From Kathryn's Perspective...

Each workday I come into the office, I  know we will talk to at least one customer who has had some sort of crisis strike their photography business. Sometimes they are severe like a fire at a client's home that leaves them devastated and without their most prized possessions: photos. Others may simply have a monster bride who just cannot be satisfied. We always try to be here for these photographers, a light in a dark workflow tunnel.

But some days, sadly, we come into work to find that the crisis has hit us. We are lucky enough to have never dealt with fire or other natural disasters; but we do, on occasion get hit with technical ones. For instance, today our DASHBOARD 3 has crashed. This has happened before and I have watched over the last year as we have worked to develop the new DASHBOARD 4 and updates to other software products; but, since I am not on the technical side of the company I am left feeling helpless like our many customers who do not have access to their software today.

It is amazing to watch the staff here jump on the problem genuinely trying to find solutions. They work in unison. It is beautiful to watch as they troubleshoot through angry customer calls and test new solutions while brainstorming the next step. I really wish you could feel the energy in this office. It is magical.

But really, I’ve always known that of the energy here. I work with amazing people, with creative minds, and kind souls who truly come to work everyday to make a difference in the lives of like-minded photographers.

I share this with you because I wanted to somehow provide a window to my world and assure everyone facing a hardship at work today, because of our software, that our team WILL find a solution.

Here is a link where we are currently placing workarounds and updates for DASHBOARD 3. 

Thank you for your continued support of the Kubota team!

Kathryn Osborne
Director of Marketing

Customer Service Notebook: AceMagnetics gets all aces.

I don't listen to the news or read newspapers. I know, I know, people always ask "how do you know what's going on in the world?" My answer: if anything important happens, someone is bound to tell me about it. Actually, the real reason I don't read/watch the news is the preponderance of bad news. I don't want to start or end my day with that messaging. I believe that you create your own happiness by the people and thoughts you keep with you most. So, I want good news in my mind most. It's worked for me and I'm a happy person.

I recently blogged about my customer service notebook, where I keep a written record of great acts of customer service, marketing tidbits, and ideas for improving my customer relations. I then refer to these notes whenever I am working to improve my own business to make sure I live up to the very best experiences I've personally had.

CSN entry 2010-02-15.

Short story. A few years ago I met a woman on an airplane who was pushing 90 years. She was talking to everyone non-stop, starting in the airport lobby, and I could tell everyone secretly hoped she would not end up sitting next to them on the plane. She sat next to me on the plane. She was deep in to conversation with me before she even had her purse stowed, and I knew it would be a long flight. It was actually the shortest flight of my life. She was amazing. Full of energy, life, adventure (she was on her way for an African safari with her girlfriend), and love. I enjoyed every minute of our flight and talk together. At the end of the flight, I could not help but give her a giant hug and thank her for the conversation and inspiration. She began to tear up and took the bracelet off her wrist and put it on mine. She said it was a magnetic bracelet and she wore it 'cause it helped her circulation, arthritis, etc. She said, "Don't worry, I can get another one, you take this one." I didn't think much of the healing qualities at the time, but I thought it was a very special gift and reminder of her spirit. I gladly accepted and wore it 24/7.

Two months later, the eczema on my hands that I had endured since childhood was gone. I noticed one day that I hadn't had a flare up in a while and couldn't quite attribute it to anything new in my diet or lifestyle...then I remembered the bracelet and what she told me about circulation. That was the only thing I could connect the mysterious healing to. I didn't really care if it was the solution or not, but I wasn't going to stop wearing the bracelet anyway and my eczema never came back. That's been about 6 or 7 years now.

