3 acronyms to make email messages a little more effective

Hey are three acronyms you can use to make your email communication a little more effective.

NNTR / NRN

If you put NNTR in the end of the subject line (No need to reply, or no response needed), it tells the recipient that you are not expecting a response. e.g.:

Minutes of last night’s meeting attached NNTR

Personally I prefer to assume that unless you explicitly tell the reader that a response is needed, a response is not expected.

EOM

If you can fit the entire message into the subject line, put EOM at the end (End of Message) and they won’t have to even open the message. e.g.:

Meeting confirmed for today at 6pm EOM

FYI

If an email contains no actionable items add FYI to the subject line to tell the reader. e.g.:

Here is a copy of the project schedule (FYI)

These work just as well in text messages. Do they work for you? How effective do you find them?

Tips from “The Positive Guy”

Andre

I hard Andre du Toit speak “The Positive Guy” this evening, and he left us with a few valuable tips about public speaking. Here they are. I hope they are useful!

Some tips

  • It’s all about personal brand – you and not your company are the brand
  • Small audience – content; large audience – a show
  • You have to want to be a better teacher
  • PowerPoint is used for training – not for speaking

Companies hire you to:

  • Make more money
  • Save money
  • To make a huge difference to their staff

And finally…it is all about referrals.

Why Toastmasters

Cds 2009 08 15 17 48 13 Canon Canon EOS DIGITAL REBEL XT

I was asked to write a short piece as to why I have been a member of Toastmasters for over 15 years. I have shared it below.

My intention when I joined Toastmasters was to be a member for a few months – just long enough to improve my business speaking skills. More than 15 years later I am still a member, and I am asked why? Here is the answer. Toastmasters has not just improved my business speaking skills, it has played a major role in my career, from being more confident at work to being called upon to deliver presentations to fellow staff members, customers and suppliers.

I regularly chair meetings and design sessions, helping teams develop software applications for some of the largest companies in South Africa.

Without the communication and leadership skills I have developed from Toastmasters I would not be in same position as I am.

I have met some amazing people and make some great friends, not just at home in Cape Town, but quite literally all over the world. I have Toastmasters friends in every continent that I can call and say hi to.

It truly is an organization where leaders are made, and more importantly where friendships are made.

Pic: Congratulating the 2009 World Champ of Public Speaking, Mark Hunter at the Toastmasters International Convention

Shopping with Cybercellar; a lesson in customer service

First of all full disclosure; Cybercellar gave me a R100 discount voucher to try out their website with the aim of writing a blog post about it “if you feel that we are worth mentioning, we believe we are!, it will be appreciated.” Well they gave me R100 to spend on wine; of course I am going to use it!

And I am going to mention my experience because in some ways it was amazing, and in some ways about the worst I have ever experienced. But whatever happened, there are lessons here.

The story in brief.

The downhill experience…

  • I ordered 6 bottles of wine on the evening of 9 April, and according to the website I would get next day delivery.
  • On the late afternoon of the 10th, I received an email that the order had been shipped and I was given the tracking number.
  • Nothing arrived on the 10th or the 11th.
  • On the 12th I got a call from the courier saying that they were running late and would deliver to my home in the evening (a Friday).
  • Later that day I got another call from the courier saying they would not make Friday, but would deliver by 10am on Saturday (by which time I thought “yeah right”).
  • And of course nothing arrived on Saturday.

Rescuing a bad situation…

  • On Saturday afternoon I sent a complaint email to Cybercellar, expecting a response on Monday.
  • That afternoon the CEO (Johann) called me and offered to personally deliver my order on Sunday (they are in Paarl – 76km away to my house)
  • On Sunday morning Johann arrived with my 6 bottles of wine, and a bottle of Springfield Sav Blanc (yummy), and told me that when the courier eventually delivered my actual order it was mine to keep as well.

In summary the courier messed up my delivery (it eventually arrived on Monday – almost a week late), and Cybercellar gave me 7 bottles of wine as an apology personally delivered by the CEO on a Sunday.

And finally the lessons.

