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Outsource Your Life

Do you ever feel like there aren't enough hours in the day?  People today lead busy lives and I have found that it's difficult to find a good balance between work, study, family, friends, health etc. Well, I was pleased to find out, there's someone to help you with this and you can find them on Airtasker!

Airtasker is one of the latest innovations in the 'sharing economy' and allows you to outsource, basically anything, from cleaning your house, to building flat pack furniture and even lining up in a queue for you.  It's as simple as posting the task you need done online, receiving offers from workers willing to do the task, and then selecting the best person for the job.  It's completely free to post and you can read verified reviews on the workers to make sure you're hiring someone you can trust. 

The categories of tasks on Airtasker include:

  • Home & Garden
  • Delivery & Removals
  • Handymen & Tradies
  • Marketing & Design
  • Events & Photography
  • Computer & IT
  • Business & Admin
  • Fun & Quirky

From the mundane to the simply odd, completed tasks include everything from house cleaning to pretending to be someone's girlfriend to get their mum off their back.  The possibilities are endless! 

You can check it out at airtasker.com.


In the past, consumers didn't shop around for products and services; they would go to their local supplier (who they often knew) to get what they needed.  Today, consumers have so much choice that these interactions have become more impersonal and people's expectations of service standards are much higher, knowing they can go elsewhere if they are not happy.

So, what can you do to ensure your service is the best?  Here are some tips that I've learned along the way in various roles, and from articles that I've read on the subject.

Exceed customer expectations

A customer who is merely "satisfied" is still likely up for grabs in the marketplace.

Most organizations know what customers' rational expectations are.  They know how quickly they want a delivery, how much people are willing to pay for their product, and what features it needs to have.  What they don't know is their customers' emotional expectations.  An emotionally connected customer is more likely to recommend your product, company or service, while less satisfied and connected ones are more likely to take their business elsewhere. 

Identify and anticipate customers' needs.  They don't buy products or service, they buy good feelings and solutions to problems.

If you can turn transactions into interactions and then relationships you will build an emotional connection with your clients.  Disney gives the following example:


  • Transaction - During the morning rush to buy a long-desired souvenir a guest asks, "Where can I buy a Goofy hat?"  Answer: "At the Emporium."

Simple, the question is answered.  However:

  • Interaction - The cast member adds, "Is Goofy your favourite character?  You know you can see him, along with the rest of the gang, in the parade this afternoon." 

The employee has anticipated the needs of the guest (without pre-empting too much) and freely offered them something which may add value to their experience.

  • Relationship - The cast member adds: "By the way, if you do stay for the parade, my favourite view is over in Frontierland near some of the shade trees." 

The employee has now made a move towards friendship with the guest and engaged them on an emotional level.


When every employee goes out of their way like this to make the life of their customer easier, is when it scales up and the customer ends up having a relationship with the brand.

Be convenient

According to a 2007 study the single most important factor in increasing customer loyalty is reducing the amount of work the customer has to do to get their problem solved.  The Disney example above is a demonstration of this.

When customers have a (reasonable) request, tell them that you can do it.  And, always do what you say you are going to do.  Appreciate the power of saying yes and the positive vibe that builds for your brand.

Be consistent

What's the biggest reason people stop doing business with a company?  The answer is surprising as it's NOT:

  • price
  • product shortcomings 
  • advertising from competitors 

These things can leach customers away from you, but the biggest reason people switch loyalty is poor customer service experience.  In fact, 82% of people surveyed said they have left a company because of a poor customer service experience. 

Your good service got their custom in the first place so make sure your great customer service keeps them!

One way to monitor and improve your service is to look at "moments of truth" (but that's for another blog).

Creating good customer experiences and happy customers delivers a big return on investment.  So, ensure your business in identified more by the service standard you provide rather than the products or services that you offer and you will reap the rewards.

 


Sick of Only Hearing Bad News?

It has become a bugbear of mine that watching the news seems to be an exercise in consuming problems that I often don't want or need to know about.  At the end of it I feel pretty depressed and no doubt slightly more stressed than I did before I started watching!

