Communications, customer service, quality content writing, the greatest of these is service

Control Central, 2020. Working from home lacks a level of personal communication, quality product is alway an expectation, but customer service is a difference maker.

Maybe this is “preaching to the choir” – a term used often in Charlotte – as a leadership thought deal, but while giving myself and writers of many descriptions credit for writing ability, the customer service aspect is what makes one-shot clients into regular gigs.

While perhaps a stretch as political commentary, I’ll take the COVID-19 vaccination program – 309M doses given, 145M/43.8% of population fully vaxxed – as proof we elected a President who has delivered maximum customer service on a MAJOR promise.

Me, 6/14/21

Customer service-wise, if your Wellington’s somehow sprung a leak, just tell them, they will gladly send you another pair, is an example of Excellence. The Home Depot person who can lead you directly to the product you’d already walked by twice is A Cut Above, the gas attendant who feels empowered to comment about your tee shirt slogan because he’s already got your money, much closer to the bottom.

‘Getting stuck’ March 18th – for an investment of 26 minutes – with the COVID vaccine, instead of worrying it could take until mid-May, you’ll have to believe that cemented my concept of delivering customer satisfaction.

Dysean at T-Mobile delivered too. When he didn’t know the deal with my phone making a constant notice noise, he was willing to call a guy who might. Bazinga! Turn the phone all the way off periodically, not just screen off.

Getting my phone back doing as it should brought an appreciation of the service effort, but c’mon, the day a Novant supervisor at a clinic around the corner from my place – no extra effort to try – said to 64-year old, Category-5 person me, “Sure, let’s get you stuck,” that’s going to be tough to top as customer satisfaction.

How matters get handled

The point is, those who emphasize the customer’s satisfaction of the service delivered gain loyalty – business might have changed over the years, but its not an outdated, ‘used to be’ philosophy.

As a creative I can deliver written content that hits specific points I’ve learned from a client during interviews. With plenty of extra experiences communicating through Q&A to determine wants and expectations from sales situations, the truth is, the happiest people will ever be is when “Is that what we decided to do?” or similar matters get handled right.

A different POV

Having umpired Little League baseball the last two weekends, I’ve had three situations with balks resulting from batters that I didn’t allow a time out to just because they asked for it. Managers want to disrupt a pitcher’s rhythm when he’s working well, but I very seldom grant any requests when the pitcher is ready and a batter gets in the box.

Specific point: Unfortunately, the pitcher has to release the ball or yes, it’s a balk, even though one stopped because the batter was stepping out, without knowing I hadn’t given him a time out.

Late in a semi-final game, I have to allow the runner from third to score that way, and there is a third hoo-hah! with a particular coach. Best outcome: The ‘customers’ are really the spectators, and with that correctly handled balk call – even against their team – and two others in a wild game, one guy calls me to the fence with a “Hey Blue! I want you to know, I’ve told the tournament director he needs to do something about that screaming coach who charged you. You’re running things right, and we all got your back out here.”

THAT’S what I’m talking about! Customer satisfaction seal of approval.

Thousands of places across America…

Cycling along the Greenway in 88 degree Carolina heat, the fact I might be literally without a roof over my head in a week was sobering.

Having commented numerous times the last few weeks, that “This scene is being recreated thousands of times across America at this same time” – meaning family baseball – it’s a more sobering https://vocal.media/unbalanced/a-week-of-blue-was-umping-charlotte-baseball-now-its-panthers-blue-with-darnold-c-mc-moore-and-defense reality to recognize I may literally be homeless in a week.

Umpiring has been good extra cash – $400 last weekend – which helps make things happen like this move back into the Real World, after brother Mike and his two dogs head off into the sunset in his 37′ RV.

It’s always been his clear goal, and I knew this day was coming from the moment one of those “guaranteed cash offer” people briefly toured the house over three months ago and he signed immediately.

No, I didn’t get serious about the search until this month, and while its true some of the online operations – Roomster leaps to mind – are bona fide (mostly) scammers, I’m confident the cash from three full weekends income will allow this move to be smooth.

My point in mentioning this is how stressful such situations are for others, too.

