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Out In The Not So Cold

Note: This post is a recycled post from my old blog discussing customer service experiences. While the post itself is roughly six months old, I’ve left the post exactly as it was for sake of consistency, as well as my reaction to said event.

I got a new refrigerator, guys!

Look at this fridge! Look at it!
Look at this fridge! Look at it!

There’s a reason why this is a big deal. Well, a few actually. I’ve been rather critical of my apartment complex in the past, as they haven’t exactly been the best at pretty much anything in the past. Air conditioner breaks in the middle of summer? Replace a fuse and say it’s fixed, only for it to break again within an hour (it was later replaced, though that took quite some time). Invasion of yellow jackets around the same time? They’ll be taking up residence in my kitchen from late May until early August. Have a cat? Here’s a pissy neighbor who hates any noise and will complain until the apartment management says the cat has to go.

But I digress…

Over the past few weeks, my old refrigerator had slowly been dying. By dying, I mean that my ice cream would be frozen with the consistency of an angel food cake, and my milk would go bad 5-7 days before the sell-by date. My fridge was also old. I’m not sure how old exactly, however I know I did run into it down at the gas station buying cigarettes once, so I’m going to go with being made in the mid-90s at newest.

When you have a modern convenience that doesn’t work — even one as omnipresent as the refrigerator — it changes the way we go about living. For the past month or so, I had partly avoided/partly wasn’t sure about my fridge’s imminent demise, so instead of handling it right away, I waited. I changed the foods I bought. I made smaller meals and ate out slightly more to avoid having to keep leftovers any longer than a night. So much for making soup on Sunday nights to last me through Wednesday lunch. Now if the meal wasn’t portionable to two or fewer meals, I wasn’t purchasing for it.

After four weeks of this shenaniganry, I decided to email my apartment management to tell them about my fridge issues. I emailed on a Sunday night, fully expecting to hear nothing from them until at least Thursday. When Monday evening arrived and I was walking into my building without a call, I figured I was on the right track. But then…I walked into my kitchen to find a brand new fridge. Not only that, but the fridge was cold and all of my groceries were inside.

Like I said, I had stopped buying pretty much everything for a month. I made a store run within the hour.
Like I said, I had stopped buying pretty much everything for a month. I made a store run within the hour.

I was blown away. I literally stood in my kitchen for the next 2-3 minutes saying nothing more than “holy shit” over and over. This couldn’t be real. After all the bullshit and all the stupidity of the last three years, could the apartment staff have actually gotten something right AND gone above and beyond all the while?

Apparently, yes.

What is the best customer service experience that happened to you recently? Sound off in the comments.

Writing Effective Emails

Note: This post was originally written by me for the blog Twenty Twenty ran by Twenty Something Bloggers. You can view the original post here.

The prevalence of the twenty-something worker in the global labor force is a growing trend. This is partly because of a growing amount of baby boomer generation workers leaving the workforce, opening up jobs for those currently in the working world as well as recent college graduates. Furthermore, as the focus on a digitally-driven economic world becomes brighter, employers are turning to those who understand technology to fill their needs. Most commonly, this means that twenty-somethings are a hot commodity to prospective employers, even if they have less experience than a more seasoned employee.

As someone who has served in the capacity of a hiring manager for companies before, there are two areas I see that the general population could use pointers on improving: email etiquette and how to write a resume. For purposes of today’s post, we’ll stick with the former point and focus on email etiquette.

The Radicati Group estimates that 100.5 billion business emails were sent and received per day in 2013 across 929 million business email accounts.To save you from doing the math, that’s approximately 108 emails sent and received per account, per day. With all of that noise, how do you write a professional email that gets results and won’t get lost in the clutter? Here are three tips I endeavor to always follow.

1. Call the BLUF

Think about an action movie…any one will do. How does the movie begin? If typical action movie structure is followed, you’ll likely be watching a car chase, a shootout, a bank robbery, or any number of scenes where the good guy is in harm’s way. This is an intentional action by directors to draw you into the film and gain your attention.

Act in same fashion when writing an email and get to the point of your email right away. Stating your BLUF — your Bottom Line Up Front — will allow your reader to know what they’ll be reading about in the rest of the email. Additionally, it sets quick and direct expectations for the rest of the message, allowing you to make the entrance to your email as effective as possible.

2. Check Yourself…and Your Prose

Ever sent an embarrassing email to the wrong person? Perhaps a text meant for your girlfriend made its way to your mother, leading to an incredibly awkward discussion over Thanksgiving dinner? Imagine that having to deal with that feeling every day at work because you don’t know the difference between ‘then’ and ‘than’ when you send an email to your boss, coworkers, and prospective clients.

Spell check is a great resource when writing emails, however it should not be the only way you review your email before you hit the send button. Take the time to read your email out loud once through. If you’re the type of person (like I am) to accidentally leave out a word here and there when writing a message, you’re more likely to catch the error this way. When the message you’re constructing is of critical importance, don’t be afraid to ask someone in your office to give the correspondence a read through before sending.

3. Learn When To Use Reply All

As I was writing this post, I considered snarkily making this point just one word.

Don’t.

Reply all is the most overused and habitually abused feature of any email client. If you want to find a significant cause of that 108 email per account, per day total of emails, you’ll likely trace your source back to numerous emails that you’ve been copied on as part of a giant ouroboros of reply all.

That said, reply all isn’t all bad. If the information in your response to an email requires the attention of all recipients on the email chain and is relevant to all of those same people, reply all is a wonderful, powerful tool that can save you time. Likewise, if the original sender requests that you reply all, definitely do so. On the other hand, if none of those conditions apply and you start replying all to everything in sight, your messages quickly become viewed as less than important by your recipients, making your emails ineffective…no matter how good your content is.

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