Saturday, October 1, 2011

Netflix Decides its Prices are too Low: Update

I received this email on September 19th from Netflix. I guess they realized they made a mistake in how they treated their customers:
I messed up. I owe you an explanation.

It is clear from the feedback over the past two months that many members felt we lacked respect and humility in the way we announced the separation of DVD and streaming and the price changes. That was certainly not our intent, and I offer my sincere apology. Let me explain what we are doing.

For the past five years, my greatest fear at Netflix has been that we wouldn't make the leap from success in DVDs to success in streaming. Most companies that are great at something – like AOL dialup or Borders bookstores – do not become great at new things people want (streaming for us). So we moved quickly into streaming, but I should have personally given you a full explanation of why we are splitting the services and thereby increasing prices. It wouldn’t have changed the price increase, but it would have been the right thing to do.

So here is what we are doing and why.

Many members love our DVD service, as I do, because nearly every movie ever made is published on DVD. DVD is a great option for those who want the huge and comprehensive selection of movies.

I also love our streaming service because it is integrated into my TV, and I can watch anytime I want. The benefits of our streaming service are really quite different from the benefits of DVD by mail. We need to focus on rapid improvement as streaming technology and the market evolves, without maintaining compatibility with our DVD by mail service.

So we realized that streaming and DVD by mail are really becoming two different businesses, with very different cost structures, that need to be marketed differently, and we need to let each grow and operate independently.

It’s hard to write this after over 10 years of mailing DVDs with pride, but we think it is necessary: In a few weeks, we will rename our DVD by mail service to “Qwikster”. We chose the name Qwikster because it refers to quick delivery. We will keep the name “Netflix” for streaming.

Qwikster will be the same website and DVD service that everyone is used to. It is just a new name, and DVD members will go to to access their DVD queues and choose movies. One improvement we will make at launch is to add a video games upgrade option, similar to our upgrade option for Blu-ray, for those who want to rent Wii, PS3 and Xbox 360 games. Members have been asking for video games for many years, but now that DVD by mail has its own team, we are finally getting it done. Other improvements will follow. A negative of the renaming and separation is that the and websites will not be integrated.

There are no pricing changes (we’re done with that!). If you subscribe to both services you will have two entries on your credit card statement, one for Qwikster and one for Netflix. The total will be the same as your current charges. We will let you know in a few weeks when the website is up and ready.

For me the Netflix red envelope has always been a source of joy. The new envelope is still that lovely red, but now it will have a Qwikster logo. I know that logo will grow on me over time, but still, it is hard. I imagine it will be similar for many of you.

I want to acknowledge and thank you for sticking with us, and to apologize again to those members, both current and former, who felt we treated them thoughtlessly.

Both the Qwikster and Netflix teams will work hard to regain your trust. We know it will not be overnight. Actions speak louder than words. But words help people to understand actions.

Respectfully yours,

-Reed Hastings, Co-Founder and CEO, Netflix

p.s. I have a slightly longer explanation along with a video posted on our blog, where you can also post comments.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

SHRM Session: "Talent-Based Interviews"

I hoped to learn some new ideas for performing interviews at the SHRM Conference. With that idea in mind I attended Jay Forte's session, “So, Tell Me About a Time When...: Use Talent-Based Interviews to Hire the Right Employees”.

The session began with two photos being shown of an attractive man and woman. Forte asked, “Who do you hire?” and I thought to myself whether we were hiring models or not. Forte explained that talent-based interviews are based on how people think, respond, add value, and make a difference within an organization.

GPS was used as an analogy of the “route to profitability”. The route begins with culture, ends with customer loyalty, and employee engagement sits in the middle. I felt that this GPS analogy had more to it but we would be focusing solely on employee engagement. The analogy probably came from his new book that he kept mentioning. In case you are wondering, here it is:

Sixty-five percent of employees are only doing enough to get by. Only 18% are fully engaged. For employees to perform at their full capability, then they must enjoy the work and be good at it. Forte focuses on talents because he believes people don’t really change beyond their youth and most of their brain has developed at a young age. I disagree with both parts because I know that personality tests can vary quite a bit until around middle-age. Also, the brain continues to make changes through-out a person's life and people’s behaviors and talents do change over the years.

