Posts tagged ‘CustomerService’

November 8, 2011

halfway through entrepreneuse school – and some jewellry!

Time has been flying by and I realized yesterday we are at the halfway mark for entrepreneuse school. I can’t believe how much we’ve accomplished in five weeks – we all have company profiles, operations plans, value propositions and marketing plans (with tons of analysis on our customers). It’s exhausting hard work and well worth it in the end I think. A lot of us have our websites and blogs running merrily and not a day goes by where there isn’t activity in our Facebook group about the assignments, discussion about websites, accounting, where to get business cards, who will you bank with etc. It’s a good group of people with some great ideas and I’m enjoying being in class with them.

Thought I’d take a second to let you know about some of the folks I’m spending my Mondays and Wednesdays with.

Michael is the proprietor of Vams Kombucha,  a living health drink made by fermenting tea and sugar with a ‘scoby’, which stands for ‘ Symbiotic Culture Of Bacteria and Yeasts’. The culture is placed in sweetened black or green tea and turns it into a beverage full of vitamins, minerals, enzymes and health-giving organic acids. It’s good, I’ve tried it.

Stephanie runs Coeur de Lion Textiles  – her designs mix shibori, an ancient Japanese resist dyeing technique, immersion and removal dyeing with contemporary practices of silk screening to create striking and lasting designs.  Coeur De Lion Textiles offers wholesale and retail products as well as custom design services.

Helen owns Sunrise Editing –  her tagline is Editing, Proofreading, and Copywriting Services … with heart.  I believe it.

That’s only three – as we get going, I’ll post more sites when they become available.

Also of note in the small business Category – Control over Destiny jewellery Design is having its annual Holiday Show and Sale on November 19th at Tarragon Theatre (Far Studio). 30 Bridgman Avenue – see you there – photos below of some of the work!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

September 20, 2011

Just for the Record


After another all night marathon with 300+ people signed up to depute, certain councillors obsessed with not allowing people to speak at two deputations at this oh-so democratic process, children singing songs, people dressed up as Santa and Roy Mitchell – where do we stand?

Recommended for cuts/sell-off


  • Library closures
  • Community groups will be given time to save the Riverdale Farm
  • The phasing out of 2,000 subsidized daycare positions
  • community grants that makeup less than 5 per cent of a program budget
  • snow plow services / windrow clearing
  • grass cutting in parks
  • TTC Blue Night bus service

Sent back to City Manager

  • Reduction of library hours
  • Reduction of police force
  • Reduction of new affordable housing
  • Cuts to various environmental programs
  • Elimination of the the four free garbage tags
  • Elimination of the Hardship Fund

Live Blog bits from  torontoist:

Gord Perks: I get two seconds to speak to each of 89 recommendations.” [Pauses two seconds]. “That was daycare.” Goes on to say that the City is seriously lowballing revenue projections, and forcing a vote before actual revenue figures are available—the cuts may not be necessary at all. “This is not governance, this is the thing that governments do when they are not doing their job. This is wreckage.”

Adam Vaughan: “I’ve been around this place for 25 years worth of budgets. I have never seen a document that is so short of facts… I have never seen a budget process more corrupt. Not corrupt in a legal sense, but corrupt as a process… This is the most sinister piece of legislation that has ever been in front of this city council, and it needs to be stopped.”

Ana Bailão: What we’ve learned from these mtgs is that “Torontonians care about their city…. They want a moderate approach.” And another voice joining the chorus, Josh Matlow: “We are not well informed enough to make these decisions today.”He goes on to say that people want more than just the services the City is absolutely legally required to provide.

Mary-Margaret McMahon: “I will not blindly slash and burn and cut things that make our city great.” (Note: she doesn’t vote today, as she is not on the Executive Committee.)

“I don’t even know what these cuts mean”—Janet Davis. She lists all the pieces of information they don’t have.

