Membership Report March 31, 2015

April 10, 2015

2015 ended well in terms of our membership: we maintained our membership in CCPs and students, losing a net of four affiliate members. We have started a project to win those members back and hope to be back up to 108 members for FY 2015-16.

Double click on the image below to see the report for Manitoba and Canada.

March 31, 2015 Membership Report


Service Culture, Please?

April 5, 2015

Perhaps this falls into the category “what is wrong with people today”, but that is not my intent. But I have a beef. Best to explain with an example:

As part of a review of internal procedures, I asked a consultant to send me a list of penalties for violations of certain regulations. He send me an 8-page excerpt from the law (in 8-point font) and provides no direction on where I can find information on the one issue we had discussed.

What was the impact of his action? Well, first, I questioned the “consulting” part of abilities, and second, fearing more of the same, we plan not to engage his services for the work we were tendering. Note that we have not told him this yet, and after 6 weeks, he has not even called once to follow up. Not the guy for the job.

Imagine asking for a set of financial statements and being presented with a printed copy of all general ledger transactions. The message is: here it is, you sort it out because I can’t be bothered.

I am not a high-maintenance manager that demands customized service. I am, however, someone who tries to add value, and most of the time that means serving others, and that means going the extra mile.

Whether we are in credit or not, if we sit at a desk, we are information/knowledge workers. In order to add value you need to provide information and not just data.

Let me rephrase: we need to provide usable information.

The best employee I ever worked with, Julie, was great at this. Not only would she prepare everything accurately and clearly, when she ran into something she did not understand, she studied it, found a solution, and brought the solution to me and asked if she was right. And she almost always was right.

As a result of my and others’ increased confidence in her, she was given greater and greater responsibilities. We treated each other as equals out of mutual respect, and we knew we had each others’ back. Our work lives were easier and more enjoyable as a result.

What I have learned is that when asked to provide information, if I do not know what the end use of that info is, I ask. If I cannot ask, I make a guess and then provide context to the recipient of what I did and why.

Even if my guess is wrong, I have communicated two things to my boss:

  • I could provide more value if I have better information
  • I serve notice that my brain is on when I work

A wise person told me: people are the way they are for a reason. You do not have to fix that problem, but you may have to give them a reason to be something different.

Twenty percent of staff take eighty percent of your time, likely because they need it. Invest that time and show them how to add value.


Service, and Talking Nice

April 5, 2015

You may not be aware, but the CIC is standardizing its email services for all Chapters using a company called Constant Contact (www.constantcontact.com). This newsletter was prepared using this new service. Why I mention this is that when I was testing out the service and set up a trial account, I received great customer service.

And all they did was phone me…not email, phone. Are you thinking ‘so what?’…Well here is so what:

First, the call told me that they have an organization that is large enough to call a small account in a small city in a small province, and that they thought that I was worth the call.

Second, they were letting me know that when I signed up and gave my contact info that a real, live human being noticed it and did something about it (in fact, within 25 minutes of my setting up the account).

Third, they listened to what I planned to do to test it out, spoke to me like what I had to do was important, let me know that I can always call if I need help. Then they told me that they will be following up to see if they can do anything better, and offered me a $50 template-design service, for free.

Why is that all so awesome?

  • Because I am telling you about it, and have told others.
  • Because the other email service that I have used for the past four years has never once called me. Not once.
  • Because I am part of other organizations that need email services.
  • Because I felt instantly connected to this company through this genuinely friendly voice. I thought ‘now here is a company that has its stuff together’.
  • And while this service is slightly more expensive, I felt right away that it will be worth it.

I then started to think how could I lever this experience to work with my own job? I am an accountant and work in the accounting department. I am not typically a front-line service provider to our customers.

Are you thinking ‘so what?’ yet?

Maybe the credit staff could call their AP staff and introduce themselves and thank them for their business and let them know that if they have any questions about our invoicing or product that we will always be a phone call away.

That strategy worked very well for Constant Contact because they are an email service provider that helps companies market themselves to their own customers – so they should be good at this sort of thing.

How much more powerful would it be if we finance types surprised our counterparts with a friendly welcome-to-our-company call? Perhaps establishing a good relationship with their AP department might only spread a bit of warm-fuzzy. But one day when money is tight for a customer, their AP department might just fondly remember us in their cheque-runs!