It seems as if the media likes to pedal stories that shock, especially if they have some video footage to sensationalise it all the more.

I thought there must be some positive stories out there somewhere, so I googled "good news" and at the top of the list was the Good News Network.

I had a look and to my pleasant surprise I quickly found exactly what I was looking for - stories that are real, current and actually leave you feeling uplifted by some of the great things that people all over the planet are doing everyday.

Some recent headline examples include –

"Michael Jordan Wins Lawsuit, Donates the Millions to 23 Charities"

"Underprivileged Kids Choose Gifts for Parents, Not Themselves"

"Ebola Eradicated in Africa – Vaccine Trial Proves 100% Successful"

"Ice Bucket Challenge Leads to ALS/Motor Neurone Disease Breakthrough"

"Man Creates 'Shoes That Grow' So Poor Kids Don't Outgrow Them"

"LeBron James Pays for College Scholarships For 1,100 Students"

A quick review of the testimonials from readers confirms that stories like these have had a significantly positive impact on people.

By way of information, excerpts from their website details the history, mission and passion of the Good News Network as:

From its beginning in 1997, the website has been a clearinghouse for the gathering and dissemination of positive news stories from around the globe.  Since 2006, our daily dose of 'News to Enthuse' has confirmed for thousands of fans what we already knew to be true - that good news itself is not in short supply; the broadcasting of it is.  Thomas Jefferson said the job of journalists was to portray accurately what was happening in society.  The Good News Network was founded because the media was failing to report on the positive.  In the 1990's while homicide rates in the U.S.  plummeted by 42 percent, television news coverage of murders surged more than 700 percent, according to the Center for Media and Public Affairs.  The editor Norman Cousins once said, "If news is not really news unless it is bad news, it may be difficult to claim we are an informed nation."

We've built a community of people enthused by positive news, eager to participate with each other, and dedicated to the enrichment and inspiration of all. 

 "There are plenty of benefits when you read lots of good news, not the least of which is health."

Definitely food for thought, and I dare say worth at least a quick look if you are looking for some positive news in your day to leave you feeling better for knowing about.

 


Share the Load

Occasionally there seems to be one person who ends up doing everything – whether it be at home, work or elsewhere.  We all know that getting two people to lift a heavy box makes it much easier to lift, so why don't we share other loads as well?

Recently a couple of our team members attended a seminar on business planning and one of the discussion items was ways to share the load.  In our office we have some staff members who get a lot of the work at this time of year, due to their area of specialty, so naturally we decided to give the idea a go.

We now have a row of vases with pebbles in.  Each pebble represents a job that needs to be done.  As a job is completed, a pebble gets moved along until it is in the done bucket. 

This gives all of us a visual representation of how the work is going and helps us identify where we may be able to assist the workflow.  So far it seems to be a success and the whole team is coming up with ways to share the load.  Because we can all see the results of our efforts, it is a way of sharing the rewards rather than just the work.

So, what else can we share around?  For a while now we have been sharing the writing of these blogs.  Each team member writes approximately one blog every six months, and it doesn't seem like such an arduous task if you only write two a year.

Here are a few ideas of things that we could share in an office environment:

  • Writing social media posts/blogs/newsletters
  • Bringing in morning tea
  • Doing the washing/cleaning the kitchen
  • Leading training sessions
  • Chairing meetings
  • Updating checklists and procedures

There are numerous studies that have been done that show that mental health deteriorates with prolonged levels of stress.  So by sharing the load around, we can all reduce our stress and become more productive and healthy!



What is Your Bird Personality?

Everyone is different, so how do you learn how best to approach someone according to their personality?  Recently, we ran a training session in our office on 'bird personality types'.   This was a worthwhile exercise as we discovered the varying character types in the office and how to best communicate effectively with them.  

The four different personalities were:

  • Eagle - authority and power.  The eagle is a controller; someone who is confident, dominant, assertive, impatient and ambitious.  This person often puts results before people's feelings.