Staying awake from before 5:00am, that’s never been a problem before. Like during the Great Recession years, I wonder how parents with tuition, car payments, and mortgages made it on retail wages. I was single, chiseling every nickel, and still wound with significant credit card debt. Others used their accumulated cushion to get past the last economic problem, and it won’t be available this time around.

My time essentially runs out in this house on the 23rd. I’m about half-packed, and while I don’t *think* I’ll wind up sleeping in my Hyundai, it’s going to make a difference how soon a real person responds to my phone messages. It’s also going to be an upheaval of way large proportions for MILLIONS. Families large and small are going to experience some REAL dislocation the end of June, when the protections of the pandemic social net expire .

Having stayed one overnight a month during the colder months for a Room in the Inn ministry for many years, I didn’t question that, with only minor changes, I could be some of those people.

Umpire-wise, I’m neither out nor safe in the moment. On the good side, I do have cash in hand now…

Hey hey, Boo-Boo! Check the skills basket, an extra sandwich could make the picnic

Two recent technical writing recruiters, who supposedly know how certain skills may fit with work orders, told me Monster and Careerbuilder were places they found most of their placements and possibilities. I’ve never liked those chronologically-oriented sites, and there have been plenty of possibilities on LinkedIn and FlexJobs, including remote options. 

Two basic points: Know which sites work best for your skill set and goals, and my expectation is that perceived “talent gaps” could be mitigated if recruiters AND people with skills try moving the job needle differently. I’m a Boomer with a “Smarter than the average Bear writer” attitude, and I’m looking.

No Goldilocks recruiters?

Of the tech callers, one was totally in left field, because he was trying to chat about an Careerbuilder resume from 2015 . Trying to steer him to my current information, like LinkedIn, seemed futile. Thinking I could turn that option into even a 3-month contract wasn’t reality.

Trying to explain a 2015 post-Recession in retail resume, which  represented nothing  I was trying to accomplish in 2020 – just, no.

Talking with Recruiter #2, the ‘take over’ local (Charlotte) person I’d scheduled a call with, left me far less confident about success. Compared to the CBD company I connected with through LinkedIn right after New Years in 2019, was he describing a totally different job from what I’d responded to?

A month later he proved right on about a situation that sounded far above my comfort level regarding *real* technical expertise. While a third recruiter had sounded better, he was ultimately wrong about the role.

On the bottom line, there’s a definite difference in needing-to-be-done-a-certain-way, design for multiple layers, starting from scratch technical writing vs. something closer to compilation and interpretation of content with “editorial and technical values.” I’m generally the later.

KEYWORDS – BIG DIFFERENCE

It’s worth noting that early searching for ‘Writer’ roles on LinkedIn often produced more Underwriter and Service writer possibilities than creative positions. Putting ‘content creation’ and ‘writing’ vs. writer in the keyword box, that went from barely a handful to over 100, and often included marketing and editorial manager roles. 

Knowing more than one way to look for things is a legitimate piece of any search.

One recruiter indicated a training period, so that contract people were all trained in Open Text. Picking up skills on gigs is always career enhancing expertise for content people. I haven’t been intimidated about using systems listed in job descriptions, and knowing about up front training, that’s nothing but good business.

Recruiting #3 – Online with Clevertech

I’ve made the analogy before, of how better info makes better matches, be it potential clients or dating. https://cdtalententerprises.com/2019/08/05/content-creation-client-needs-same-as-dating-info-to-righter-decisions/ and nothing has changed my opinion on that.

Yeah, bald along the way, but not now.

Having previously declared The Super High end of good information was represented by 2 1/2 pages of printed who, what, why, how? relative to one company’s Content Marketing position, backing off of that doesn’t make it less desirable. A statement of corporate positioning, responsibilities, the necessary skill set, personal qualities, and some bullet points regarding the compensation situation that would be worth knowing, that’s beyond solid stuff to learn, but there’s a new sheriff on my RFP (request for proposal) sending front.

Content creation types understand that every CV or cover letter sent involves a judgment of our writing skills.

Almost without question – whether pursuing dates or a potential client – you’d invest more effort in something A-B-C, 1-2-3 clear about extra details to start. From the content creator side, responding to that well-defined description with an equally well-defined reason to investigate further is fundamentally right.

