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The Friday Blog Round-Up 10/26/12

26th October 2012

The Friday Blog Round-Up 10/26/12

First on the list is a blog post about the importance of pathing.  I have to admit that I know next to nothing about digitizing,  but this post made a lot of sense to me.   A poorly digitized design is going to cost you time and ultimately money,  and it makes sense to understand why.  This post will help you do that.

Second at bat is a post from Joyce Jagger about hosting a customer appreciation night.  This is a great idea, especially around the holidays.   A customer appreciation night is a great time to suggest gifts,  showcase new decorating techniques and a perfect way to thank you customers for supporting you,  while also encouraging them to spread the word about the work you do.    As Joyce also points out,  you don’t have to have a brick and mortar storefront to host a customer appreciation night,  a conference room in a local hotel or motel can work just as well.

Third on the docket is a post by Bonnie Landsberger at My Two Stitches.   As with all of Bonnie’s posts,  this one combines nature, embroidery and makes you stop and think.   I love Bonnie’s description of getting mad at the Girl Scouts,  sending an angry e-mail and then realizing that maybe she’d misunderstood.   Those sorts of things happen to us all,  but Bonnie uses this incident to remind us all that choosing our words carefully is a good thing,  and that knowing all the facts before getting angry is usually best.  It’s a fun read.

Fourth in line is a post from Erich Campbell on digitizing for non-digitizers.  It stands to reason that not all those who run an embroidery machine will have the ability to digitize designs as well,  but Erich provides a few helpful tips the even non digitizers can use and follow.   Sometimes just knowing how to do a few simple things can save you a great deal of time and money.   Erich’s post will provide you with the ability to understand and perhaps perform some easy digitizing tasks.

Fifth up is a post from Six Pixels of Separation which is nominally about the Lance Armstrong scandal,  but which is really about how we handle social media these days.    Lance Armstrong had previously used social media quite regularly to talk to his fans and followers,  even doing things like inviting anyone around to join him on a run.   Now,  since he has become embroiled in scandal,  he has stopped talking,  possibly for legal reasons, and the silence is deafening.   Social media is a double edged sword, and you can’t just be open and friendly when things are good.   Your brand is still out there and still needs defending even when things aren’t going well.   The message here is that you have to keep talking,  even if the subject matter isn’t to your liking.

Finally,  just because I like this post and what it says so much,  we have a post from Erika Napoletano about the difference between polite and respectful.     Leaving the actual event discussed in the post aside,  I think what resonates with me when I read this post is the idea that you can disagree and still be respectful of the other party in the disagreement.  Nowdays,  particularly in an election year,  there is so much name calling and mud slinging and division,  that it’s refreshing to think that people could disagree on who to elect yet be respectful about that disagreement.   I’m all for more respect and less polite.  How about you?

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16th October 2012

When Bad Customer Service Goes Worse

Because part of my responsibility here at EnMart is overseeing customer service,  I know how hard providing good service to corporate customers can be.  A lot of customer service reps are hampered by rigid rules,  the inability to make decisions and a chain of command that often doesn’t want to handle problems.  It’s also tough to provide top notch customer service when you’re handling a large number of customers.   After a while,  if you have a large volume of calls,  the customers start to feel like numbers,  not people with problems, and it seems easier to shunt them along the line than to try and handle their issues.   Despite understanding all of that,  there are still times when I am dumbfounded and frustrated by just how bad some companies can be when it comes to customer service.

As some of you may already know,  EnMart has four locations across the United States.  One of those locations is in Lawrenceville, GA.   Our Georgia plant, and all the other EnMart and Ensign Emblem plants,  currently have phone and internet service through AT&T.   Recently the bill for our Georgia plant jumped,  mid contract,  by over $150 a month when no new services had been ordered.  Naturally we called to see what had happened,  and discovered that we were being charged for an unordered and unnecessary DSL line.   Being frugal people,  we asked them to cancel the line we didn’t need and hadn’t ordered,  and were assured this would be done and our current service would not be impacted.   Then,  you guessed it,  they canceled the line we actually use,  and left our facility in Georgia without internet access for a day and a half.

When we discovered that they had turned off the wrong line,  we of course called to request that mistake be rectified,  which seemed, even if AT&T isn’t exactly known for great customer service,  pretty simple.  Just turn the right line back on again.  Unfortunately,  simple was the last word I’d use to describe the process of getting our internet restored.   There were phone calls.  There was a posting on Facebook.   There were “escalations”  which  got us to the “Office of the President” and the “Executive Level” but didn’t get us our internet access.   It was a frustrating mess from start to finish and though some people did seem to want to help,  no one seemed to be able to do much that was actual help.

I guess, in the end,  good comes out of any experience from which you learn something.  In this case,  I learned,  just from listening to those directly involved,  how frustrating it can be when you have a problem and can’t get any help.   I also had a new appreciation for how annoying it can be when you are shunted ever higher up the corporate ladder but your problem still doesn’t get solved.   In the end we got our internet service back and our facility in Georgia is now humming along as usual,  but our relationship with AT&T may never be the same.

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12th October 2012

The Friday Blog Round – Up 10/12/12

First up from Designs in Machine Embroidery is a tutorial on embroidering ribbed knits.  I love tutorials that are easy to follow and which allow you to expand your product offerings and this one does both.  Plus,  the designs being stitched are from Urban Threads,  a company which I think does amazing designs, so that’s an added bonus.

Second on the list we have a post from Joyce Jagger about the value of gift giving for your business.  Many businesses add a small freebie or additional gift with their orders,  but Joyce’s post shows you how to use gift giving most effectively.   She makes a great case for the idea that a gift will have a small cost for you but a great value to the recipient.

Third on the docket is a terrific post from Erich Campbell about avoiding cupping or substrate distortion.  I always enjoy Erich’s posts because they teach me something new and help explain the craft of machine embroidery to me in a way that is easy to understand.   The behind the scenes look at how machine embroidery works that he gives us is unique and a huge benefit.

Fourth at bat is a new collection from Urban Threads Evenfall Lace.  If I do ever decide to take up machine embroidery myself  I’ll probably go broke buying all of Urban Threads designs and this new collection is no exception.  It’s pretty and delicate and mysterious all at once.   As I said on the EnMart Facebook page the other day,  if it were me,  I’d buy some Badgemaster and some of EnMart’s cool access threads and start stitching.

Fifth on the list is a post about the power of saying “we screwed up and we’re sorry”.  In this case,  the admission comes from Apple, and the product is their Apple Maps product.   Sometimes the best thing you can do is admit your mistakes or errors and apologize and try to help your customers get the experience they need and want whether it’s from you or someone else.   It’s likely this approach will help you keep customers,  as all anyone customer really wants is an acknowledgement that there is a problem and reassurance that steps are being taken to solve it.   Apple did a masterful job of doing just that  and I applaud them for it.


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