Wants:  results.   They generally have a strong need to be the boss and to have the authority to make things happen.   They also need to have power and be challenged.

Communication:  The best way to approach the eagle is to make it fast, stick to the point, only give them the bottom line and don't try giving them any excuses!  Let them be the boss otherwise you may find out that they are the boss in no uncertain terms.

  • Peacock - popularity and applause.   The peacock is a talker; someone who is confident, outgoing, flamboyant, dramatic, persuasive and animated.   They like to put people before tasks.

Wants:  popularity.   The peacock has a strong desire to be the centre of attention and to gain recognition, applause and fame.

Communication:  Approaching the peacock means that you need to make it fast, warm, friendly and animated.   Let them do most of the talking and be the centre of attention, otherwise you'll find you have 'lost' them.

  • Dove - security of belonging.   The dove is a feeler; someone who is shy, friendly, sensitive, patient, supportive and loyal.   They like to listen more than talk and generally put people's welfare first.

Wants:  friendship.   The dove enjoys being a supportive and caring member of a small group or team.   They like the security of belonging.

Communication:  Taking it warm, slow and friendly is the best way to approach a dove.   They enjoy no risk, no change and no pressure, otherwise you may get a 'yes' that really means 'no'.

  • Owl - security through facts and figures.   The owl is a thinker; someone who is quiet, analytical, logical, conservative, reserved, cool, cautious.   They enjoy listening more than talk and they put logic before feelings

Wants:  predictability.   The owl needs details, structure, set procedure, analytical facts and figures - proof.

Communication:  Make sure you give the owl plenty of information.   They need you to take it slow, cool and very logical.   They also enjoy no risk, no change and no pressure, otherwise you may get a 'no' that could have been a 'yes'

The test does not end with an assessment or a diagnosis.  It is a self assessment tool that enables a person to identify their own unique and distinctive traits that clarify their personality and innermost being.  I was personally shocked at how well my bird described me and it was no surprise that our two partners were classified as being confident, assertive and bold – an eagle and a peacock.  This was a particularly useful exercise in an office environment as we were able to gain knowledge of colleagues' personality types and consider the best way to approach each one. 

http://golfindolfin.com/2013/04/personality-types-for-golf-dope-bird-analysis/


Moving House

Are you moving house or thinking about moving?  It's the beginning of the university year so a few of our team have been packing up and moving out, either with friends or leaving for new horizons.  Here are a few tips from our experiences, many learnt the hard way!

  1. Make sure the area you are moving to has the utilities that you will require.  A couple of us recently moved to areas where townhouses and units are quickly overtaking the older large family homes.  Of course, this also means a lot more traffic taking up internet lines!  We found that the majority of providers had run out of leases over the lines, which leaves you with only the most expensive providers or cable.
  2. Keep all your lists and important notes on your phone.  If you put your phone down in that pile of boxes somewhere you can call it to find it again.  You can't call a piece of paper, trust me on that one.
  3. If you are not sure of when you have paid your rent up until, ask your real estate agent.  They are required to keep a tenancy ledger which details when and how much rent you have paid since you moved in.  This can be really helpful, especially if you are handing over your lease to a new tenant in a shared house.
  4. Put hot and cold stickers on your washing machine hoses.  It seems like a simple thing to do, but I spent a couple of hours on the weekend trying to work out why the washing machine wouldn't work and dreading the thought of buying a new one.  (A quick call to Mum and swapping the hoses over solved the problem.)
  5. Make sure you update your address so that your mail is directed to the new house.  This is especially important if you are moving from a college for example, where you have to collect mail from the office, and the office is closed over Christmas (can you tell this one is definitely from experience?)
  6. Definitely label boxes well – I've already made a couple of trips down to our garage and know exactly which boxes to open to grab a particular item.  My friend who hasn't labelled her boxes opens about ten before she finds what she wants.
  7. Don't pay for boxes, places like Bunnings or other hardware stores usually have decent size boxes that you can collect for free.