When you’re close to a like mind with what Clevertech CEO Kuty Shalev is dishing, going through some hoops in their information gathering process proves something for both parties. I took a couple hours to answer an 11 question panel that addressed several operational tasks, 300 character responses as I recall.

I ran across their ‘You’re not a Robot’ video on YouTube post-application, and I appreciated the searching questions. I want to put my Boomer journalistic skills to work for this operation, and coding isn’t even on my list of qualities. But, as an element of unique, I got to put my best shots FIRST THING.

What a difference – PRIMO space for ‘Extra’ Good Stuff

Have you wondered if your LinkedIn profile, and how real estate skills regarding database and research translated into project skills, actually got read?

How about blogs that linked job titles regarding career variety, like my “Smarter than the average Bear writer” line? Getting to lay out MY best links, is more than a little gratifying, a major difference maker. https://cdtalententerprises.com/2021/01/18/smarter-than-average-bear-content-writing-boomer-replants-thought-leadership-flag-2021/ I sing their praises, I’d gladly do two a week like that, and its a multi-part process from here, but I got confirmation my info is in their vault, and that’s part of ‘in it to win it,’ right?

The point is finding a totally online company, with a total reversal of standard recruiter ‘interview’ and 8-second rule scanning. Mr. Shalev isn’t rubbing it in anyone’s face that they’ve tricked people into responding in his videos, he does believe they’re above average on unique, especially being totally remote since 2000. Dammit, THESE guys will read what I send!

I still can’t code, but I believe in this process. If it’s a must have, I’ll learn it. Me, 2/20/21

One question involved a social media campaign – Was it successful, how could you tell? My year as VP Community Development of the (Albany, NY) Junior Chamber was a taproot of professional skills development through my thirties. How I recruited members to honcho career-enhancing extra projects instead of just raising $$$ by doing ‘thons, I got it in there.

How could I tell? Because the ‘Chairman’s Planning Guides’ (CPGs) were part of the documentation process for gaining three State-level awards. You rarely get asked about things people don’t know are possibilities, and all I had to do was paste good links? DONE!

COMMUNICATION is always the deal, and showing volunteers how this project had succeeded before, touching them with good follow-up was part of understanding how things worked. Having some fun while improving your resume and-or recognition factor is chicken soup for the soul. Try mentioning being a flying witch for a legendary Haunted House – people will know you’re a good kind of different by Tuesday.

When the bell is rung

Many freelancers and creatives like to think its just a matter of getting in front of a decision maker to ‘get in’ someplace. Perhaps we lack an attribute or two software-wise,  or depth of expertise required, but if there’s not an organic height requirement, face-to-face will win the day.

Uhh-huh.

That would be amazingly naive of the one picture dating profile to think, and just as unproductive for a content writing candidate. Don’t ignore the relative clues in a well-written description of  how to impress any ‘date’ appropriately. 

Immediate, verifiable info regarding  candidate

Verifiable intell regarding an All That candidate doesn’t always happen, but a pre-pandemic date was interesting, attractive, way better than just fit, a look-you-in-the-eye type with a compelling story about spirituality (including tarot, the hook in my books) that kept conversation flowing. OMG! she also wanted to go ‘dutch’ from the get-go.

Here’s hoping Clevertech looks at me the same way.

All positive responses constitute a successful ‘first date’ for content writing (with exceptional verbal dexterity) people like me.

Never let it be thought you only did the least that could be done. Quality communications don’t need to be all-revealing bikini shots of one’s career, just promote the belief that we as responders might be that terrific person you’ll want to discuss a future relationship with.

Day 1 as Christmas tree volunteer, cheery family event, plenty of sales, Scouts were super

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Yanking a decently big one through the baler was earning your spurs. Its a dang poor job that can’t afford a supervisor, this one has two.

Post-Thanksgiving and upcoming-Christmas have a grand meeting the day after Turkey Day, and beyond super deals on 55″ wide screen splendor, getting the family Christmas tree acquired extra ASAP priority because of the “late start” on that part of the season. We (St. Gabriel MC) had a splendid, even optimal first day – ideal weather and easy to say ‘yes’ to product and pricing, the Scouts and a bunch of HS kids getting service hours were consistently good workers, the families we served excited.

