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Through the eyes of Amy...

Christmas is approaching, and as work and school comes to an end, a lot of wrap-up work needs to be completed. Some may not have found the time to go Christmas shopping for gifts yet, however they do not want to disappoint any loved ones. Here are 5 easy last-minute gift ideas that loved ones would enjoy!

1. Coffee and a Mug
A package of delicious coffee from the local coffee shop would be perfect for the workaholic or coffee lover in your life. They would appreciate the warm gift on a cold and snowy season. Add either decorative bow or some ribbon on the package to make it more festive.

2. Jar of Christmas Cookies
Get some cookie cutters in the shape of Christmas trees, snowmen, mistletoe, or anything that is related to Christmas. You can easily bake some festive-looking cookies in your loved one's favourite flavour, put them in a glass jar, and stick a print-out label onto the jar for a more personalized gift.

3. Scarf and Gloves Set
Your loved one would be happy to receive a thoughtful and useful scarf and gloves gift set. It would keep them warm during the cold season, and you help put the gift set to immediate use by inviting your loved one out to skate or toboggan with you!

4. Treats in a Christmas Cracker
Lay out some Christmas treats such as mini candy canes and mini wrapped chocolates on some festive wrapping paper. Roll up the treats in the paper, and then use ribbon to tie each side of the roll of treats! Your loved one would enjoy this sweet, simple, and surprising gift.

5. Assorted Boxes of Sweets
Create a bunch of small favour gift boxes by finding the simple folding instructions online. Put peppermint candies, chocolates, and even jelly beans into each gift box, and decorate the boxes with some ribbon. You can further decorate the gift boxes with some stamps and ink!

Through the eyes of Amy...

Whether you are celebrating Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Ramadan,Yule, or any other occasion this holiday season, giving a meaningful and gender-inclusive gift to someone you love could truly make their year. Below is a list of gender neutral holiday gift ideas and ways you could add some personal flare to them!

1. Cozy Cocoa
Warm up your loved one's heart and hands with the gift of hot chocolate coupled with some marshmallows. Put the hot chocolate and marshmallow packages in a mug, add a handmade mug sleeve, and wrap up the gift in cellophane. Don't forget to add the wrapping decorations!


2. Decked Out Deck of Cards
There are several websites that allow you to upload your own card designs and have them made into playing cards. There is just something special about receiving a deck of cards with one's favourite characters in them. Wrap up the gift with series-related wrapping paper that could be either bought or printed online.

3. Bookmarked Books
Is your loved one in love with a certain series of books? When you go on their Facebook page, you could check which books they have read, and which books they want to read in the future. Once you have chosen and bought the books, add a series-related bookmark to the gift. If you know their favourite quote, you could also find out which book it's from and put the bookmark on that very page!

4. Moving Movie Tickets
Get not only one, but two movie tickets for your loved one! Two movie tickets would give your loved one the choice of bringing whoever they wish to see the movie with them. Find out what is coming out in theaters during the holiday season, and closely read the online reviews to see if the movie would be something your loved one would enjoy.

5. Winning Bottle of Wine
Your loved one's favourite bottle of wine coupled with new wine glasses would both be appreciated and enjoyed. Personalize the gift by creating your very own wine label, and wrapping it around the bottle of wine! The label could include a witty tag line, an inside joke, or an assortment of your loved one's favourite quotes.

Top 3 places to go in Toronto for Christmas

#1 Toronto Christmas Market

From November 20, you can enjoy the annual holiday street market at the Distillery District. You will see local vendors and craftspeople, food stalls galore, family-friendly entertainment, a Ferris wheel, beers garden, and of course, Santa himself. The entrance fee is free from Tuesday through Friday and there is a small cost of $5 during the weekend. Make sure you check it out!

#2 The National Ballet's of Canada's The Nutcracker

If you want to get a taste of the Christmas magic, go see The Nutcracker by the National Ballet's. With a wide cast of characters including the Snow Queen and Sugar Plum Fairy, and a beautiful musical score and choreography, The Nutcracker brings out the best of some of Canada's finest ballet dancers, costume designers, set decorators and musicians.

#3 Skate at the Natrel Rink

The Natrel Rink is celebrating its 30th anniversary with a Swedish Christmas Festival, including an ABBA themed DJ night. Additionally, there is a heated indoor change room with lockers and washrooms, a rink-side restaurant, and free admission!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 On Tuesday we posted about five Christmas gift ideas for her. Today, we will be sharing with you the five ideas for him! Christmas can be a difficult time to shop for everyone you love, but as long as you think about the person carefully, you will find the perfect gift! For now, let's chat about our five gift ideas.

 #1 Headphone

Everyone knows that the quality of music can change depending on earphone or headphone you are using. If he is a music fan, then consider buying him a good quality headphone so he can enjoy the Christmas songs even more!

 #2 Smart Phone Charger Case

Most people love smart phones, but no one is a fan of the ineffective battery of the devices. This Christmas, you can buy him a smart phone charger case that allows him to charge his phone on the go! It is very convenient and relatively affordable.

#3 Bluetooth Speaker

The third idea is a Bluetooth speaker that can blast music in the shower. Who doesn't love singing songs in the shower? With this item, your guy can sing for however long he wants without the muffled sounds!

#4 Warm Scarf

Who said warm scarves are just for women? Men appreciate warm clothing too in the winter. Gift him a warm thick scarf and he will appreciate your thoughtful idea!

#5 Warm Sweater

Continuing with the clothing idea, your guy will definitely appreciate a gift of a warm thick sweater that he can wear during the winter. Buy one in his favorite color and have a cozy date night!

 

It is that time of the year again! With Christmas fast approaching, shoppers begin to crowd the malls and look for products that will brighten up their loved ones. As great as this sounds, it is not always easy to pick the perfect gift. If you are one of the people who are struggling to find gift inspirations for her, rest assured; we have listed five gift ideas that she will love!

#1: Home Decorations

Who doesn't love decorating their homes? If you know her style very well and have confidence in picking the right type of home decoration, why not go for it? You can find elegant home decorations online, Urban Outfitters, or other specialty stores. Most women love objects that remind them of positive memories!

#2: Warm Scarf

This one is more of a basic gift. If she needs something warm for the cold winter, a warm scarf will be the perfect idea. Whenever she wears the scarf in the freeing cold weather, she will think of you!

$3: Holiday Exclusive Cosmetics

 If she is a fan of cosmetics, then purchase a holiday exclusive product at Sephora or MAC. The makeup products are beautifully packaged and due to their limited edition, they will be very special for her!

 #4: Holiday dress

 If you need a romantic idea for your special loved one, consider buying a holiday dress that she can wear to a Christmas party. Although it sounds cheesy, it is a sweet and personal gift that she will appreciate.

 #5: Concert Ticket

 Another great idea is to take her to a Christmas concert or any other concert that she is interested in. With this gift idea, you get to enjoy the concert as well! Listening to music is a universally loved hobby of many people; why not gift her chance to watch a live performance with you?

 

 

 

Through the eyes of Amy...

The malls are crowed, people are in a hurry, and the lineups go throughout the store! While Black Friday is a day filled with fantastic deals, people who work in customer service must take on a big challenge. How often do we hear a customer sigh heavily in line while carrying heavy bags and new items to purchase? How often are customer service workers abrupt in dealing with the customers due to the sheer volume of people that they have to help? Customer service on Black Friday goes both ways. – From the customer to the Customer Service Representative, and the Customer Service Representative to the customer.

Here are 5 ways customers and Customer Service Representatives could make the Black Friday shopping experience be as smooth as possible:

1. Customer Service Over the Phone
Calling for the help of Customer Service Representatives could be frustrating because of the long holds. However, if customers prepare their questions beforehand, and remember to make them short, sweet, and to the point, then Customer Service Representatives could quickly and easily help them!

For the Customer Service Representatives, bringing in extra workers to aid in customer service could reduce the long holds. Customer Service Representatives should also be well-trained and knowledgeable in order to answer questions clearly and consistently.


2. Customer Service Using Social Media
In the age of technology, customers are being more vocal about their favourite brands on social media websites like Facebook and Twitter. If customers have a concern about a certain product, then be polite to the person behind the social media page. Don't forget that the gold rule is, “treat others how you would like to be treated.”

The person working on customer service via social media can in turn thank customers for reaching out to them. Providing links to aid customers in finding more information about things is effective as well. Responding quickly on social media is another way to help more customers in less time.


3. Understanding the Frustration
Customer service can be frustrating to both the customers and the Customer Service Representatives! Once both parties understand that crowds, people in a hurry, and long lineups cannot be helped by a heavy sigh coupled with anger, then the customer service experience would be more pleasant. Customers could check their phones, read a book, or strike up a brief conversation with others while waiting for service.

Customer Service Representatives could ask a brief question to the customers about their day so that the customers could release some of their frustration through expressing it. Friendly greeting and parting words may seem lost to the customers' ears at times, however the positive demeanor is memorable! Customers would remember how well they were treated, and come back to stop at the store on another day.


4. Prepare for Trouble, and Make it Double
Customers could help reduce long lineups by having their method of payment at hand before reaching the cash register! Not only does this help the other customers, but the Customer Service Representatives as well. By preparing beforehand the correct amount of cash or the correct type of card, there won't be struggle and frustration when searching for either of those items at the cash register.

Customer Service Representatives could double that preparation for trouble by observing if the customers have either cash or a card ready at hand. Once Customer Service Representatives know the method of payment, then they could prepare it even before the customers reaches the cash register.


5. Communication is Key
It is important for customers to fully understand the discount of interest before creating accusations about either the Customer Service Representatives or a brand. To avoid miscommunication, customers should either carefully read the details of the discount, or ask Customer Service Representatives for clarification.

Customer Service Representatives should be knowledgeable about the details of their store's discounts as well. They should be clear and concise in answering answer the customers' questions. If the initial explanation does not make sense to customers, then rewording it using different terms could be very effective. 

 

 

Through the eyes of Amy...

Last week, I went to a small restaurant with a couple of my friends for lunch. We made our orders and quietly chatted among ourselves while we waited. We have not seen each other for a long time and it was a time for us to catch up.

When the waiter came with our drinks, they did not leave right away. Instead, they attempted to make conversation with us. Surely, it was great that the waiter was going above and beyond; however, it felt a bit awkward. The waiter then left to get the rest of our orders when another employee called out to them.

When the waiter came back, they had a different demeanor. They could not help but tell us about how much they disliked the other worker. Perhaps the waiter expected sympathy or for us to be part of a retaliation when they began to tell us gossip about the worker.

Such customer service, or lack thereof, was not what had been expected and was a surprise to us all. After quickly finishing our lunch with a few more interruptions from the waiter, my friends and I made plans to meet again on another day. The next meeting would be at a coffee shop as opposed to a restaurant.

 

Perhaps that small restaurant would improve employee conduct in the future with a customer feedback program. Gossip is not something for the dining table; excellent customer service requires all employees to understand this. 

What makes a great customer service experience is when a sales associate goes above and beyond to ensure a customer is satisfied. I recently experienced this type of service when I went shopping at my local mall for an airline messenger bag.

When I entered the store I browsed their selection and eventually asked the sales associate if they had the specific bag I was looking for in stock. She told me that they sold out since it was one of their best selling bags. The sales associate told me that my best bet was to go to the Lacoste at Yorkdale Mall since they had a larger store, thus a larger stock selection.

I asked her if she could double check with the store just to make sure they had the bag in stock at Yorkdale before I headed there. She agreed and called them for me. After she spoke with a sales representative at the other store, she told me that they only had one left and she asked them to keep the bag on hold for me.

I made my way to the other location and was greeted by a sales associate upon entering the store. At the cashier desk I asked for the bag that they kept on hold for me. The sales associate asked me to wait while she brought the bag out from the stockroom. When she came back, she had the airline messenger bag I was looking for.

She gave me a brief explanation about the material of the bag, including how to care for it. She also told me that it was their last bag and was on sale for 30% off. I decided to purchase the bag and after that purchase I was very satisfied with how smoothly the process went and how helpful the sales associates were.

 

Do you remember a shopping experience where the sales associate ensured your satisfaction? Share it in the comments section.

Through the eyes of Kevin...

When I’m in the mood for something other than the meager food supply I have in my cupboard at home I go to a nearby food plaza that sells subway sandwiches. It’s my favourite restaurant, specifically due to the employee’s ability to maintain my customer loyalty.

When I walked into the restaurant a few days ago, the restaurant employee called me by name and asked if I would like my usual sub: A pizza sub toasted with Swiss cheese. I said yes and he began preparing my sub. He didn’t have to ask about the type of bread or toppings. When the employee completed the sub, he folded the bread closed and used a knife to cut the sub in half, wrapping it up in wrapping paper. The employee asked me if I would like to pay with my credit card, which I did, as I always do. He didn’t even have to ask me if I preferred my sub “to-go”, saving time for me by placing my sub in a bag.

It’s the simple gestures like this that make me continue to return to this restaurant. It leaves me with the impression that this subway restaurant cares enough about me to not only know who I am but also my preferences.

 

If you’ve experienced great service that impressed you, share it in the comments. 

Through the eyes of Suzy...

Everyone dreams about traveling and exploring new cities around the world. Leaving their current life behind, they fantasize about being carefree and stress-free. Other than the obvious reason of wanting to escape the endless amount of work hours and stress of every day life, why else do people want to travel? Here are five reasons why:

1. It's a new challenge: What's better than leaving your comfort zone and taking on a new challenge? Many people love to face and enjoy the challenges of traveling in a new place. For people who are drowning in routine life, traveling may seem like a good idea.

2. You get to learn about yourself: If you are never put in a position that forces you to think on your feet and protect yourself, you will never know how independent you can be on your own. When traveling, you become very self-aware and self-sufficient.

3. You realize how big the world is: You know how sometimes you feel as if you know enough in your life? For instance, I felt that way after I finished my university final exams. After studying for accounting and finance exams, I felt as if I knew enough things to last me months... until I began traveling during the summer and realized that academic knowledge is nothing compared to the things I can learn while exploring the world. Whenever you travel, you realize how big the world is and how small you are in comparison.

4. It gives you stories to tell: Traveling makes it extremely easy to grab the interest of people when you meet new people. When you have countless unusual stories from your traveling days, it becomes a piece of cake to sound interesting!

 

5. It widens your understanding of other cultures: You may be well-aware of other cultures out there, but you won't truly experience it until you are a part of it. If you travel to Korea for instance, you will be in awe of the cultural difference and food choices. Even if you travel within a country, you can still experience the smaller things that other people appreciate in other places.