Grandma’s pancakes and customer service

Grandma’s pancakes and customer service

ENG  |  ESP

Grandma’s pancakes and customer service

My grandma could teach you a thing or two about customer service. The way she treated us was better than any five-star hotel.

stack of homemade pancakes on a red plate

My grandmother lived with my aunt three hours away from my hometown, and I remember she always made pancakes for my siblings and me for breakfast. A simple experience, but it had that magical nostalgia that made it unforgettable. It wasn’t just about the pancakes. It was about everything else that came with it. I learned that you can’t have great service if you don’t have empathy and love.

She woke up at six in the morning every day, and the sweet smell of the delicious pancakes she was preparing woke me up. I dragged myself out of bed and went straight to the dining table to see the plates laid out on the table with forks, knives, and everything set. All ready to sit down and start eating. After we said our good mornings, she would ask me if I wanted coffee or orange juice. I always chose the latter, and she knew that. But she felt she needed to ask if I wanted something different that day, which I occasionally did. Then I sat down, and in the middle of the table would be a stack of her freshly made, glorious-looking pancakes. They seemed to be straight from stock imagery — even golden brown and notably fluffy. They also smelled like heaven on earth.

I ate as many as I could. Each bite was a delight. The pancakes were soft and fluffy, and each mouthful melted in my mouth. It was impossible to eat just a few. I added honey and butter to mine, which were both there on the table for all to use. Not only that, my brother tells me that grandma was quick. No matter how fast he wolfed them down, he was never able to keep up with her. And my brother eats as if his life depended on it. So, there was plenty to go around and to have everyone full and happy.

My aunt told me she used butter, sugar, flour, milk, eggs, and soda. Nothing more, nothing less. Just basic ingredients. Now, to me, that is where her magic is. My grandmother did not do any fancy recipes. There was no extra secret ingredient, but it was all just very well done. She knew that if you are going to do something, you do it the right way, from her attention to her cooking to her care for us. She just wanted to give us a delicious meal to start our day. And she did it the right way.

“if you are going to do something, you do it the right way”

Now, did my grandmother have a degree in customer service? No. She just knew that giving us a wonderful meal and fulfilling our unexpressed wishes would make us happy. She anticipated our wants. That is why she was a great host.

Unexpressed wishes

I like the phrase fulfilling our unexpressed wishes. But I must admit, I saw it while reading a book called Zag by Marty Neumeier. Marty writes about the Ritz-Carlton hotels and their credo, “The Ritz-Carlton experience enlivens the senses, instills well-being, and fulfills even the unexpressed wishes and needs of our guests.” He goes on to say, “there are two ways to fulfill those unexpressed wishes: the analysis of many data points over time, and the practical application of empathy.”

Certainly, my grandmother did not think about data points over time, and she did not have an excel sheet or graph to see how she could improve. But I am sure she perfected her pancake breakfasts through the years. I know this because she would ask how it all was. She would tell my aunt to buy the orange juice that she knew we liked. Everything she did had her signature on it — empathy and care.

Now, I haven’t been to a Ritz-Carlton hotel. So, I can not say from my own experience if they do fulfill those unexpressed wishes. It is a mighty task. And come to think of it, I rarely feel my unexpressed wishes fulfilled. When I ate pancakes for breakfast made by my grandmother was a prime example. Now, granted, it is difficult for a business to recreate a bond between a grandmother and her grandson. But even if you fall short, you will do better than most if you try. And that is extremely valuable.

Grandma knows best

So what can you do to improve your customer service? Here is what my grandmother would suggest:

If you are going to do something, do it right. Set your table, store, or service just right so the customers can have all they need.

Serve great food or deliver a great product. You don’t need anything fancy but make it good enough and improve on it over time.

Treat each customer as an individual. Each customer has their personality, and they are not just another number. Remember their likes and dislikes. If possible, remember their name. Dale Carnegie said, “Respect and acceptance stem from simple acts such as remembering a person’s name and using it whenever appropriate.”

Unexpressed wishes. To anticipate your customers’ wishes you need empathy and care. Most importantly, it is about them having a great experience.

Why should you follow my grandmother’s advice? Well, she sadly passed away about ten years ago. But she is alive and well in all her children’s, grandchildren’s, and great-grandchildren’s memories. Those moments we spent with her will always be ours. I miss her and how she showed her love. I bet it would be nice to hear those words when they talk about your customer service. Be sure that everything you do, you do it with empathy and love and that you do it right.

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    ¿Son los diseñadores gráficos artistas?

    ¿Son los diseñadores gráficos artistas?

    ENG  |  ESP

    ¿Son los diseñadores gráficos artistas?

    A muchos diseñadores gráficos no les gusta que los consideren artistas. Creo que deberíamos reconsiderar lo que significa ser llamado artista.

