest one so far. (So I hope this is the last move in a while.)
Does this make me a relocation expert? Of course! Nothing beats experience and going through a complicated process repeatedly in a short span of time. I am sure my wife is an expert at this too– even more than me. We have attended relocation and cultural training countless of times in different countries to prepare us for every transfer. She has been more engaged in the process because she is more hands-on with it. Usually, before we are relocated, I would have been travelling back and forth between home and the city we were moving to. I would have spent a lot of my time in the new place at work already and be familiar with the new city. In my wife’s case, she usually gets to be in the new city only when we are actually relocated.
Here are some things that I have learned in these 10-years of relocation madness that might help you, whether you are thinking of relocating or are in the process of doing so.
First of all — and I will be honest and straightforward here — relocation is stressful. You as a person change more than your address, regardless of how often you do this. You’ll begin to navigate the new culture, appreciate the new place, make new friends, find your comfort zone in your new office, and more. The hardest part is moving on and leaving it all behind. So before you decide to relocate, make sure you are really decided on doing it. Relocating is no easy task. You need to make your decision with your family (and friends) and weigh your options very well. You can liken this to preparing for a hike and you need to pack your first aid kit and safety equipment. So the first point in relocation is, pack your emotional first aid kit first.
Look-and-see visits are important. This is when you travel to the new place to give you an idea of the culture, people, neighborhood, and more. In my case, often I did not get to use it because I was already familiar with the new place from frequent business trips. For your spouse, it could be a critical part of the process. It is just like when buying a car, you don’t just talk to a salesman before you make the decision. You test drive the car around the block.
Last but not the least, understand and take advantage of your relocation package (if you have one). It is not cheap to relocate. If your company is moving you, make sure your moving cost is covered. This will ease a lot of stress. Usually, company packages include a relocation bonus to cover incidental expenses of the move, a look-and-see visit, support in moving household goods, cultural training (especially when moving to another country) and assistance in finding your new home, etc. If you are doing this by yourself, be prepared financially. Research what you need, service providers (movers, real estate agents, banks,and the like) you need and how much it costs. Make sure you can afford it. You don’t want money issues to be an additional burden to an already emotionally stressful process.
(It’s been a while since my last post…now you know why, we just relocated again!)
Photo by Crafty Joe
It’s not that successful people are givers; it is that givers are successful people. – Patti Thor
I was up early Friday morning to monitor news about the massive earthquake that hit Japan. An 8.9-magnitude earthquake followed by a 35-foot tsunami hit the coast of Japan at 2:46 p.m. Tokyo time Friday. It was the most powerful recorded in the Japan’s history, and the seventh largest ever recorded worldwide. The tsunami warning was issued in virtually all areas of the Pacific Rim. Also, I was closely monitoring news about the effect of the tsunami back home in the Philippines through local news outlet Inquirer. The Philippine government ordered the country’s mostly rural Pacific seaboard cleared of people on Friday. Inquirer reported that 224,243 people were moved off the coasts overnight, either on their own or using military trucks.
Web and Social Media Resources at Work
Beyond Twitter traffic and Facebook, many media organizations like CNN are live-blogging information as it comes in. Click here to access CNN live blog. Government agencies are also providing valuable information on their sites. Citizens have also taken to Flickr to post pictures of the disaster.
I also followed real-time updates from Twitter where thousands of tweets per minute came in. Most can be filtered using two primary hashtags — #tsunami and #prayforjapan. They are trending on Twitter since Friday. (Click on the hashtags to view real-time twitter feed.)
Shortly Google deployed People Finder tool that was so effective during the 2004 Tsunami and 2010 Haiti Earthquake:
If you are looking for first-person accounts, a lot of residents from affected areas have also posted eyewitness videos in Youtube from inside their homes and public buildings, and from the streets with their neighbors. Click here to see videos posted in Youtube pertaining to the earthquake and tsunami.
How you can help:
- Donate to the Japanese Red Cross Society through Google Crisis Response website. Donations are accepted in Japanese Yen only. ($20 is approximately 1600 yen) Your donation must be at least 100 yen, up to 25,000 yen.
- “Txt REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation to #Japan eq & Pacific #tsunami relief. http://bit.ly/eZJDoJ” – @redcross American Red Cross
- The Japan Earthquake and Tsunami Relief Fund was launched at GlobalGiving.org to garner funds that will be given to a variety of relief organizations helping victims of the earthquake. It has already raised over $800,000, particularly from concerned Twitter users around the world.