The goal of talent-based interviews is to seek out the decisions we make within three seconds. There are 20,000 decisions that people make within 3 seconds. When interviewing someone, we want their immediate reaction because that is reflective of how they will react at work.

The creation of the interview questions is based on the DiSC assessment. Fortunately, I'm familiar with this type of assessment because there was very little explanation given. According to, it is used to show personality and behaviors in 4 categories: dominance, influence, steadiness, and conscientiousness.

Forte went on to explain that a line is drawn across two of the categories that are central to the particular position. The example given was a crew chief that needs to be a leader, driver, bottom-liner, and solver. They went across D and C.
Forte's DiSC from his SHRM powerpoint slides
A “talent matrix” is used to prepare the questions. The goal is to find whether the candidate has the required talents, skills, and experience. My first impression was that the DiSC method is used alone to create the interview questions, however, the matrix showed that skills and experience are also used.

The purpose isn't just to use one particular list of questions but to create a dialogue. I felt this would make it hard to compare the interviews between candidates. However, Forte said that the questions can be the same but are customized by layering them differently. In other words, change the order of questions based on where the interviewee goes with their answer.

I also felt that the use of the word “talent” was misleading since they seemed to be behaviors. Using necessary behaviors to create interview questions is an effective method that is often used. I learned about DiSC in college and was interested in seeing how it can be applied to creating interview questions. One of the flaws is that the interviewer needs to understand how to use DiSC and training would need to be provided to use it accurately. When I completed the DiSC assessment, I was strong in three categories and I wonder if Forte’s method leaves room for people similar to me.

SHRM Session: "How to Hunt like a Headhunter"

One of my first sessions at the SHRM Conference was called “How to Hunt Like a Headhunter for the Global Talent You Wish You Had”. My first position out of college is in recruiting and I thought the session would give me some new ideas that I could use. The speakers were introduced as Jim Dyak, founder of Human Resource Dimensions (a consultanting company), and Jennifer Brock, the Manager of Executive Searches. As I walked in they handed me a poker chip with their company info on it:

The session was a casual discussion that jumped between the two of them. They began by discussing the difference between headhunters and corporate recruiting. Headhunters consider recruiting to be a profit center, while corporate recruiting is considered a cost center. My position at work is closer to a headhunter and hearing about how they are viewed was interesting to me. I hadn’t considered how differently recruiting is done when it is corporate recruiting. I've only thought about the similarities.

Successful recruiters are the same in both circumstances. They listen to the candidate and get to know them.  A recruiter has to be proactive and not reactive. They develop their network because most candidates are found through networking.

There is a variety of technology available for recruiters but getting on the phone is the most effective method. However, more than one method should be used to reach candidates. A process needs to be created for searches and should be repeatable. Metrics should be used to measure the effectiveness of recruiting methods.

They mentioned a few ideas that I never considered. Jennifer mentioned using social media to find who is passionate about their career. Candidates can be sent texts to stay connected. Headhunters get a bad reputation for not engaging clients and that should be avoided. This is something I dislike about recruiting and I am glad they pointed it out. I prefer creating a relationship with each candidate. Simply asking, “is it a good time to talk?” helps create a rapport with each candidate. This simple question is one that shows the recruiter is considering the candidate’s needs.

The last portion of the session was on international recruiting. A recruiter needs to have an understanding of the culture. We cannot assume that other countries are similar to the United States. I think a lot of Americans forget to consider the differences... along with some other non-Americans. Creating alliances with the top colleges would allow access to entry-level talent. A list of top colleges was provided on their company's website. A method of searching nationally and internationally is to seek out information on who received rewards in the industry. They mentioned “glocal” which means to consider things on a global scale while acting locally.

They gave me some ideas and methods that I will be able to use. I intend to use their social media tips and research awards. I was surprised how informal the session was but this made the audience more comfortable asking questions.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Netflix Decides its Prices are too Low

Netflix decided to change its pricing plans. I'm currently a customer who uses their unlimited streaming ($7.99), along with 1 DVD out at-a-time (Unlimited) plan (+$2). I pay $9.99 for these services. I was previously using RedBox but found this option to be cheaper.

