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Craig Du Mont

Glad to be alive in this era. The advancement of all things.
Craig Du Mont has written 21 posts for Craig on Things

Thinking about your customers

Shopping

Every company and every manager would say that customer service is core to their business. With technological advancements, more and more companies are making use of enterprise solutions and social media to serve their customers better. As important as this might be, there is still the personal contact customers need, and have with companies that would determine the strength in the relationship.

I recently rushed into a food store and was welcomed by security at the door. As I grab a basket, a staff member tells me that I should not take one of those baskets. I asked her why I should not, with her answering;”because that’s a clean basket.” I immediately responded, “customers love clean baskets”.  In return I received a blank stare, with a split second of silence before I walked away to buy the things I needed. I doubt whether this experience would filter back into the meeting rooms of that particular retailer, or whether it would even reach head office.

As a South African, these are the things I would do to show how much I care about the people/customers:

  • Train store managers to become leaders and invest in management training such as systems and processes.
  • Create empowering environments for store personnel. Basic things such as opportunities to personal development, time-off, support staff to make rest breaks possible during busy times.

I am sure that there are more that could be done. What are the things you would suggest to provide better customer service?

The “incredible beauty” of mistakes

Great post. This has been part of my journey of being responsive and making adjustments quicker.

A Founder's Notebook

From Principles, by Ray Dalio:

I learned that everyone makes mistakes and has weaknesses and that one of the most important things that differentiates people is their approach to handling them. I learned that there is an incredible beauty to mistakes, because embedded in each mistake is a puzzle, and a gem that I could get if I solved it, i.e., a principle that I could use to reduce my mistakes in the future. I learned that each mistake was probably a reflection of something that I was (or others were) doing wrong, so if I could figure out what that was, I could learn how to be more effective. I learned that wrestling with my problems, mistakes, and weaknesses was the training that strengthened me. Also, I learned that it was the pain of this wrestling that made me and those around me appreciate our successes.

In…

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Why startups are made of teams

This is Wisdom, and it is not my own; I promise.

“Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help him up. Also if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone?”

One thought that comes to mind when reading this is that; I should intentionally look for team members and surround myself with them. What are the thoughts that come to your mind?

5 Ways to a better year

Many of us have made new years resolutions by now. If not, it’s probably safe to say that all of us, at least have a desire to either achieve more the coming year, or simply live a better life. Here are 5 ways that could lead to you having a better year. 

1. Be a leader and take on added responsibility.  
Everyone is a leader in some way or the other. You are a leader if you have a younger brother or sister. Consider the colleague who always ask you for your opinion, or a neighbor asking you for advice. Embrace your leadership role because there is a family, a community, and an organisation looking to you for guidance, wisdom and courage.

2. Attend a new course and continuously look for other ways to grow.
With access to the internet, you can do a free online course to broaden your knowledge. Also  identify community organisations/non-profits that provide training opportunities. Also, never forget to learn from your friends, parents, neighbors  and colleagues. They possess a wealth of knowledge and wisdom.

3. Do something for others.
We are designed to be part of an ecosystem of support. In essence, as I recently heard on radio; “All of us are gravitating towards acceptance.” We want to be accepted by others and to belong. The year ahead could be a great year to purposely seek out opportunities to do something special for someone.

4. Start a business or take on a new job.
For some this is a scary thought, for very obvious reasons. Years ago, my mentor told me that the easiest way to commit, is by calculating the risk upfront. Know how much you can afford to lose, and make your attempt. Others have risked. And many of them had all the odds against them, but were rewarded for their courage and faith.

5. Become more innovative in your current job.
Businesses usually focus on innovation to come up with better products, services and processes. They also innovate to ensure sustainability. Likewise,  you and I, may also innovate in our jobs. Find ways to improve on the things that you struggled with last year. Call on a friend for help, and try without fear of failure, different approaches to your tasks.

So, these are the 5 things that could be extremely useful for having a better year. Is there anything else that you will focus on?  

The things that matter

I decided to ask some of my team mates at RLabs what they think are important aspects in education.  Over the last 5 years RLabs has  trained over 8 000 persons from the Cape Flats, in areas such as Social Media and Management. A common understanding is that many persons enroll in courses in order to improve their chances of finding employment. And so I wanted to find out what the community experience at the RLabs Academy. My team mates gave me their feedback which I summarized in 7 key aspects. These aspects  tend to be overlooked, even though it appears to be critical for the holistic development and future accomplishments of a person.

education facts

  1. Education builds confidence (Inter-personal growth);
  2. It serves as a place of safety for some;
  3. Provides an environment for change and growth;
  4. Provides acceptance to those feeling out of place;
  5. Gives a network of friends and contacts;
  6.  Affirms and promotes self-worth;
  7. Provides a space where persons can escape reality and the pressures of life.

Now I am the first to admit that we can easily focus on sharing knowledge and getting a targeted number of students to graduate. After considering the above feedback from my team mates, it clearly shows that the actual education experience and process, is so much more important, than the number of students that you actually graduate. The more meaningful the experience students have, the greater the chance for learning, personal growth, and future success. What do you think is important in education?

CRM made cool with Rapportive

I have recently been searching for applications that could improve my productivity within Gmail. Whilst searching through the Google Chrome store, I came across an extension called  “Rapportive”.