Mihevc: “This is not a debate among Torontonians. Every single meeting has been a rally…to maintain a strong city.” And then: “What these three reports represent is the most massive change to city government in 14 years… This does not even come close to the information we require to make wise and intelligent choices.”

Some thoughtful tweets from @PraxisTheatre

Santa re Xmas bureau: “they’ve been doing this since 1956 & know what they’re doing. Don’t forget, I know what you’ve been doing.” #TOpoli

Rob Ford campaigned on the promise of no cuts. Is he a man of his word, or not?” #TOpoli

Another deputant reminds the mayor he campaigned on “no cuts, guaranteed”. “We expected more from you when we hired you.”

Lyn Adamson emotional as she shouts over Rob Ford cutting her off: “You can’t cut the vehicle registration tax and then raise TTC fares.”

Single mother now telling committee that subsidized daycare allowed her to finish high school and go to university.


And two I really liked and found somewhere:

“You have eliminated sources of revenue. You are the source of the problem.”

“I’m a member of a special-interest group called residents of Toronto.”

August 18, 2011

They’re Tweeting! They’re Commenting! Now What?

Something I hear a great deal when companies are creating new websites, or a Facebook page, or a Twitter feed is that they want the wall disabled, or the commenting turned off. Why? Because they don’t want people to say mean things about them. They only want positive feedback on their company/efforts/initiatives.

Well nobody wants people to say mean things about them. But there’s a few problems with this logic.

1) People say mean things ALL the time. Doesn’t it make more sense to have them be said directly to you, rather than behind your back? If they say it in the comments section of your site, you have the chance to respond, the chance to fix it and the chance to control your own brand. If you are still uncomfortable, you can set it so comments must be approved by you. Which is fine. But it means you must approve them and post them – along with your response. Refusing to approve only negative comments is equally bad. And you’ve got to get to it fast. We live in an on-demand society. The second I hit post I expect a reply pretty darn quickly. Waiting a day or two or a week simply adds to the list of mean things people might say about you. Respond just as quickly, if not quicker than you would to an email or a phone call – believe it or not, there’s a real person on the other side of that comment.

2) Nobody’s company is 100% positive all the time. Things go wrong, things happen. That’s life. By only pushing out a positive image, you lose out on getting your readers’ opinions, experience and assistance with what you do. and given that they’re the ones you’re doing it for – wouldn’t that be helpful?

3) Not allowing comments is a one-way conversation. A one way conversation is a monologue. You wind up being that guy at the party – the one who talks incessantly about himself, doesn’t allow others to get a word in edgewise, and trumpets about the greatness that is him. Does anyone like that guy at the party? No. No they do not. The last party I was at with that guy, I literally physically steered him out of our conversation and to another part of the room.  Nobody wanted him around. (For those that know me personally – that’s not an exaggeration. I did it. I’d do it again.)

4) Sometimes there are people in this world that you cannot help. Sometimes there are people who will never be satisfied. And sometimes there are people who are jackasses. And yes – they have to be dealt with.

5) What’s your social media policy? Who’s tracking, who’s posting, who’s tweeting? A solid policy can help you avoid many pitfalls and problems to begin with.  Not sure where to begin?  Google social media policy. you’ll find 136 MILLION choices. Dive in and start crafting.

And so you’ve braved it, you’ve set up your Twitter account or Facebook page and you’ve turned off comment approval on the site. I hope it goes well for you – and no I won’t leave you hanging. Here’s another awesome article from Mashable on how to recover from a social media pr disaster.



August 9, 2011

What’s a QR Code? Part Two

So yesterday I talked a bit about QR codes, what they are, where we’re seeing them, and posted a handy infograph from mashable to explain what folks seem to be doing with them.

So what can you do with them?

I look at QR codes as a way to get even more info on to your poster or flyer. Hard copy collateral holds a certain amount of information (both sides) but a QR code allows you to bring your audience even further into the project.

I wrote about one of the best QR code non-marketing uses I’ve seen. Good read, good use, good art.