This will no longer be the case because the cost of these services will increase to $15.98 (on or after Sept. 1st). The streaming services will continue to be $7.99 but for the 1 DVD out at-a-time (Unlimited) plan it will be $7.99. They are no longer bundling them together at a cheaper rate. My account states:
The price of your Unlimited Streaming + 1 DVD out at-a-time (Unlimited) plan will change to $15.98 (plus any applicable tax) a month starting with your next billing period on or after Sep 01, 2011. If you select a new plan in the meantime, you will only be able to return to your current plan at the new price, regardless of when you make the change.
I've only been using their services since the end of May. In June, I returned the movies as fast as possible and only received 6 DVDs. Some very quick math ($7.99/6 = 1.33) shows that each DVD costs $1.33. I live near two RedBox locations and they are only $1 per night. They also have new DVD releases available sooner and there is no shipping delay. However, their selection is very limited.

I also am using my Xbox 360 to have access to the streaming services and that is an additional cost. While Netflix isn't at fault for the fees to use Xbox Live, it adds an additional cost.

As everyone is struggling to pay their bills, Netflix offered a cheap entertainment option. Now it isn't going to be quite as a cheap. Before my bill is increased, I'm going to request DVDs that aren't accessible at RedBox or with the streaming option. Then when my bill is increased, I will probably cancel the DVD plan.

I joined NetFlix because it offered a cheaper option as compared to RedBox but that is no longer the case. Their policies include slowing the turnaround time for DVDs, which mean the cost per DVD will increase. The combination of that policy and their increase in costs no longer makes it a reasonable option for my household. Hopefully, the quality of the streaming selection increases or I might cancel that as well. Paying $7.99/month to watch a bunch of mediocre movies isn't really that great of a deal.

Monday, July 11, 2011

SHRM conference - Day 1

SHRM is the Society for Human Resouce Management and this year I attended the SHRM 2012 Annual Conference & Exposition along with the Student Conference. As a recent graduate from Portland State University, I was able to attend with the Human Resource Management Association student chapter. Each year the conference changes locations, this year it took place in Vegas.

We left Portland on a Southwest Airlines flight at 7am on Friday, June 24th. I decided to not check my luggage after my last flight with Southwest. We stayed at the Las Vegas Hilton, which is right next to the Las Vegas Convention Center and where the conference and expo took place. I only had to be in the heat for a quick, one minute walk to go from one building to another. Which is why I never got a tan while I was in Vegas.

Fortunately, I've visited Vegas before and knew about how some things work there. Many people in the group of about 15 students didn't realize that each hotel doesn't have its own shuttle. In Vegas, there are various shuttle companies and each person pays a flat rate to get to their hotel. We decided on which shuttle to take and took a hot ride to our hotel.

We were lucky enough to be able to check-in to our rooms immediately, even though it wasn't check-in time. I shared a room with another recent college graduate, AP. We both took a nap before going to the Student Networking Dinner with SHRM Industry Experts. We changed into business casual outfits.

Day 1 at conference

Once we registered, we walked in to find a fellow PSU HRMA member, BN. Each table had an HR topic on a sign in the center of the table. No explanation was given and so we assumed that we would discuss that topic at dinner. Salads sat on each plate. A waiter came around and poured balsamic vinaigrette on each salad, after he placed our napkins in our laps.

This is very similar to the salads we had.
The formal waiter, all the silverware, and the fancy salad made me very glad that I chose to change into business-wear. Everyone, but AP and I, were dressed fairly casual. One young woman had on one of those miniskirts that is easily confused for a belt. It is Vegas but this is a professional event. There was one man in a suit sat at the table. As dinner was brought to us the man in the suit asked us about our table topic "organizational development". He asked us what we thought it meant. It turned out that he was on the expert panelists. It would have been helpful if he explained that because I was wondering why he was quizzing us. Anyway, I had a family emergency at the time and had difficulty following the conversation. As dinner went on, the emergency resolved and I was able to enjoy my dinner of chicken breast stuffed with spinach and cheese, asparagus, and rice.