There is a CSN story in here! Hang on...So, since the original bracelet, I've unfortunately lost the one she gave me, but immediately replaced it with a new style that I purchased, after much searching online, from AceMagnetics.com. This was a few years ago. Since I wear this thing 24/7, it occasionally gets hooked on something and falls off, but I find it. Recently I lost it but never found it, so I rushed online to order a new one. AceMagnetics had a new style that was similar so I ordered. It came very quickly and, alas, it was a wee bit too small. I emailed Ace on a Friday night (of course not expecting a reply until Mon or Tues at best) to see if I could just order a link and have my local jeweler add it on. I thought the next size up would be too big. By Saturday morning, Jay From Ace emailed back and said they didn't have links but he would put the next size up in the mail right away so I could compare - no charge. Wow. A few days later I got the next size and it was fine. I emailed Jay to get a return address for the smaller size. Almost immediately he replied back, "Keep it and share it with a friend." That's what I call servicemy bracelet

Customer Service Notebook

In my workshops I talk about something that I do in my life that has helped me to grow a better business. It's my customer service notebook. In it, I keep a record of great - and not so great, customer service experiences that I am blessed or depressed with. I then review these notes and pull things from it to apply to my businesses. I find it a great reminder for what is really most important to the success of any business: a great product, knowledge of and belief in your product, and outstanding customer service. With these things you have the recipe and ingredients for a lasting business.

Yesterday, I had a great experience and a few things to add to my notebook. I have been searching for an iPod dock for my car stereo for some time. I surfed the forums, googled manufacturers, and the outlook was dismal. I have an unusual make and model (as far as iPod connectors go) and most everything I read said it really couldn't be done. Fooey! I then started calling every car stereo shop in town. Several said, "sorry, we don't know of any product for your car." A couple of them said, "We'll look for something and call you back." ONE shop actually did call back - and within the hour. They had a solution. I didn't believe them. I played along though and placed an order for the product with them.

When it came in, I brought the car in for the install. The shop was clean - even the bathroom. That's weird. Car stereo shops are a guy thing. Only guys work in car stereo shops and auto repair joints. Guys don't typically maintain spotless bathrooms without the help of women – unless they are fanatics about attention to detail. This was a good sign.

As I was turning over the keys, the owner posed the question, "How are you going to actually mount the iPod?". I figured I'd get one of those suction cup thingys or just throw it in the glove box. The guy said, "Our installers are pretty creative. If we can come up with a cool way to mount the iPod that looks clean, would you like us to do that?" Sure I would. Sounds good to me - pun intended. I thought about this afterwards: what a great upsell! It satisfies my needs perfectly and gives them a little icing on the cake. I'm all for it. I was still skeptical though.

I left my car and went to the office and waited, anticipating that call..."Uh, Mr. Kubota, we're sorry but this device actually won't work with your car. You were right, you can't connect an iPod to it." The call came, but it was, "Mr. Kubota, we have a GREAT solution to mount your iPod, we can create a custom dock for it in your unused ashtray. It will look like a factory iPod dock and when you close the ashtray it is completely hidden." Bitchin'.

One hour before the promised ready time, they called and said, "Come 'n get it."

I did, and it rocked.

I am thrilled that I can now listen to my iPod, in full CD quality, in my car. It's a simple pleasure, I realize, but that's what life is all about, right? So what goes in the notebook that we can learn from?

1) Follow through. They called back when they said they would with answers to my questions.

2) Professionalism. They were polite, knowledgeable on their products, my car, and the installation.

3) Attention to detail. The shop was immaculate. They instilled trust. The installation looks like a factory job.

4) They up-sold me something I really needed, so I was more than happy to buy and appreciated the creative thinking.

5) They over delivered. I came away with a better solution than I had even hoped for.

Oh, and the clencher? When I came in to pick up and pay, the price for the custom dock was less than I expected AND after I wrote the check he noticed he forgot to add the $37 shipping for the special ordered product. I said, "No problem, I can write another check..." but he said, "Ah, don't worry about it, just come back and see us next time you need something."

Darn right I will. And I'm telling everyone I know that Sounds Fast in Bend, OR is the pinnacle of mobile audio shops.

update: some of you wanted photos of the setup, so here they are!

The original closed ashtrayThe custom ipod dock connector installed in the ashtraymy iPhone ready to rock!