Tracy's blog

I’m Tracy Au and I have graduated from the Professional Writing program from university. I am an aspiring screenwriter, so this blog is used to promote my writing and attract people who will hire me to write for your TV show or movie. I write a lot about writing, TV, movies, jokes, and my daily life and opinions. I have another blog promoting my TV project at

Thursday, March 30, 2017

"When business and politics don't mix"/ customer sevice tips

Feb. 25, 2017 "When business and politics don't mix": Today I found this article by Leah Eichler in the Globe and Mail:

Opportunities to make a statement are everywhere, but make sure your position relates to your company’s core values

It wasn’t so long ago that proper business etiquette dictated that one avoid discussing politics at all costs. Sure, you might have strong views on abortion or the Middle East, but if you wanted to rise up the corporate ranks or appeal to new and existing customers, the best tactic available was to simply smile and keep your mouth shut.

However, avoiding politics has become much more challenging lately and some brands or executives believe being vocal is worth the risk. They include the more than 120 U.S. tech companies that filed a legal brief condemning U.S. President Donald Trump’s immigration order, or Airbnb’s overtly political advertisement during the Super Bowl.

Done correctly, taking a political stand reaps financial benefits. Late last year, Vanity Fair snubbed one of Mr. Trump’s restaurants, prompting the then president-elect to tweet a disparaging remark about the magazine, causing a backlash that saw the magazine win a record number of subscriptions in a single day.

Still, mixing business and politics doesn’t always work. Uber chief executive officer Travis Kalanick was forced to quit the President’s business advisory group this month after coming under pressure from critics, including his drivers. Closer to home, Hudson’s Bay Co. has come under fire for continuing to carry Ivanka Trump’s products.

So how does one navigate this minefield of business and politics? Take a stand only when the topic is related to your customers’ and stakeholders’ core values, according to Kate Headley, principal consultant at MsCommuniKate Public Relations in Ottawa.

She cites the National Basketball Association’s decision to move its 2017 all-star game from North Carolina to New Orleans in protest of the state’s anti-LGBT law and PayPal’s move to cancel expansion plans in the state as examples where companies used their financial sway appropriately. The risk to the NBA and PayPal was low since other states would gladly welcome them and the boost to the economy that their business would bring, Ms. Headley said.

“When assessing whether or not to take a stance, a company first needs to consider how it will affect their primary stakeholders, customers, investors and staff,” she said. The airline industry isn’t going to take a stand on the executive order about using American-made steel for pipelines, Ms. Headley said.

Even in cases where the stand feels appropriate, brands need to understand that they will never win everyone over.

“There’s no such thing as a political issue where 100 per cent of people agree with each other,” Ms. Headley cautioned.

As well, companies need to tread carefully when they wade into politics, since they are dealing with a public that’s increasingly skeptical about their motives.

“Before making a public political statement, a company needs to have an honest internal conversation about what statement they’re making, the real reasons behind it and what they hope to achieve,” Ms. Headley said.

In the case of Google Inc., one of the tech companies that filed the legal brief, it has employees affected by the immigration orders, and since it impacts their productivity, the company’s bottom line and the well-being of its staff, the company must take a stand, she argued. When it comes to the Bay carrying Ms. Trump’s brand, the stakes may not be high enough to warrant a comment.

However, Audrey Wubbenhorst, a professor of public relations at Humber College in Toronto, said companies such as the Bay should respond to the feedback they are receiving after evaluating the business case for any stand they may take on the issue. “They [companies such as the Bay] need to consider if a particular issue contravenes their corporate values. There may not be an immediate business impact, or there may even be a dip in their business results, but in the longterm it may be the right decision,” Ms. Wubbenhorst said.

Still, if you or your company is not compelled to speak out on a big political topic, the best advice remains to stay mum on hotbutton issues.

“There is an old etiquette saying to never discuss politics, sex, religion or money at a dinner party – so in that vein, I wouldn’t normally advise a client to make a public political statement. I would advise a client to be the same way they have always been – respectful, honest and welcoming to all customers,” said Debra Goldblatt-Sadowski, president and founder of Rock-It Promotions Inc. in Toronto.

“I’ve seen some brands try to make light of political situations of late and it’s gone terribly wrong. Social-media mishaps are a prime example where this happens in today’s culture. … The speed of social media is dizzying,” Ms. Goldblatt-Sadowski warned.

“Don’t try to be funny. Keep the satire to the comedians at Saturday Night Live,” she added.

Mar. 17, 2017 "A little customer service can go a long way": Today I found this article by Brian Scudamore in the Globe and Mail:

I’ll never forget a particular customer who I called to thank for letting us haul his junk away. It turned out he was a purchaser for a huge company and was shocked to hear from me. “I spend $55 with you and you call to say thank you? I spend thousands every day with other companies and I never hear from them!”

1-800-GOT-JUNK? has changed since then – I’m not on the trucks anymore – but the day’s not over until we’ve reached out and thanked our customers. Other companies might balk at the time and expense, but from my perspective, we can’t afford not to do it. These calls are a chance to get feedback, build a personal connection, and create loyalty. And loyalty spurs business growth: 80 per cent of your revenue will come from 20 per cent of your existing customers.

If you really want to blow a customer away, embrace the power of the little things. Here’s how we do it.

The opening gesture

Every company says that they care about their customers, but showing means more than telling. This starts with offering to do something helpful or thoughtful that goes beyond what you promise on paper. Just look at how car rental company Enterprise picks up their customers for free, or how online fashion success story ModCloth provides complimentary customized styling advice.

With You Move Me, our movers call when they’re en route to ask for a customer’s coffee order. It’s a simple act, but when you realize the coffee maker is packed on an already stressful day, a hand-delivered latte can feel like a small miracle. This powerful rapport-building hack costs just ten bucks and a pit-stop at Starbucks – that’s some great ROI.

The unexpected token

Waiters who include mints with their bill get tipped 21 per cent more than those who don’t. Turns out that a tiny gift is another inexpensive way to make a lasting impression. It’s all about creating a moment of delight, in addition to getting the job done right, that shows a customer you care.

Tech accessory startup HEX credits its success to the handwritten thank you note included with every purchase. Men’s grooming shop Beardbrand includes samples of their luxury beard oil in each package shipped. With WOW 1 DAY PAINTING, we leave a bouquet of Gerbera daisies on the kitchen counter after we’re done transforming a room with paint. All of these examples are affordable and more Instagrammable than a gift card (which 73 per cent of people say they dislike receiving).

The follow up

Collecting feedback is a common habit among successful companies: just asking (whether you act on it or not) drastically improves retention. Phone calls and online surveys work, or maybe you want to pull a Zappos and take customers out for coffee. We touch base with every single customer after we’ve hauled their junk or cleaned their gutters.

Ninety-six per cent of unhappy customers won’t bother to make a formal complaint, so if you aren’t asking how things went, you might never know why you’ve lost a customer – and you certainly won’t have the opportunity to make things right. The insight you gather can help your whole company recognize (and correct) problems with other customers too.

Whether it’s a bouquet or a latte, what these things have in common is that they’re a catalyst for storytelling. People don’t share anecdotes about the beige paint on their dining room walls; they talk about how it got done in a day, or how they found flowers in the kitchen at the end of it all. A satisfied customer tells an average of 42 people about a positive experience; you can get a lot of mileage from one cup of coffee. These are moments of human connection in the world of business, which can be rare. Treat your customer like a friend, and they’ll be telling your story for years to come.


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