Tuesday, May 8, 2012

My first race!

If you've been following (or liking - I'm still not sure how to incorporate that into a good sentence) my Facebook page you probably saw my posts on my first road race.  Yes I entered a race!  And yes, I both finished and survived to write about it.

If you know me you know I am NOT a runner.  But I do like to walk.  While I'm reasonably healthy, I should be in better shape and I definitely need to lose some weight.  I'm not exactly the poster child for Heart Health in my classes.  I have a pretty healthy diet, but exercise was definitely lacking.  So this year I decided to try competitive walking.  Why competitive walking?  Because if I don't have a goal I've publicly committed to, I know I'll let other things in my life (kids, classes, work, housework, reading....) distract me and keep me from my goals.

So last Saturday I walked in the Children's Museum of New Hampshire 5K.  It was a lot harder than I anticipated.  I had walked the course once last year.  I remembered that there were hills.  I forgot that last year I walked slowly up those hills pushing a stroller.  This year no stroller, and trying to keep a good pace to keep up with the other walkers.  I think I had also forgotten that the race started by running or walking uphill.

Anyway, I am so excited by how well I did!  Did I come in first?  No!  Did I expect to?  No! My goal was to try to finish in 1 hour and possibly not be the last person to cross the finish line.  I did so much better than I anticipated.  I finished just under 50 minutes with a blistering 16:05/mile pace.  MUCH faster than I had thought I could do.  Proof is here on the CoolRunning.com website. I finished 26th out of 44 registered walkers.  So much better than I had thought I could do and it really has me energized to keep going!

I still need to work on improving my eating habits, and get back into the Weight Watchers routine again, but I'm already planning my next race.  I'm hoping to join up with an informal group that does racewalking training and I just splurged on some good quality running/walking shoes.  Walking is such an easy way to exercise.  You don't have to join a gym, and other than good sneakers or shoes you don't need fancy or expensive equipment,  You can set your own pace and distance, and you can walk with others for company.  It's also not too stressful on your joints and you can do it whenever it fits into your schedule.

A quick disclaimer: You should always check with your healthcare provider before starting a new exercise routine. Since I had a concern with my knees I visited and discussed my fitness goals with an orthopedist before increasing the distance I was walking.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Customer service

A few weeks ago I was told in an email that I didn't know the difference between customer service provided by a service provider and customer service provided by a store clerk.  It wasn't suggested in a nice manner so it's something I've been mulling off and on for a few weeks.  I knew I would blog about it, but wanted to make sure I wasn't reacting to the tone of the email.

I guess for me there really isn't a difference.

As a service provider (my courses) I do my best to meet the needs of my clients.  I can't tell you how good it makes me feel to receive positive reviews on the evaluation forms I use at the end of my classes. 

I also greatly appreciate anyone who provides a good service for me.  It doesn't matter to me if you are a clerk in a store, the person bagging my groceries, the customer service associate on the phone or someone I've hired to perform a job or task.  I'm quick to thank them for a good job.  If I get one of those store survey links on my receipt I do the survey and try to mention by name the associate who helped me out.  I can only hope the feedback from those surveys does reach that employee or their manager so they know that their hard work is appreciated.

Do you let people know when you appreciate the effort they put in to help you out?  Part of what I read into in the email was that the expectation is that the clerk in the store is expected to provide good customer service, and thus is not deserving of any type of reward or tip.  Conversely we should be overjoyed that the service provider actually did provide good service and should be given additional monetary compensation for a job well done.  Is the expectation then that we are expecting them to not do a good job and then only pay their normal rate for poor service?  Think about some of your past shopping experiences, we can all think of a really good helpful person and someone who was just meeting their job description.

I don't teach my courses expecting tips for doing a good job.  Technically I really am only expected to cover the course material and that is it.  I make my classes fun, interesting & exciting because I want to and because I want the participants to value what I do and call me again in 2 years when they need to recertify. 

Good customer service means repeat business, no matter if you're a store clerk, delivery person, dispatcher, web designer, coach, product installer, writer or a CPR instructor.  Don't be shy about letting someone know that you appreciate their hard work, dedication and that they're doing a good job.  I obviously can't speak for everyone, but having someone tell me that they appreciate what I do or how I do it means a lot.