Kamagra bestellen schweizLevitra rezeptfrei kaufen in deutschlandDapoxetine approval in europe Art of Customer Service Series: Intro

I have come across some interesting statistics in blogs around customer service. One is “18 Interesting Stats to Get You Rethinking Your Customer Service Process” by Kendall Thornton and the second is “Infographic: The Financial Impact of Customer Service” by Tricia Morris. Just look at some of these statistics mentioned:

  • 55% of consumers would pay more for a better customer experience. (Defaqto Research)
  • 44% have higher customer expectations than they had a year ago. (Accenture)
  • It takes 12 positive customer experiences to make up for one negative experience. (Accenture)
  • 62% have actually switched brands in the past year due to poor customer service. (Accenture)

If you have a poor experience and you are compensated with a gift card, is that good customer service? It depends. 9 out of 10 times if I experience poor customer service, I won’t bother to say anything; it just not that important to me. The cases where I do share my feedback is when I care about the company and have a vested interest in seeing a positive change.

The next few blogs will be focusing on companies I have escalated issues and how they delivered (or in some cases, not delivered).

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Landscaping Even For Dogs!

I have rotated through 5 landscapers over the past 11 years and finally found one the perfect one. Brier Creek Gardens redesigned my landscape (front and back) and I also use them for monthly maintenance. They really go the “extra mile” to meet every requirement.  My latest project was moving my dog Tuli out of my gardens by creating an area for him. We started out with cedar chips and then during my sod project, they installed a couple for Tuli. Tuli liked it so much, we decided to permanently install some grass in his area, complete with irrigation.

With so little space living in urban Seattle, you have to be creative. Fortunately I have Catie Smith from Brier Creek Gardens to come up with these creative solutions!

Tom Douglas’ TANAKASAN lives up to the hype!

Controversial perhaps, but I am not a big fan of Tom Douglas’ restaurants. Nevertheless, I am always open to trying a restaurant twice. We went to TANAKASAN, described as a modern American Asian restaurant. At first I wondered if it would be another “Joule“, which in my opinion has degraded over the years. Much to my surprise, I quite enjoyed TANAKSAN; both food and ambience.

We started off with two starters:  roasted octopus with smoked eggplant, black garlic, wakame and sesame AND Osaka pancake with cabbage, scallion, bonito, bacon, mayo and shrimp.

The roasted octopus was delicious and not rubbery like most octopus dishes in the US.  It was so flavorful that even our non seafood eater enjoyed the dish.  The Osaka pancake on the other hand, was just OK. I am not sure if it is supposed to represent okonomiyaki and maybe that is why it fell short here.

For main course, I ordered the brown rice bowl with seared tofu, smashed avacado, radish, edamame, hollandaise and herb salad which is one of the best vegetarian dishes I have had since India. It was even good the next morning as breakfast.

Scott had the gojira burger (i.e. Godzilla) which is WA beef chuck burger, okonomiyaki, smoked bacon, sunny up egg, kewpie mayo served with bonito fries. I tasted the fries and there was nothing special about it. I think skinny fries with a side of saracha mayo and other dipping sauces would have enhanced the dish.

Unfortunately, no room for desserts – next time! So overall, I would say I was quite impressed with our meal at TANAKASAN and would like to go back to try some of the other small plates and side dishes, not to mention dessert. You can find the entire menu here.

Pleasant Surprises!

As described in this blog, I presented to 2nd graders at John Stanford International School.  I was very surprised to receive 47 individual thank you notes from the students; something I shall always cherish.

I am attaching two of the best notes. People generally like my presentations but to see a 2nd grader tell you it is the best slide show they have ever seen is priceless. Thank you Amelie!

2nd Grade Presentation on Kenya

I was really excited when my friend Natasha Ng asked if I would speak to her son’s 2nd grade class at John Stanford International School about Kenya. Given it is a Japanese immersion class, I was relieved when I learned I wouldn’t have to present in Japanese. The students have been studying Kenya and Rie Zilly, one of the two teachers was looking for a 45-minute presentation sharing my Kenya experience.

