Great customer service begins with great employee engagement

There was a very interesting piece in the NY Times about a how El Celler de Can Roca, a top restaurant in Spain uses a Psychologist to keep employees happy by addressing workplace issues. 

Great customer service, and by extension a great business, begins in-house by taking care of the employees and dealing with work issues from the most mundane to the emotional. Employees drive the customer experience between a brand or business and the customer. As the article shows, a restaurant is an exemplar of this relationship. Many businesses have forgotten this in the age of digital and web based business models. So while every business is not going to hire their own psychologist, business owners and managers would be wise to look at the relationship of all their employees to each other, to their customers, and to the brand. Happy employees = happy customers.

Read the NY TImes piece here "Stressed by Success, a Top Restaurant Turns to Therapy"

The comfort of dogs

This past week my dog, who already has health issues, was diagnosed with non-malignant skin cancer.  It was a “good” diagnosis because non-malignant cancer is better than the malignant kind.  It was also good news to hear that the cancer is localized to the tumor and has not spread to the bone (that would really suck).

While my dog being sick is a horrible thing, it made me think of all the years he has been in our family.  My wife and I have had him longer than we have had our kids, and a few months short of the time we have been married.  Our dog has shared our pain and our happiness, our joy and our sorrow. He had shared the birth of our children and the purchase of our house.  He undoubtably has helped make our house our home. He has been our companion in times of loneliness and sorrow as well as shared the happy times we spend with friends and family.

I specifically remember having to go out and walk the dogs (yea, I have 2 of them) on the days following 9/11.  This was before we had kids and I recall enjoying these walks even more than usual.  The dogs provided a sense of normalcy during those restless days in NYC.  It was a potent form of therapy that helped me cope with the events.  The beauty of dogs is that they seem to sense when us humans need a little extra love.  Their calmness and tenderness can go a long way; maybe that is why they are so often used in therapies.

Like many dog owners do, I regularly take my dogs for granted.  Sometimes it take an illness to see the true meaning of things, but it is these ordinary things in daily life, like my dog napping by my feet that makes life worth living.

Thanks for reading.

Picture of my dogs on flickr

Originally posted 2011, imported May 2013

Pizza, the park, and spring in NYC

It has been a tough beginning to spring in New York City.  The temperature is cold and rainy; there is even a chance of flurries for tomorrow (April 1st).  A few weeks back, still in winter, we had a week of just beautiful weather- mid 60′s, clear skies, sunny.  I am not one of those that usually takes a full lunch hour during work, but on that Friday, the yearning for spring made me take a walk during my lunch hour.   I walked over to Eataly and got myself some focaccia pizza.  Not being able to find a seat in Eataly, I crossed the street to Madison Square Park and found a spot on a bench and sat down.

The park was jumping.  You would have thought it was a summer’s day.  The dog run was full, and the benches packed.  The line at the Shake Shack was as long as it would normally be in the summer.  There was Frisbee playing, breast feeding, lunch hour gossiping and three people doing Tai Chi.  I opened my bag and slowly enjoyed my pizza and enjoyed one of the best NYC past times – people watching.  Being a fast eater by nature, I recall consciously eating slow and enjoying the moment.  This is NYC at it’s best, good street eating food and good parks to eat it in while you watch people go about their day.  The people you watch are both mundane and fascinating at the same time.  It is one of those ordinary things in daily life that makes life so wonderful.

Eataly Go to the bakery or the focaccia area

Madison Square Park A spot near the Shake Shack by the sand is a great people-watching spot

Shake Shack Yea hard to comprehend the wait, but you just have to try it.

Originally posted on 2011 on old blog.  Imported May 2013