Yesterday, Mom and I had a conversation about a cousin’s personality, about how X had become really a really quiet individual after he grew up.
“Yeah, he’s too quiet. That’s not good. He must change.” – says Mom.
For some reason, that annoyed me.
“What’s wrong with being quiet and introverted? That’s not a defect. That’s just the way he is and we should just let him be him!” I retorted.
Mum fell silent, considering my words.
Why do we live in a world where people are so obsessed with finding flaws with others and constantly trying to change other people?
Another conversation this time, where I spoke with a friend about how I was slightly struggling with my personal identity switch from being single to being part of a couple.
“Well, the single part. That was something you had to change,” she pointed out.
The fire within got re-ignited. And I suddenly recalled another conversation (more like an annoying encounter) with my dad’s acquaintence where he badgered me incessantly about “Got boyfriend or not (sic)? Where is your boyfriend?” when I’ve all but met him only five seconds ago.
Why is there so much vitrol against single people?
What is wrong with being single?
Don’t get me wrong. Although I am happily part of a couple now, I was also happy being single back then. And each time I have an encounter like this, I cannot help but still want to speak out for all the single folk out there.
I have a 60-something aunt who has been single all her life. I really respect her. She has had a fruitful career and is now happily retired and travelling the world, living life on her own terms. She’s freaking brave and I love it.
Conversely, there are couples who eventually get married and set their own terms together. Some choose to have kids and are happy. Others choose to not have kids and they are also happy, living life without any additional obligations and taking on the world together as a pair.
People are happy.
Let people live their lives on their own terms. (Within legal limits, of course. I’m not advocating extreme shit that harms other people).
More like, shall we not force people to fit into a mould?
I think people should start loving themselves more.
With the rise of photo-editing apps that allow you to instantly “correct” your face into what is “desirable” – emphasized cheekbones, clear complexion, sharper chin, larger eyes and reduced eye bags with a tap of a button, it is now easier to achieve photos of you that look like an overly-retouched version of your actual self. (Hoo-ray? Not.)
In fact, I’ve noticed an increasing trend of people deeming it a must to edit their own faces before putting photos online. Some even insist their friends edit their faces before uploading any couple, pair or group photos.
Zit on your face? It could be your hormones. It means that your body is functioning properly. Everyone has hormones. Everyone has zits on their face at some point in their lives. Nobody cares if there’s a zit on your face in your profile photo or latest group photo except you.
Eye bags? You could have pulled an all-nighter. If it was a productive one, be proud of yourself. If it wasn’t, applaud yourself for trying (but get some sleep tonight). Late night movie? You’ve spent a night relaxing and enjoying yourself. Good for you. Insomnia? We have all had that moment where we could not get into slumberland no matter how hard we try. We feel you. Nobody’s judging.
Not happy with your eyes? Chin? Cheekbones? You are born that way. Someone out there probably wishes he/she had your features, while here you are wishing you have theirs. The grass is always greener on the other side. Every feature on your face or body makes up the beautifully unique person that you are. Embrace it.
Photo apps should totally ditch that “beauty” mode already. It is not helping anyone’s self-esteem and it’s only perpetuating the preconceived notion of the so-called “perfect face”. The perfect face for you is the one you already have.
Love yourself. Because you are amazing just the way you are.
I walked into Courts yesterday to purchase a clothes rack. Courts is a large furniture and electronics outfit in Singapore, with branches around the island and a megastore in Tampines.
The wonders of being connected meant that I could look up their online catalog the night before to pick out what I wanted and verify stocks (to the point of even knowing that certain colours were already out of stock and will be restocked in February/March 2013). All I needed to do was to step into the store, look for the item, purchase it and out I go. Sounds simple enough.
It was a three-storey megastore, so I decided to ask the staff for directions. The staff on the second floor directed me to the ground floor “because that’s where all the accessories are”. Sounds fair, so I proceeded to the ground floor. After walking around in circles, I realized I was going nowhere and needed help again.
So I approached a boy in a black ‘Courts’ tee and relayed my question to him. After giving me a blank stare for several seconds, he admitted that he was “just a promoter” and that I had to approach a staff member in a blue tee. Those blue tees were pretty elusive to find, though. I nearly walked up to an ordinary shopper in a blue tee but common sense soon took over (he was carrying a shopping bag) to prevent potential embarrassment.
Circled the place again for nearly 5 minutes before I finally found two blue shirted staff members who were happily chatting with one another. I proceeded with my inquiry. One of them glanced at my phone (screenshot of the product), looked at me and went “no more!”
“No more?” I asked. “Seriously? Because I checked your website and it stated there is stock!”
“If you want, you go outside there and see!” He gesticulated wildly to the area outside the checkout counters. “If it’s not there then it’s sold out. No more!”
He immediately went back to chatting with his friend, totally oblivious to me gaping at him, my mouth wide open in disbelief.
This is what happens you hire staff (or salespeople) who don’t care about your business. The typical staff member will simply show up to do the bare minimum, leave on time and take their monthly paycheck. On the other hand, the engaged, dedicated staff member who believes that he plays a crucial role in the success of the company would do more.
In this case, a dedicated staff member will be able to recognize this interaction as an opportunity to retain a potential customer. He would have known that the product will be restocked in a couple of months. He would also be aware that I could have placed an advance order online and request for a self-collection at any outlet near my home. All this is not rocket science – I knew it simply by browsing their website. This information will have been relayed to me as alternatives, and the he’ll provide any necessary assistance.
This staff member on the other hand, seemed to be more interested in his bantering.
After finally confirming that the item was out of stock – seeing an empty rack with the item label – I decided to ‘test’ another staff member on their service knowledge in the hope that the guy spoke to earlier was just an anomaly. No dice either.
By then, I was completely annoyed with the lack of staff knowledge that I just decided to give up on the product altogether. Sure, it was lighter and more compact. Sure, the product was cheaper as well. But it’s no longer about the product. IKEA was just next door, and they retail products that are of equally good quality. And I haven’t had a bad experience with them yet.
So, I headed over.
The PORTIS hat and coat stand.
Now, I have myself an awesome new rack at home from IKEA. While Courts lost a customer for life.
In today’s age, the average consumer is presented with a wide range of equivalent options for a singular product, that they’ve become indifferent. Companies can no longer afford to compete based on products alone because there is a low barrier to entry for consumers to simply do a brand switcharoo anytime they want. The products are all the same anyway. It’s the experience you provide that makes you stand out.
What makes the consumer sit up and take notice is not the “average” shopping experience, but something out of the ordinary. When faced with an extraordinarily bad service, the consumer will take to bitching online (which is what I’m doing now) or spread the negative message through word of mouth. In the consumer’s mind, your company will be tied to that bad experience forever.
Conversely, when the experience is surprisingly great, word spreads equally fast. In a world where consumers are generally used to receiving bad service, it’s extremely refreshing. Even inspiring. As for me – I’d most probably be waxing lyrical about the company to anyone I meet. And yes, I will definitely return.
It is the positively memorable experiences you provide that make your customers stick to you.
It’s high time companies realized that. Especially consumer-facing ones.