- Save the Children: Emergency Relief for Japan Quake www.savethechildren.org/japanquake Toll free: 800-728-3843 Text JAPAN or 20222 to donate.
- Salvation Army donate.salvationarmyusa.org, Toll free: 800-SAL-ARMY, Text QUAKE or 80888 to donate $10
Thanks for helping out.– @GlennRemoreras
Can you remember your most bizarre customer experience ever? Let me tell you mine. It just happened today! There are lessons to be learned in all experiences — even the most bizarre one. After reading this, I encourage you to write your comments or share your own customer service story.
I went to a Pep Boys car service center for routine service maintenance today. I parked my car outside and immediately proceeded to the service counter. When I walked in, there was only one service staff member at the counter and he was busy assisting another customer. So I waited in line. Soon after, he greeted me warmly and told me that he’ll attend to me shortly. As a customer waiting in the line, it feels good to be acknowledged. After a couple minutes, it was my turn. I told the service staff member that I was there for routine periodic maintenance. He asked me for pertinent information about my car, the mileage and went on to suggest maintenance work recommended for my car. He provided me with valuable information to help me decide on a service option. After that, we chose a service package. I didn’t have to spend time giving other additional information; they’ve got my data in the system from my previous visits.
Aside from taking my car for maintenance, I had another motive for going to Pep Boys today. I needed copies of my previous maintenance service documents. My car dealer, where I purchased my car a few years ago, needs proof of periodic car maintenance for a service warranty issue. So I asked the Pep Boys service member for my maintenance records in the last two and a half years. I was impressed on how he was able to quickly pull up information and print records. He even explained to me – one by one — the types of maintenance service my car has gone through. I thought it was really impressive service—above and beyond expectations. It was so much better than I thought it would be. I was a happy customer.
At the end of that initial interaction, the service member told me that my car will be ready in 45 minutes. I normally ask how much time it would take, but this time the service staff beat me to it. He gave the promise promptly and so I told him I will come back in 45 minutes.
When I left the service center, I was their happiest customer. I walked to the nearby Dunkin Donuts store to get myself some breakfast. I was so overjoyed with the customer experience that I even bought a dozen donuts for the service staff member who assisted me and for the other service crew working at Pep Boys. I thought it was the least that I can do to express my appreciation for the excellent service they provide their customers. If I can’t give monetary tips—for sure a dozen of donuts will express my gratitude.
While waiting at Dunkin Donuts, I wrote a tweet on my Blackberry that I intended to send shortly after I leave Pep Boys. I was tempted to send the tweet right away, but decided at the last moment to save it as a draft and wait. The draft tweet went like this:
“Today I bought a dozen Dunkin Donuts as a gesture of appreciation for the Pep Boys staff and service crew for their excellent customer service.” (Tweet that I never got to send)
I ended up staying an hour and a half at Dunkin Donuts as I enjoyed my cup of coffee and worked on my book. I got so preoccupied with writing that I lost track of time. I only realized that more than an hour had passed when my wife called me. She was at her baby shower, was packing up and ready to go. She told me that I could pick her up as soon as I was ready. Because I was so sure that my car was ready and waiting for me at Pep Boys, I told her I will pick her up shortly. It was almost two hours since I left Pep Boys and I was promised the car would be ready in 45 minutes.
I walked back with my dozen donuts and looked forward to giving it to the staff and service crew as a token of gratitude. Opportunities to affirm service personnel for their excellent service always make me happy. I always look forward to opportunities where I can affirm people for excellent work that they do. Upon entering Pep Boys, I noticed my car was parked just outside the store, so I was assured that the service was finished and the car had been waiting for pick up all this time. So I walked to the counter where two service personnel were talking. They were not assisting anyone but I thought they were discussing something work-related. Unlike earlier that morning, no one acknowledged or greeted me. I thought it was a big difference from that morning’s experience.
I just continued standing by the counter and observing the personnel carry on their conversation, with my dozen donuts now on top of the counter. I didn’t say a word. After a couple of minutes, I saw the same service staff member who assisted me earlier. He walked past me and went back outside. He didn’t acknowledge me and I thought that maybe he was just busy.
