PSA: Protecting Your Hard Work is Vital

What you have done or what you have built has value and there are people all around looking to profit off the work of others.

I know this is a somewhat negative way to open an article but this is more of a PSA than anything else.  This article also stems from a real life situation I am going through right now.  I purposely left out major details to not shine any light on the products involved.

Back in 2013 I had my first child.  This brought about a whole new schedule for me.  Typically I am somewhat of a night owl.  I enjoy relaxing after dinner and going to bed a bit later than some.  However, once we had our daughter my wife was required to be in bed starting at 8 or 9 as we co-slept and newborns like to nurse CONSTANTLY.  Although she loved the time with Ali, I could tell my wife was a bit upset about being in bed so early every night.  So not to leave her by herself each night I would get into bed at the same time.  Not being one for going to bed early I had to find something to fill this time that I could do in bed.  For this I turned to Twitter.

My first few days on Twitter I found that there are these massive accounts, some with over 1 million followers, that seemed like they could be created by just about anyone.  I thought to myself, what stops me from doing this?  I have the time now, lets try it!

My first few accounts didn’t get much traction.  But that all changed once I created an account with the goal of gaining followers and a cute animal logo.  This account started to pick up a bit of steam.  Once I hit 1,000-2,000 followers I pivoted the account to a comedy account with the same cute animal logo.  My plan was simple – follow people for the follow back, provide good content to get retweeted, gain organic followers from those retweets.  As I got bigger that happened more and more.  I became consumed with this account as I watched the followers grow…10,000..20,000…30,000…40,000.  At around the 40,000 follower mark I decided to expand to a website.  With very little knowledge on building a website it was a real trial by fire.  It too a lot of hard work to even get something presentable up.  But I had it.  I had my own domain and a Twitter account with close to 50,00 followers (a few short of the 1 million mark but it’s a start).  It was a great feeling but there was no money in this, just a lot of really hard work pulling me from my family.  I kept the site running and the Twitter handle growing for about 6 months.

At the peak we hit 75,000 followers then life hit me.  I changed jobs and the family schedule changed so I was left with less time for my site and my followers.  I kept up with Twitter but the site was dormant for another 6 months.  Then it came time for domain renewal.  Here is where I screwed up.  I let the domain lapse.  I never thought about the consequences of that move until it was too late.  My thought was “No one was paying me for what I was doing, why would this be valuable, no one will want this.”

Fast forward 2 years, I had since stopped providing content to my Twitter account as work pulled me completely away.  I always thought I could just pick it back up one day.  That day came and I decided to go back and see where I left off.  What I found was that someone else had been posting on the account.  There were about 20 unknown posts in all and they were all attempting to sell a product!  It was time to get back into this account and delete these posts.  Come to find out, the person that logged into the account had changed the password.  No worries, I can correct that.  Then even more bad new…I left my associated email to the Twitter account as an email from my domain!  Uh…oh.  This isn’t good.  I decided I needed to buy the domain back, recreate the email, send myself the change password request from Twitter and we would be good.  Wrong!  Turns out that worthless site was worth something to someone.

I quickly learned that when sites go dormant, instead going back to the available market, they are auctioned off by their hosting companies for additional revenue.  My domain was no longer available.  My site I worked so hard on was replaced by blanket site posted by the company while the squatted on the domain.  This was a big, big, BIG hurdle.  But a shimmer of hope, the site is available for purchase…for $500.  Now the site that lead me to nothing but tired days at work and long hours was going to cost me another $500 to recover so I could regain my Twitter handle that I worked so hard to build.  I put in 1.5 years of my life into a hobby and have to pay to get it back.

I built my site and my Twitter followers from scratch with no corporate backing or established name recognition to build off of and now someone else is benefiting from it? It is my own fault and I understand that.  If I had put in place the safeguards that Twitter provides I would not be in this situation.  I would not be contemplating shelling out $500 just to get my own audience back.

The bottom line is be smart about how you handle your business at all times.  I truly believe the world is good and just but there are people out there looking to get ahead with the least amount of work.  That goal most often leads to benefiting off the work of other around them.  Protect yourself and your creations.  Look out for yourself and those who matter to you while being a good person.  Not every action is underhanded and sneaky but do not set yourself up for others to take advantage of you.  In this new age of social media and online shopping it is easy to get caught up in something you are not prepared for or do not expect.

 

 

 

A Teaching Moment: At The Course.

Earlier this afternoon I visited a local golf course.  I do not visit this course often as it has seen some rough years as of late.  However, it was purchased not to long ago and the conditions are on the uptick.

Having two children at home and a full time job finding time to fit in 18 holes is difficult and often times spur of the moment, as was the case today.  This is where my story begins.

Being given the green light by my wife to play golf I called around to the local courses to ensure I would be able to get out to play 18.  When contacting this particular course (I don’t plan to name names as that is not the point of this blog) I found that yes I would be able to get out on course #2 (they have 36 total holes) with no issues and that there was leagues going off course #1.  Excellent, I make my way to the course.

