Customer Service: It Matters More Than You Think

Nobody becomes a successful salesperson by treating customers poorly, especially in a competitive sales environment. That’s why almost all entrepreneur training drills deep into the importance of providing an exceptional customer service experience.

So why is it that big, well-established companies think they can succeed and become market leaders when their customer service experience is horrible?

I’m going through a nightmarish drama with a too-big-to-fail retailer right now. It’s triggered my investor mind far beyond the $20 being held hostage by this retailer to a fundamental question of where executive priorities are and whether the customer service experience itself is a precurser to shifting market trends.

Here’s what happened. Continue reading “Customer Service: It Matters More Than You Think”

On Being an Individual… Or Not

A man stands on a mountain.It’s hard to tell people to quit letting other people tell them what to think. I mean, if they listen to you, aren’t they then allowing you to tell them what to think?

Tough question.

We all have people telling us what to think. The media, our friends, religious leaders, politicians — and all these people influence so much about us. What we wear, what we watch, what kind of music we listen to.

Rare is the individual who makes up their own mind, who refuses to go along with the crowd. Society tells us to be individuals, but if we individually choose a path that our peers don’t like, what then? We’re ostracized, we’re ridiculed, we’re pressured to conform.  Continue reading “On Being an Individual… Or Not”

Americana is Dying: Sears Sells off Craftsman Tools

A hand holding an end wrench.

A couple of days ago, I saw the shocking news that Sears was selling its Craftsman brand to Stanley Black & Decker. To anyone with even a vague interest in working on cars during the last half of the 20th century, Craftsman is a legendary brand, the tool with a lifetime guarantee. At one time, Craftsman tools were a standard bearer in the world of tools, rivaled only by Snap-On and Mac among my gearhead friends in the ’90s.

For many who remember life before the internet, Craftsman is synonymous with Sears; the brand was only available at Sears stores until Sears acquired K-Mart and began limited Craftsman tools sales through K-Mart’s retail stores. Continue reading “Americana is Dying: Sears Sells off Craftsman Tools”

Can 2017 Really Be Different?

A ring of light around the moon.2016 was an awful year.

I’m being political. I ended 2015 in a major medical crisis. I spent most of 2016 trying to get well. I will forever remember 2016 as a year spent taking muscle relaxers, doing physical therapy, and learning how to cook the foods I love because I couldn’t leave the house to eat.

Many people I know had an awful 2016 as well. Sickness, financial loss, career setbacks.

It left me wondering if 2017 could really be different? Continue reading “Can 2017 Really Be Different?”

Cultural Christianity and the Gospel

This morning, I read a blog post penned as a break-up letter to American Cultural Christianity. It resonated with me in a way nothing has in a while. Maybe, in part, because the author left the country in 1999; the late ’90s was a time when I was most deeply immersed in Cultural Christianity.

It was also one of the darkest times of my life. Continue reading “Cultural Christianity and the Gospel”

PRODUCT REVIEW: Briefton’s Vertico Spiralizer

tl;dl version: Not great, Bob. But not terrible, either.
DISCLAIMER: Brieftons sent me this unit in exchange for an honest review.
 
This device has nearly 1000 reviews and a 4.5 star rating on Amazon. Most people love it. I didn’t. I didn’t hate it, either. I was perfectly ambivalent. And, currently priced at less than $25, maybe I don’t need to be impressed.
 
Don’t get me wrong, the spiralized veggies were great. They cooked up nice and it was really like having veggie pasta. The cleanup was a little harrowing. Maybe I made it harder than it needed to be, disassembling the unit. Really, though, even if it does take up less space than a traditional spiralizer, I don’t have room for it to stay out on my countertop or in my cabinets.
 
I’m perfectly willing to admit that my negative impressions may be mostly based on unfamiliarity with vegetable spiralizers in general. Maybe it’s not the Vertico’s fault, I’m just not equipped to appreciate it. Perhaps the Breifton’s Vertigo Spiralizer really is much better than other options on the market. It sure takes up very little space and it actually does create usable, spiraled veggies. However, I’m still giving it 3 stars, mainly because there were at least 3 manufacturing defects with the unit I received — which is indicative of some quality control issues at the factory that produced this units.
 
Other reviewers have noted that what I saw as “waste” was actually a safety measure to prevent the mechanism from getting caught in the blades. In fact, the “waste” was cut up and eaten, so it wasn’t really waste. However, there was 1/2 worth of uncut vegetables out of everything we spiraled — 2 inches total out of 2 zucchini. There was also a lot of seepage from the container that’s supposed to catch the spirals; simply designing the back of the tray so that it was a half inch taller than the other two sides would have stopped that.
 
At any rate, it’s not bad. I just wan’t impressed. I wanted to be. Maybe I had my expectations set too highly. Maybe the problem is me, not you.
 
You can read more of the positive 5-star reviews and buy your own Verico Spiralizer here: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B015Q7ESF4?m=A2PQTWPWP4OTEY&ie=UTF8&keywords=spiralizer