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Blogging

Guess Who’s Back…

Posted on 14th March 2015 in Blog/ cat

Happy Cat

As the title suggests, after a brief (2 year) hiatus, I feel like returning to blogging – so, for now at least, I’m back!

 

And it’s goodbye from me – a fond farewell?

Posted on 10th December 2012 in #SilentSunday/ #writingworkshop/ Blog

Goodbye1

As the title suggests, I have decided to hang up my blogging hat.

I don’t want to rattle off a whole plethora of negative reasons why, even though there are some, instead I’d like to thank each and every person who has ever clicked on my blog. I really appreciate the fact that you stopped by to read.

Some of the things I’ve loved about blogging have been Charity Tuesday, Silent Sunday and The Writing Workshop – three things that all made blogging a pleasure for me. The Writing Workshop in fact being the reason why I started in the first place.

In a lot of ways, although I never realised it at the time, my blog was all about one post which began life as a Writing Workshop prompt and ending up changing my life.

I also really enjoy the book reviews and will continue doing those over on ReadandRated.

I don’t know for sure that it’s forever, but it feels like it right now certainly for this blog. Maybe I’ll be back with a different one in the future, maybe not. When I started blogging it was a warm and welcome community and there was an overall feeling of inclusion and acceptance. Sometimes these days it feels more like shark infested waters 😉

I am very happy in life right now and don’t have as much time to devote to blogging and I’m not one to do half a job so I’d rather bow out than blog for the sake of it. Without wishing to jinx my life, I have a wonderful partner, a great job and two happy and healthy children – all of whom deserve more of my time.

Ironically, my blog has the most followers it’s ever had and is getting more hits via search engines than ever so it feels wrong in a way to stop now but it also feels right to stop while it’s doing well rather than let it run down.

Thank you all, for your support.

x

Liz Jones: From Burkas to Barking Mad

Posted on 11th November 2012 in Blog/ bullying

I’ve not encountered the column of Liz Jones before but after reading her post about ‘mummy bloggers’ I took a quick glance through the titles of some of her other posts and found myself reading the recent work of a woman who seems to have grown a career out of her feelings of jealousy, resentment and general inadequacy.

How sad.

Sad for her and for those who employ her and for those who take the time to read her work. Are they influenced by it? I hope not.

My overriding thought when I see stories attacking bloggers, is ‘what does it matter to you?’. As in why does it affect the writer so badly that they feel the need to hurl abuse.

Comparing the comments on this post to some of her others I can see the answer. Over 300 people have taken the time to comment, while this is the case then there is a point to her employment. While her articles produce such a tidal wave of response there is a justification for her writing them.

I personally quite liked her comment that the blogging world had become like an extension of the WI. I’m not sure she meant it to be taken as a good thing but what a lovely idea.

Cambridge Mummy has taken the time to respond and rightly so, especially as she’s been named as a SAHM who is supported by her husband and makes money selling advertising on her blog – none of which is actually true! Facts, it seems, aren’t as important as mudslinging.

I read Liz’s column without surprise, it’s been said before, all of it. The way she wrote it, however, just screamed of jealousy. There was one bit in particular, where she spoke of maternity leave as ‘a holiday’ which I think probably goes some way towards explaining her need to attack; she feels that she’s missed out, she feels cheated.

Clearly her directive from the Daily Fail is to be as controversial as possible, to stir up a storm in a tea-cup wherever she goes, to use her myopic view of the world to create discourse and, essentially, to go into the playground and start a fight.

I’m glad I didn’t know who she was before today and I’m glad that after today I am very unlikely to read anything of hers again.

Do You Reddit?

Posted on 2nd August 2012 in Blog/ Reddit

Following a twitter conversation with some lovely ladies last week, I’ve been dabbling with Reddit.

It seems to me to be a similar(ish) concept to Stumble Upon in that people can upload links to site that they enjoy, find interesting, shocking etc and other people can then quickly view them. On Reddit you can opt for a random selection (like on Stumble Upon) or you can view things via categories.

Now I have to confess to not being a user of Reddit in the sense that I don’t ever go on their to view things, but, it was being suggested that it could be a good place to re-air blog posts and reach a new audience. I’m all for that so I gave it a go.

It’s easy to do – if you scroll to the bottom of this post, for example, you will see a selection of ‘sharing buttons’ one of which is Reddit. You simply hit the up arrow and it takes you to Reddit where you can log in if you have an account or register if you don’t. You then select a sub-reddit (category) and off it goes.

Simple huh.

I did this with an old post and it had 50 new hits within an hour. Not bad…

Another post, the following day, got zero hits. Hmm…

A third post, the day after, got over 200 hits!

So, all in all a bit hit’n’miss but well worth a try as it is very simple to set up and upload.

Well. It starts off being simple but you soon find that Reddit tells you ‘you’ve done that too often’ or ‘short links are smelly’ or ‘try again in 8 minutes’ – it is a little temperamental on when it will and won’t let you upload a post!

I thought I’d solved the problem but as you can see, I’m back to being told to wait 😉

It gives you it’s words of wisdom at the bottom…. I haven’t submitted any posts for 3 or 4 days so I’m not sure why I’m getting the ‘please try again in an hour’ message?! I’ll leave it for today and try again tomorrow!

Do you Reddit? If so, how do you get around its little temper tantrums? If not, why not click the little up arrow and see for yourself what it’s all about :)

S is for… Starbucks

Posted on 24th April 2010 in Art/ Blog/ caffe nero/ coffee/ customer service/ review/ School Governor/ starbucks

Anyone who has kindly read C is for… Coffee, Cats and Caffe Nero will know that I have recently expressed my views about the differing levels of customer service that I have experienced in Caffe Nero and Starbucks.

A million years ago when I used to work in customer service I was taught to invite feedback, whether positive or negative as then you get the opportunity to: ‘turn every complaint into a compliment’

For this reason, I feel strongly about bad service and if I ever experience it, then I do like to the let the company in question know. Equally if I feel that I have received exceptionally good service I also like to let the company know – it does a person good to know that they are appreciated.

So I wrote C is for… Coffee, Cats and Caffe Nero as a way of acknowledging the great service I’d received at my local Caffe Nero. But then as I had made some less than complimentary comments about Starbucks I thought it only fair that I offer Starbucks the chance to see what I’d said.

I think it is true to say that I wasn’t really prepared for the events that followed!

After exchanging a couple of tweets, the Starbucks UK MD (nice American man called Darcy) rang me and said that he would arrange for the district manager to call me and arrange a meeting.

The meeting was set up for Tuesday 20th April and I duly went along to Starbucks, not really too sure what to expect.

OK – The Good Points

I have to say I was pleasantly surprised by how seriously they took my concerns.

I was in Starbucks for about an hour and a half, which means that the district manager and the branch manager both gave up an hour and a half of their time just to speak to me.

I asked them all the questions that I had been given by the good people of twitter, they listened, made notes and answered them all.

They gave me a coffee at the start of the meeting (latte – with an extra shot of course) and about half way through a barista delivered a caffetiere with some different coffee in for us to ‘taste’. What was nice about that was that the branch manager had specifically selected the blend of coffee as it was one of their ‘bolder’ coffees because he had noted from my blog that I prefer strong coffee.

They were both very knowledgeable about Starbucks. After listening to the DM at length, I am also now very knowledgeable about Starbucks! The branch manager, in particular, came across as being genuinely concerned that he had an unhappy customer, which was quite touching.

They have a display of ‘local art’ on the wall, they see this as being of benefit to the community. I thought that was quite a nice touch.

And – The Bad Points

On Sunday 18th April I did a ‘secret squirrel’ visit to Starbucks with my family as I suddenly felt conscious that I hadn’t been in for a while and maybe it was lovely now….  However, we were served cold coffee, we weren’t offered any cutlery with our food, there was a broken plate on the floor and the staff were quite unattentive even though the place was very quiet. Also the upstairs was roped off, leaving only the downstairs tables and just one toilet available to customers.

I’m left a little confused as I felt a real sense of Starbucks being a ‘corporate’ enterprise and I wonder if that is why they are lacking the personal touch.

My Questions

1. Myself and people from various different towns on twitter feel that Starbucks is lacking cleanliness, especially in it’s toilets. They made a note of that and said they would feed it back to HO.

2. Is there a problem with your wifi as people have mentioned that they’ve found it very frustrating to buy a coffee, then sit down with their laptop only to find they can’t connect. The district manager did admit that this was a problem that Starbucks were currently experiencing, he said they are currently changing their service provider which will hopefully alleviate the problem.

3. Why are your drinks sometimes cold? Apparently the ‘flat white’ is meant to be served at an immediately drinkable temperature – in one gulp.

4. I have had cold latte before – is that because your milk isn’t hot enough, if so, could there be a risk of bacteria? They said the only way that could happen would be if a barista had steamed some milk for one customer and then let it sit and used it again for a subsequent customer rather than steaming more milk. The branch manager said he would speak to his staff to make sure this wasn’t happening.

5. Why don’t you have a full range of merchandise in all stores.Apparently merchandise is only available in larger or newly renovated stores. The district manager told me that Starbucks merchandise is quite collectable.

6. Why don’t you offer a loyalty scheme – like the Caffe Nero buy 10 coffees get 1 free scheme. The DM said categorically that Starbucks would never do a scheme like that.I said I thought that was a little short sighted and that the reward card is very popular and I couldn’t believe that it didn’t lose them customers. He did say that it was potentially a problem for them in the London branches.I have to say I felt he spoke quite derisively of the Caffe Nero loyalty scheme which surprised me.

7. Will your ‘proudly brew’ concessions ever do frappuccinos? The DM said that Starbucks will very soon be bringing out a massively extended range of products across the board including ice creams, shots in a can and many take away items.

8. On behalf of @nudieprincess I asked why in the Brighton store they often serve a latte with half a cup of froth. The DM told me that a latte should have no more than a quarter inch of froth. The BM said that if you are served a latte with much more froth than that then you should return it to the counter as ask for a fresh one. They also said you need to ask for a ‘wet’ one if you want no froth.

My Conclusion

I massively appreciate how much effort they took to listen to me. I am after all just one disgruntled customer in a sea of happy ones. When I left they gave me a couple of coffee samples from the Via range and a preloaded starbucks card (which I haven’t decided yet whether or not to use – I’m not sure if it would be hypocritical of me to use it?). This was nice of them but certainly not what I went there for.

What meant more to me was that the BM wrote down both his email address and mobile number and asked me to keep in touch. The DM asked me to ‘work with the BM’ and feedback after future visits to say whether I felt there had been improvements in the branch.

I went there thinking they would tolerate me, that they would listen for 10 mins, give me a coffee and then send me on my way. But they didn’t, and whether I like their coffee or not, whether I feel their branches could be cleaner or not, I cannot fault Mike and Carl for the way they handled my complaint and the fact that they both made me feel that they valued my opinion and had all the time in the world to listen.

I can’t say right now that I’m ready to ditch Caffe Nero, but I can say that Starbucks have an impressive reaction to customer complaints which is clearly led from the top – and the branch manager of my local Starbucks is a real asset to their company.


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