Valuing Customers

Small business owners know that their customers are what keep not only forward momentum, but daily keep the doors open. They are counted, valued and should be protected at every front.

Small business owners will talk to, reduce prices for, write off finance fees for and negotiate prices …in order to keep our customers. Our prospective is that we cannot afford to lose anyone. Or the reputation that may leave with our customer.

So it is that much more frustrating when I am the customer and am callously treated. When I am dismissed or marginalized and the only person I can talk to – that might care – does not have the authority to make me a happy customer. Case in point…..

I ordered a specific printer – partly because we are a Mac based company and these printers work well with Macs and partly because this printer gave me everything I needed as a mobile “all-in-one” printer to have on the road.

The printer arrived and seemed to really fit the bill – until I tried to scan or copy. It would only print. After hours of reading through the manual, searching online for support and finally getting someone on the phone from support – it was determined this was a faulty printer. The solution was to send me a replacement – not a new replacement – a refurbished replacement and I would pay $29 to have it expedited to me so that I could work while away from my office.

The printer arrived in 2 days – and it was obvious ‘out of the box’ that this printer had been water damaged. It also did not work. So I called the company  again – waited on hold – forever – and was told to send it back and I would then be credited my $29 back. I must have heard “I apologize for the inconvenience”25 times, but no offer to replace the printer and/or send me a refund or a new one. (This printer cost $331)

I hung up the phone feeling like I had just banged my head against the wall repeatedly for the duration of the call……….

Maybe companies as large as this one do not need to value every individual customer. Maybe I should not have ordered it on line and I could have driven it back to a store for a replacement. Or maybe it is a point of difference that I can relay to my customers. We may be a small business that you are dealing with – but we will not forget how important you are to our everyday. So to the (purposely unnamed printer company)..

Thanks for the business lesson.

Printer and picture with menu in a restaurant

Letting go…

“It’s only real estate”…keeps going through my head. It’s an early Saturday morning and the offices are hot – really hot, because it’s a kind of a heat wave in an upstate NY city where it rarely sees a week of temperatures above 80. The concrete is sticky under my bare feet as I paddle up and down the hallways, packing up my business.

My brick and mortar business that’s about to go virtual. I know it’s the right move for the business. I know getting rid of overhead keeps us competitive and lean. I know my heart wants to be home and more available to my family. It doesn’t escape me that many of my staff have/are working successfully from their home offices and the business keeps humming…..

“It’s only real estate”.….I remove the framed thank you from the Bhutanese community for sponsoring their community event commemorating the first Bhutanese family arrival to the city.

I remove the framed E-I-S that is fingerspelled by an Intern who spent several months in our midst and became our ‘little sister’…. my gift of her beautiful fingers portraying the name of my business in sign language….

I pack away the framed handprint of a 5 year old with Cystic Fibrosis who sent his own special thank you to us for sponsoring a fund raiser. A charity near and dear to us as we lost a beautiful ‘member’ of the Slater family to the disease. I hold it close to my chest for a moment before it meets the cardboard box….

Many of my contemporaries are watching. Other business owners that want to make this jump and see it as a way to do business in the future want to know ‘how is this working? ..how did you make this move?…was it the right thing to do?’

There are no books about taking your business virtual. I’ve looked for blogs and articles, videos on YouTube. Scattered advice on how to digitize your files, back up to the cloud, set up servers for software and send paychecks out via financial services. I’ve done it all – encrypted to Hipaa compliance – hired the IT people – have the phone systems and software systems in place. It’s a go. It’s present-day. It’s modern-day. It’s contemporary. It makes sense.

But no one prepares you for the tug of your heart. What you built. The chatter in the hallway that will be gone. The people in the building you will miss. The community around your building you will be departing from…

….the memories you nail to the wall and look at every day. The pictures you take down that remind you of why you do what you do. The melancholy that must happen before the move. No matter how necessary.

Exhale……..It’s only real estate.

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It’s just a deposition…

integrity conceptual compassAn employee recently shared this story…

“The owner of a distant competing Interpreting agency called to see if we could fill a job for them for a deposition in Syracuse (for a not-so-common spoken language).

I explained our policy regarding filling legal requests and after much conversation..

His comment was: “Well, this is just a deposition.”

My response to him was that as he is very much aware, Qualified Legal Interpreters are very few and far between, particularly in Upstate New York, and although I would love to be able to assist in the request, we are limited to a very small number of Qualified Legal Interpreters ,especially in the language he requested.

He would not give up on the “it is just a deposition” phrase. This made me think of how EIS differences ourselves from other companies, from subcontracting packets, interviews, policies, etc.

To EIS, a deposition is just as important as interpreting a lengthy trial. Just as interpreting a follow-up appointment at a medical office is just as important as interpreting the surgery or physical therapy afterwards…one of the reasons EIS is different.

There are times when you are just bold faced proud of your staff. Today was one of them….

The story behind Father’s Day

It’s interesting how many holidays we celebrate without ever knowing the why or how. So..in  the interest of the upcoming holiday and knowing why we will celebrate…I did a quick Google search and found the origins of Father’s Day….

In 1908 a W. Virginia church sponsored a special Sunday sermon to honor fathers. This was meant to be a one-time event specifically for 362 local men who had died in  a horrific coal mine explosion.

Up until this time, only Mother’s Day was on the calendar to recognize parents. Motivated by the recognition of fathers in W. Virginia and having been raised by a single father herself, Sonora Smart Dodd from Spokane Washington, began to petition her state’s churches, civic groups and politicians…to have a day set aside nationally to honor Dads.

