Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Making Wishes Come True

Join Escoe Bliss and our colleagues at MacKenzie Corporation on April 26th, Make-A-Wish® Orange County will host the fourth annual Walk For Wishes® event at the Orange County Great Park in Irvine.  More than 2,000 walkers will participate in this event to support Make-A-Wish in their mission to grant wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions to enrich the human experience with hope, strength and joy.

WHY: Powered by wish families, volunteers, donors and friends, Walk For Wishes® is a nationwide Make-A-Wish fundraiser that celebrates the thousands of wishes that have already been granted, while raising funds for future wishes. By participating in one of the two walks taking place in Orange County and the Inland Empire this spring, you can help bring the life-changing impact of a wish to a child battling at life-threatening medical condition.
WHO: Anyone can be part of this special day! Individuals or teams can walk and join the festivities for a $25 registration fee per person. A Walk For Wishes T-shirt will be given to all registered participants!
ORANGE COUNTY: Saturday, April 26
8 a.m. – Registration/Check-in
9 a.m. – Party begins!
Orange County Great Park- Irvine, CA

See directions below or go to:
* Important: There is currently no physical address to the Orange County Great Park. Please do not rely on GPS systems or online maps!
By participating in the Walk, you will raise funds to help grant the wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions to enrich the human experience with hope, strength, and joy. This fun walk and festival is an opportunity to be a part of something that can literally change the lives of children here in Orange County and the Inland Empire! It’s your chance to inspire, be inspired and help turn dreams into reality!
Registration is $25/person and includes a T-shirt and entry into the festival the day of the Walk.
You can register as an individual or a team. There are also opportunities available for Corporate Sponsorship—visit for details! While the Walk is not competitive, there will be prizes for individuals and teams who reach fundraising milestones!
Types of Teams:
Corporate Teams: Teams comprised of employees, friends and family from local businesses.
Friends and Family Teams: Teams made up of friends, family and community members. This could be your family, your soccer team, your book club, or just a group of friends who love to have fun together!

Individuals: Don’t have a team to walk with? That’s okay! You can walk as an individual and be an important part of our event!  Join Team / Donate Here

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The Simple Truths of a Complex Customer Experience

Customer service; it's external, internal, and based on personal perception and expectation. It's consistently changing experiences and interactions that are influenced by age, culture, current environment, and mood. Simply put: customer service is complex.

So how do you design effective procedures for your employees and develop a solid training program that satisfies such a wide variety of people and ever-changing factors? Though challenging, customer service training is vitally important for the success, sustainability, and profitability of your business unit, product, or service and it should be regarded as a top priority. In this blog we'll discuss the challenges of training for such seemingly unpredictable circumstances and why a company should focus on this crucial area of "soft-skills" development.

While attempting to find an engaging image for this post, I had an eye-opening discovery on the perceptions of customer service. I Googled the key words "royalty-free customer service images" and the first 100-200 images generated by my search were of a single person having a phone conversation on a wireless headpiece. While they appeared to be very friendly, smiley people, it occurred to me that a very important element was missing in the picture; the customer. 

This sample of pictures didn't properly illustrate that customer service involves an interaction between two or more people. The images would have left you thinking that good customer service simply requires a good looking twenty-something and hands-free technology; a laughable proposition. If it were that simple I would venture to say that the world of commerce would be overflowing with exceptional customer service and that the unemployment rate of our twenty-somethings would be nonexistent. So what is missing from this picture? There are companies that are known for their service. What sets them apart from the rest?

Let's start by reflecting on our own customer service experiences. Don't be surprised if some of the worst ones come to mind first. This is pretty normal. Often we are most affected by those negative experiences which seem to conflict strongly with our own expectations and these memories can be stronger. The good experiences don't upset our emotions as much as the bad ones do, and our complacency and satisfaction can actually make these positive experiences more difficult to recall. 

Think about certain businesses you frequent or a certain department within your company that you enjoy working closely with on projects. Perhaps it's the mechanic you bring your car to whenever there's an issue, the local bakery that you frequent to grab a pastry and a coffee, or the barber/beautician who is the only person you would trust with your unruly do. What is it about that particular product or service that keeps you coming back? Chances are it's multiple things and when all is said and done, it's the fact that you leave that experience feeling respected, satisfied, and quite possibly in a better mood than you were in before you went in. 

In order for someone to label their entire interaction or transaction excellent it should be positive from beginning to end; including the greeting, service throughout, closing of the sale, and any necessary follow-up.This is why it is important for any customer service training program to have a comprehensive training model. A successful customer service procedure cannot simply focus on a single aspect of the process. A talented training developer and facilitator focuses on providing a program that prepares the trainee for a comprehensive experience. 

Training for the bigger picture means that the approach must go deeper than providing canned responses. Trainees need to understand the mission and values of their employer, be knowledgeable about their product and/or service, and aware of the expectations that their audience (the customer) has for them. The purpose of customer service training is to provide the trainee with a good idea of what "full" service is and should be. The challenge is that "full" service is an evolving principle. The diagram below gives a good illustration of how drastically customer service communication has changed in a relatively short period of time.