This is our 35th year of selling trees at St. Gabriel, and as a challenge to working your verbal skills and keeping projects moving positively, volunteer activities count. The ‘crew’ spans from 13 to 93 years old, cash table and wreaths and chainsaws. Everyone was on the same page in getting the show on the road, and it turns out, several of those Scouts can actually SELL.

I believe how well things operate goes directly to work-force education programs, giving concise instructions, getting  actions described and checked on (stocking trees, picking up branches), shaking branches to open things up was instilled as best practices. I sold and chainsaw-trimmed the first two customers myself over an hour before we officially opened because people showed up.

Getting young workers filling racks with trees by size was task one, cutting blue string-bound trees (especially junk around the top), and expecting two carriers taking trees to cutting area was procedure. You can’t help smiling when strong young men tell you they can handle the White size themselves.

A sense of humor works great. Scouts were *death* on tying knots for trees on roofs after I reminded customers, “We haven’t lost one in 35 years, nobody wants to be #1 on that list.” 

Cutting loose and having fun, selling Christmas trees is a joyful no-brainer. You KNOW people are there to get that tree *now,* and while mentioning that $$$ raised stays in Charlotte for a variety of community projects, the fact that PRICING barely even registers for the vast majority of Day One customers is a lock. With no hourly wages for our workforce, how much tree you want gets easier to accomplish.

We’ll sell 900-plus trees in less than three weeks, and having an A-1 supplier (I usually say “4-time Grower of the Year” when people ask where we get the trees from) certainly counts. It’s an old school relationship, built on time, and whatever big (9′-10′), big-based trees we received, not everyone else is selling those. Tree size availability goes back to the recession years, when many tree farms going out of business didn’t plant what would now be the popular 7-8 footers.

The last family on Friday, the little girl with her princess dress and lighted sneakers, had brats for dinner and then bought the tree that had the fat bottom Dad liked, with a yellow tag price. Bingo, memories for everyone.

They’re not customers, they’re people and families

Having previously mentioned the opportunity to work your communications skills, we can all become teachers and leaders. On a hustling, eight-hour day, some scenes and ideas stick in my mind.

The collegiate VBer (center hitter) on crutches, three days after surgery, six people had input on how BIG a tree on that. We talked about upcoming therapy because I had a knee replacement two years ago.

The middle school kid who was able to explain the difference between 7-point-8 and 7-dash 8 on our size chart (hey, that he spotted it was something to start) – giving him an attaboy, a small, positive affirmation that cost me nothing.  Proud Mom, and maybe her smart kid helps on a future Men’s Club project.

Lead by example

There are always safety concerns at work, but at a tree lot during early set up, I let my experience inform their work efforts, like lying the tree down instead of stretching to cut something at the top of a 7 footer.

Early on, a HS volunteer who took directions about cutting open a tree, getting better all the time.  Telling guys its okay to press into the tree branches enough with a cardboard cutter to pop the strings, going from bottom to top is the most efficient.

Making sure at least one guy in each group had a blade increased efficiency by a ton.

Being able to yank a tree through the baler was a rite of passage. Give the lightweight20191128_144148 freshman credit for turning down the chance to try – he’d seen it wasn’t easy even for a 220 lb. wrestler. Hey, even two guys pulling a tree through qualifies for getting spurs. At some point, the guys want to see you tug a sort of big one through, and that was fine.

Technology. Even, or especially, our oldest members benefited from clear, picture-labeled products in a lightweight unit, like “10” decorated wreath’ and ‘7 ft. tree.” All sales stats could be brought up immediately, and knowing the actual Day 1 totals was affirming. (Yes ma’am, we can do debit cards.)

The first customers arrived about 9:30, we weren’t officially supposed to start until 11:00, but the customer is essentially right – they came to buy a tree, so find the one they want.

