Friday, February 24, 2006

Life Coaching Designed For Children and Families

Today I stopped by my children's school to drop off a snack for what they call " Fun Friday." It is an incentive to get children to behave all week long. If a child does not behave during the week, they are not allowed to participate in the activities and treats.

As I walked down the hallway, there was a familiar face sitting outside the classroom. This boy from my daughters class was sitting outside the class and restricted from participating in the fun.

I had mixed emotions, I see how Life Coaching helps people see life from a different view, a much larger view. I also see how much stress this child causes his teacher. She is a sweet and wonderful dedicated teacher, but I can see she is at her wits end with this young man.

She has sent this boy to the office so many times, but it has resulted in limited temporary results. Can Life Coaching help at the elementary school level? I think so, I see first hand how great Life Coaching works with teenagers. Coaching outlines the options, and risks, the client makes the choice. Life Coaches never tell clients how to live their life.

Most school districts hire counselors to work with troubled youth, but are these youth really troubled? I don't think so, mixed up maybe, confused possibly, but more than likely, unable to express themselves. If a Life Coach could visually show a youth why they feel the way they do, imagine what that could do for a child who is confused.

He or she could gain clarity in their life, set goals, move forward, just like adults who utilize Life Coaching. In coaching we often say, if your current situation is not working, maybe it is time to try a different approach.

My favorite saying is, " don't ride a stationary bike and expect to get somewhere."

Maybe it is time in public school to try the coaching approach. Let children learn at a very early age why they have inner conflict and what the underlying dynamic is. If you are a teacher or administrator, please feel free to write me with your comments and suggestions.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Customer Service 101

As many of you know, I am writing a book on customer service. It will be used in business coach training as well as by owners and managers of companies who are interested in operating their business based on positive customer loyalty, using a system I call, "Under-promising and over-delivering." ( UPOD )

My book is based on fundamentally sound business coaching techniques as well as good common sense. Many of the examples are taken from my personal life. I have included my worst customer service experience, Wolf Camera to my best customer service, Inter-continental Hotel in Atlanta Georgia.

I am planning on writing my April monthly article on this same topic.

As a follow up to my story about Publix Grocery Store in Gainesville Georgia, I can't believe how a store and its employees dropped the ball in a chance to reconcile a problem. For those of you in retail, take this as a lesson in poor customer service. Remember in coaching we say, a problem can be turned into a goal. In this case, the management had a chance to turn a problem into a positive public relations exercise, instead of a public relations nightmare.

You may recall in my previous post about a problem at Publix in Gainesville Georgia, on Thompson Bridge last year. The deli was not marking the time on the chicken so they could sell the chicken all day long as fresh. On days when they did mark the time on the chicken, they sold it way past the " sell by time."
I stopped in at 5 pm and bought two boxes of chicken for my family, with the fixins ( a southern term) along with a cart full of groceries. When I got home, the chicken was to be "sold by 2 pm." I was afraid to feed it to my family, since we had no idea if the heaters maintained the chicken at a safe tempreture for an additional 3 or 4 hours.

I went back the next day to complain and found the chicken boxes that day unmarked, no " sell by time." I complained, but they would not replace the chicken from the day before. I left my name and number and the manager did not call me back.

When I was in the store a week later, I complained again, the manager said he was sorry, but that is all he could do. I stopped in again and told him that I thought he showed a poor choice of customer service options and after growing up shopping at Publix, I would not be back.

I was speaking at a seminar in Florida, telling this story, a guy stood up and said he was with Publix, he had been with Publix 17 years and never heard of a similar story. I assured him that he could call the manager at the Gainesville store and he would confirm the story as accurate. I finished my speech and he apologized for this managers customer service or lack of customer service.

About a week ago, my wife asked me to go to Publix with her. They sell a few products that Kroger does not carry. I agreed, but when we were finished shopping, spending over $100, they bagged the groceries and pushed the cart my way. I asked the cashier if they stopped pushing the cart out to your car, a Publix tradition. She said they did not have enough help.

I stopped at the courtesy counter and complained. The customer service manager told me that she knew who I was and that she had read my article a few months ago. She told me that it is the Gainesville Georgia Publix managers policy to only offer to push carts out to your car if you are old or a female. Talk about not treating all customers the same.

She also went on to say that she was personally sorry for the problems I had in the past, but the manager chose to handle the problem his way and there was nothing else she could do.

I do not understand this manager, he works for a company that promotes pride in their service, quality products and most of all, " complete satisfaction." The founder of Publix, Mr. Jenkins would not be proud of the way this manager handled my complaint.

In my book, this Publix manager ranks number three in worst customer service of all time.