Okay. So the most basic use is to send people to your website. Backing  up a bit – does your audience know what a QR code is and how to use one? A bit of knowledge goes a long way.

I hope we’ll be seeing this a lot in the future




similar to the way the image below became ubiquitous.




Hand people the tools they need at the moment they need them.


So you could send them to your website. Fair enough, here we go:



You’re now at the homepage of So?





Maybe I should have been more specific – brought you to something new I wanted you to see.


You’re now on the new blog page. See where I’m going? Direct them specifically to something you want them to see. Why did I want you to see this? Because in the survey, it was a hands down fact that most of you were here to read the day’s blog post. The last layout wasn’t very laid out – so I’ve got a new design that allows you to see multiple posts with a little less searching. I thought it might make it easier for you to read and search previous articles. That’s right – something else I played with. You bet I read your survey comments.



Other uses? If you’re in the middle of a fundraising campaign, a QR code directly to your on-line donation page is handy. If you want traffic to a specific production, send them to that page. An audience member should never scan a QR code only to ask, “why am I here?”

My favourite use thus far is the QR coupon. Five bucks off the show. Scan the code, be taken to a page with a coupon code. Dead easy. And TRACKABLE. Because now not only can you tell who got a coupon, but where they got it from many places – put your QR codes in very specific places so you can determine which of your advertising efforts worked. Maybe there’s a split run of flyers and posters and you track where you put the coded ones. Maybe the code only goes in every second ad in the paper. Maybe you send it only to donors and subscribers first, then branch it out as you see how it’s working. I am a firm believer (data geek, stats slut, whatever) in knowing exactly how my marketing is working. QR codes are an amazing way to track. And yes – “nobody used it” is a tracking statement.

I’d like to see them in print newsletters, “scan here to read more“.  I’d like to see them added to/in place of the teasers on envelopes. I’d like to see blurbs on your sites letting people know you’re going to start using them, and what they can expect.


And honestly? Make it an actual rewarded effort. A straight up one. Make them part of the QR club – they got something good for a little effort. A call to action that is rewarded is a call to action that will be heeded again.

Remember this? Not a reward.



August 3, 2011

The Results Are In and You Are All Fabulous

That could have been the easiest post ever written. (Actually the easiest would have been to then write, click here to find out why! And then sat back and counted my clicks. Do not click there. There’s nothing to click.)


Thanks to all who participated, your opinions have been most helpful, sometimes illuminating and always entertaining. Onward!

How did you find out about this site or blog?

Hands down Facebook – which doesn’t surprise me as I have the highest number f folks there to interact with.  I deliberately did separate posts late in the week on Twitter and Facebook to see if the numbers jumped. And even though Networked blogs came in dead last, I don’t think it did as it published my blog to Facebook. So now I know where y’all are, and it’s still good to be actually talking to y’all.

How often do you visit the site?

Anywhere between once a week and once a day is good with me, with most of you falling nicely in the middle. I’m rather pleased nobody is here more than once a day except for me. Lives are important.

And why are you here?

Hands down to read the day’s blog post  – The blog page underwent the first change as a result of these findings. But many of you are also here to request services. Cool!

Who said other? And what are they doing here?

– Combat the isolation sometimes experienced by freelancers.
– I read what gets posted to fb, twitter or linked in. Haven’t gotten around to visiting the actual blog/website yet. It is on my list for retirement post summer vacation trips.
– Curiosity
– Check specific post – that I am interested in
– To stay tuned on what you are up to. I like your sass.
I’m glad someone likes my sass. My Mom does not.

What kinds of post are you liking the most?

I confess here – I let you choose all four answers if you wanted to. It may skew my data in a numerical sense, but it gives me more answers. Once again, hands-down arts based. Fair enough. I also thought it was kind of interesting that following closely was ‘opinion based” because I thought all my posts were my opinion, but maybe not. Something to think about. This creates another change to the site.  26% of you said other. Like what?

-All of them
-The one about having the right kinds of followers.
– I haven’t actually visited the site – I liked this honesty.
– Humour!
– Sorry to be imprecise, but I’ve found all three to be interesting.
– Am biased.