On my way to the club house from the parking lot I passed the 1st hole of course #1.  Here I overhear a starter tell a fellow golfer that he just sent a single golfer off with another group.  When I enter the club house there are two customers looking through the selection of clubs and two employees at the counter.  I approach the counter as the woman working behind it is telling a non work related story to her coworker.  This leads to a very uncomfortable 20-30 seconds of me standing feet away from their conversation without her breaking from her story.  I could tell the gentleman being told the story wanted to break the stream but was not afforded an opportunity to do so.  Finally, after contemplating just walking out, the story ends and I was spoken with.  Now I know this sounds extreme but I cannot express the uncomfortable feeling of being completely ignored in that situation.  It felt almost like I was interrupting something clearly more important than my business.

Things did not get better from here.  Once I approached the counter and spoke with the gentlemen.  I told him I would like to play 18 holes, I am arriving by myself (as discussed on the phone) and I would be walking.  He tells me that there was a single golfer on the first hole of course #1 that I would have to join.   I relayed to him what I heard, that this golfer was already sent off with another group.  To this he responds with “No, you will have to join him, singles are not allowed to play on course #1.”  I attempt to tell him again just what I heard to which I received “What I have trying to tell you is that you cannot play on course #1 by yourself” as a very gruff response.  This was completely unnecessary.  To this point our conversation totaled of 20 seconds.  There has not been nearly enough time for this level of miscommunication on whether or not I can play on course #1 (which I was never asking to do) to occur.  If it wasn’t so difficult to find time to do one of the things I love (golf), I would have just walked away.  Instead I just asked if there was a starter at the first tee, paid my greens fee and went outside.  I figured I would just sort this out with someone who understands the situation and will listen to what I am trying to say.

When I get outside I see that the gentleman from the proshop has followed me out.  Not to check in on me but to joke around with another player who must be a regular.  This joking around turns into discussing my very recent conversation with him and is capped off by him clearly telling this player “I kept tying to tell him he can’t play course #1 by himself”.  Now not only was I being reprimanded for requesting something that I never requested in the first place, I am being practically mocked by this gentleman while within earshot.  I fought the urge to engage with this particular person again.  As planned I spoke with the starter at course #1, asked if I could just play course #2 and went on my merry way.

I know this is one instance with a couple of employees but I will not return to this course.  Even with it being cheaper than the alternatives and very close to my home I will not return.  One very poor interaction mixed with my already slightly negative view on the course has completely turned me against returning.

What to be done differently:

First things first, once a customer approaches, the personal conversation ends.  Your priority is your customers.  If the customer overhears the story and engages then that is a good chance to build rapport with the customer.  If not, nix the conversation until you have another free moment.

The second is listen.  Listen to exactly what is being requested and what additional information is being provided.  I never asked to play a certain course and I never argued that I could play said course by myself.  However, without listening to my words this gentleman got defensive of his companies policies which I was not questioning.

Lastly, do not discuss your customers in a negative light anywhere near your workplace.  It is not worth the risk.  Everyone has those days in customer service where you need to vent.  Some customers are completely irrational, I understand that.  Do it on your own time in your own home with someone close to you.  There is a time and place for everything but at work around other customers is not the place to vent your frustrations.

Not all negative interactions with customers are large shouting matches.  The off putting instances such as this can have a large impact on whether or not that customer is lost.

Who Am I?

Christopher Bright:

I am a business professional with over 15 years of experience in Customer Service. I started my working days at the age of 14 at my local Burger King restaurant. From there I had multiple part time jobs as I progressed through school. These jobs ranged from bus boy to waiter to supervisor at a high end luggage store.

After graduating from Nichols College in 2007 with a BSBA in Marketing and Economics I have spent the next 10 years working directly with customers in a three very different environments. My first full time job was at an up and coming software company where I was a sales territory manager with a territory sprawling the west coast of the United States all the way to the United Kingdom.  Being the primary point of contact for my company throughout the courtship of these potential clients, who I was, was also who NTP Software was in the eyes of these prospects.

After my days in business to business sales I transitioned into a role at Enterprise Rent-A-Car in Framingham, MA. I completed the Management Training program at Enterprise in 1 year. From there I was promoted to Management Assistant at the Marlboro, MA branch. One month later I was promoted again to Assistant Manager back at my Framingham, MA location. One of the mottoes of the Taylor Family (owners of Enterprise Rent-A-Car) is that “Customer Service is a way of life”.  This was not some hollow sentiment to drive business, customer was a direct metric used to determine an employees ability to be promoted throughout the company.  Anything less than Completely Satisfied customers were seen as a negative and would be detrimental to a branches Enterprise Service Quality Index (ESQI) score.  During my time at Enterprise I sharpened my skills not only in Customer Service but as a leader of those who interacted with our customers from open to close.

After Enterprise I moved to my current position at Meditech. At Meditech I am a Service Specialist for their Billing and Accounts Receivable, Claims, Accounts Payable, General Ledger, Scanning/Archiving and Material Managements applications. Here I have mentored and trained not only newer specialists but specialists my senior as well.  My primary focus in my current position is customer service.  Unlike the positions I held prior I do not have any of my attention pulled worrying if I will hit certain sales numbers.  With that freedom I have thrived.  I have been able to focus all of my time on providing excellent customer service to each and every hospital I work with.

All three of my full time work environments have been vastly different but all had one common thread…Customer Service. It is an area I excelled in at each stop and I now hope to share my experience and advice with you.

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