This stuffed chicken is similar to what I had for dinner.
 Maureen Flaherty spoke for a short time and told us that every 10 minutes or so we were going to switch tables. I figured the concept was similar to speed-dating. We would each move around to different tables with a different topic and the expert panelists would stay seated at their tables. Some of the other topics were information systems, ethics, global human resources, employee relations, total rewards, etc. Employee relations was my favorite topic and had the greatest interaction between all the students. The last topic I was at was total rewards. Dessert showed up as we began talking. It was a chocolate molten lava cake with a berry compote.

This turned out to be the best meal that I had on the entire trip. I would say more about each table topic but right as the discussion reached any depth, I had to move to another table.

After dinner, AP and I changed into cooler clothes and walked to the strip. We stopped by Walgreens for bottled water and sunscreen. We walked to Encore and walked through a bit of the casino. We suddenly felt a but under-dressed. Everyone else in our group was at Harrahs but we were too tired to go that far. We figured by the time a cab or bus got us there that we would be ready to head back. We decided we were just too tired and headed back to the hotel.

Day 1 at conference

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Southwest Airlines: Their Reply (Part 3)

I got a reply a few weeks ago. Somehow my situation was an "exception" because they consider the damage to be akin to just losing a wheel:
Yesterday, I finally got my check for $67.49 yesterday and, once I deposit it, I will be going shopping for a new suitcase.

I am grateful for the check but I do wonder about their rules. The damage was clearly more severe than just losing a wheel. Hopefully, they change their rules and this sort of damage will automatically be covered. They claim that my bag wasn't designed to survive their equipment but are we supposed to have bags made of solid steel? How durable of luggage do we need? They say that there is an increase in damage to bags because the bags aren't durable enough but I do wonder if they are trying to force too many bags through their system. Either way, my next bag will definitely be more durable.

Part 1 Southwest Airlines and Their Lack of Customer Service
Part 2 Southwest Airlines: My Letter

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Southwest Airlines: My Letter (Part 2)

I am finally mailing the letter today with all the information required. See below for the letter I'm sending:

10 May 2011

Southwest Airlines
Central Baggage Services
PO Box 36663
Dallas, Texas 75235-1663

RE: Damaged luggage on flight ****

Dear: Members of Central Baggage Services

On 23 April 2011, I returned to Portland, OR (PDX) from a trip to Las Vegas (LAS) on flight **** (please see attached receipt and ticketless itinerary). The flight went smoothly but my luggage had a gaping hole where the wheel once was.

I immediately went to the Southwest desk and received a damage report receipt (please see attached with baggage claim check). They denied my claim because they stated that it isn’t covered by the Contract of Carriage. I have now reviewed that document.

Please view the included photos to see that this is not “normal wear” by the definitions of Southwest’s Contract of Carriage under the Limitations of Liability section. The wheel was not simply removed. The gaping hole doesn’t fit under the definition of “cuts, scratches, scuffs, stains, dents, punctures, marks, and dirt”. The wheel was wrenched off and tore a gaping hole in the bottom of my bag, through metal, to the interior of the bag.

This is documented damage caused by Southwest and I would like to be compensated for the original purchase price, less depreciation, as stated in the Contract of Carriage. Southwest’s coverage of $3,300 easily covers the cost of this Embark brand luggage which is $74.99 (see attached Target advertisement). I would like to be compensated for the $74.99, less depreciation.

I would like to continue flying with Southwest and have another flight with Southwest next month but don’t have a bag. Compensation for my damaged bag will resolve this issue for me.

Thank you for your time,

Enclosure: Receipt, ticketless itinerary, damage report with baggage claim check attached, photos of damaged bag, and copy of luggage advertisement.

Part 1 Southwest Airlines and Their Lack of Customer Service

Part 3 Southwest Airlines: Their Reply

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Southwest Airlines and Their Lack of Customer Service

I went out of town for my birthday this past week. I flew Southwest. I was impressed with their ability to be on time and their decent customer service. However, when I returned to PDX, my boyfriend asked "did you realize you're missing a wheel?" I said that I hadn't and that we needed to go talk to Southwest. It just so happens that a Southwest employee was right behind us and he walked us over to their desk.