I'm sure moving house could possibly be a more stress-free experience if you have planned ahead and don't wait until the night before to finish packing.  "Those last few things will only take a couple of minutes" – famous last words.


http://www.dolce.com/media/1000946/hero_meetings.jpg

Those who are interested in this area may have noticed a recent plethora of media announcing that Deloitte, Accenture and some other major organisations have proclaimed that six-monthly or annual performance appraisals are both costly and ineffective.

So they are seeking to replace these with less formal fortnightly manager/team catch-ups, or something similar.

It is a bit interesting that some major consulting firms are advocating the change, after having charged clients significant sums to implement the very systems they are now decrying, and perhaps creating new consulting opportunities.  Am I being cynical here?

I have no doubt that six-monthly reviews are not perfect, but suspect a lot of the deficiencies come from poor preparation and lack of follow up.  There is also the possibility that managers are "going through the motions" rather than genuinely seeking to drive an outcome that is positive for both parties.

If this is accurate, why on earth would a better outcome be expected for fortnightly "chats", or a similar system?  I suspect that time pressed managers and staff will struggle to find meaningful time on a fortnightly basis, if they can't manage it successfully each six months.

This has been supported by an anonymous blog from a Deloitte team member, who has basically said that the fortnightly meetings are preoccupied with "what will you have done by when" rather than genuine personal development.  The blogger went on to say that he/she thought it was just an excuse to extract some more billable time!

We seek to make our "personal development plan" (PDP) meetings meaningful, one outcome being each team member articulating their own goals, and the very specific actions they will be taking.  This is followed by six-weekly meetings to check on the progress on the actions.  In general this drives a culture where at the next PDP, the goals will have been met, and we are then looking forward to the next set.

A perfect system?  Undoubtedly not, but we have found it to be structured and reasonably effective, which I suspect may be an issue for some of the alternatives being promoted.

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Let's Get Emotional

If I were to ask you when you last laughed so hard you thought you would die from lack of oxygen, or the last time you really cried with no abandon, or were so angry you would've given a two-year-old in a tantrum a run for their money, I bet you could tell me.  But if I were to ask you when the last time you felt a bit average, a bit bored or just a bit 'blah' was, I bet it would be harder.

 

This is because emotions help make long term memories.  There's a reason why we remember the first movie that scared the daylights out of us, or the song that was your first dance at your wedding.

 

Last year a survey was created that asked participants whether it was better to start a presentation by appealing to emotion or reason.  Out of the 169 responses, 79% voted in favour of emotion, and 21% chose reason.  Clearly we rate emotion highly, so why do we continue to create our presentations using information before emotion? 

 

A fair chunk of the reason is because 'we have to act business-y in front of the business people'.  We know we're presenting to a room full of professionals, and we want to be fully armed with information so we get taken seriously.  We want to shock the audience with stats and facts and all because we want to portray ourselves in a certain way, in place of communicating effectively.  I don't care how much you know, if you're standing in front of me listing off fact after fact and overloading me with information, chances are I'm going to stop listening – and I know I'm not the only one!

 

Instead of researching too far into the facts, here are some tips on different ways to approach presentations:

  • Engage your audience by asking yourself 'what do they care about?'  Connect with them emotionally by talking about something they care about and can relate to, before hitting them with the facts.
  • Don't exhaust the audience by being over-enthusiastic about what you're presenting.  It could come off as fake.  Everything has its pros and cons, so don't hide the downfalls.
  • Take your audience on a journey.  Take them through a series of emotions, for example:

·  Fearful (bring their attention to a problem, i.e. the cons of your presentation, as per the point above)

·  Relieved (solution to the above 'cons' – your pros)

·  Trusting (make them believe in your solution/company/product)

·  Convinced (bring them on board with your idea/product)

  • Authenticate your intention.  If you're selling a product, have someone who has been affected by the product or is a representative for the product come and speak, or even have a photo and quote.  Audiences react to stories about people especially if they somewhat know the person (from a photo or them standing in front of them).
  • Forget all you learnt in school about talking slow in a presentation in order to make it to the required length – studies suggest that a quick speaking presenter is more persuasive than a slow speaking one.  When you get excited and really know about a subject, you speak faster than if you're speaking just because you have to.  It's a lot more engaging to listen to.

So, next time you have to do a work presentation, get emotional.  If you're still not convinced – think about cars; BMW or Mercedes?  Both have similar pros and cons, both (arguably) as good as each other.  But at the point of decision you'll probably always just like one over the other, and that boils down to emotion.

Visit lifehacker.com to read up on more about how to appeal to emotions when giving presentations.

 

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Life Lessons Learnt From Golf

 

I will be the first to admit I'm not a golf fan, but many of our staff and even more of our clients play regularly, so when I stumbled across an article entitled "Life Experiences Learnt From Golf" it seemed worth a read.  Here's what I learned:

Never stop learning

Golf never stops being an education, even for the McIlroys of the world. 

 

At Overells we encourage continuous learning and development.  Our cadetship program, weekly training meetings and individual professional development planning sessions are great examples.

Take calculated risks

With the target of reaching the green, if you've got 250 yards of water to clear before it then a sensible route to take would be another shot down the fairway, which will leave you a chip into the green.

Keeping your end goal in mind is important for most situations.  Choosing the right path to get there is not always easy, and you need to work out the risks and benefits, but this will help ensure you are always doing something to the best of your ability and helping clients to be in the best possible position too. 

Play it as it lies

You don't get to change your circumstances, so keep your head held high and make the best out of a bad situation.

 

Everybody has bad days, or bad moments, in their life.  Choose to be positive about every situation and make the best you can out of them.  If you let the bad stuff get you down it will affect your overall performance, but without those bad moments you'll never realise how great the good moments are.  Without the occasional ball in the rough you may never appreciate how great a hole-in-one feels!  And if you only ever get hole-in-ones then you'll probably take them for granted and never appreciate how lucky you are.

 

Treat people nicely (and dress appropriately)

Having the right etiquette is a must (both on the course and in the club house). 

And in the office of course!  Cultivating a great culture at work makes a huge difference to staff productivity. 

 

Play by the rules

If you can't play by the rules and treat people fairly, then eventually you won't have anyone to play with.

This is relevant to friendships, colleagues, clients, everyone, and goes back to the same principle of creating a good philosophy mentioned above.

 

For the first time in my life I have started to see the advantage of playing golf.  I'm still not sure it's for me, but these lessons are definitely valuable ones.

 

 

The original article can be found here: http://weareboutique.co.uk/my-life-experiences-from-the-game-of-golf/

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Messages from the Grave

It is more than likely that you are 'involved' in some sort of online social media site.

Have you ever thought what would happen to your social media profiles once you pass away?

Most of our clients would know or would have been in contact with the vivacious Cherie Powell who worked at Overells for over 21 years and who suddenly passed away a year ago.

Like all of us at Overells, Cherie had a LinkedIn profile.  For those of you familiar with LinkedIn it provides you with regular notifications regarding suggested connections.  One of our clients informed us that Cherie has continually popped up as a suggested connection!

This makes you think - what can we do to prevent these jarring messages from the grave?

  1. There are sites that help you plan for 'digital death' such as AssetLock which allow users to upload files, passwords and various things that are released to a predetermined individual upon your death.
  2. Each social media site has its own privacy laws and how they treat a person's account once they pass away - so it is important to read the fine print!  For example Facebook requires a relative to contact them with proof of their death before they are allowed to take over their relatives account, with many choosing to convert the page to a memorial account once they do have the access.
  3. Lastly, it can simply be a matter of including in your will a list of passwords for email, banking and social media accounts which allows relatives to easily disable accounts.

Other than being confronted with notifications to 'connect' with people online or 'send a happy birthday' these profiles create easy targets for people to hack accounts and steal identities.  So although a slightly morbid topic, it might be worth considering how you would like your online presence to be managed once you pass away.

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