Back In The Saddle…For Now

No promises, but we’ll see how long I can keep up my blog after a few years of silence. Last time I posted I was planning a wedding…WOW how things have changed. Since then I got married and started a new pr job at Zimmerman (both July 2011), moved to South Florida for my hubby’s Radiation Therapy specialty (kept my job at Z), got pregnant, moved back, got promoted to VP of PR, had a baby and am currently on maternity leave, returning to work in April. Phew that about covers the last 3+ years.

So not really sure what this blog will transform into…may be a combo of pr, mommy, life posts and who knows how long I’ll keep it up this time, but I’m giving it a go. These days I spend my time hanging with my little one, a bouncing baby boy who gets cuter every day. Motherhood has agreed with me. To be perfectly honest, I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I’m really enjoying being a mommy. In April I will tackle “having it all” by going back to work and making the most of Mommy Me, Wife Me and Work Me. Should be interesting and I’ll try to chronicle my adventure on this blog. If only as a way to look back months or years from now to see how I juggled it all. 😉

This blog will also serve as a place for me to leave some Words of Wisdom for Westley…

XoXo,

Ivette

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The art of customer service: dead or in hiding?

First, my apologies for being MIA for so many months. Between work, wedding planning, the Junior League and being President of the FPRA Capital Chapter, I rarely have time to even think about blogging, let alone actually type a post! Hopefully in mid-August, I will be back on track – posting weekly. I should be refreshed from our Alaskan honeymoon and ready to attack the fall.

However, given all my craziness, I still wanted to take the time to write about the importance and art of customer service. This stems from an awful brunch experience Sunday at a Tallahassee restaurant. It was my second time there. I gave the place the benefit of the doubt, but unfortunately I once again left underwhelmed and disappointed.

I’ve never worked in hospitality, so I can’t imagine what it’s like to deal with customers all day, with their diet requests and personalities. However, the concept of being nice and welcoming is not alien to me as I work in PR and deal with clients, media and people all day! I know we all have bad days, people who drive us nuts and times where we are just over it, but unfortunately if you work with people, you must suck it up and be kind. After all, they’re probably not the problem…you’re just projecting.

Case in point, yesterday at brunch I arrived with two other girlfriends and our three little dogs. We sat outside at the restaurant and I went inside to alert someone that we were seated outside – I even offered to bring the menus out myself. After a few minutes, we were “greeted” by an unpleasant server. No hello, how are you or even a smile. She was annoyed that we were there and more so when we asked if we could get some fresh water for the pups. We brushed it off and tried to stay positive…it was our Sunday Funday after all.

We order our brunch items: waffles, huevos rancheros and a Cuban sandwich. Then we wait…and wait…and wait. We have to suggest to our server, who continues ignoring us, that perhaps it would be a good idea to leave a pitcher of water for us since she’s busy inside with her other tables — namely an “8 top.” Meanwhile other tables that had arrived after us were receiving their food and their servers were checking in on them. Hmmm…finally after what felt like hours our food arrives and it’s kinda cold and okay. Nothing to write home about. Our server comes by to check on us and asks how it is…we all say the same thing: “It’s okay. Thank you.” That was not the adjective she was looking for. We told her it was good, not great and that we were a bit disappointed to have waited an hour for the food. She got super upset with us and stormed off. She comes back and declares: “I have clarified with the kitchen and you did not wait an hour, it was 42 minutes.”

Well then, alright. Excuse us, it was nearly 45 minutes then. At this point, our brunch is officially ruined. We speak to a manager who makes excuses about being busy, etc. He offers nothing in return, not even a sincere apology. So, as we paid for our checks and left, we decided they would be less busy now since they’ve lost three customers and their potential business.

The sad part is customer service seems to be a dying art. More and more, I’m experiencing these less than pleasant encounters at restaurants, in stores, and over the phone. I’m not sure why, but it seems everyone is upset, tired, overworked, uninterested or simply rude. I’m not asking for a cheerleader every time or for my food to come out in five minutes. I’m pretty patient, but I do think that if you work with people (and most of us do to some degree), it helps if you start with a smile and try your best to be nice and pleasant.