God love most of you. The one I honed in on was “the one about having the right kind of followers.” Why? Because I think it was this one and I posted it at the end of May. And two months later someone remembered it. It has traction.  It’s all sticky. Another note to self about types of posts.

And on to What Sort of Posts Would You Like to Read More Of?  Here’s what you told me.

–   News of Arts scene in Canada, trends, shows, policies, concerns. – Fair enough. My posts are quite Toronto-centric. Perhaps I’ll try to branch out some days.
– Arts based Arts, culture, humorous observations of life and our times. – I can do that.
– Arts, cooking.  – There will be no cooking posts. I might however direct you to awesome foodie blogs I know and love.
– Local politics – Gotcha.
– ArtsVote – Artsvote is an ad hoc volunteer group that springs out of necessity, it’s not a year round sort of thing. So I suppose I could send you to the links where it all went down and keep you posted if anything big happens.
– The ones where you crack me up! 😉 – Why thank you. I do try.
– Local Arts related ….perhaps a heads up re what’s opening….. – this is an interesting one. Expect additions to the Blogroll. I think it’s a good suggestion, but already being done well other places. So I will send you there. Watch for it.
– More arts/theatre marketing + planning – Gotcha. I will do more of that.
– Arts funding – again, watch for changes in the site.

Have you ever Shared a Blog post?

Very even split just over the line in yes vs no. I am of course, curious as to which ones you shared, but I didn’t ask that in the interest of simplicity. I can live with that, but would still like to challenge you to share a post or two if you haven’t already. And there will be a post about why that does or does not happen. And you will probably share it. (I know. I just blew your mind.)

Have you ever used the services available?

Mostly nos. But yes and referrals combined run a close second. I am okay with this one as well, given that I can combine it with the other ways people have found me that I listed above. People aren’t just finding and requesting via the site, they’re finding me other places (including in person) and we’re going from there. Item: The stickinesss of business cards – my last consult came from a card I gave someone in 2009. There you go.

All right, just who do you people think you are?

You’re almost evenly split between arts worker and independent artists. And a third of you say you’re an arts supporter. Okay then. Others?
-Arts manager
-Arts Educator
-Recovering arts worker – get well soon. We’re all pulling for you!

And finally there was a space asking if you had any other comments.  They were all very flattering and you are all awesome. And one specific comment that I must address:

Can you teach me about magnets?

Sigh. Here you go, love. (No, I am not posting the video by Insane Clown Posse. Not even the link.)

Thanks again all! Expect site tweaks this week, and  a post about that too!

July 29, 2011

yesterday was a long day

apparently 23 hours long. And apparently, we’d like to keep our services. Someone pointed out that all the city was trying to do was find ways to cut – not find ways to increase revenue. Frustrating indeed. A huge shoutout to all those who registered, gave deputations, and stayed up all night.

here’s some fun from the Star – Can you balance the budget? Arts and culture folks – we’re using to balancing budgets on a knife’s edge – let’s give this one a shot. I’m reminded of the movie Dave, in which Kevin Kline hires his buddy the accountant to balance the federal budget – and he does. I’m also reminded a bit of children’s colouring contests where you send yours in to win a prize. Remember those? What would the prize be? Funding, I guess.

The survey continues to yield thoughtful comments and suggestions on what you’d like to see. I will be taking them all into consideration and hopefully coming up with equally thoughtful additions and changes, based on your input. Thanks to all those who have filled it out – the rest of you – there’s still time. Off you go.

It’s the long weekend. Is anyone taking off early to do something fun for the long weekend? I hope so – I bet you deserve it. Don’t forget it’s the Scotiabank Carribean Carnival this weekend!

Oh heck – here you go.  Enjoy!




July 28, 2011

today’s the big day!

Hundreds of Toronto taxpayers are set to show up at City Hall, part of a marathon meeting on budget cuts that is expected to stretch into the wee hours of the morning and run for at least an extra day.