If you work for Publix or shop at this store, please feel free to e mail me for more details of this experience.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

The Family Tree

Happy Valentine's Day.

Last week I was talking with a friend, who is also a teacher at the local elementary school. She was telling me that kids today do not quite understand what a family tree is. When I grew up, if you were lucky you had two sets of living grandparents, you also had a Mom & Dad, brothers and sisters.

Today with divorce so common and blended families, children are not sure how to draw a family tree. This comment resonated with me. As I study my client base over the past few years, I see so many issues, problems and challenges that have roots back to elementary school.

The more I think about our society as a whole, I realize that we need to promote life coaching in elementary school. If you break down the most common problems, you will find that the underlying dynamics can be identified into 12 categories, and if you organize them, I think you will find that they fall under 4 areas of our lives.

One of those such problems seems to be, most people are never happy, always looking for more. Never satisfied. Some people would say, people today are not satisfied with what they have. Others would say they set their goals too high and yet other professionals would say, "if you want less, you will have more."

I am not saying there is one correct answer, what I am suggesting is that as a life coach, you should promote striving for more, for excellence, yet, learn to appreciate what you have and how far you have come.

Going back to our young children today, I think we need to teach them how to handle challenges using a life coaching model, instead of discipline. We need to teach our children to filter out what is important, to see reality or the truth in our problems, to go back to the old saying, " its all about you."

If you are a concerned parent, educator or responsible corporate executive who would like to see this idea grow and flourish, please feel free to contact me.

Have a great week.

Friday, February 10, 2006

So much to say, so little time to blog

I have fallen behind in blogging. One of my new years resolutions was to blog daily. Since my wife's accident, I have not had the time to blog, I have been playing Mr. Mom and Dad. Here are several updates all at once.

My articles will be appearing again in 400 Edition. Due to my wife's injuries, I took a few months off from writing my monthly article. February's article is on a friend who passed away last year. His birthday was on Monday and I wanted to remember him with my article.

I am currently talking with several radio stations. In the past, I hosted a call in radio show, Life Coach Radio. I am now working on a deal to host my show, but in a audio and visual mode. The shows would be available on the radio as well as recorded and available in video format on-line.

I am in the final discussions to take Life Coach News to a printed format. The original idea was to publish a monthly or quarterly print magazine, but due to limited free time to devote to the project, we moved Life Coach News, On-Line. Now this year, it will be on-line and in print.

One more project I am working on this year. I am going to publish a e-book on customer service. As many of you know, this is a favorite topic for me. The e-book will consist of several personal experiences in the retail world. Stores included in the book will be Target, Wal-Mart, Eckerd Drugs, Wolf Camera ( I bet you could have guessed that one.), Publix grocery stores, Kroger, Costco, BJ's wholesale club, Home Depot and The UPS store.

Restaurants discussed in the e -book include IHOP ( wait till you read this story) O'Charlies, Steak & Shake, Red Lobster, Applewood in Gatlinburg Tn., Sweet Tomatoes, Wendy's and Mc Donald's.

On-line retailers in the book include, Book-a-million, Harry & David's, Amazon and Victoria Secret.

The reason all of these projects are so far behind schedule is my wife's injuries due to the accident. For anyone reading this blog for the first time, here is an update on my wife's accident. In the fall of 2005, while driving her new Suburban southbound, on Georgia 400 a truck driven by Mr. Gregory Nick Holloway lost control, hit an 18 wheeler, crossed the grassy median and hit her head on at a high rate of speed.

She was taken to the hospital for evaluation and treatment. Since that time we have accumulated over $ 40,000 in medical bills, out of pocket expenses and rehabilitation treatments. Mr. Holloway had minimal state limits of $25,000 with Nationwide Insurance. The claims representative from Nationwide mislead us into thinking they were interested in settling the claim quickly and fairly. Neither of these two statements are true or accurate.

It is now 5 months since she was injured and Mr. Holloway's insurance carrier, Nationwide Insurance has not reimbursed us one penny, not one cent. Now the Nationwide claims representative states that he does not feel the claim is worth policy limits, even though the limits are only $25,000.

The saddest part of this whole story is that Mr. Gregory Nick Holloway has never apologized to my wife, never sent her a get well card, never even tried to say he is sorry for almost killing her. Mr. Holloway's insurance carrier, Nationwide Insurance should be ashamed, five months after the accident, $40,000 in expense and they have not paid one cent.

I now understand why so many people hire an attorney right after an accident.

I will keep you posted on our progress with Mr. Holloway's insurance carrier, Nationwide Insurance.

Until next time, please wear your seatbelt.