Diamond Certified Blog

by Chris Bjorklund
June 12, 2010

If you subscribe to my e-mail newsletter, The Diamond Certified Consumer Report, you may have heard my interview with Kia Ricchi, the contractor who wrote Avoiding the Con in Construction. She describes many of the shady practices that plague the construction industry. Ms. Ricchi emphasizes that “The con artist will always be with us. Consumers need more tools to find better contractors.”

I agree. Diamond Certified ratings are definitely one of those tools. Contractors listed for your county have had to go through a rigorous review process, which includes credential verification and consumer surveys, to earn Diamond Certified.

Ms. Ricchi has a useful checklist in her book to help you find better contractors. Read more

by Chris Bjorklund
June 08, 2010

Seth Godin’s blog is one of my favorites. He asks some fascinating questions. Here’s something for all consumers to think about when considering a purchase or conducting any kind of business transaction. Are you easily manipulated?

Sometimes (and too often) marketers work to manipulate people. I define manipulation as working to spread an idea or generate an action that is not in a person’s long-term best interest.

The easiest people to manipulate are those that don’t demand a lot of information, are open to messages from authority figures and are willing to make decisions on a hunch, particularly if there’s a promise of short-term gains.
If you want to focus on the short run and sell something, Read more

by Chris Bjorklund
June 01, 2010

The first time I heard this expression, I had no idea what the person was talking about. Years later, after toiling in many different jobs in consumer affairs for a long time, I finally got it. It’s how you perform repeatedly over time that builds your professional reputation. This is something to be tuned into whether you’re hiring at your office or deciding which businesses to patronize.

I thought of the saying the other day when deciding where to buy a sandwich for lunch. Who makes the best chicken salad sandwiches, week after week, month after month, year after year? The Ambrosia Bakery on Ocean Avenue in San Francisco. Consistency and quality are what keep lots of us going back. Read more

by Chris Bjorklund
May 29, 2010

You can tell when you’re dealing with empowered employees, can’t you? They’re agile. They step up and solve your problem. They aim to please, and make it look like no trouble at all.

Here’s what I’m talking about. I was going to a show at the brand new Musical Instrument Museum in Scottsdale, Arizona. A reggae band was performing in a rather small concert hall. It dawned on me, right before the lights when down, that my 89-year old mother might have trouble with the loud music. We didn’t have earplugs with us, so I decided to run out and ask guest services where I could buy some.

The employee hesitated for a moment, Read more

by Chris Bjorklund
May 29, 2010

I had to share this blog entry that I came across with you.

The 44-cent solution

Tom Peters calls it “the pursuit of wow.” Seth Godin calls it being “remarkable.” None of us do it enough — which is why it’s so spectacular when we see it in action.

Case in point: Sunday night at the J.W. Marriott in Phoenix. I’ve got a letter to mail, but no stamps. So I go to the front desk and the following conversation ensues:


ME: Is there a place in the hotel where I can buy a stamp? Read more

by Chris Bjorklund
May 22, 2010

I have to give the lab I complained about a big “thumbs-up” for responding quickly to my complaint about poor service. I waited 1.5 hours for a simple blood test due to inadequate staffing. I wrote to the head of media relations and in less than 24 hours, I received this response:

“We apologize for the poor experience you had during your visit. We are working on the appearance of our PSCs and staffing the labs appropriately. Unfortunately we are experiencing a shortage of service technicians and we are in the process of remedying this situation within the next 2 weeks. Along with this there will be re-training involved on how to handle PHI and confidentiality. Read more

by Chris Bjorklund
May 22, 2010

We’ve all had bad customer service experiences, but how often do you take that next step and voice your concerns to someone with authority?

I’m so ready to do that. I’m speaking up about the appalling, inferior, sub-standard service I had this week at a blood lab. Have you ever waited 1.5 hours for a simple blood test? I noticed six or seven people ahead of me when I arrived, and estimated that it might be a 30-minute wait. But then, one of the two lab techs went to lunch! That left ONE—count ‘em—ONE woman to process paperwork AND draw blood.

By the time my turn came (at some point there’s no pulling out, Read more

by Chris Bjorklund
May 15, 2010

Take a look at this youtube.com video called Fraud: An Inside Look.

The Federal Trade Commission created this 10-minute video that shows you how easy it is to get conned. The deceptive practices range from making unsubstantiated earnings claims for business opportunities to giving phony references with people who are in cahoots with the fraudsters.

With the economic downturn, these types of scams are on the rise. If you’re approached with a questionable offer, the con man in the video suggests this one thing: “Fast no’s and slow yes’s. That’s all you have to remember.” Don’t get caught in their web and get pressured into anything on the spot. Read more

by Chris Bjorklund
May 15, 2010

You don’t hear this too often. “What could I have done differently, if anything, to win your business?”

The owner of a kitchen cabinet showroom sincerely wanted to know why I had purchased cabinets elsewhere. I had visited there weeks before while putting together a plan for my kitchen. I returned to his store to buy countertops because he was knowledgeable and friendly, AND not pushy. I wanted to give him at least some of my business.

I explained that my contractor and I had decided to go with custom cabinets instead, for a variety of reasons. He told me that asking that question repeatedly and listening to customers’ answers helped him improve his service. Read more

by Chris Bjorklund
May 06, 2010

All of us have to resolve conflicts at one point or another. You might have disagreements with a co-worker, a relative, a spouse, a child, or with a business you hire. I was at a workshop recently where the expert introduced an approach for resolving conflicts that seems to work.

The method goes by the acronym LEAP, which stands for Listen, Empathize, Agree, and Partner.

Here’s how I used LEAP this week when dealing with a late delivery for my new gas range. First I called to see why the delivery hadn’t been made within the promised two-hour time slot. I LISTENED while the representative explained the crew was running late. Read more