Monday, November 29, 2010

Nonprofit Technology Network

Aaron and I had a blast at the 2010 Philanthropy Midwest Conference.  One of the many nuggets of information we gleaned was that there's a whole organization devoted to helping Nonprofits better utilize technology to fulfill their missions.   So check out the Nonprofit Technology Network and see how they can help your favorite organization.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Wouldn't we all like Billionaires on our Boards?

When thinking about the composition of a charity's board of directors, a common rule of thumb is that 1/3 of the board should be people who have money and generously contribute to the organization.  Another third should be people who might not have a lot of money themselves, but are good at asking for contributions from other people.  The rest of the board should be people who may not have money or know people with it, but who have the energy it takes to get things done in an organization.

According to Philanthropy Today, three board members of New York's Museum of Modern Art  (commonly known by it's stylish acronym, MOMA) are billionaires.  I think it's safe to say that MOMA does not have any funding problems.  Yay for art.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Importance of Middle Management

Most small businesses know when to bend the rules to satisfy customers.  They know when something doesn't work and can quickly fix it.  Bigger companies rely on their middle management to carry out company policies and resolve customer disputes before they involve the executive levels.  Executives can focus on running their business and their subordinates can manage problematic situations before they get out of hand, and before the customer files a complaint with the Better Business Bureau.

The colossally-sized businesses are in a more difficult position.  The executives are far removed from consumers and rely on multiple levels of customer service to resolve disputes.  Often, middle management is asked to carry out the company policies without exception.  This can create problems when customer service agents are reading their scripts and their managers are forbidden from reasoning through a situation.  Sometimes, when managers bend the rules to protect the company, they are disciplined.  This is often because the uppermost tier of managers wants to avoid any problems, such as lawsuits and shrink, by not allowing their employees to do anything outside their scripted responsibilities.

This creates an impossible situation for customers whose problems are not answered by the scripts.  They fall through the cracks of customer service. This is when middle management is essential. They have to know when and when not to take extra steps to resolve a dispute. It does no good to have a manager that must follow the same script as his or her subordinates. It is a redundant step in dispute resolution that further frustrates customers, making it more difficult to satisfy them.

At the very least, a customer service manager should have extra knowledge and better explanations for the policies in customer service scripts. It is an important business investment to have management that is allowed to reason through disputes and be able to recognize when resolutions don't fit tightly within company policies.  They can save business owners many unnecessary headaches.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Jobs Coming to Kansas City

Financial times are still hard in our area, but they seem to be getting better.  From my middle class suburbanite perch, I can see lots of positive economic happenings in our area.  I've already posted about Trader Joe's coming to our area.  There are other bright spots, as well.  Has anyone been to Oak Park Mall lately?  I don't go shopping if I don't have to, but on a recent search for new business attire to wear to the Philanthropy Midwest Conference , I found several neat shops either in the works or recently opened.  In fact one store manager of a new kid's clothing store offered me a job on the spot as I was walking by.  Thankfully, my employment needs are being met ride now, but the offer sure was nice.

Other economic bright spots in our area include the decision by a clean-tech company, Exergonix, to build their headquarters here and create 275 new jobs. Apria Healthcare is consolidating its operations and bringing 300 jobs to it's Sprint Campus headquarters.

Of course, job growth isn't always a sign of good things in our economy.  Convergys Corp, an Olathe company that provides 'collections support' to the automotive and financial industries, is looking to hire 150 employees.  I suppose this just proves the old adage that one person's misfortune can be another's opportunity.

Is your company hiring?  What bright spots in Kansas City's economy can you see from your perch?  Please share in the comments.

Friday, November 12, 2010

If You Don't Answer Your Complaints, You'll Get A Bad Grade

Good Morning America ran a story this morning that says that parts of the Wolfgang Puck food empire got an F rating because he refused to pay.  Well, the real reason, AND ONLY REASON, that his cooking utensil company has an F is because his company won't answer his complaints.  He has two unanswered complaints. First of all, after that interview on Good Morning America, I'm sure that we will never accept Wolfgang Puck as a BBB Accredited Business.  However, if he answers his complaints, and remains unaccredited, he will have a much higher grade.  That is all there is to it.

So, Wolfgang, if you're listening: stop ignoring your complaints and answer your complaints.

[Edit: I just watched the whole Wolfgang Puck interview and he really just has no idea what we do or why he has an F.  He just assumed it was 'pay to play'.  He said he never talked to us, but the BBB sent his company at least two letters per complaint. So, I suppose this blog will be an explanation to him. I also changed the sentence that says he's ignoring his customers.  His company is ignoring complaints made by his customers.]

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Holy Smoke BBQ Joins the BBB!

This is big news for me.

I love Holy Smoke BBQ.  Kansas City has countless good barbecue joints, as you already know, and was recently featured on the Food Network's Diner's, Drive-Ins and Dives for our barbecue...because our BBQ is awesome smothered with awesome.  I haven't had every barbecue around, but two years ago, Holy Smoke knocked Perry Foster's BBQ of Warrensburg, MO out of my numero uno spot for the best barbecue in all the land.

I saw that they joined up with us and had to share. If you decide to give it a try, I recommend the Big Al sandwich and the beautiful burnt ends. Delicious.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

BBB Charity Seal

Do the local charities you support have the BBB Charity Seal?  Well, they should.  This is why:  The BBB Charity Seal ensures donors that an organization meets the BBB's 20 Standards for Charity Accountability.  To meet our standards, organizations must be transparent, effective, and soundly manage their finances.  If your favorite Kansas City charity doesn't have the BBB seal, ask them why.