Month: January 2011

One down…

That’s January almost done then, blimey.

Not been quite the month I’d hoped but, in some ways, it’s been better. Rather than having grand plans and failing to achieve them I’ve been forced to reassess my priorities and, as such, I’m much the happier for it.

Seems obvious, but it’s people that matter, everything else is just filler.

Mum is doing ok, hopefully she’ll be getting moved to a hospital nearer my Dad soon and she’s able to stand and walk/shuffle with only a cane. Getting stronger every day.

Good Customer Service

If you are currently looking to purchase any cookware, bakeware or other such kitchen based utensils, may I humbly point you towards Denny & Sons.

The reason I mention them specifically is because I think it’s worth pointing out companies who do things properly, who care about the experience their customers have. There are plenty of instances of bad service so it’s nice to be able to highlight a good one!

Case in point.

I ordered a couple of items from Denny & Sons, and whilst one arrived in a timely manner, the second hadn’t appeared. I wasn’t in a hurry so yesterday I politely emailed them to check if it had been dispatched.

This morning I received a polite and friendly phone call (Hi Charles!) from the company, explaining that their had been a labelling error at their end (delivery was marked as “1 of 1” instead of “1 of 2” items) and that they were sorry for the mistake, and that I’d receive the second parcel tomorrow by 4pm.

It’s simple enough to do. If you make a mistake, acknowledge it, fix it, then tell the customer what happened and that their order is on it’s way (giving a firm day/time gets you bonus points!). It’s not rocket science yet so many companies don’t handle mistakes well at all.

Mistakes happen. It’s how companies deal with them that matters.

Bravo Denny & Sons (and if you are gonna buy from them, they are listed on Quidco too).

On not worrying

I’m not the best qualified person to write about this but when has that ever stopped me.

A few weeks back, as we rolled towards the new year, I started to ponder resolutions. It’s something I think of every new year, even if I don’t publically state them. There seems to be something about the ‘new’ part of the new year which allows for a clean slate, new beginnings and all that.

As ever most of my resolutions focus on being better, rather than worse*, at things in my life that I could control. Read more, exericse more, etc etc. Nothing revolutionary or notable there.

It seems, however, that I have subconsciously been taking another tack. Whilst I’ve been joining gyms and buying books, my brain has been busy churning away in the background and has, a few weeks late, that my new year resolution will be to avoid negativity wherever I can.

I’m not quite sure what that means in any specific detail but the facts remain that I find myself shying away from people who moan and gripe for no good reason, letting things go when all they will do is wind me up, and trying to improve my outlook in general.

The glass is half full.

I’m not always successful, and occasionally I think I’m dismissing some things that I should be tackling but I’m presuming my brain knows what it is doing (heaven knows I’ve no idea what I’m doing. Does anyone? REALLY?).

In the midst of this, as most of you know, my Mum was rushed to hospital and almost 9 days later she is still there (slowly improving).

So, whilst it’s a cliche I don’t really care because it’s true, but there is always someone worse off than you. In the grand scheme of things, the irks and bugbears we (yes I’m still doing my share of moaning, I didn’t say I’d cracked this yet!) continue to bleat and harp on about are but blips. We are only here for a short while, and I’m determined to make the most of it.

So, you. Yeah, you. Stop moaning about how “the world” is out to get you, about how everyone else has it better, because it’s not changing anything. Only YOU can change YOU and, until you do, I’ll be over here, smilingly ignoring you.

I’m aware this is all a bit obvious and self-serving, and that certain events during life will spark the same thoughts in others but it felt like something I had to write.

* Does anyone ever resolve to be worse at something?

Challenges

I’m currently in the midst of some thinking. I’m thinking about how we can improve what we do, how we measure those improvements and ultimately how we make a step change in the quality of our output.

Oh no, I used that word, didn’t I.

Quality.

At this point I will veer away from that word, for fear of plunging headlong into the land of metrics, and instead outline some of the things floating around in my head.

To improve the perceived quality of the information, there are some things we can do:

  • Improve the navigation
  • Improve the findability of the information
  • Improve the technical accuracy of the information
  • Improve the completeness of the information

Navigation and findability are linked and we have some ideas on how to tackle those through better indexing, better understanding of the structures, addition of signposts and all those good things.

Improving the completeness and technical accuracy can be a little trickier to nail down though. No product documentation is ever complete but by improving our approach to collating information and the questions we ask, we can take start to make improvements, those same questions should also help improve the technical accuracy, as will a beefed up review process.

With all of this in mind, we will be running some workshops early February to revisit the basics. We will cover off every aspect of how we work, and step through how we can improve the outputs of all our hard work (well, all the hard work the team do, I mostly try and keep out of the road thesedays, they seem to work better that way!).

I’ve been with my current company for four years and, for each of those years the team have managed to make significant improvements in a variety of areas. Year One, the first members were hired and we set about improving the quality of the content, Year Two we launched our developer website as a means to make it easier to access the content we were creating (that website is about to relaunch in it’s third iteration), Year Three we transitioned from FrameMaker to Author-it and publish our Knowledge Centre to the developer website, and this coming year… well, time will tell.

I’ve no idea what we will decide to do, what processes we will change or adopt, what new ideas and challenges we will set ourselves, but this part of the job is the one I enjoy the most. Everything is fresh, new and exciting.

Roll on 2011!

Onwards!

2011 is here and I’ve just about got the flat into a state I’m happy with (a couple of purchases which will require a credit card remain).

So, what else? Well I’ve got a photography course starting towards the end of the month, and a few other commitments that will keep me plenty busy. It’s looking like it’s gonna be a good year!

Which brings me to this here blog. I’m not stopping, but given the paucity of updates I wonder if it might be better to point everyone at my ‘named’ website which pulls in content from my various online sources (bar Twitter).

Just a thought.

So if you aren’t aware of it, check out www.gordonmclean.co.uk for photos, links, blogs, books and more.