Friends think I go a little overboard with these projects, but I like to exceed expectations, whether it is to an executive audience or in this case, 47 second graders.  I have no kids, but I am the “fun aunt” to three small kids (ages 4, 6 and 8), which definitely helps. Just in case, I came up with a give-away for the kids and yes, I made all 47 myself (see gallery).

The format I came up with:

  1. Educational Slides – about Kenya, map of Kenya, how to get to Masai Mara
  2. Video – 5 minutes of video footage from Kenya
  3. Photo – photos of animals and from the Masai village we visited
  4. Swahili – review of basic Swahili phrases
  5. Song – sing-along to Jambo Jambo
  6. Q&A

I recruited my friend Scott Johnson to help with this project to create a 5-minute video from all the video footage he shot during one of his trips. I went through photo archives from 2002, 2004 and 2008 to find the best photos. I contemplated with friends whether or not it was appropriate for 2nd graders to see a picture or video of a lion eating a zebra. Not exactly a good representation, but interesting to see people from the midwest and east thought it would be fine where as people on the west, particularly the Seattle area were against it. I decided to avoid controversy and just leave it out.

Here is a short clip to the kids singing “Jambo Jambo”.

It was a wonderful experience and I think we should take this show on the road. It is an interesting to see how interested and participative second graders are. After our presentation, several children came up to me, wanting me to see their pictures and their homework. Very cute!

I think we are ready to take this show on the road. Any other elementary schools looking for a presenter on Kenya? :)

Whistle – Fitbit for Dogs?

I am a big fan of Fitbit and have been a user since inception. I consider myself an early adopter and like to try new gadgets, even if the excitement lasts only days and ends up sitting in a closet full of other abandoned gadgets. So, when a friend came across an article about an activity monitor for dogs, I knew I had to get it. Whistle is a small device you attach to your dog’s collar and it measures the dog’s activity. You can set goals, in my case 120 minutes/day. It sends update via Wi-Fi but uses Bluetooth to sense your presence and that of others (you, friends, family members, vet, etc.). It synchronizes hourly, but if you are like me – a little impatient – then you can press the button on the Whistle and it will update immediately. The cool thing about this device is that it attempts to categorize your dog’s activities: walk, play, run, swim, active and it recognizes when your dog is with you or someone else.

Click here to access a sample activity report from Whistle.

I didn’t think I would end up using the device for longer than a week, but I have come to not only love my Whistle, but also rely on it. When I leave town, I can relax knowing Tuli’s caretaker is giving him enough exercise. We have reached 50 consecutive days now and no matter what, I am not going to let that streak end!

The device is not perfect and here are some of the enhancements I have shared with the Whistle team:

  • More detailed reporting. The bar graph is hard to read and no drill-down ability.
  • Easier way to view historical data. Right now you have to go day by day and no ability to jump back to today.
  • Controlling visibility when you share data, for instance ability to suppress notes that are private and not be shared when you use sharing option.
  • Ability to create your own activity categories.
  • Improve “trends” and comparison to other dogs.

I am also part of the beta team, which is nice to gain early access to new features. As a technology marketing professional, I really appreciate the rate of Whistle’s innovation and I am sure in no time, more great features will be available.

If you run into any issues, Whistle’s technical support team is one of the best (honestly, top 3 companies I have dealt with in the past). They are all about solving the problem and you will never hear, “oh, that is your network, not our product.”  Seriously, kudos to John Crick and his entire team. I just hope as they grow, they still maintain this level of support and customer satisfaction (sadly, unlike Fitbit).

At $129, do you really need it? It is a luxury, but to me, it helps keep my border collie manageable. I know if he reaches at least 120 minutes, then he should be able to relax in the evenings and sleep through the night. Whistle is available on their website and at PetSmart and both have store promotions from time to time. I waited until I had a 20% off coupon at PetSmart. But now that the Whistle store is offering 15% off for a limited time (code MayWhistle), I think I am going to buy one for my sister’s border collie to ensure she is getting enough exercise!

K9 Nose Work®

I have been participating in K9 Nose Work® for 18 months now. I started off with my sister’s border collie, Callie and now my own border collie, Tuli. The objective of Nose Work is for dogs to locate a particular odor (birch, anise, clove) hidden in 4 elements – containers, interior, vehicle and exterior typically within 2-3 minutes. It is a dog-handler cooperation sport where the handler needs to accurately identify when his/her dog has located the odor based on behavior and “alert” accordingly. You can find Level 1 and Level 2 videos here on NACSW’s official website.