    “Somos artistas. Piratas. Nosotros somos más que cocineros.” Esto es lo que Colette le dice a Linguini en una escena de la película Ratatouille de Pixar. Colette describe a sus colegas de manera colorida. Acróbatas. Rebeldes. Apostadores. Le gusta el hecho de que son más que cocineros. Ella los ve a ellos y a sí misma como artistas. Y le encanta. Chefs, músicos, escritores y muchas profesiones creativas les agrada que les digan artistas. Significa que su trabajo ha alcanzado niveles de experto. Me pregunto por qué ese no es el caso para una profesión como el diseño gráfico. ¿No somos artistas? ¿Piratas?

    “Somos artistas. Piratas. Nosotros somos más que cocineros.”

    Como diseñadores, creamos arte para los negocios, pero preferimos el término diseño en lugar de arte. No queremos que nos vean como personas que solo saben hacer algo ver bonito. Queremos respeto. Lo queremos de nuestros clientes, del público en general, incluso de nuestra familia. Queremos un puesto en el mundo del negocio y creemos que ese no es lugar para un artista.

    Estas son algunas de las razones por las que no queremos que nos consideren artistas. Sin embargo, todos los días pensamos como artistas. Tenemos que lidiar con color, ritmo, énfasis, armonía, alineación y contraste a diario. Usamos estas herramientas y otras para tratar de tocar el corazón de las personas. Para evocar una emoción. Para diseñar un empaque que destaque o hacer un brochure agradable de leer. Intentamos que se vea bien.

    ¿Existen diferencias entre un diseñador gráfico y, digamos, un pintor? Por supuesto. Por ejemplo, como diseñadores, necesitamos resolver los problemas del cliente. El trabajo que hacemos tiene que ser funcional. Usar una tipografía que consideramos bonita pero es ilegible no es buena práctica. También hay una estrategia detrás de todo lo que diseñamos. Una audiencia específica a la que queremos dirigirnos. Y sí, estas son cosas que debemos aprender a hacer bien. Paul Rand dijo que las comunicaciones visuales de cualquier tipo deben verse como la representación de la forma y la función: la integración de lo bello y lo útil. En nuestra búsqueda por hacer algo útil, no olvidemos hacerlo ver bien.

    Paul Rand es uno de nuestros mejores exponentes. Levantó la profesión del diseño creando artes memorables. Su trabajo se ha exhibido en museos. También estoy seguro de que muchos de nosotros tenemos su trabajo decorando nuestras paredes, así como el trabajo de otros maestros del diseño. Su trabajo lo dice todo. Se enorgullecen de su lado artístico. Estos artistas no solo tienen su puesto en la mesa de negocios, sino que también tienen una mesa propia. Y todos aspiramos a ganarnos un lugar algún día. Son artistas. Son piratas. Son más que diseñadores.

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    ¿Son los diseñadores gráficos artistas?

    Are graphic designers artists?

    ENG  |  ESP

    Are graphic designers artists?

    Many, if not most, graphic designers dislike being considered artists. I think they should reconsider what it means to be called an artist.

    “We are artists. Pirates. More than cooks are we.” This is what Colette says to Linguini in a scene from Pixar’s Ratatouille. Colette describes her colleagues colorfully. Acrobats. Rebels. Gamblers. She revels in the fact that they are more than cooks. She sees them and herself as artists. And she loves it. Chefs, musicians, architects, writers, and most professions relish in the artist label. It means their work has reached masterful levels. I wonder why that is not the case for a profession as graphic design. Aren’t we artists? Pirates?

    We are artists. Pirates. More than cooks are we.

    As designers, we create art for business but we prefer the term design instead of art. We don’t want to be viewed as a bunch of pretty makers. We want respect. We want it from our clients, from the general public, even from our family. We want a seat at the business table and we think there’s no seat for an artist there.

    These are some of the reasons we don’t want to be viewed as artists. Yet we think like artists every day. We have to deal with color, rhythm, emphasis, harmony, alignment, and contrast daily. We use these tools and others to try to touch people’s hearts. To evoke an emotion. To design a package that stands out on the shelf. To make a brochure pleasant to read. We try to make it look good.

    Are there differences between a graphic designer and, say, a painter? Of course. For one, as designers, we need to solve the client’s problems. The work we do has to be functional. Using a font we see as pretty but is illegible is not good practice. There is also strategy behind everything we design. A specific audience we want to address. And yes, these are important things we need to learn to do well. Paul Rand said that visual communications of any kind should be seen as the embodiment of form and function: the integration of the beautiful and the useful. In our quest to make something useful let’s not forget to make it beautiful.

    Paul Rand is one of our best advocates. He raised the design profession and we should all be thankful for it. His work has been displayed in museums. I’m also sure many of us have his work decorating our walls, as well as the work from other design masters. Their work speaks volumes. They clearly embrace their artistic side. These artists have not only sat at the business table but have a table of their own. And we all aspire to earn a seat someday. They are artists. They are pirates. They are more than designers.

    We are a branding & design studio based in Honduras

    Let's talk about you!

    hola@studiomondos.com

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