I decided to just stand there by the counter and wait (ever-patient customer that I am). Finally after waiting for several minutes, one of the service personnel (perhaps realizing that I have been waiting a while) at the counter finally asked, “Has someone attended to you already?” I answered, “No, but I am here to pick up my car that was serviced this morning.” She asked for my name and immediately tried looking for my paperwork. I had a feeling something was wrong when she could not find my papers on the pile of finished work. The lady started asking around if someone had serviced an Audi. It was only then that my original service person responded and told me that they haven’t even started work on it yet.
What?! I had reason to be mad as hell but I wasn’t. I could complain to the manager but I didn’t. Instead, I very patiently reminded the service person that helped me earlier that he promised the car will be ready in 45 minutes. It was now nearly two hours later. As a customer, I just expected an apology and explanation. But to my surprise, he became very defensive and explained that the service crew busy servicing other cars and 45 minutes was just an estimate, not a promise. He did not apologize and was very close to being rude.
I did not argue nor complained; I just told them that I will wait. So I took my dozen donuts and sat in the waiting area. I took out my tablet and proceeded to write about my experience – most of what is written here – and waited for another 45 minutes.
It was so strange. My customer experience form earlier that morning to what happened afterwards was as different as night and day. I thought about how things could change so abruptly in just two hours — how inconsistent and how bad. But this is not the end of the story—you will be surprised at how it concluded.
My plan was to just get my car after the service, drive home, eat my donuts and post this blog. I approached the counter after 45 minutes and a different service person arrived with my car key. He sincerely apologized. He told me that I did not owe them anything for the service and they were sorry for making me wait for so long. I thought it was a nice gesture. I surely did not expect to get something out of it because I kept my cool and did not even complain. How did they know that I was furious and so frustrated inside? I thought they read the situation well. I also thought that the last service person I spoke with responded well and turned things around a bit. I tried to explain to him what happened earlier that morning and even told him about the donuts intended as a token of appreciation for the excellent service I anticipated (but sadly did not get). In the end, I wasn’t completely satisfied but decided to give the donuts to the hardworking service crew (that did the actual work on my car) and left.
As you can imagine, this was such a weird customer experience—a definite roller coaster ride. I wouldn’t wish anyone to experience what I went through today but I learned a lot. I took the opportunity to observe rather than complain. I did this with the intention of writing about it and providing customer service insights to my readers.
From today’s experience, here are my customer service takeaways:
- Customer service delivery must be consistent. That is how you will win customer loyalty.
- Don’t make promises unless you will keep them. Be careful of what you promise to your customer. That will create the expectation of the service. Reliability is one of the keys to any good relationship, and good customer service is no exception. Try to keep your promise or exceed your promise as best possible. That’s how you wow customers with your service.
- When you fail to deliver, it is very crucial to acknowledge, empathize, explain and give a sincere apology. More importantly, don’t be rude and defensive.
- When a mistake is made, customers want it to be handled quickly and to their satisfaction. They want some kind of action that acknowledges a mistake was made and every effort is being done to correct it. When you recover, you may find that your customer is even more loyal than before.
What do you think about my experience today? What would you have felt or what would you have done if you were in my situation? Have you had the same bizarre customer experience before? Would you return to Pep Boys if this happened to you?
Photos courtesy of Ivy Remoreras Photography.
The stats helper monkeys at WordPress.com mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health: The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads Wow!
The average container ship can carry about 4,500 containers. This blog was viewed about 16,000 times in 2010. If each view were a shipping container, your blog would have filled about 4 fully loaded ships.
In 2010, there were 29 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 45 posts. There were 103 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 21mb. That’s about 2 pictures per week.
The busiest day of the year was September 5th with 232 views. The most popular post that day was Social Shared Services.
Where did they come from?
The top referring sites in 2010 were facebook.com, twitter.com, ssonetwork.com, shift.cemex.com, and itsmportal.com.
Some visitors came searching, mostly for shared services, support, monterrey mexico flooding, monterrey, and services.
Attractions in 2010
These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.
Social Shared Services September 2010
Monterrey Mexico – Beyond Recognition! July 2010
When I reflect on where I am today, I remember the journey that I have been through — my childhood in the humble hometown of Catbalogan (in the Philippines) where our parents raised us three boys. I see how the daring dream of parents, nurturing love, and early childhood lessons can shape a wonderful life. I know that by truly knowing who you are, your strengths and core values, you can relate to others better, gain more friends and be successful in life.