About Thanksgiving dinner

It was super successful, especially for Mom, because there were plenty of older women who were willing to talk with her. The funny part was a LOT of North Carolina lovers watching their #6 Tarheels get thumped by unranked Michigan 73-64. They’d all been looking forward to dissing Duke fans after the  Blue Devils lost on a tip in by Stephen F. Austin at the end of overtime the night before.

It was great that a deep-fried drumstick was reserved for me. Ahhh, tradition.

With all the college age kids around, none seemed at all concerned about politics and 2020 elections.

Content collaboration as a successful business model – Pierogi Dinner Study

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Men on a mission: 1200 kolacky cookies.

In the overall success of the internet, the ability of not-in-the-same-place talents to be immediately and easily incorporated into the creative flow ranks high, especially for those who are participating in the booming sector called ‘Remote work.’

Beyond the 24/7 foundering and obfuscation on display in Washington, communication should never be lacking with real world clients. Cell phones, laptops, Skype, time-task tracking software, of course, texting, are the norm and eminently useful.

Time zones? Pssshhh! California is always going to be three hours difference.  You signed up for that when you responded to the online Looking For.

Bringing resources together

With content creation, there’s always “The SEO People” who drill managers in must-have markers in getting material created. There’s always a director, a corporate or personal ‘voice’ is determined, ideation becomes a product through a process of submissions from sources tasked to websites, blogging, and media-click counts.

There isn’t a room full of Mad Men-style creatives down the hall any more. Whole operations are dedicated to the proposition of lots of people doing pieces, with a use ’em and lose ’em financial philosophy.

Pierogi Dinner Study

Anyway, the Pierogi Dinner Study. A community group I work with does several primarily eating events a year that maximizes our manpower. We also have an annual Christmas Tree Sale that starts the day after Thanksgiving. There are about 85-90 active members, across wide age groups, with most having a significant amount of professional expertise of one kind or another.

Last year, a member originally from Cleveland (Stephen Fogg), suggested a pierogi dinner as a late-January replacement for a less-well attended spaghetti dinner. His pitch was, “Every church in Cleveland does pierogi dinners in Lent, same with Pennsylvania, even New York. It’s relatively cheap, great family event, week before Super Bowl.”

Without any track history in Charlotte, NC on this particular Polish culinary item – a shredded cheese and potato-filled ravioli is the common description – the original goal was 450 paying customers. On the bottom line, it was an exceptional success; people started coming down the steps and into the cafeteria at 5:01, and it was 2 1/2 hours slamming time for our workers.

We served about 800, and not an unhappy camper in the lot. The planned dancing area wound up taking ten more tables instead. We have established a terrific foothold in a dynamic niche market. Our biggest problem might be handling any Year Two increase, a subject for another day perhaps.

The time logistic

The time logistic, from original idea presentation to a client (the club officers) to killer event as a scheduled, documented success was four months. The analogy of how its similar, and possibly even easier, to gain consensus with remote workers on any  creative projects is where I’m going. It’s the software, baby!

The director’s ideation was transmitted to the necessary work group months in advance of the post-Christmas event by an obvious product evaluation: he made the dinner, including slivered sauteed onions, kielbasa, and sauerkraut.  BIG success, everyone buys into the project, its recognized as comfort food from many of their early years.

Sound like where you’d want a project to be on the enthusiasm meter? Right, and the KPI people will be tracking enthusiasm.

The simplest idea became a driving force in the success. The project director’s knowledge and previous expertise (“every church in Cleveland”) was an A-1 asset, the group history in scaling up became an ‘all you can eat’ invitation in area church bulletins, and as noted, huge success on that communication front.

The product itself was exceptional, including 1200 kolacky (jelly filled-folded) cookies. The notion of “too many chefs” in a creative kitchen as a negative still translates, you can only follow one strategy. It’s still a fact, however many workers it takes, the product has to be there when scheduled-necessary.

The empirical A/B  more-most effective way

There was a test-firing of the process a week prior to the event dinner, from outside cookers to grilling and adding trimmings, making the cookie dough with four mixers, the empirical A/B  more-most effective way to get desired outcomes deal techies always go on about.

The steering committee understood how kitchen and service roles needed to be handled, including the facility prep, launch (5:01) and overall capabilities of volunteers, and the addition of secondary support people (middle/high school students doing service hours) ensured downstream reaction and course correction were highly linked.

Our community projects are considered “good duty” service hours by students, fun and fulfilling, a good rep to have.

Its easy to see challenges like garbage removal from tables in any production directly in front of you. The point is that elements of a project are all within a couple clicks and keystrokes of any content coordinating person.

Today’s online collaboration possibilities simplify a project director’s ability to see any and all associated materials, to know what they want changed, and connect with specific vendors about content.

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Few things are more satisfying than a project done well, with all the parts contributing as expected. Pierogis were hard core “content creation.”

Content creation, client needs are close to dating – better info turns into ‘righter’ decisions

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Typical selfie in bathroom mirror doesn’t move the needle much.

Certainly, online dating and sending RFP-level material to potential clients is a legitimate analogy. Wanting a good professional or emotional connection, one that satisfies a recognized need, works best when everyone is honestly trying on the information front.

Three specific examples of “finding the other”  involves a high, low, and medium set of informational points, and how it affects the successful matching up of elements desired by both parties.

On the low end would be a personal ad lacking any imagination or effort – one picture (the bathroom selfie), minimal written, or “If you want to know more, ask” slackery. That’s an unsatisfying combination from among hundreds of other possibilities, and its headed for the Out Bin almost as a reflex, right?

Content creation types understand that every CV or cover letter sent involves a judgment of our writing skills.

On a lovely, cool Monday morning, I declare that The Super High end of information is represented by 2 1/2 pages of printed who, what, why, how? relative to one recent company’s Content Marketing position. A statement of their corporate positioning, an introduction to expectations of a new team member, responsibilities, necessary skill set, personal qualities (hmmm…humility?), and finished up with bullet points about extras in the compensation situation you’d probably want to know about.

Almost without question – whether pursuing dates or a potential client – you’d invest more effort in something A-B-C, 1-2-3 clear about extra details to start. From the content creator side, responding to that well-defined description with an equally well-defined reason to investigate further is fundamentally right.

The best middle ground is a ‘date’ that shows up as a 100% as advertised stud or stud-ette.  Great attitude, desired attributes sharp and obvious, articulate enough during the meet-greet time over coffee or a cold beverage raising expectations of a possible match. If all is in tune a couple hours later – post-concert and a snack perhaps – its much easier to discuss what Next might look like.

What needs to be done when the bell is rung

Many of us like to think we’re the middle group professionally, that it’s just a matter of getting in front of a decision maker. Perhaps we lack an attribute or two software-wise,  or depth of expertise required, but if there’s not an organic height requirement, face-to-face will win the day.

Uhh-huh.

That would be amazingly naive of the one picture profile to think, and just as unproductive for a content creator candidate to ignore the relative clues in a well-written description of  how to impress that ‘date’ appropriately. 

That Super High end information provider is a remote location possibility vs. office situation, as definite a positive as a bright smile from across the room. The role responsibilities call for a versatile style across several channels (bingo!), engaging with subject matter experts (sales career and all previous freelance writing featured interviewing as a strength), and some esoteric pieces, like “the gumption to wrestle with a problem until a thought-through solution is achieved,” and “…abiding love for processing a lot of input, (then) fishing out the interesting and relevant bits.”

Immediate, verifiable info regarding  candidate

That meeting my date Saturday provided immediate, verifiable intell regarding an All That candidate doesn’t happen often. She was interesting, attractive, way better than just fit, a look-you-in-the-eye type with a compelling story about spirituality (including tarot, the hook in my books) that kept conversation flowing, and OMG! who wanted to go ‘dutch’ from the get-go.

Having seen the up-close reality of the option, it would be terrific if there was more to discuss in the near future. Hold onto that thought, because that real meeting of the people v. minds included almost two weeks of texting, and both of us had multiple pictures and profile writing.  Elementally, the dating system worked, and leaving out that information makes it sound like luck.

Never let it be thought you only did the least that could be done. Quality communications don’t need to be all-revealing bikini shots of one’s career, just promote the belief that we as responders might be that terrific person you’ll want to discuss a future relationship with.

All positive responses constitute a successful ‘first date’ for a content creation person.