T.A. Barron, author of the Merlin Series, shares his thoughts about Chinaberry in this video. We thank him for his kind words. You can purchase T.A. Barron’s Merlin Series on our Shopping Site.
Posts Tagged ‘customer service’
You never know what in the world you’re going to find employee Tammy Nelson doing in our warehouse – from driving around in a forklift to schlepping 40-lb. boxes that I can’t even begin to budge! As our Receiving Department Lead, she’s responsible for “receiving” every single item that arrives in our building. When asked about her job, Tammy replies, “One of the best parts of my job is being able to see every new item when it arrives. It’s like Christmas every day!” A stickler for detail, Tammy doesn’t merely open boxes, glance at the new merchandise, and approve them for inventory. She and her team go over EVERY single item with the care and attention of a mother bear with her cubs. Of course, this is good news for our customers. Unless something gets damaged en route, Tammy guarantees the books and products are in pristine condition.
I love hearing Tammy’s warehouse stories. My personal favorite is the one about a pallet of soaking wet boxes that arrived one day. When Tammy opened the boxes, she found them filled with burned books. Evidently, after the boxes caught on fire, they had been hosed down, but by golly, nobody can say they weren’t delivered on schedule! Such is a day in the life of Tammy Nelson.
Tammy herself arrived at Chinaberry in 1994. Her first job was in the shipping department during our busy holiday season. She loved it so much she decided to stay on. Tammy’s one of those people whose attitude is contagious, so first her sister joined her in working here in 1996, and then Tammy’s twin daughters started in 2000. Tammy’s nieces and nephews have worked here during various seasons as well, so when Tammy says, “We are more like family than fellow workers,” maybe that’s because so many are?!
It’s never a dull moment in Tammy’s life – from enjoying long-distance motorcycle rides with her wonderful husband of 29 years to camping in the desert and spending quality time with her beloved grandchildren and family. Tammy says, “I have never worked for a better company,” and I’m here to tell you we’re a great fan of hers as well!
A recent shopping trip to one of those big box stores got me thinking about customer service or the lack thereof in our culture these days. The “big” stores are places where the customer experience really isn’t high on anyone’s priority list - the store’s or the customer’s. It’s all about price. So, it’s really not too surprising that it is impossible to find an employee who might answer a question or offer some assistance while you’re shopping. Basically, you’re on your own and you just go there for some of the things you might need in large quantities and get out as quickly as you can.
The check-out experience is usually pretty ho-hum, of course. It really has to be a challenging job to stand at the register, scanning thousands of things a day, dealing with folks who really don’t want to even be there and are zombied out because the experience has been so overwhelming. However, my check-out experience on this particular trip was truly rewarding: the checker actually looked me in the eye, asked me how I was, called me by name (it was on my membership card), and wished me a happy weekend.
Wanting to let her employer know about my positive experience and hoping he/she would pass along my appreciation to the checker, I went to the company’s website to email my comments. But let me tell you, it was quite a challenge to find the right link and I’m not altogether sure that my compliments will even make it to her - which is what got me thinking about our society’s business culture these days.
It sometimes seems that customer service just doesn’t matter anymore. It’s as if the way we treat our customers, the way we treat employees, the way we expect to be treated as customers, and the way we expect to be treated as employees has changed dramatically…and not for the better. More and more, it’s all about price. Customers are becoming acclimated to being treated like…like…nothing, while at the same time, the “culture” of a company often doesn’t include the importance of friendliness, helpfulness, and graciousness.
So, should her employer not pass along my comments, my thanks go out to Irma N. (her name’s on my receipt). Thank you for making a humdrum shopping trip end on such a pleasant note and for sending me out the door in a better mood than when I entered. And thank you to every single person behind every single counter who deals with all of us every day.
When I was recently at the grocery store with my 5-year-old grandson, the clerk asked if I’d like help out to the car. But, umm, all I had bought was a carton of eggs. I laughed and said that while I may be a grandma, I’m not too feeble to carry a dozen eggs to my car! The dour clerk told me they had to ask everyone that question or they’d ‘get in trouble.’ She then smiled and said, ‘Have a nice day!’ (You just know she’d also be in hot water if she didn’t say that!)