I am happy to say both dogs have received their Nose Work 1 title and we are presently working towards our Nose Work 2 title over the next 6 months. I am grateful to Pritamo Kentala for introducing this sport to us and Erica Wells, who is our private instructor. Both are fabulous instructors in the Seattle area. It really is amazing to see that all dog breeds – big and small – succeed in this sport. It even tailors well to reactive dogs as you are given a lot of space and there is no interaction between dogs.

Nose Work has really helped Tuli, an 18-month rescue adolescent improve his concentration and better handle distractions (dogs, birds, cats, etc.). It doesn’t require a lot of space and an investment in equipment and you can really do it anywhere.

 

Where to Dine in Marrakech: Dar Moki

When I travel, if I can find one fantastic restaurant, I am pretty happy. If you are heading to Marrakech, then Dar Moki is where you want to go. Refer also to my Morocco in 8 Days blog for travel information.

Our guide, Amine Jattou had arranged a custom menu for our last night in Morocco – Moroccan salad, grid and then fruit for dessert. Trid may be known to locals, but it is not something you find in the average restaurant. It is a very labor-intensive dish made of chicken within crepe layers.

I am not sure if it is because of the custom menu or the restaurant itself, but I would say this is by far one of the top 5 meals in my life. If you are visiting Marrakech, it might be worthwhile to arrange the dinner through Amine (refer to my other blog).

There were two musicians playing Moroccan music – apparently sad songs, but it is not like we understood the lyrics. And of course, an evening isn’t complete without a belly dancer right? The men certainly enjoyed it more then they let on!

Morocco in 8 Days

Vacation days are scarce, at least in the USA. My preference is to take 2-4 night trips abroad rather than 2-3 week vacations. But when it comes to visiting places like Africa, you need a few more days.

I have been to East and South Africa 7 times and wanted to visit North Africa this time. We settled on Morocco as a destination. Travel agents will tell you that you need weeks, but my challenge was to condense the entire trip into 8 days. With help of a Moroccan friend here in Seattle, we did it. Our itinerary looked like this:

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This style of traveling isn’t for everyone, but if you too want to experience a destination while maximizing your vacation, then this is the way to go. I think if necessary, we could have shaved off 1 or 2 more days.

If you are going to Morocco, the tour guide you want is Amine Jattou. His email address is aminejattou@gmail.com. He is not only a tour guide, but also a personal shopper for Moroccan goods.

I hope you have the chance to visit this wonderful country. Here are some notes of what we did in each city. Hope it helps!

Casblanca 

This is a city I would say you can skip. Avoid the temptation of going because of the Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman movie. The only reason we visited was because the best route to Morocco was to Casablanca. There is a Rick’s Cafe, but it is nothing more than a Planet Hollywood / Hardrock Cafe type of restaurant with memorabilia from the film.

Fes

Fes is definitely a worthwhile city to visit. We made a quick stop at the Royal Palace where the Moroccan royals stay while in Fes. We then walked around the old Jewish Quarter now inhabited mostly by Muslims. We stopped by Poterie de Fes where we learned about the mosaic tile making process. Surprisingly, we actually made it out without buying anything!

For the rest of the day we explored the Old Town of Fes, which is a must-experience place. It is very easy to get lost and even our guide had a local guide get us through. Just keep in mind that if you visit Fes on a Friday, most of the shops will be closed, as people are encouraged to go to the final prayer of the week. Your walking tour will take you past mosques and even a baker who bakes bread from dough people bring, as many do not have an oven.  You will see this typical round Moroccan bread a lot when you dine out, served with various salads. I love the “Moroccan salad” which consists of several dishes with vegetables and lentils- it changes daily.

A visit is not complete until you stop by the 14th century old home converted into a shop that sells Moroccan hand-woven rugs. Berbers are known to negotiate, so you should negotiate for the rug. One of my friends bought a rug for DHS 11,000 (about USD 1,200), down from DHS 16,000. One of the locals commented that my friend negotiates even better than a Berber.