The result was that Washington State celebrated the nation’s first statewide Father’s Day on July 19, 1910.

Organically, the holiday spread. In 1924, President Calvin Coolidge himself urged state governments to observe Father’s Day.  Although many men pushed back, wanting nothing to do with a day of sentiment and flowers (liking it to ‘Mother’s Day’).. in 1972 Richard Nixon signed a proclamation making Father’s Day a federal holiday.

From a communities grief of losing 362 fathers…to a young daughter of a single dad…to politicians trying to gather votes on the emotions of children who loved their fathers…today we celebrate those who raised us. Loved us. Protected us. Were role models and are honestly often overlooked.

Now you know the story behind your Sunday visit to Dad. Your gifts of crazy colored ties and barbecued hot dogs…. to all the Dads in our lives. Happy Father’s Day.

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Affordable Care Act and Communication Rights

There are two parts of the Affordable Care Act that have relevance to equal access and communication for Deaf and LEP (limited English proficiency) individuals. Providers and Interpreters need to be aware of the following: 


  1. Section 1557: Ensuring Effective Communication with and Accessibility for Individuals with Disabilities

Section 1557 is the civil rights provision of the Affordable Care Act of 2010. Section 1557 prohibits discrimination on the ground of race, color, national origin, sex, age, or disability in certain health programs and activities. The Section 1557 final rule applies to any health program or activity, any part of which receives funding from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), such as hospitals that accept Medicare or doctors who receive Medicaid payments; the Health Insurance Marketplaces and issuers that participate in those Marketplaces; and any health program that HHS itself administers.

Protections for Individuals with Disabilities

  • −  Consistent with existing requirements, Section 1557 requires covered entities to take appropriate steps to ensure that communications with individuals with disabilities are as effective as communication with others. Section 1557 also requires covered entities to provide appropriate auxiliary aids and services, such as alternative formats and sign language interpreters, where necessary for effective communication.

       2. Section 1557: Ensuring Meaningful Access for Individuals with Limited English Proficiency

Protections for Individuals with Limited English Proficiency

An individual with limited English proficiency is a person whose primary language for communication is not English and who has a limited ability to read, write, speak, or understand English.

Reasonable steps may include the provision of language assistance services, such as oral language assistance (Interpreters),  or written translation.

  • −  Covered entities are required to post a notice of individuals’ rights providing information about communication assistance for individuals with limited English proficiency, among other information.
  • −  In each state, covered entities are required to post taglines in the top 15 languages spoken by individuals with limited English proficiency in that state that indicate the availability of language assistance.
  • −  Covered entities are prohibited from using low-quality video remote interpreting services or relying on unqualified staff, translators when providing language assistance services.
  • −  Covered entities are encouraged to develop and implement a language access plan to ensure they are prepared to take reasonable steps to provide meaningful access to each individual that may require assistance.

    For more information about Section 1557,

  • visit http://www.hhs.gov/civil-rights/for-individuals/section-1557

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Memorial Day

The importance of holidays.

Any budding entrepreneur will tell you that owning a business is a 24/7 job. And it truly is. Especially the first years of building a business.

However, it is easy to forget that while we need to be gaining customers, making payroll and taking care of business, we also need to not neglect our personal lives. Holidays come once a year. Time with family and friends cannot be ‘made up’ at a later date.

So take time this holiday weekend. Time away from your business. Time to savor those laughs, hugs, picnics with loved ones. You cannot ever get those missed moments back.

And I promise. Your business will still be there when you return…..

Happy family having picnic and holding american flag on a sunny day

 

 

When real life and business life collide…

Whether you are trying to run a business or you are just trying to get to your job everyday, real life will at some point collide with what you are trying to accomplish on the professional side of your world. Recently I have had friends with health and personal issues – real crisis – bring their business lives to an abrupt halt.  For a moment and sometimes for days and sometimes beyond.

I have been watching. I have been gleaning. It happens to all of us and I have learned some true life lessons from them on how to handle the interjection of crisis into business and how to maintain. I hope by writing this down I will remember the next time I don’t know how to ‘do my job’ …and keep my mind… and handle the crisis. From these friends I have learned to…

  1. Breathe. Seriously breathe. You cannot function in constant crisis mode and I am talking about what your body does when it’s trying to deal with impending doom or the possibility of impending doom. Breathing deep and taking that moment throughout helps. Remember to breath.
  2. Be honest about what you can handle. You may need to stop working for hours or maybe days. If you are a business owner, you may need to step away and hand the reigns over during that time. Or you may need that busyness of working to keep your sanity and give you a distraction. Do what feels right to you.
  3.  Remember when you can’t focus, you can’t think clearly. Making serious decisions when you are sleep deprived and saturated in worry is not a good idea. Signing new contracts, hiring new help, selling – etc. may just need to wait until you’re clear headed. Do not let your raw emotions dictate your decision making process.
  4. Exercise. This is so so hard to do in the middle of crisis. However even a 10 minute walk around the block will help so much. Take in the outdoors, regardless of the weather and get yourself out of the environment of your computer/desk/phones.
  5. Reach out (when you’re ready)..to whatever support system you have. Set boundaries but ask for what you need. And remember……..

……..this too shall pass. In the meantime know ‘real life’ is what is important. Business life is not what feeds us, loves us, keeps us healthy and it is not family. Know the difference. Breathe…..

Problems

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