Be like Uncle Leo

This evening, I returned from a brief trip to a popular discount store to buy a pack of candelabra light bulbs. Since it was Saturday around 19:30, it was packed. All cashiers had 4–10 people in each line. Self-checkout registers were in use, too.

When I was in line, there were two people ahead of me. The first person being rung up ended up requesting two transactions, and the cashier was fine with it. That took about six minutes.

The cashier greeted the person in front of me, and rung them up fairly quickly.

Now it was my turn. Before the cashier rung up item, a colleague started griping to her about something that occurred elsewhere in the store. It wasn’t directly related to work.

My biggest concern: she did not acknowledge me until she handed me the receipt. Sadness.

Takeaways

Greet each customer if they aren’t preoccupied, especially when working at a register. Even if it’s a repeat customer, it could be the first interaction with you.

It’s more difficult to gain a new customer than retain existing customers. We’re creatures of habit, and trying someplace new needs to be as welcoming as possible.1

People watch the way you treat other customers while waiting in line, and can see when they’re snubbed. (If they aren’t on their phone or talking with others, they’re more susceptible.)

If you don’t know an existing customer, treat them as a brand new customer, and strive for a great first impression. You have no idea:

  • If they’ve had rough experiences in the past at your store.
  • How much they’ve spent there.
  • About their influence with other family, friends, and colleagues.
  • If they’ll discuss their experience coherently somewhere on the internet. (For example, anyone can create a free blog or website at WordPress.com!)

Disclaimer: I’m a Happiness Engineer (Community Guardian) at Automattic, the people behind WordPress.com (W) and other fantastic services. :)


  1. I’m not a new customer, but this point is worth mentioning. 

DuckDuckGo and phonetic spelling

Thank you to contributor Robert May for helping add Phoneic to Instant Answers at DuckDuckGo. This handy new query allows you to “spell a string phonetically with the NATO alphabet”.

As an example, consider someone asking you to spell your name over the phone. Assuming I’m in front of a computer, with an Alfred web search, I can type “duck phonetic villarin“, and see the Instant Answer at the top of DuckDuckGo search results:

Phonetic: Victor-India-Lima-Lima-Alfa-Romeo-India-November

Slick. Happy Thursday!

Bravo-Romeo-Yankee-Alfa-November. ;)

Four Years as a Happiness Engineer

Thank you, Automattic, for helping me improve and mature. Four years and counting, and loving it!

I like shifting my work schedule. I started with Tuesday–Saturday, switched to Monday–Friday during my Happiness Hiring rotation, and I’m currently on Sunday–Thursday. Dig it for helping reduce average response times. I’m happy to take advantage of the flexible schedule.

Happiness Hiring invited me for a rotation from mid July to early October 2015. I helped improve their process a bit by adding checklists and updating their internal documentation. Best of all, three of the trials are now my colleagues, and the fourth will start soon. So rad! :star:

For the Grand Meetup, many Automattic musicians organized, rehearsed, and performed a set of several songs during the party on the last night. It was epic. I played bass guitar for the first time in years for a song during the party on the last night.1

Late last year, Matt suggested we get a USB headset with noise-canceling microphone2 if we participate in video or audio chats. It was great timing because I was able to record some solid training screencasts with fantastic audio quality.

Notable

  • 15 “weekly” reviews.
  • Coworked five times with other SoCal Automatticians.
  • Four training sessions for other Happiness Engineers (one trial, three full timers).
  • Published 88 posts in 2015.
  • Comfort processing DMCA notices and trademark complaints have improved.

Travel & Events

  • May 2015: Justitia team meetup in Barcelona, Spain
  • October 2015: Grand Meetup in Park City, Utah (second consecutive year)
  • January 2016: NAMM 2016 in Anaheim, CA — two days in the WordPress booth by WordPress.com

Boo this man

  • I was 56 short of my goal of 144 posts in 2015. Don’t worry, 266 in 2016!
  • I didn’t publish any posts for the WordPress.com Transparency Report.
  • I was short by 37 weekly reviews.

Previously: Two Years as a Happiness Engineer, Three Years as a Happiness Engineer


  1. “The Distance” by Cake. No video at the moment. 
  2. I went with the previous Wirecutter pick (before it was updated), the Microsoft’s LifeChat LX-6000. (Amazon.com affiliate link.)