Atlas Mountains

We left very early the next morning and headed towards the mid Atlas Mountains. We stopped off in Ifrane, known as “mini Switzerland.” I learned it is considered the cleanest city in all of Morocco.  All the great medal-receiving runners from Morocco train here. It is also really the last best stop before you head to the desert.

Mezouga

It was all day of of driving to make it to Mezouga. We switched to a 4×4 vehicle for 45 minutes and then a camel ride to the Belle Etoile Camp. There is nothing like riding a camel in the desert. It is not as difficult as it looks but getting off the camel can prove a little challenging, not to mention entertaining to watch.

Despite the long drive, I recommend experiencing a night in the desert and then waking up early to see the sunrise. Though, a little tip: the sand is very cold in the morning so bring a good pair of shoes.

Efoud

We left camp and headed back to Erfoud to visit the Macro Fossiles Kasbah, where we got to see fossils from 350-500 million years ago. We also stopped by to see the 984-foot Todra Gorge,which is pretty amazing!

Ouarzazate

Ouarzazate is known as the gate to the Sahara, but also made famous because of the film, Lawrence of Arabia.

Our first stop was Kasbah Taourirt is one of the most impressive Kasbahs in Morocco, owned by the Pasha, Glaoui.

Next, we continued to the world heritage site of Kasbah Ait Ben Hadou, one of southern Morocco’s most scenic villages that is often used as a location for fashion and film shoots. Its old section consists of deep red kasbahs packed together so tightly they appear to be a single unit, but really are many residential houses.

I didn’t realize there were so many movies filmed here in Morocco. We toured one of the Kasbahs. Our particular host even participated in the film, Gladiator.

High Atlas Mountains

After our “Hollywood” visit, we began our descent through the High Atlas. We reached Tizi N’Tichka (alt. 7,415 feet), the highest pass. We were all beginning to feel car sick given the curvy roads, so if you are prone to car sickness, plan accordingly.

Marrakech

I love love Marrakech. You are immediately dazzled by the business of a big city, yet at the same enchanted by the mystique of Marrekech.  Read a guide book and decide what you want to see, but I will detail what we did on our trip

On our first day, we started off with a walking tour of the city. We visited Koutoubia Mosque. In the middle of construction, they realized they weren’t directly facing Mecca and so they stopped construction and started a brand new mosque next door.

Next, we visited Palais Bahia built in the late 19th century for the prime minister, Ba Ahmad.

In Morocco, you find a Dar or a Ryad. A ryad requires a courtyard with 4 gardens like this one, whereas the dar may be a plain courtyard with a fountain. You will see tons of ryads and may even stay or dine in one.

Our morning concluded meeting Bert Flint, a Dutch anthropologist who studied the Berber cultural heritage and has an extensive collection.

In the afternoon, we continued to walk the streets of Marrakech through the souks (the market) and also Djemaa el Fna Square, a UNESCO site and really the heart Marrakech where you will see snake charmers, entertainers, storytellers, musicians, fruit stands, etc. It was still early and not the best time to see all the action so we will be back.

The next day was my favorite day of the trip and something I highly recommend for everyone to fit in while touring Morocco.We visited Riad Kniza for a cooking class. We learned how to cook chicken tagine and Moroccan bread.

We went to the souk and picked up our vegetables, spices and chicken. The chicken is killed to order – a first for me. It is a strange feeling touching warm chicken.

Back at the Riad, everyone helped out with the preparation. It is actually quite a labor intensive process to make tagine and salad and I don’t think I will see myself repeating this process back at home. Nevertheless, it was a very nice meal on the roof terrace of the riad. Confession: we did not make the dessert- the pastilla!

After a very filling lunch, we rode a horse carriage (cony, yes, not my idea) to Jardine Majorelle. The Jardine Majorelle was eventually purchased and enhanced by Yves Saint Laurent. There is even a memorial of Yves Saint Laurent here.

After the garden tour, we headed to the famous Square- Djemma el Fna where you see the snake charmers, lots of vendors and people just passing time. It clearly comes alive at night.

If you need a place to buy souvenirs, head to ETS Bouchaib.  I don’t know if that is what is really called, but that is what it says not he receipt. It is a mega shopping store. It is probably more fun to hit the souk to do shopping, but the megastore was pretty amazing.