Apparently there are nearly 300 people registered for their five minutes. Good. As I said before, speak well, get to your (important) point, know your facts, be polite and have your say. Excellent article to peruse pre-deputation courtesy Torontoist.

Another excellent article in the Star featuring Jeff Melanson and Jacoba Knappen for those deputing on arts and culture. Facts.

Good luck everyone. You’ll be awesome I’m sure.

Speaking of having your say – the survey! Only a few days left to voice your opinion – I’ve already got some great suggestions and new ideas to implement. Let me know what you think.

July 12, 2011

I Hate to Say I Told You So…

In May I posted about the upcoming Toronto City Services Review, and the survey you NEEDED to fill in.

In June I posted about the Toronto City Services Review Roundtable that I attended.

It’s now July and the results are coming in. Derek Flack has a fulsome article in BlogTO  – italics mine.

“As far as levels of service go, City spending seems anything but outrageous. “Over half of the services that report through the Public Works Committee are provided “at standard,” which is generally the level required by provincial legislation or the level generally provided by other municipalities,” reads the report. “30% of services are provided at slightly above standard offering some opportunities for cost reduction by lowering the service level provided. 17% of services are delivered slightly below or below standard.”

Let me get this straight – we offer excellent services in some areas and we’re going to save money by dropping the standard? I thought Rob Ford ran on a platform of customer service?

Royson James of the Star questions this as well.

“a list of nickel-and-dime, nip-and-tuck manoeuvres — Toronto could potentially, possibly, save up to $10 million to $15 million in departments that spend $1 billion, one-third of which comes from taxes.”

Apparently there’s no gravy. Not even au jus. Not even pan drippings. When I was at the roundtable the woman next to me cheered when someone mentioned getting back the $60 car tax. I asked her if she realized that was one of the reasons we were here. You could tell by her face she did not.

I’m baffled, bewildered and sad. And then my bewilderment ceases when I read the comments section and realize exactly the type of person who voted for this mess. This is a choice one from Chris Hume’s article yesterday:

Stop these freeloaders, Rob!
Here’s what I don’t understand. I am REQUIRED to pay 100% property taxes even though I use only a fraction of the services I pay for. I don’t use community centres, fire services, parks, schools, skating rinks, EMS, swimming pools or waterfront trails. My house and my commercial properties are built, so I don’t care about planning or permits. I don’t need city engineers or clerks or landscapers or economic development people or animal control or daycare or shelters or, for the love of Judas, the TTC or bike lanes(ugh!)! So that means I pay for all the freeloading punks and hippies who don’t contribute anything but use everything. It’s no wonder Mayor Ford wisely spends his free time in Muskoka. I know our Mayor will make things right again.

It’s signed Conservative to the Core. I hope for his sake (I really do) that we never get to this point.

ETA: In the interest of presenting all sides, here’s a link to Sue Ann Levy’s column – she thinks there’s still gravy somewhere.


Fringe is on all week and it’s amazingly amazingly popular – shows are selling out, lineups were in place and here’s a view of the Fringe Club last night. You know, because nobody goes out on a Monday. Photo by Gideon Arthurs.

June 23, 2011

The Toronto Public Library and Theatre Ontario

Couple of things in my inbox last night, both requesting a bit of assistance and I am glad to do so.

First off – the incomparable John Goddard is retiring from Theatre Ontario and they are looking for someone to fill his shoes. I’ve known John for years, since sitting on the TAPA Board and I sincerely hope they find someone as good as he is. The link to the posting is here. Have a looksee and if you’re the person for the job, apply away, and if you aren’t but know someone who is, send it to them.

Secondly – Remember the Toronto City Services survey? The Toronto Public Library is doing their own. In a ‘behold the power of social media’ moment last night I saw this in my newsfeed. I have no idea who originally wrote it, and I don’t actually know the person who reposted it.

