It’s that time of the year again when we can stuff ourselves with food without feeling ashamed, drink that amazing Glühwein at the local Christmas market, make a snowman (if weather allows), decorate that tree and go Christmas shopping for gifts for your beloved one’s.
As fun as it sounds or is supposed to be, this period is not as great for everyone, and some might even prefer to call it “Stressmas” rather than “Christmas”. Stress in the kitchen when the turkey is burnt (again), anger when your tipsy uncle asks you once more why you don’t have a boyfriend/girlfriend yet, waiting in queues in overly busy supermarkets and stores, complete ignorance over what gift to buy for your friends and family…

In order to avoid the end-of-year rush and madness, perhaps we can consider some alternatives

1. Start your shopping early in the year. When you come across something you consider really nice for that particular person, just buy it there at the spot, even if it’s only March. You will be thankful later in the year that’s at least one less gift to buy. This might also allow to buy products at a discount, which will rarely be the case in December!

2. Try to convince your family to draw names so you have to buy only 1 gift, instead of having to buy something for each and every one of them. This also will allow you to focus on searching 1 really nice gift for that one person, rather than buying random stuff for all.

3. Stick to the budget… or more importantly: it’s not the more expensive the gift, the happier the receiver will be. Try to be original! If you’d still like some extra cash or get reimbursed for some gifts, you can of course always consider to do some mystery evaluations too!

4. Go against mainstream consumerism: give fair trade or second hand items, consider creating a gift yourself (like knitting a scarf, baking chocolate chip cookies or making a photo album) or even donate to charity in the name of a loved one! After all, Christmas is all about spending quality time with your loved ones and we should be grateful for what we have.

5. Just order in or get it catered! I’m sure your family and friends will not judge you on your cooking abilities, but will appreciate the hospitality and coziness.

6. It’s always easier said than done, but the Christmas season is a good time to start thinking about helping other people. This can be providing food or toys for families who need them, participate in one of the Christmas charity programs (use google and you will be surprised by the possibilities in your own area) or simply pay a visit to that old lady in your street…

7. Also for New Year’s Eve you can consider staying at home rather than going out to a fancy place where entrance tickets are expensive, you have to queue for forty minutes to go the toilet and ordering drinks at the bar is a nightmare! Host a private party, make it a BYOA affair (Bring Your Own Appetizer/Alcohol) and why not have a winter barbecue this year? You can also ask your guests to write down predictions for the New Year, and during dinner you can take turns reading predictions and guessing who wrote them – which might be truly hilarious as you’ll be surprised how difficult it is to guess which person they were coming from!

Let’s forget about words like “obligation” and “comparison”, and enjoy this period of the year.
Happy holidays everyone!

 


Author: AnneloreAnnelore Valencia_edited

Annelore has been an employee of Bare International since September 2011 and is based in the Antwerp Office. She has a Master’s degree in English & Spanish literature & linguistics and a Master’s in Management. She likes discovering new places, travelling, reading and going out with friends to enjoy some very good (Belgian) beers.


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Call Centers are a tricky topic when it comes to customer services. We have all had the opportunity to experience their effectiveness or inefficacy, and some of us have even encountered the opposite side and had a job as a call center representative. [spacer height=”20px”]

Those who worked in this field know how hard this job can be. The customers are fighting their way to through the IVR (Interactive Voice Response -the actual menu- its purpose is to direct the customer to the right person) so they can find a real person who is competent and is able to solve their problems, ask their questions. As customers we can be inpatient, angry, frustrated, so the representative must not only perform professionalism, efficacy and promptness, but enthusiasm, politeness, positivity, and most importantly honesty.[spacer height=”40px”]

That’s where mystery shopping comes in!  Some call centers have their own monitoring system with mentors and colleagues who are experts in this field so they can help improve the service. But for those companies who would like to build up a more neutral and comprehensive picture about the quality of their call center services, the obvious choice is a mystery shopping service. They know it can be more effective and genuine when mystery shoppers do this, because mystery shoppers are always closer to the target audience of the company, and the way of their work is much more spontaneous and lifelike than an internal monitoring system.[spacer height=”20px”]

The so-called Front Office is the most important part for any service-provider company, because it’s where the company meets the customers: through the employees, and also the customers see the business through the customer service center representatives. That’s why it is vital to pay close attention to the customer service.

[spacer height=”20px”] Simply put, there are 5 main pillars of an efficient call center, so either as a customer, or a representative  of a call center, here is what you should pay attention to:

  1. IVR : is it clear, fast, and concise? How long have you been waiting?
  2. Call Center Representative : is he or she polite, kind, a professional, helpful? Was he or she able to solve your problem? If not, what did he or she do?
  3. How many times have you been put on hold? And how long?
  4. How long was the call in total? Was the length appropriate according to the problem?
  5. What opportunities do you have for giving a about the phone call service? How it seems, does the company take it seriously?

 


Author: Adrienne img_6491_resized

Adrienne is a guest blogger of BARE International. She is interested in many things: from playing music, riding horses, to reading ancient texts in their originally written languages. Basically she never gets bored.


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Road rules and highway codes have a long story: the first ones were made even before the appearance of cars. They were made in order to drive safely, control road traffic, and protect people. The rulebooks have changed a lot since the first publications, so we collected a few facts from the most interesting parts. Enjoy![spacer height=”20px”]

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1. The first Highway Code contained only 18 pages of advice. It was published in the United Kingdom and cost 1 old penny. We bet 18 pages weren’t too hard to learn!