As a grandmother who wants her grandson to grow up to be a common-sense kind of guy and an independent thinker, I felt I had been handed one of those ‘teachable moments.’ For the life of me, though, I was at a loss about what to say! I so wanted to instill in him the value of thinking something through rather than just doing what you’re told because somebody said you’d ‘get in trouble’ if you didn’t. Suddenly I felt like a loser grandma because I didn’t have a clue how to get this principle across to a 5-year-old. Yikes. Why do we always put such pressure on ourselves to suddenly transform into Ward Cleaver at times like this? Why do I always feel as if I should have pearls of wisdom dropping from my mouth around my grandson? But mindful parenting (and grandparenting!) isn’t scripted any more than mindful customer service is (take note, big grocery store chain!), and it usually isn’t what we ’say’ to children that makes the lasting impression. It’s all the gloriously messy and rich and colorful stuff in between. It’s about fully engaging with our children on a daily basis, being in the moment rather than going by a script as we explore critters in the backyard, learn a new board game, or try a ‘yucky’ new food.
Years ago, my mother-in-law cautioned me not to parent too much ‘by the book,’ and she was right. In retrospect, when I think of the things I did right as a parent, it was allowing my daughter to explore at her own pace, and many times that meant refraining from pressing for that ‘teachable moment.’ Sometimes in our eagerness to be the ‘best’ parents we can be, we end up overstimulating our children with unduly long lectures and the latest ‘educational’ toys, bombarding them with so many activities and so much stuff that their little brains and souls go on overload.
With this new year, my wish is that we remember the importance of nurturing our child’s natural curiosity and thought processes, and that we cut ourselves some slack regarding the ways we go about doing it. One of the greatest gifts we can give our children (and ourselves) is simply to be there for them with open ears and hearts, lovingly listening, patiently guiding. Call it mindful parenting or just plain common sense; you can’t go wrong with this approach.
Introducing . . . Leah King!
When it comes to wearing many hats, Leah King is . . . well, Queen! Leah first walked through Chinaberry’s doors in 1999 and found her niche in Customer Service. Nearly ten years later, Leah says, “What I truly do is work for our customers. When I’m on the phone, I really want to make sure that they have a pleasant experience. I want to represent Chinaberry and the products we carry in an honest and accurate manner so that customers will enjoy their experiences with the items they order from us.”
Since April 2008, detail-oriented Leah has dedicated much of her time to our new Quality Assurance Department (in addition to continuing to work part-time in Customer Service!).
Not only does she verify safety and compliance information, but also our own product standards. Is the product safe? Non-toxic? Age appropriate? Leah leaves no stone unturned.
As you may remember, the summer and fall of 2007 brought a plethora of toy recalls for lead in paint. In response to these recalls, the Consumer Product Safety Commission Improvement Act (CPSIA) of 2008 was created. The CPSIA not only covers toys, but ALL products meant for children 12 and younger, including books, clothing, electronics, housewares, school equipment, and more. Leah has been diligently contacting the manufacturer of every item we carry and following up with them regarding the new guidelines developed by the CPSIA. It has been no small undertaking!
On a lighter note, I asked Leah to tell us her top two all-time favorite Chinaberry products, and she enthusiastically said the Neti Pot and Widu hairbrush. She’s given them both to everyone she knows. (Given the number of people Leah knows, I’m surprised we have any left in stock!)
When asked if she could have dinner with any person in the world (what would an interview be without THAT question?!), who would she choose and why, she said: “There are so many different people I can think of, but I guess it would be Desmond Tutu. For as much as he has fought for, lived through, and witnessed, he never fails to have a smile on his face and joy in his heart. He loves a good joke, too!”
We shudder to think what life would be like here at Chinaberry without Leah, but if she were to choose another profession, she says she’d like to be an environmental and social consultant for businesses to help them operate in a cost-effective yet sustainable and socially responsible manner — either that or be a rock star. That’s our Leah!