This message was forwarded to me and I couldn’t find it on Facebook, so I’m taking the liberty of sharing it because I think it’s incredibly important.  Please take action on this, especially (but not only) if you’re in Toronto; and please please share it widely. I didn’t write this; props to the person(s) who did.

Being Sue I checked this link and it is legit. And so I wrote my own note and hit tag.
I don’t have to explain to many my love affair with books and the library. I am long past the point of “avid” reader, I have a good twenty books on hold at any given time, and if I ever see you in person ask me about the time the library lady made that month’s book display based on my recommendation. I took pictures.  But I digress. See below.


“You may have seen in the newspapers that Toronto City Council is undertaking a series of reviews about what services the city should offer, how they should offer services, and what people should pay to use them.  They have just finished collecting public opinion through a series of public meetings and an on-line survey.  The object of all of the reviews is to hold down or reduce city spending, and “smaller government”.

The Toronto Public Library is concerned about the support for their services that will exist on Council when it comes time to allocate next years’ budget. The library has created its own survey, based on the City’s survey, and it would be great if you would spend a few minutes to fill it out.

Item: It took me less than ten minutes including the time to formulate and write something in the “additional comments” section.

It’s at

Please pass this on to your friends who will also want to express their support for public library services – particularly if they live in Etobicoke and Scarborough and North York.

Once again – I strongly encourage you to fill this out. It’s the same style/concept of the city’s survey but of course is library focused. It quite literally takes minutes to fill out.
I will share with you the comment I put at the bottom. Which I then sent to my branch (We’re friends on Facebook. “pause.” What?)

I love the Toronto Public Library. I have an average of 20 books on hold at any given time. My branch is the Parkdale branch – it is full of people from all walks of life – it is am important valuable part of the community. People of all ages from very young through adolescent to seniors are there at any given time. The staff that work there are helpful, knowledgeable and clearly love what they do.
If our current Mayor is worried about ‘customer service” then as a “customer” of the Parkdale branch, I rate their service an A+. Not everything can be privatized or contracted out. I cannot believe that LITERACY is actually on the table at a cost cutting meeting.

June 19, 2011

Sunday Roundup – June 19

I can’t believe it’s the 19th of June already – although the gorgeous weather this weekend is proving that summer is thisclose to being here. A week of fewer meetings and a lot of work getting done, which is good in my view. What went on?

What You Think You Want  – how to determine what a client really wants by what they say they want. Ask the right questions and everyone is happy. And always include an Elvis tune.

Data, Audiences and My Thoughts on Margie  – an interesting post from our friends at Creative Trust on how we deal with data, and a cool publication from the Australian Government on turning your data into audiences. Also included my thoughts on the Sun TV contretemps.

Coffee and Engagement Followup – an update  on my coffee with Sean Howard and a link to the presentation he created for ISPA, thought-provoking and fun at the same time – kind of like Sean.

Impatiently Crunching Numbers – a link to the Lost Art website from the UK which is tracking the effect their arts cuts have had on the economy. It’s simple and brilliant and hopefully effective.

heh heh. Love the New Yorker.









Theatre 20, Toronto’s newest musical theatre company, takes the stage June 20 with DRIVEN TO SCORE, the second in their three-part concert series at the Panasonic Theatre.  Featuring the work of Leslie Arden, Jonathan Monro and David Warrack,  and directed by Alisa Palmer and hosted by Ann-Marie MacDonald,
DRIVEN TO SCORE brings together an incredible lineup of Theatre 20 Founding Artists – Louise Pitre (Mamma Mia!), Ma-Anne Dionisio (Miss Saigon) and David Keeley (Rock of Ages) – joined by Sterling Jarvis, Alana Bridgewater and Yvan Pednault. Tickets are $59 and $69 and are available in person at the Panasonic Box Office, through TicketKing by phone at 416-872-1212 (1-800-461-3333) or online at It promises to be amazing.

Toronto Fringe Festival guides are now available both in hard copy and online and tickets went on sale June 15 – visit the website for more information.

%d bloggers like this: