Getting it Wrong in conversation with Eleanor James, founder of The Jamesthinkstitute

In this episode, Alex talks with Eleanor James, founder of The Jamesthinkstitute, who trains employees and groups to “say anything to anyone.” The Jamesthinkstitute is a forum that teaches people skillful communication to remove the barriers to workplace and personal conversations, now more important than ever in employee engagement and retention.

Snark Infested Waters

Woe is us! It does seem that all hell has finally broken loose and there’s not much we can do about most of it, except carry on.

It feels like living in a salad, constantly tossing: this pops, then that pops, then another thing, never ending popping. A virus, tremendous loss, maybe war, protests of all kinds (hey, what’s not to protest), all bad for business, etc. I know you know the list.

It makes sense that we are short-tempered, it’s so stressful. Social media set the precedent of behaviour years of ago saying horrible things to people they know, and to complete strangers. It’s mean. What’s to be gained? Only misery from what I can see. But it is easier to be mean than it is to be kind. Kindness takes willingness and some presence of mind. There’s also strength of character needed so you’re not blowing you stack all the time. It’s bad for your health too. I feel bad just writing about it.

Yet in the midst of this we have seen many kindnesses, right along side of the strain. Borrowing from our indigenous citizens, here’s a little story. A child is speaking to an elder about a dilemma, not knowing what to do. The elder says, “We all have two wolves within us, a good wolf and a bad wolf, and sometimes they fight”. The child asks, “which one wins?” The elder answers saying, “The one you feed”.

Our situation is not hopeless if we look at it this way – which wolf do you want to feed?

Customer Experience and Problem Solving

This Week’s Very Short Story


The Customer Experience and Problem Solving

In my experience, these two ideas stopped dating around the year 2000. Until that time, their relationship spawned happy customers willing to thank you for the help offered and the job done – to everyone’s satisfaction. Product went to customer, profit to seller.

Yesterday, a friend with a broken leg and food allergies was looking for some customer service. She had ordered groceries, lots, for delivery to her building. COVID days mean delivery to the lobby only which is fair enough. She explained she had a broken leg and could the groceries be divided into smaller parcels rather than the usual big box, so she could pick them up herself. She was put on hold. The news she got was that her order had been cancelled and her money refunded. It was not the boss or the owner who made this decision. No one’s problem was solved. The seller’s experience was as unrewarding as the purchaser’s, who has also decided to shop somewhere else.

Training in problem solving when dealing with customers, seems to be no where on the list these days. That’s got to affect profits. There’s so much competition in every field, you’d think that customer experience and retention through the simple act of service, would be at the top of the list.

Teach employees tons about the company: what you do, how you do it, the products, the goal. Invite them in to represent you. There’s more to it than taking payment and sending e-mails. And, because so many of the front-line people are young, they need to be taught about the finer points of dealing with others. I had that training and I relied on it. Teach them how to speak to customers. Problem solving is very rewarding and it’s great when it comes with profit too. Underfunding and MORE technology – not the answer.

Yes, there are also difficult customers – which is the focus of the next “This Week’s Very Short Story”.