  • As Johann and I agreed it was the courier that messed up (and not Cyberceller themselves), but we also agreed that as a customer it was not my problem who messed up. He took ownership and fixed the problem.
  • You can turn a customer around by turning a negative experience into a positive one.
  • Sh*t happens, but it is what you do about it that makes a difference. Service excellence is shown at its best when things go wrong.

Will I purchase from them again? Yes; not because of the order experience, but because of the amazing way they fixed the problem.

Finally, their website is great, they have a massive selection of wine, and you get R50 off your first order.

Just get out there

Two of my interests are photography and public speaking, which is why I follow the blogs of Both Darren LaCroix, who won the world champion of public speaking in 2001, and Jared Polin (aka the Fro), who is the most amazing photographer and teacher out of Philadelphia. They both have a lot in common:

  • Both are passionate about their respective professions
  • Both have excelled in their profession
  • Both give out there knowledge freely

And they both believe that the best way to improve is to immerse yourself and practise what you want to get better at!

Darren LaCroixIn the case of Darren:

 The more you work on your ‘talent,’ the more talent you’ll be given. What you have now is more than enough. Do you bury your talents or invest them? Want to speak in front of an audience of one thousand? Knock ‘em dead at a local service club and more will be given. In my early days of comedy, I had to perform better than those around me at the open mic nights to deserve the right to perform at a professional comedy show.

Darren is well known in the speaking circles for his mantra “stage time stage time stage time “.

 

 

And now from the froFro:

Do we ever reach a point where we can be satisfied with our work and don’t need to keep pushing ourselves to learn?…there’s always something more we can learn and I believe that deep down we all know that we should keep learning, studying and progressing as photographers and as people. It’s our own work that teaches us the most. “First, KEEP SHOOTING. If you don’t shoot, you will have a tougher time learning.

There is a clear message here. Stop thinking about getting better, take action! If you want to be a better speaker, speak at every opportunity. Record yourself, evaluate and improve on your speeches. It you want to be a great photographer, take photos. Examine them with a critical eye. See what really works, and what doesn’t.

What are your passions, and what are you doing to get better? Are you sitting at home, or getting out there?

Do you return messages?

I am working with a large company in Cape Town on some web development. The total value of the project is in the millions of Rands.

Recently I contacted a potential vendor to set-up a meeting to discuss how they could assist and work on the project. They never responded to my requests. So we are not going to be working with them, and they have lost a potential huge customer and a lot of business.

I contacted three people to fix some damp in my house. One never got back to me, another quoted over 5 times the going rate for the job, and the other is finishing off the job today. This is while businesses are complaining about the “tough economy”.

Do you return messages? How much business have you lost because you did not get around to answering an email?

Music on NPR

(Slightly off topic)

Here is something a little unusual. On Saturday. a song that I wrote using Garage Band on my IPAD was broadcast live as the opening song on Geek Speak, a radio show from KUSP (Central Coast Public Radio, Santa Cruz). It is syndicatd via the US National Public Radio podcasts. You can listen to the show here (but you have to wait until the end to hear the credits).

You can downoad the song off my photo-blog here: Geek Speak Theme

This is what customer service is!

I have had my Amazon Kindle for about 18 months (6 months out of warranty), and a few weeks ago it started behaving strangely, in that whenever it went onto standby, it would crash.

So, I started a live chat with Amazon support on their website to see if we could resolve it. The short version of what happened is that they are replacing it with a brand new (not refurbished) 3G Kindle, at a total cost to me of $85, bearing in mind that my Kindle is 6 months out of warranty, and that the total cost of the order (include shipping and tax), is $210. They had no obligation whatsoever to offer me a $125 discount on a replacement unit.

The customer service staff were friendly, supportive and helpful. My new Kindle arrives next week.

Imagine if every company offered such great service.

What service do you offer?

Are you in the minority?

I was queuing to pay at a shop the other day when my phone rang. I took the call and quickly hung up when I got to the front so that I could pay for my shopping. The shopping assistant was surprised that I had hung up to speak to her. She told me that it was the first time that had happened, and everybody else just carried on speaking on the phone while they paid; as if she did not exist.

I thought it was just basic manners to speak to the person serving you, and not to treat them as a servant. I must be in the minority.

How do you treat those around you? Are you in the minority?