Borrowed from:
This image helps us to consider customer service expectations from a generational perspective. You have one segment of the population that still remembers a world in which anything you bought or sold was done locally. Transactions were personal and face-to-face. This was even true in the workplace, where if you didn't understand a concept or a task you asked a supervisor or individual with more experience than yourself for insight and advice. 

Now a large segment of the population is more familiar and comfortable with ordering what they need online, turning to chat services when confronted with an issue, and may very well reference Google or Wikipedia before asking advice from another person in the office. Commerce today is set up in such a way that our younger generation can research, buy, return (if needed), and review a product or service without interacting directly with another person at any point throughout the process. 

Customer service interactions in the digital age can be drastically different, but the importance of a quality personal interaction is not extinct by any means. We are an inherently social species that will always desire to be received in a friendly manner and valued as a customer. All of the social media and time-saving tools in the world will not change this simple, yet fundamental fact.

Furthermore, quality customer service training is not exclusive to the hospitality industry. In fact, it's not even exclusive to an external focus. Quality service is just as important internally. A company that pretends to be one thing to it's customers, but does not practice the same values within is not fooling anyone. It truly is as simple as the saying, "Practice what you preach." 

This is why an expert training professional who can design and develop a custom training solution is worth their weight in gold. A seasoned professional can assess a current culture, their goals, and their audience and develop a program that will benefit multiple divisions. Setting service expectations is a major shift that requires deliberate and careful planning.

Our team is currently working with a client on a major visitor experience initiative. The challenges are diverse; the client is striving to engage multiple generations and cultures, overcome some public misconceptions, and continue to keep pace with their own extraordinary growth. While fast-paced growth can create some challenge, it is also a great source of motivation. We are already beginning to see the fruits of our efforts presenting themselves in the internal interest and excitement for the new training program. The team is encouraged by their growth and excited about cultivating even greater success.

Do you see service related challenges in your own personal or professional environment? If you do, our team of expert trainers would love to hear about your experience and provide you with some useful tools and insights in our April edition of the Insider. 

As an added bonus, the first four readers to either share a customer service experience or ask our training experts a question on the topic in the comments below will not only receive helpful feedback, but a Starbucks gift card as well! Share with us how the evolution of customer service into the digital age or generational variations in service expectations have affected your work or consumer experience. Our team is in the business of exceptional service and we want to hear from our readers about how we can help.

Do you have a question or concern and don't want to leave a comment? We'd love to hear from you! Just email or call (949.336.6444).

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

April 1st - 5th: The Annual Escoe Bliss Suit Drive to Benefit Working Wardrobes

Escoe Bliss is proud to support Working Wardrobes in their mission to empower men, women, young adults, and veterans overcoming difficult challenges to confidently enter the workforce and achieve self-sufficiency.

Please join with us this year and donate your gently-worn professional clothing! (See below for giving guidelines.)

April 1st - April 5th
8 AM - 5 PM
Escoe Bliss Professional Resources
16520 Bake Pkwy., Suite 155
Irvine, CA 92618

  • All sizes of men’s and women’s clothing
  • Plus sizes are especially needed
  • Must be clean and on a hanger
  • Clothes should be in good condition: No tears, holes, broken zippers, etc.
  • Purses and shoes
  • Ties, belts, scarves, and costume jewelry
  • Men’s and women's shoes and women’s purses are in short supply and most needed
Questions or concerns? Please contact Regina Feldmann, Brand Ambassador & Suit Drive Coordinator. 949.336.6444

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Welcome to the World Baby Blake!

Introducing...Blake David Atkins
Born: December 27, 2012 to his proud parents, Jolynn and David Atkins
Weight: 7lbs. 7oz.
Height: 20 inches

A message from the Atkins Family:
"Thank you to our friends and colleagues in the Escoe Bliss family who have reached out with words of support and encouragement. Our son Blake is such a blessing! A first born brings so much excitement and so many new amazing life lessons. We are over the moon and truly appreciate everyone sharing in our joy." -Jolynn and David

Congratulations, Jolynn and Dave!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Drilling Down for Operational Excellence: In Leaner Times, U.S. Businesses Scrutinize Policies & Procedures

In the wake of President Obama’s historic healthcare law—the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010—the U.S. hospital industry, for one, has had to take a closer look than ever before at operational effectiveness and efficiency. This year, Escoe Bliss has partnered with a world-class hospital in Los Angeles to deliver state-of-the-art Policy & Procedure training using the institution’s existing Policy and Procedure Management software. Escoe Bliss’ consultant Diana Berger has developed and facilitated a structured sequence of hands-on writing workshops tailored to students at all levels, from a wide range of departments. 

