Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Move along, nothing to see here!

Yeah, this blog is dead. Sorry.

I have done two recent non-makeup posts over on the main blog:
Review of TV show Misfits.
Response to The Guild's new music video.

Since my non-makeup posts are so sporadic, I figured it would just be best to incorporate them into my main blog. Thanks to everyone who followed my ramblings all the way over here, I do appreciate it :)

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Thoughts on: Customer Service

I'm not really sure that Australians understand what "good service" really entails. As a customer I am delighted to receive good service - and I am of the opinion that the best way for me to be proactive about getting good service is to remember that, first and foremost, the person I am dealing with IS A PERSON. I am not suggesting that it be mandatory that you ask them how they are, but I make a point of starting off with "How are you today?" or "How's your day been so far?"

What makes me really sad is the number of times the salesperson I have asked that of reacts with an expression of sheer surprise - like they can't believe I actually just enquired about THEM. I can absolutely understand if you're in a hurry, or you're shy/socially anxious and don't have the ability to make small talk at that moment in time. But surely that should leave at least 6/10 people who can take a few seconds to just... Be polite to someone whose job is to take care of you?

As a salesperson whose company prides itself on high customer service standards, 'small talk' is considered just as important as the sales spiel. The more you talk to a customer the better you can help them. Again, I understand that often people are in a hurry or don't feel comfortable talking to people whom they don't know well. But i don't think that excuses this habit a lot of people have gotten into of almost ignoring staff. Before you accuse me of being whiny or oversensitive, let me give you a couple of examples of exchanges that happen daily where I work (and am now leaving).

Salesperson: Hi, how are you today?
Customer: One of [product].

Salesperson: What was the last name on your account?
Customer: [last name]
Salesperson: And what is your post code?
Customer: [first name]
Salesperson: your postal address?
Customer: [postcode]

Customer: I don't know what [product] I want.
Salesperson: I can make a recommendation for you, if you like. How do you usually have your coffee?
Customer: Normal.
Salesperson: .... Would that be with or without milk?
Customer: [answer]
Salesperson: Would you say you like it strong, medium or mild?
Customer: Normal.

[note: it is one of our very busy periods and there is a line of people waiting to be served.]
Salesperson: Next customer, please!
[customer arrives at sales counter]
Salesperson: Good afternoon sir, how can I help you today?
Customer: Why are you smiling when people are waiting?! [note: said without sarcasm]

Good service is a two-way street. Of course there will be times when a customer just gets a rude or ignorant salesperson, and an inevitable part of working in customer service means you will have to deal with people who are snide, demanding, and just not interested in even answering basic questions or letting you do your job. It's times like these I wish that a bit of retail or hospitality work was a compulsory part of high school education - just so more people actually understand what it's like to be behind the counter.

If you are a customer and receive exceptional service, letting management know can be just as beneficial, if not even more so, than reporting poor customer service. Companies are far more likely to get complaints than praise, and I'm sure I don't need to tell you which is better for staff morale. I am not saying don't report bad service, though - sometimes it is a genuine issue with store policy or a particular staff member that NEEDS raising, and I'm sure companies would prefer to know about an issue so they can fix it before they start to lose customers over it!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Review (book): Bones of the Moon

This book was given to me as a Secret Santa gift from work. I feel like buying a box of chocolates for my Santa, since without her thoughtfulness, it's very likely I would never have read this. Ordinarily when I read a book, I want to finish it as fast as I can. I want to know: what happens? Who 'wins'? Who dies? How does the adventure end?

This is the first book I can ever remember not wanting to finish, not because I didn't like it, but because I cared so much about the characters, and I was so enraptured with the story that I didn't want anything bad to happen! I knew it was coming and I didn't want to know! The book is very character driven, the characters lives and actions twine and almost rebound off each other in different ways and that's really what moves the story. There's a bit of action in it, but for the most part the story is quite emotional and cerebral.

If I had to label this book (as a genre) I would say it is magical realism with a touch of horror/suspense (I know those are different and I'm sorry for mashing them together indiscriminately, but I'm not experienced enough with them to distinguish!) The story is a woman named Cullen who has these vivid, sequential dreams. About a third of the way into the book, she becomes concerned about the intensity of the dreams and goes to see a doctor about them. The doctor assures her that she seems like a perfectly normal, well-adjusted person and that the dreams are absolutely nothing to worry about. She's not a hundred percent convinced about this, and she's proven right when her dreams begin to intersect with reality.

Jonathan Carroll's way of writing is effortlessly engaging (or so I found it). This book absolutely sucked me in. I read it slowly, over a period of several days, even though (by my usual 600+ page standards) it was relatively short. I can think of only a few books I have taken my time with like that (and I'll be reviewing one of them soon).

Without risking over-analysis (thanks, uni!) I'd have to say that the themes and issues this book touches on are done beautifully - it presents some ideas about psychology, relationships and mental health without being preachy. I would however, mention that some people might find the characters a bit less 3D than they could have been, particularly the character of Elliot, who plays Cullen's 'gay friend' and falls into a few stereotypes. My only comment on this would be that the book is told in first person, 'by' Cullen, and so the limited scope is a little bit excusable.

In the interests of honesty (and I do hope this doesn't spoil the book for anyone): the book does contain abortion, murder and some description of mental illness. It is fairly matter-of-fact, and I didn't pick up any definite moral standpoint, but not having a personal experience with any of these issues, I can't say as to whether or not some people who have will find the books' treatment of them a little 'lightweight'.

CONCLUSION: As an avid fantasy reader I very much enjoyed this brush with semi-realism, and I do hope you will consider picking up Bones of the Moon. I'm off to see if any of Carroll's other work is available in a  Kindle version - I foresee many pleasurable commutes to work in my future!