The Southwest employee, Josh, said that it isn't likely I will get anything from Southwest. Exterior damage isn't covered by their policies. He got my information and handed me a Damage Report Receipt form that essentially said that they have no intention of covering my damaged bag.
Josh even went as far to claim that if they covered all damaged bags that Southwest would be broke and I stated "well that isn't true". He admitted it was an exaggeration. I pointed out that the cost of losing a customer is a lot more than the cost of covering damaged luggage. Nothing I said swayed him and he made it clear that it is a policy that he has no control over. The Damage Report Receipt begins with:

Southwest airlines would first like to apologize for the inconvenience that this situation may have caused you. Based on the information you have provided, and in accordance with Southwest Airlines' Contract of Carriage and Company policy, it appears that Southwest Airlines is not liable for your loss. You may view Southwest Airlines' Contract of Carriage by visiting

Searching for "Contract of Carriage" on Southwest Airlines' websites led me to this pdf:

On this document, it states under Limitations of Liability (I edited it for wordiness and removed details that aren't relevant to my situation):
The liability, if any, of Carrier for damage to Checked Baggage and/or its contents, is limited to the proven amount of damage or loss, but in no event shall be greater than $3,300.00 per fare-paying Passenger...
Carrier will compensate the Passenger for reasonable, documented damages incurred as a direct result of the damage to Baggage up to the limit of liability, provided the Passenger has exercised reasonable efforts and good judgment to minimize the amount of damage. Actual value for reimbursement of damaged property shall be determined by the documented original purchase price less depreciation for prior usage.

However, if you continue reading, it states:

Normal Wear. Carrier assumes no responsibility and will not be liable for loss of or damage to protruding parts of luggage and other articles of Checked Baggage, including, but not limited to, wheels, feet, pockets, hanger hooks, pull handles, straps, zippers, locks, and security straps. Furthermore, Carrier assumes no liability for defects in Baggage manufacture or for minor damage arising from normal wear and tear, such as cuts, scratches, scuffs, stains, dents, punctures, marks, and dirt.

Does the damage look minor to? The damage isn't just to the protruding parts. The wheel isn't just gone, there is a good-sized hole where the wheel once was. I am very fortunate that no small items were in the bottom of my bag.

I've completed the first step that passengers must complete for a damage luggage claim. Josh did attach my baggage claim check to the document he printed for me. The rest of this is wordy but includes the steps that I have to take (I only edited it to shorten the document to relevant info):
(i) Passenger must notify Carrier of the claim and receive a Baggage report number not later than four hours after either: the arrival of the flight on which damage is alleged to have occurred or receipt of the Baggage; and,
(ii) In all cases, Passenger must submit  a written correspondence that includes the Baggage report number to the Carrier not later than 21 days after the occurrence of the event giving rise to the claim...
The Damage Receipt mentions that if I believe that the local office (i.e. Josh) made a mistake then I have 21 days to appeal it. I need to mail the Damage Receipt document, baggage claim check (Southwest attaches it to the envelope that holds your ticket), airline ticket receipt, and any other information I want to include.

On Monday, I intend to make a copy of the Damage Report Receipt, print photos of the damage, and mail it with delivery confirmation.

Part 2 Southwest Airlines: My Letter

Part 3 Southwest Airlines: Their Reply

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Kickstarter - Funding for Artists

Kickstarter is an ingenious concept for funding creative projects. Artists submit a project that needs funding and Kickstarter provides the avenue for funding. An artist submits their video and project, then backers make donations and receive rewards. If the project doesn't reach its goal, then the backers pay nothing and the artist gets nothing.

Portland musician, Kelli Schaefer, reached her goal and received funding to release a full-length album.

With this artist, I am hugely biased because she is my sister. However, I know she is a talented artist and her eco-friendly stationery is of a high quality. She needs to reach her goal by Sunday night to receive funding for her new product line.

Kickstarter is a great idea and useful for artists seeking funding. It would be fantastic if they branched out to fund other, entrepreneurial projects. Entrepreneurs need to stick together and help each other out.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Job postings that aren't what they seem

In the past week, I've received numerous emails from Career Network

The first email stated:

Hello Bethany,

I have recently reviewed your resume online and believe you would make a great addition to our company.  We are currently looking to hire an individual in the Beaverton area who has previous human resources experience. If you would be interested in applying for the position please fill out the application at the link below:

Human Resources Position

The position requires that you have advanced computer skills, can communicate information in a clear and simple format and have the ability to solve problems in a timely manner.  The expected starting annual income is $35,000 and up.