While many firms can send in a consultant who can simply write a policy or procedure document, Escoe Bliss has set out to provide something more. Our Excellence in Policies and Procedures program sets itself apart in three important ways:
  1. It is an entirely new approach to P&P writing, which actively engages personnel from different departments within a company.
  2. Our team of experts, lead by Diana Berger, can be architects (if called upon) to design an entire P&P hierarchy (either for the company as a whole, or a single department).
  3. Through this new approach we have developed turnkey training systems geared to the diverse backgrounds of a wide range of students from nearly every level in the organization.
When it comes to developmental work on policies and procedures, Escoe Bliss can service a company at any level.

Needless to say, the importance of reassessing current policies and procedures is not exclusive to the healthcare industry. In this challenging economic environment all organizations can benefit from a training program that enriches and revitalizes existing policies and procedures while, at the same time, drawing from the knowledge base and creativity of their current talent. 

To learn more about our workshops in policy and procedures excellence and the benefits of this program, please contact our office at 949.336.6444 or by email

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Powerful Partnerships

As the nation moves away from the election and looks toward the future, we thought that it may be a good time to talk about the power of partnerships. Assuredly many are relieved that elections are in the past. After the barrage of political mailers, signs, phone calls, commercials, and frustrating statements on social media sites, we are all ready to move on to a friendlier status quo. The relentless bickering of election season almost makes holiday shopping sound desirable (perhaps I'm just telling myself that to get motivated).

Now that the elections are over, our political leaders can return their focus to the issues that are important to our culture and community. The ability to pass measures and make change hinges on whether or not our community leaders can work together and agree on certain terms. The ultimate goal of any representative with an agenda is to strive for bipartisan support. Bipartisanship is a desirable (yet hard to come by) situation in which differing political parties come to an agreement on several aspects of an issue. Even politicians know the power of partnerships. 

In the corporate world, partnerships are the pulse of innovation and growth. Start-ups as well as established companies that have stood the test of time put time and resources into cultivating strong relationships with all of their stakeholders (i.e. Investors, strategic partners, employees, and customers). 

Here are 3 reasons why we operate with a partnership based business model:

  1. "If you build it, they will come." When Ray Kinsella (Kevin Costner) began hearing voices in the 1989 movie Field of Dreams even his loved ones began to question his sanity. It seemed illogical and irresponsible for a farmer to sacrifice potentially profitable fields for an unreliable dream. But don't all innovative ideas involve some sort of risk? History has shown that in order to achieve greatness, people must be willing to dream and make bold choices. A partnership that is built on a shared vision and mutual goals has the power to make dreams become a reality. Apple founders Steve Wozniak and the late Steve Jobs would probably attest that common strength, motivation, values, and objectives can quickly turn a garage office into a multi-billion dollar business. 
  2. "Two heads are better than one." Any project will have its challenges, so why not approach those challenges with a diverse pool of knowledge and expertise. A partner's strengths and unique background can complement ours, fill in for our own weaknesses, and result in a stronger product or service. The key to balancing the contributions of two or more people is making sure you are maintaining open communication. Problems can erupt when passionate opinions conflict, but a successful partnership will understand the value of different perspectives and strive to reach a healthy agreement.
  3. "It takes a village..." The premise of this statement is that a child is raised both in the home as well as in the community. Couldn't the same be said for the growth of a business. Success is not solely determined by internal actions. In fact, in the competitive market, success is ultimately determined by external support, reactions, and popularity of a product or service. Once an organization has lined up effective internal practices, it then becomes important to have a strong external network. An external network can help build brand awareness and can serve as a targeted audience for product demonstrations. The more you partner the wider your network will be, which means you're setting yourself up for an enthusiastic reception and access to resources that may provide some additional constructive feedback. 
At Escoe Bliss, building partnerships is a critical element of our business. We strive for meaningful connections with all of our consultants and strategic partners. Our team of experts is not merely a database of resumes; they are individuals with whom we share project experiences, association connections, and a common network. We qualify each individual in our network as a business partner. Do we have similar strategic goals? Do our communication styles align? Is this someone who operates by the same basic values and ethics that we do? What do clients and colleagues have to say about them?

Similarly, we approach client relationships with the same mindset. In order to provide successful training and communications solutions to meet client deliverables, our team prides itself on understanding client needs, objectives, desired results and team dynamics. Escoe Bliss talent and resources combined with those of our clients serve as the foundation for successful projects and positive outcomes.

The well known historical icon and successful businessman, Henry Ford, once said, "Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success." Throughout history, partnerships have been the fuel that continues to propel our industries, societies, and bureaucracies forward. We learn, grow, and profit both personally and professionally from cultivated partnerships. Partnerships truly are one of the most powerful forces in the quest for progress. Making room in your professional and personal objectives to care for these relationships will be time and resources well spent. 

We want to hear from you! Share your internal and external experiences and thoughts on the value of powerful partnerships.

Thank you in advance for your participation in this discussion.  All comments will be entered into a drawing for Starbucks gift cards ($20 value). The winner will be announced on the blog as well as our Facebook page at 12 noon (PST) on Wednesday, 11/21/2012.

What better way to say thank you to a partner than sharing a collaborative conversation over a steaming hot latte, tea, or cup of joe?