This is the time of the year when you reflect on what happened during the year and the years that have gone by. Christmas is always filled with emotions and longing to be with your family and loved ones. I have spent 31 out of 33 Christmases in my life with my family in Catbalogan. Last year, I was there too. This Christmas is the second one that I won’t be spending at home. We are pregnant with twin boys and obviously, the doctor won’t allow my wife to travel. So we are spending this holiday season in Florida for the first time.
I would like to dedicate this post to my parents, Ignacio and Leonita Remoreras. They are the best parents in the world and I attribute most of what I am and what I have become to them. These are the values and lessons they have taught me and my two other brothers, Lemuel and Ryan, when we were growing up.
The importance of hardwork was a lesson I learned early in life. Leading to Christmas, at this time of the year, I remember my brothers and I would be busy helping our parents operate the store. My parents own a small store in our hometown in the Philippines. We initially sold mostly school and office supplies but eventually offered more and more gift items, especially in the months leading to Christmas. December had always been a special month for the family — a month of lots of preparation and work. After school breaks for Christmas, my classmates looked forward to vacation while my brothers and I looked forward to working everyday during the Christmas break. Our parents instilled in us the culture of shared responsibility. They did not hire store helpers early on and they expected us to help in every aspect of the business.
About 30% of our store’s annual gross sales come from the month of December. That’s how important the month is for our livelihood. You can just imagine the amount of work that it represented to us. It was a family affair to help out, and it was a tradition admired even by other friends of the family. My parents tasked us to help in the store in different ways — wrap gifts, man the cashier, assist customers and move stocks around. It was just the five of us operating the store. When I was in high-school, my parents began to entrust me with managing the store during the summer when they both travelled to Manila to buy inventory for the school opening. When I went to university in Manila, my younger brother Lemuel took over this role. (I think he was better at it than I was.) When my brothers and I moved to Manila to go to university, my parents started hiring people to help in the store.
“Cenintavo” and Malasakit (Deep Caring and Empathy)
During the store’s off season, the business mostly concentrated on retail of school and office supplies. We sold ballpens, pencils, scissors, crayon, and many others. We even sold paper (typewriting paper, yellow pad paper and the like) by piece to customers — mostly to students of Samar College (located across the street from our store). I wondered why we sold paper by piece. My father explained that it’s about earning “cenintavo” (meaning — earning by centavo or the cent) and centavos put together make a good sum. That’s how we earn a living — “cenintavo”. That’s how my father taught me the value of working hard for small things. My parents were raising us to be responsible and self-motivated, to understand the value of initiative and caring, to appreciate the value of money and earning a living the hard way. Filipino values were inculcated in our upbringing. Values such as “pagmamalasakit” (deep caring and empathy) and “kusang loob” (initiative).
Again, when I reflect where I am today, knowng the journey is far from over, I see that my next step is daring to dream big for my children, pursuing the same lessons and discipline, and passing on the same core family values my parents taught me.
I am citing a very old poem that I wrote during my childhood (this one is from 1992, when I was 15 yrs old). I will leave you this year, with this poem about me, my parents and my hometown. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!!!
My mother lives by the sea,
eats fish, crabs, shrimps for her everyday meals
She wanders the Samar island.
Walks with bare emptiness.
Crying with droplet tears of pearls.
My father braves the bridges and the soars.
He leaves home through a nightingale cast
and reaches the island of dreams,
searching pearls from oysters undersea.
the last day of the first month known,
the mild brook begins singing songs.
The billowing wind excites
the crystal water to fall downstream.
No mural drawn, no trumpet sung
no fuming incense and amber cunning.
My rapture to the gates of the world
bears no wonder and warmth.
The firmament where I seek residence
is a town of willow and grass.
Treat and retreat come the waves
ashore to the town of wedge.
Strait of San Bernardino to the north,
the great Pacific to the east,
Strait of San Juanico to the south
the Maqueda Bay to the west.
Waters I see in every point I trudge.
Water I see in every edge.
I can go nowhere without the sea I see,
I can’t live without the sea.
I print the map of my hometown,
roaring through, the pins print
the old town’s map.
Printing pins, printing pins,
It prints the narrow street of Rizal,
Del Rosario, San Francisco and San Roque.
It prints the narrow street of Mabini,
where I live and grow.
I print the map of Catbalogan
its schools, churches, halls and parks.
The pins go tired and weary-
they print for years now,
ever printing the changes of the town.
Photo Courtesy of http://catbalogan.lgu-ph.com/