Thank you,

Beth Lynch
Regional Hiring Manager
This seems like a perfectly legitimate email but I have no idea who this person is and there is no mention of the company that is hiring. The email made me wary and I googled the company name followed by the word "scam". The fact that there were numerous results made it clear something was fishy. I went back to look at the email again and noticed that below the signature (where most of us don't really look) was the following:

This is a Career Network Feature Job which acts as a job aggregator for one or more positions. Please refer to the feature job link on the application for more details.
If you look at the job posting carefully, you'll see that it is called a "feature job". What does that mean according to their terms and conditions?

Feature Jobs.  The job description appearing on the prior screen is a description of a Feature Job. A Feature Job is not an actual job. Rather, it constitutes a representative description of actual jobs contained on the Career Network's web site that you can apply for once you have completed Career Networks' Job Application. Upon completion of the Job Application screens, you will be taken to a screen that contains job descriptions of employer posted jobs, and you will be able to elect which jobs, if any, you want to apply for. You application will automatically be sent to the employer whose job is listed.

I have not determined whether there are any real job postings if I submit my application. I don't feel comfortable applying to a company that has job postings that aren't real.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

How to handle layoffs: Employees

As an employee who has been laid off, I know the impact of a lay off on the bank account and emotional state. Here are tips on how to handle being laid off.
  1. It's not you. In this economy, great employees are getting laid off. Do not assume that your being laid off is your fault, it isn't.
  2. Don't take it personally. The economic status of the country is impacting everyone (including the people who claim that it isn't impacting them) and it isn't just you.
  3. You are not your job. Men tend to take a lay off harder than women because they are more likely to intertwine their job and self worth (this is based on a study somewhere and isn't based on my opinion alone). I know my ego took a hit when I was laid off.
  4. Don't burn bridges. Keep in mind that you need good references and do not burn bridges. Don't start complaining about the company or gossiping about employees. Try to keep your head held high.
  5. Ask for references. Directly ask for references from your supervisor, their boss, and coworkers... or anyone else you worked with. Ask for a phone number and email address. Make sure you know their exact job title.
  6. Ask for letters of recommendation. At the least, ask your direct supervisor for a letter of recommendation. They might say no but there is no harm in asking.
  7. Stay connected. You don't want to lose the network you've created at the company. They might know about open positions within the industry.
  8. Immediately request for unemployment. Do not assume you will immediately get a new job and end up searching for months and months without unemployment. Signing up for unemployment doesn't mean that you failed, it's just designed to help while you look for a new position.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Do's and Don't's of Business Wear: women

Business professional:
  1. Wear a suit. Business professional means that you should wear a suit. This can either be a skirt set or pant set.
  2. Suit colors - black, grey, or khaki. Color options are limited with the color of the suit but the blouse or shell underneath can be nearly any color. There is also the option of a navy suit but it looks a bit outdated to me.
  3. Conservative vs. modern. For a more conservative look then stick with the common styles but if you want something a bit more modern there are wide variety of options. Just be cautious with more modern looks, so as to not lose the professionalism.

Business Casual:
  1. Blazer or sweater. Always wear either a sweater or a blazer. There is always the option to remove this layer at work, if your blouse underneath is work appropriate. A blazer always makes an outfit more professional. Even on hot days another layer may be necessary due to excessive air conditioning.
  2. Keep shoulders covered. I'm a believer in keeping your shoulders covered. This removes any issue of your bra straps showing. There is also the concern of showing your bra in the underarm area. More casual offices may be more lax on this. If you choose to wear anything that is sleeveless, then it is necessary that you have a sweater or blazer available. 
  3. Clothing options - trousers, skirts, or dresses. Business casual allows for a greater variety of clothing options. If you want a more clean look, then choose clothes with clean lines that are well tailored. In other words, flowy summer dresses are less professional.
  4. No miniskirts. Skirts and dresses should reach the knee or meet right above the knee. You shouldn't be worried about your underwear showing at work.
  5. No cleavage. There is a time and a place for a bit more risque clothing but that is not at work. There are a variety of camisoles available that can be layered underneath most clothes. It's also a good idea to wear camisoles under a blouse. I recently went to a job interview and realized, afterward, that my blouse was see-through in certain lighting. Oops.
For more ideas on business wear, visit my Polyvore account:

    Are you ready for spring?

