Essential Skills are Best!

Essential Skills, workplace skills, soft skills, people skills are all names for the skills we continue to use no matter the technology.

This morning at a Small Business Advocacy Council meeting of the Fox essential skillsValley Chapter, I was leading a discussion about what has changed in your career pathway and what has remained the same. In almost everyone’s discussion it was one of the essential skills that employees need to demonstrate in the workplace that remained the same.

Everyone mentioned that technology was a big change – computing power in a phone, being able to get an insurance quote in 10 seconds vs. what used to take hours to compile. Faster, smaller, more precise, flexibility were all mentioned in the conversation. The few things that remained were things like customer service, standing behind your product, the know – like – trust factor of sales, and building relationships. These are such important elements that cannot be short-changed. If someone does not have these skills, they are more difficult to teach than the technical skills it takes to run a machine or an accounting program. In the picture, you can teach a dancer the steps, but can you teach them the value and responsibility of being a team player, or being proactive and ethical.

If you or your business need assistance with social media marketing, I am your girl. If you or your employees need help with essential skills (workplace skills or soft skills) use a resource of one of my clients – Illinois workNet. Check this guide for more information that can help you. If you are wanting to improve your computer literacy or train a member of staff to deal with your IT services, I would recommend a visit to They offer introductory and advanced courses, catering for all levels of computer literacy an individual may have.

A small commercial about the SBAC IL – this group advocates for  small business at the local, state and federal level. They are a non-partisan group founded by a Greater Chicago Area attorney. If you are interested in supporting local small business, consider joining us at an upcoming meeting. You can find out more information by clicking the link in the first paragraph.

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Another Example of how to do customer service correctly

Sharing bad examples of customer service is the norm.

I want to break that mold. I want to share an example of how a company did customer service correctly!

My husband wasn’t feeling well and didn’t want the left-overs I was going to prepare for dinner. He suggested pizza. Since I am gluten-free, we have limited choices of places that can serve both regular for him and gluten-free for me. I called around a couple of places looking for some new options, but we finally settled on Lou Malnati’scustomer service

I went to the website and ordered through the on-line system and picked a time to pick-up. I double checked the order because of past experiences.

At the appointed time, I made my way to the Elgin carry-out location. I only had to wait about 2 minutes. I saw my small gluten-free box and a larger box for the deep dish. I didn’t check inside either box because Lou’s is always very good about getting things right. I should have checked! Note to self: always check – people make mistakes.

I got home about 10 minutes later, opened the box and discovered there was only one ingredient correct from the order. I called the store right away. I had printed out the order that I had placed. Double checked that to be sure I hadn’t missed checking an appropriate box.

They asked me if I wanted a rush order, I said that would be too late and they immediately offered up a coupon for the next time we ordered. On top of that they credited my charge card for the wrong pizza that we received.

The best part was I didn’t have to ask. I did request some clarification because, I thought I was just getting a coupon for a free pizza, but then they said they will credit my card AND the coupon.

I just wanted to give props to good customer services and a company that empowers its employees to make things right for the customers.

Instead of Lou to go, it is way to go Lou!

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Career Day Presentation

Have you ever given a Career Day Presentation?

I am reminded of the commercial on television where the parents are career day presentationgiving a career day presentation and the fireman dad comes in his gear. All of the other dads have a look of uh-oh, he is going to get all the questions.

I guest lecture to a Masters program Marketing class. It is a cake walk compared to trying to keep the attention of a group of high school students.

Giving a Career Day presentation to high school students can be challenging. Some of the go-getters are totally engaged and ask great questions. Then there is the class either first thing in the morning or right after lunch, where all the kids do is snooze.

I am going armed with video in my presentation – it has catchy background music and cool facts. I will be using Prezi for my presentation – not just words, but lots of graphics and movement. I will have giveaways – everybody likes a good tchotchke.  I may even pull out a fun (in my opinion) quiz the kids can take and win a prize – everyone likes the chance to win a prize right?!

My biggest challenge will be that the kids are almost as savvy in my field as I am. They use the latest social media tools. Facebook to them is passe. Snapchat is rage – this week. All the time I hear, if you need to learn how to do something on the internet or a smartphone ask a teenager. The advantage I have over a teenager is the marketing experience I have gained over the years, the comparison for new technologies to old ones AND I can have my selfie-stick in the classroom!

Career Day presentations to high school students are about what you do to interest them in what they might want to do can be challenging. Not all students are college bound, as not all jobs require a college education. Helping those students understand the value of all types of careers is what will keep the world going round.

Wish me luck, watch for the pictures on my Facebook page!

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Giving Props to Great Customer Service

Epson wins a High Five for Great Customer Service!

I purchased my Epson printer because of the multi-function capabilities Great Customer Serviceand the dual paper trays. It had a ton of functionality for a great price point. And the size worked for our home office.

I used it hard and heavy. We have two businesses in our home and I was printing daily, multiple copies of things for at least one of the businesses, sometimes both – and church!

I started having problems with the print nozzles and the paper feed was going a little wonky. I tried to fix things by doing the nozzle head spray adjustments for about two months. Things were not improving.

Finally, I called customer support. They talked me through a few things that I had done previously and then a couple of things that I had not. It was recommended to let the machine sit overnight unplugged to “clear” the cobwebs. The next morning I fired the machine back up and the same poor printing was happening. I called back to customer service with my reference number.

After reporting what I had done that morning, they broke the bad news that my printer had a bad print head. They said I was out of warranty. (I called one month and one day after the warranty expired.) Without me even asking, they escalated my tech support call to another department. The woman asked a few questions and said, ok, we will overnight a new printer to you. You can just recycle the old printer. We are taking the serial number out of commission.

My new printer showed up by 10:30 the next morning and I have it set-up. The printing is beautiful again!

This was a bright spot in my week, because I sure didn’t want to have to shop for another printer. I liked this one!

Thanks EPSON!! You have won a lifetime customer!

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Your Listing May Not Show in Google Search Results

How often do you get a call on any of your phone numbers about your Google Listing?

Today was the freakiest of the calls that I have ever gotten about my Google listing. I got one of “those” phone calls from a 708 area code about my listing on Google may not show up if my address and phone are not verified etc. I was working on some data entry for a project on which I am working, so I thought I would hold and see what they say.

I waited about 4 minutes listening to the repeating messages that they have. They didn’t even have a person come onto the line.

Suddenly, the line clicked over and it sounded like the person was in a room full of customer service operators. I started to say hello, is someone there and a voice on the other end of the phone said that they were there and didn’t want to talk to me. They were in a hospital recuperating from major surgery. I told the guy I wasn’t with Google and I wanted to tell them I didn’t want to talk to them either. I would say that the two of us spoke for about 30 seconds and then all of a sudden, there was a message that I was being disconnected from this group call. What the $&LL?

Here is my lesson, if you need to create or update your listing with Google,Google Listing just go to or give me a call and I will help you make sure your listing is complete and accurate. Those companies that are calling don’t really care about you or your business. They are just trying to make a fast buck. Contact a reputable local business, or follow the directions on line.

The next time one of them calls, I think I will see if the same thing happens, just like when one of those companies calls telling me they are from “Microsoft” and my computer is throwing off a ton of error messages. Another story for another day!

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