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2. The theoretical part of driving tests was suspended for the duration of World War 2 in Europe.

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3. Zebra crossings were developed in 1949 in UK. Certainly the most famous is the one that appears on Beatles’ Abbey Road album cover. :)

 

4. There is a treaty designed to regulate international road traffic called Vienna Convention of Road Traffic. It was signed by 74 countries in 1968. Later it was followed by the Convention on Road Signs and Signals.
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5. Roundabouts: a French architect called Eugène Hénard designed one-way circular intersections as early as 1877, although they only become really popular in the 1990’s – for rotaries are the safest type of intersection.
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6. At the beginning there were only 10 road signs.

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7. In the UK more than 46 million tests have been taken since the beginning, 1931. The pass rate was 63% – nowadays it’s around 46%.
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8. In the early times of highway codes, drivers would indicate their intention of stopping by extending their right arm and moving up and down slowly.
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9. Priority to the right: although this rule was made for right-handed traffic, several left-hand traffic countries use it as well.
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10. A long time ago there were no separate driving licenses for cars and motorcycles. Once you got the license, you could drive both!
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Author: Adrienne img_6491_resized

Adrienne is a guest blogger of BARE International. She is interested in many things: from playing music, riding horses, to reading ancient texts in their originally written languages. Basically she never gets bored.


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[spacer height=”10px”]Everybody loves mystery shopping, so why wouldn’t the world’s most famous “Consulting Detective” like to indulge in the occasional mystery visit once in a while? Lately a team of Oxford scholars have done research into the private life of Sherlock Holmes and discovered that he’s one of the most avid evaluators we work with. And, unsurprisingly, also one of the very best. What would Sherlock’s comments look like after visiting an apparel store in Baker Street, for instance?

[spacer height=”10px”]“When Watson and I entered the store we weren’t immediately greeted, even though there were at least three salespersons present. Two of them were sorting clothes and I noticed at once how they had been having words earlier today, as they were never really looking each other straight in the eye, avoiding as much contact as would professionally be allowed. They couldn’t have fallen out on the work floor, as the third salesperson, a redhead, seemed to be in a sincerely good mood. So either they are carpooling or they live together, but not as a couple. As for the former I could see that even at his still rather young age he was already disappointed in what life had had in store for him, resigned to the downward trajectory in both career and private life. I also sensed that his uncle, who was a stockbroker’s clerk, had died from an unsurprising coronary attack recently.

[spacer height=”10px”]The client who was helped out by the third salesperson would have rather been helped by a different salesperson, as she was manipulating the shopping bag of a different store in mild frustration. I think it must be a cocktail of the exaggerated cheerfulness of the salesperson combined with his, admittedly, rather annoying high-pitched voice.

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As soon as she had left, the red-headed salesperson expediently approached and greeted us in an extremely happy and friendly manner. He was wearing a very clean uniform despite the fact that his unkempt fingernails betrayed a below average standard of personal hygiene. I noticed, on the upper surface of the tip of each finger, very small pieces of clay had collected, which lead me to deduce that he was a sculptor of sorts in his free time. It is without a doubt his preferred hobby as it was exactly the type of expensive quality clay that is used by sculptors, rather than the common putty of children’s playthings. I can remember the distinct texture of the clay now.

[spacer height=”10px”]He asked us what kind of apparel we were looking for and I congratulated him with his birthday and asked him if last night’s party had been nice. He seemed to be slightly taken aback by the fact that I knew about this but he tried not to let on that there was anything unusual, which was the correct attitude, because there really wasn’t anything surprising about it. Anyone could see that the silver blazer he was wearing was brand new and smelled of a newly received perfume, which also explains the faint stain I could clearly distinguish. It was simplicity itself. The second stain was left by a type of chocolate cake that people only sell on the occasion of a birthday. I do believe they call them birthday cakes.

[spacer height=”10px”]The salesperson began offering me some types of jeans, and I was a bit astonished that he hadn’t immediately noticed that I was in want of a dark pair of jeans, of a speckled brand. Nonetheless, he found the perfect pair of trousers for me, which I immediately tried on in the fitting room. There was no one else present at that time, but there must have been, undoubtedly, a 43 year old recently divorced woman right before me, about 16 and a half minutes earlier. Come to think of it, we must have crossed her on the way to the store. I clearly remember her now. She had a twisted lip and she didn’t look very pleased either. Earlier, when I quickly observed her when passing by, I thought she was annoyed by something someone had said a few minutes earlier, but now it was by then obvious that she most dissatisfied with her purchase and was seriously considering going back to the store and making use of the return policy – a conclusion which was most elementary.

[spacer height=”10px”]I was readily assisted by the salesperson and both Watson and I quite convincingly felt like illustrious clients. I would gladly return to this store, and so would Watson, who seemed to be really interested in a dark blue sweater he had found in the store.”

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Author: Gert
pimgpsh_fullsize_distr_Gert
Gert’ specialties are any coffee-related projects as well as reports in Dutch, French and English. In his free time he writes novels, plays and poems, and performs spoken word all over Flanders and the Netherlands. He also loves travelling, listening to music and going to concerts. He has a Master in Applied Linguistics and one in Modern Literature.


Interested in becoming an Evaluator with BARE International?

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Want to be a guest blogger for BARE’s Mystery Evaluator’s Community?

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