It Pays To Network

For many people attending an event with the expectation of talking to strangers and making new contacts is not their idea of a good time. I’m one of those people who actually likes networking and have first hand experience enjoying the success that can come from it.

Like it or not, many of us are involved in networking in one way or another. If you are a business owner or in a position to bring new business to the company you work for, then networking is part of your job description. If you’re a young professional looking to break into an industry, networking should be your part-time job. If you serve on a board or are involved in a charitable organization or cause, networking is your middle name.  Either way, knowing how to take advantage of the contacts you make and growing your personal and professional brand in the community is essential and networking plays a huge role in your success.

When I left news reporting and began working in public relations, I wanted to learn more about the industry and meet other professionals in Tallahassee. I decided to join the Florida Public Relations Association Capital Chapter…five years later I’m serving as president of the organization, have attained my accreditation in public relations (APR) and have grown as a professional. This happened because I was able to step out of my comfort zone and into a room of strangers who I now call my colleagues and friends.

I’m also a proud member of the Junior League of Tallahassee. Through my involvement with this wonderful organization, I have received invaluable training, helped make a real, measurable difference in the community and made life-long friends.  When I joined the League I hardly knew anyone. Today I am happy to say that some of my closest friends are fellow Leaguers and I’ve even made business contacts through the JLT.

In Tallahassee, we are very lucky to have a close-knit community and a host of professional groups and associations with which to get involved. From the Chamber to the Network of Young Professionals to the Tallahassee Film Festival and the Business and Professional Women of Tallahassee, there is a group out there for you. So figure out what you’re interested in, find a group of people or an organization that fits the bill and get involved. Who knows, in a few years you may be running the organization! Cheers.

Giving Back AND Dancing Like A Fool!

So it’s been a few weeks since I blogged. I feel terrible because my goal is to blog once a week. Needless to say, my schedule has been a bit nutso – work, Junior League, my first FPRA board meeting and membership meeting as president and training for the American Lung Associations, “Dancing with the Local Stars” Oxygen Ball.

I will start by saying that professional dance training is NOT easy, but it’s SO much fun! I have equal number of bruises and laughs to prove it. 🙂 I’m a big believer in giving back and being a part of this fundraiser has been an amazing experience so far. It’s close to my heart because I have asthma and it’s amazing that I’m able to have fun, learn real choreography and help raise money for a good cause.

I’ve always wanted to secretly be a part of something like “So You Think You Can Dance” or “Dancing With The Stars.” (Not a secret any longer.) But alas, I’m neither a professional dancer nor a star. BUT, lucky for me, the American Lung Association puts on an annual event modeled after “Dancing with the Stars.” (Score!)

I’m dancing a Mambo and there are turns, tricks and lots of hip shaking. My professional dance partner, Darian Chancellor,  is amazing and super patient with me. Let’s just say some of the tricks do not come naturally. Every practice is fun – complete with jokes, crazy moves, falls and sometimes it all comes together beautifully. Hopefully by October 9th it will be seamless!

I feel so lucky to have the opportunity to give back to the community, while pursuing a bit of a passion. The journey has also taught me a lot about the wonderful people in my community. A local couture designer, Hayley Mann, of Hayley Lauren Couture, is sponsoring my costume – creating a unique look for my performance. And so many friends, family and colleagues have donated to the cause by voting for me as “Fan Favorite.”

It never seizes to amaze me what can be accomplished when a community comes together, and Tallahassee is such a great example. I’m so lucky to have a chance to give back and make a difference in my community, and I’m doing it in 8 counts and with a big smile!

How do you give back to the community?

PS – If you’re so inclined to donate to the cause. Please vote for me as Fan Favorite here: https://www.mrsnv.com/evt/e03/reg/preform.jsp?id=3013 Much appreciated!