The extension to my Gmail immediately created a new look to my email, and caused me to think “cool”. What was so cool about it for me?

  • On the right side of the email window appears the profile of your contacts. A bird’s eye view of their online portfolio. How cool is that?
  • The best part  was when I received an email from someone for the very first time. I was dealing with a company, but more then one contact person from that company emailed me with updates related to my query. Immediately, the profile pictures of the new contacts popped up on the right side, and it provides me with details of their roles, and all the social media sites they subscribe to.
  • By having instant access to your contacts’ details, make communicating for the first time so much more easier and personal. Even though you have never talked over a phone, you know exactly what the other person looks like. Isn’t that cool?
  • And then I realised that rapportive allows me to make notes within my email regarding the correspondence I had with my new contact. And what note did I make? I identified the new contact as a new lead for future business and partnership. So, I typed a note to remind me that the new contact is a possible lead.
  • Another important aspect is that I was able to connect with my contacts on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and whatever other accounts they have on the Internet. Once I have done that with selected contacts, I could immediately view their activity (posts, tweets, updates) within my Gmail account.

The Gmail extension presents a great opportunity for clients to connect and  expand their  marketing communications and customer relationship commitments. I have yet to explore every possible opportunity rapportive presents.

So have you already tried any Gmail extension with CRM features?

Education: Hope, not Despair

Higher Education in South Africa has been under the spotlight over the past two weeks. The media highlighted the increasing demand for tertiary education vs. the incapacity of institutions of higher learning to accommodate the youth. Many youth were turned away, possibly becoming disappointed and despaired.

My involvement in student enrollment at the college where I teach impacted me deeply and caused me to write this short piece. It’s a brief reflection on my personal experiences and observations. Hundreds of youth came to the college to enroll for vocational and other courses. I met many new faces and enjoyed the opportunity to assist and guide parents and students through the registration process.

I have seen worry in the eyes of parents and students when they scramble to submit outstanding documents to secure their place at the college. A mother said to me; “She (her daughter) was already disappointed by other colleges that rejected her application.” As the mother said that; I noticed the tears flowing from her daughter’s eyes and down her cheeks. Being affected by the desperation from this mother and daughter, I asked my colleague to commit that they would enroll the girl and grant her the opportunity to gather outstanding documents.

This experience and others, made me think about the role institutions of learning play in society. I can possibly mention many roles; however, the one I wish to highlight is the role of giving hope. Hope presents opportunity, not limitations. It presents love, and not despair.

Check out some remarkable stories of hope around Cape Town.

“2012”, Yes!

Tomorrow will be my first day back at work after a four week long holiday. The moment of truth has arrived and I am excited to get back to working again.

My time off has been great with family and friends who made each moment special. So, why am I so excited about the year ahead?  As an educator, I believe that the Further Education and Training (FET) sector in South Africa has a window of opportunity to make a massive impact on student’s lives during 2012. One of the things that excites me is the passion of some of my colleagues and friends to make a difference. Another factor is the technology that becomes freely available for the use by educators and students. Google Applications isImage a simple example of tools available to the education sector.

Last year I have slowly introduced aspects of google apps into the classroom and have seen the potential.

Some of my goals for this year are:

1. Empower my colleagues to use google apps and other tools.

2. Empower students to utilise google apps when doing projects.

3. Look for meaningful ways to increase students’ learning experience.

JamiiX: Social Hub for Customer Communication

JamiiX was recently identified as one of the top 5 mobile innovations in Africa by the Vomo website. In its simplest form, JamiiX is an online or cloud-based solution that allows businesses and organisations to communicate and engage with their clients across different chat platforms.

The technology was initially build to provide online counselling to teenagers affected by drugs, alcohol addiction and HIV/AIDS, on the Cape Flats in Cape Town.  Through JamiiX, over half a million people were already counselled or helped by RLabs.

Currently, the solutions offered by JamiiX are being utilised by sectors such as Health Care, Non-Profits, Business, Marketing, and Education (SA University).

As an Instant Messaging Platform, it offers obvious benefits such as low-cost (instead of SMS),  and real-time communication with clients and partners.

Key solutions provided by the platform are:

  • Client/Customer support (Contact Centre)
  • Bulk Instant Messages
  • Surveys (Marketing etc.)
  • Alert/Feedback/Notification systems
  • Mobile Counselling
Along with the platform’s FREEmium offering. it also offers PREmium, Customised and Enterprise Packages.


Enter that space where students engage.

After a busy day at work, I am reflecting on what I did and many conversations with colleagues and students. Some words that strongly come to mind is engage, influence and learn. Working as an educator in the college sector is an awesome privilege. In itself, every teacher or lecturer is presented with an opportunity or space to positively influence and shape the lives of others. This space has however become a lot more interesting due to the many tools students use to engage with peers. Smartphones and the use of Instant messaging and social media platforms have shaped the way this engagement space appear to educators. For some it is a whole new world with a completely different set of rules and a new kind of “language”. Learning to learn how to enter that “unknown” space seem to be the biggest challenge for some. It is however inevitable that the only way to effectively engage and influence learners, is by entering that space where they engage, and shape from the inside. Become a part of that space, speak their language, make it yours and positively influence.

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