    A little bit of spring in businesswear

    Tuesday, April 5, 2011

    Business Communications: Online (part 2)

    Emails and online correspondence are becoming more common everyday. As with all communication, there are rules that need to be followed. A person should be constantly aware of what image they are presenting in all business correspondence.

    1. NO SHOUTING. Typing in all capital letters is considered shouting. It should never be used in any business correspondence, unless it is an abbreviation. Acceptable example: ASAP. Unacceptable example: TURN THAT IN NOW. It is simply considered rude.
    2. Avoid chatspeak/netspeak. Business correspondences should not include terms that were invented in chat rooms or for texting. It is unprofessional and may confuse or offend your recipient. All correspondences should use correct grammar and sentence structure. Unacceptable example: lol, gtg, omg. 
    3. No smiley faces. Smiley faces fit under the last category but sometimes sending a smiley face can be considered friendly. One should only be sent when the person is a peer or subordinate. Don't send one to your supervisor, unless they send you one first. Avoid using anything beyond a basic smiley face. Even a wink can be misconstrued at the workplace and a digital one leaves a paper trail. Occasionally, acceptable example: :) Unacceptable example due to possible sexual connotations: ;)
    4. Reply promptly. Digital correspondences should be replied to within 24 hours. I've been known to fall behind in my replies and if this occurs, then begin your reply with an apology for your delay.
    5. Sleep on it. If you are angry with someone, then this is the one time it is acceptable to wait to reply. Do not wait more than 48 hours but give yourself time to cool down. Angry emails often sound even angrier than we intend.
    6. Include a greeting. Always begin with a greeting. Even a simple hello goes a long way. This tiny bit of extra effort goes a long way.
    7. Keep it short. Ever heard of "tl;dr"? It means "too long, didn't read". It's often said online because people do not like reading huge amounts of information online. Try to be succinct in your emails.
    8. Break it up: Paragraphs. This fits with the last tip. If you do need to send anything that fills over 1/4 of a page, then break it up into smaller paragraphs. This helps prevent any details being missed.
    9. Proofread. Before clicking "send", read over your email one last time.
    10. Reply all vs. reply. "Reply all" should be used on any team efforts. Everyone should be included in all the emails. Just double check which one you are clicking. Assume that your boss will see every email you send and use discretion in all work emails (this includes personal emails at the workplace).
    11. When in doubt, be professional. If you are unsure of the rules regarding correspondence, then err on the side of caution and be professional.
    My personal tip: When I write business emails with any important data, I first write it in a word document. When completed, I copy and paste it into the email. It's a great way to check my spelling. This also helps avoid any loss of information if my internet goes down or the page times out.

      Business Communications (part 1)

      There are certain rules to follow at all times when communicating within the business world.

      1. Double check names. Always make sure you are spelling and pronouncing names correctly. That includes business names and personal names. This seems obvious but it is often missed. When on the phone, don't be afraid to ask how to spell someone's name even if it is a common name.
      2. Unknown salutations. As business is becoming more globalized, it is becoming more difficult to tell what someone's gender is. There are also names that make it unclear, such as, Jessie. The work-around is to simply use the first and last name. Example: Dear Jessie Smith.
      3. Contact information. With the advancement of technology, there are numerous options of methods to contact people. I prefer providing both an email address and phone number on all correspondences. This allows the recipient to decide which method to reply with.
      4. Professionalism. Keep all correspondences professional. It's one thing to have small talk, but it's another to include possibly offensive material. Avoid topics regarding any protected classes or that might be construed in a negative light. In other words, pretend your conservative grandmother is going to read it. If she would turn red or consider putting soap in your mouth, then it isn't appropriate.

      Who am I? Why do my opinions matter?

      My name is Bethany and I'm a recent graduate from Portland State University. I have three bachelor degrees: human resource management, general business management, and psychology. Does that make me qualified to speak about business? That's for my readers to decide.