Cherish Your Customers July 2008

Last month, I asked you to try not to lose customers before you even get them. Did you do anything to make sure your "rules" make sense?
Happy Fourth of July!
Independence day1
As we celebrate our nation's independence, let's remember the sacrifice that our Armed Forces make for us every day. Rewarding these brave men and women means supporting them when they come home as well as when they are serving. Happy Independence Day!

"The ability to focus attention on important things is a defining characteristic of intelligence."
--Robert J. Shiller

I recently had the pleasure of speaking to the International Association of Administrative Professionals at one of their monthly luncheon meetings. I thought you all might enjoy the information I shared with the group. I have been doing some research on this topic since I'm focusing more of my time on training people to communicate and listen more effectively. That topic is a skill that employers are demanding of new hires - the ability to multi-task.

Being in the moment
Although employers request the skill, I'm more convinced that we were not designed to multi-task and that our relationships and lives (business and personal) suffer when we do not focus on the person in front of us or the job we need to do.

Multi-tasking makes learning harder
When you are dividing your attention, you don't learn as well. There are different parts of your brain that handle memory of information and memory of tasks. One particular part is normally affected when learning new tasks without multi-tasking. If you have to multi-task, the part of the brain that you use changes. That part is not used to remembering information. Can the brain adapt? Eventually, yes. Our brains are marvelously nimble. Even after a stroke when part of the brain is damaged, people can recover all the skills they have lost. But until the brain adapts, quality decreases.

Multi-tasking wastes time - and can be dangerous
When you multi-task, you don't actually do two things at once. You shift your focus between two activities. You may think you can do this effectively, but research shows that if you do, you are in a very small minority (although you are in the majority in thinking you can do it.) There are two distinct processes that happen when you shift. One is a goal-shift - you decide you want to do activity B instead of activity A. The second is a rule-shift - you change the mindset so that you can do what needs to be done. It's sort of like changing between software programs and remembering how things work.

For instance, I'm working on the computer and the TV is going in the background and the phone rings. I mute the TV. When I'm finished with the call, I want to turn the sound back on and I find myself moving the mouse like I would to turn off the screen saver instead of hitting the mute button on the remote. Each of these shifts takes time. Goal shifting takes a split second, but rule shifting can take a half second which can be enough time for your car to crash as you switch from talking on the phone to handling whatever hazard is on the road.

Multi-tasking is rude
We live in a society where we are becoming further and further disconnected from each other. We use ATMs and pump our own gas. Sometimes our only human contact is when we are at the drive-thru. And we've gotten so bad that the service person doesn't know if we are talking to him or her or to someone on our cell phone. My friends have "caught" me checking my email while I'm talking to them on the phone. I don't want my friends to ignore me, so I need to pay attention to them - completely.

From a customer service perspective, we need to pay full attention to the people we serve. From a customer standpoint, we owe the people who wait on us the courtesy of being there, being present when they serve us.

We need to pay attention to the people we meet because that human connection is ultimately what life is all about. Try it. Try actually listening to the people you meet. Don't think about what you want to say. Don't think about what you're going to do later today or this weekend. Listen to the people who talk to you.

You can't avoid multi-tasking completely. But when you have a choice, choose not to do it. If you can, put your phone on voice mail when you are completing a task. Leave a message that explains that you will return the call at whatever time. Then return the calls. Most importantly, try this at home. You may be surprised at the reaction you get. You might hear what your spouse or your child really needs - time with you.

puzzle light
Last month, I asked you all to come up with ideas for "low-fuel" vacations. The great thing about this newsletter is that I get to try out new ideas. the worst thing is that sometimes, those ideas fall flat. I didn't receive any submissions, but I do have a suggestion. Take the family on a short drive to the LBJ Ranch . The National Park Service is reprising a favorite activity of the former President and First Lady - movies in the ranch's airplane hangar. The next show is Oliver! on July 26th. Click here for more information.

Okay, for this month, the day after the next movie screening is an important day in Texas. What is it? The first correct answer will win a $25 gift certificate from Nicavid's.

Crystallizations Training Sessions
I have two training sessions coming up this month. As most of you know, I have started offering 1.5 hour training sessions at the Greater San Antonio Chamber of Commerce's Small Business Resource Center. I've gotten a good reaction (did you hear me on KTSA?) to these and hope you can join me at one or more.

The next one is Working In Your Pajamas - things you need to know if you are thinking about starting a business, especially one from your home. Working In Your Pajamas will be Wednesday, July 9 , from 10:00 AM to 11:30.

Thursday, July 10, from 10:00 AM to 11:30, will be Professional POLISH. Do you need to brush up on your business manners? I'll provide an entertaining, down-to-earth, sensible session on what to do and what not to do in business settings. Polish your skills in this session and have fun at the same time.

Just $30 gets you a seat and handouts. (Group discounts are available.) You can send the check to Crystal Communications at the address below or call to arrange credit card payment through PayPal. Space is limited so RSVP now . Please share with anyone you know who may be interested in starting a business or who could benefit from a refresher in business etiquette. I hope to see you next week!

grunting pig
Visit the
Snorting Pug Music Shoppe
My friend, Denise Gregoire, has been collecting records for ages. Now she's sharing those vinyl albums (remember those?) and CDs at Craftiques Mall, 6751 Bandera Road, 210-523-0232.

Denise specializes in music from the 1930s-1960s a specialty and includes country, pop, rock and roll, Spanish/Tex Mex, jazz, big band and classical Denise also has some beautiful one-of-a-kind gift items, including jewelry.

If you are looking for specific items as gifts or to complete your collection, you can email Denise at or visit her store at Cratiques. Please tell her I sent you.

Greater Chamber's Sail-Away Cruise
I'm so excited that I have been asked to provide training on the Greater San Antonio Chamber of Commerce's Sail-Away Cruise. We leave on November 20 for a trip to Cozumel. While at sea, I'll be conducting relaxed and fun-filled sessions on Appreciative Inquiry, a major breakthrough in organizational development and problem solving.

What could be better? A vacation where you learn as well as have fun! Want to join us? The deadline for reservations and $150 deposit is July 15. If you have any questions, call Cecily (The Cruise Lady) at (210) 521-9207.

Upcoming Events
Working in Your Pajamas Wed, 7/10, 10 AM More info...
Breakfast Roundtable Series - I'm MC Thu, 7/10, 7 AM More info...
Professional POLISH Thu, 7/10, 10 AM More info...
Small Business Training July classes More info...
Breakfast Roundtable Series - I'm MC Thu, Aug 7, 10 AM More info...
Email Etiquette Thu, Aug 14, 10 AM More info...
Presenting without Panicking Thu, Sep 11, 10 AM More info...
Chamber Sail Away Cruise Thu, Nov 20 More info...
Thanks for reading. Feedback is always appreciated!
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