A friendly call to a customer might just be an action that takes us financial types right out of our comfort zone…it is definitely a stretch goal, but credit professionals live on the phone. How hard can it be?


There Can Be Only One. Of Each.

February 5, 2015

For the last two years I have been hammering away at two articles for this newsletter. One on the use of social media, and another on online services and mobility. But I have not been able to make either work (and with the speed of technological change, I have had to start over a couple of times)!

I have three issues I am trying to write about:

  • Why do I have so many online services?
  • Do I really have that much to say anyway?
  • What do I wish I knew back then?

Online Services 

I don’t think that I am an electronic hoarder, but it is starting to feel that way. I have a lot of online services. A lot (about 90), but in my defence I have been looking for a one-stop shop for my needs, and that means trying out new things. Right now, for online storage, I have seven different services: Box; Dropbox, Google Drive; OneDrive; OneNote; Evernote, and a more secure cloud service my work provides.

I also have a number of email accounts, social media accounts and other more specific services like Google Sites for the websites I manage (don’t ask).

What I wanted was one place to either manage or see all these services.

I will save you the trouble, it does not exist.

Aggregators, software that brings different platforms together, are not the answer. They held out a lot of promise for sure, but many that started up a few years ago are now out of business. There is no service that would bring social media and cloud services, email accounts, and so on, together with an interface that allows you to use it.

I am on all of these services because at one time or another I needed them, or someone else shared something with me on one of these services so I had to join. For now, that is the way it will be, I guess.

What do I Really Have to Say?

OK, so I have lots of online services. But I do not have an agenda that includes communicating to the world using these services, even on an infrequent basis…so since I was not planning on building something, why did I go out and buy so many hammers?

Aside from this newsletter, I have no other reason to post my thoughts to the wide world. I am not someone who over-shares via Twitter or Facebook. I really set up my accounts to get a handle on these things before my kids get too into social media (and they have blown past me long ago in terms of what they are doing online).

What I Wish I Knew

  • What I wanted/needed…planning for technology change is fruitless. My kids have the social media accounts I set up for them, but they now use other platforms, and I am still playing catch-up (and adding more social media services).
  • I do not need to spend a lot of money on devices.
  • My equipment’s limitations (if I knew that the Blackberry Q10s did not support my main cloud services, I would have done something differently).

Recommendations

  • Figure out what you want. If you have a far-flung family, Facebook is likely the best for sharing pictures and planning get-togethers: just about everyone has (or can get) an account, and it is easy to use. You do not need private websites or 12 different social media platforms.
  • Once you have that, figure out what you need (need, not want) to do. The only thing more expensive than an electronic device is multiple electronic devices. If all you do is surf, a tablet is great. If you type a lot or work on spreadsheets, get something that supports a keyboard and a mouse. If you use your phone only as a phone, don’t buy an $800 smartphone.
  • Plan for change. Buy more memory than you need. Make sure your device is long for this world (sorry, BlackBerry). Companies like Apple ,Microsoft and Samsung are likely going to last, and will have apps for most of the things you want.

You simply cannot expect to have one program, social media account or device that does everything…and that is OK, since very likely, you are not going to do everything! But you should know roughly what you will be doing.

Recommendation: focus, plan, spend…and then stop spending!


Online. Offlife

February 5, 2015

As technology exploded over the past 40 years, people at the time new technology predicted how it would impact the future…let’s see how close they were to what actually happened:

– Killer bees were going to invade

– We would all have flying cars

– Pills would replace food

– Computers were going to give us 3 or 4-day weekends all the time(!)

– We were all supposed to be in pastel coloured one-piece suits

…so looking at old predictions about our time now is pretty funny, but maybe let’s assume that we don’t have this prediction-thing down quite right yet.

Social media, mobile devices and TV when and where you want is not the doom of society. It is just that those who now run things grew up with something different (growing up I had 12 channels and a twin brother with whom I took turns to change the channel at the others’ command) .

Kids growing up with this new technology will use it differently, they will figure it out differently, and we’ll laugh at our ridiculous predictions of today.

My ridiculous prediction is not bemoaning the loss of inter-personal connections, but it is about the possibility that people will lose the awareness that they are not the ones making their own choices.

Maybe it is just me, but what I have noticed is that, when I am online, I am following someone else’s path, they are leading me where they want me to go. Sometimes it is wonderful…Netflix, for example, gives you a whole 15 seconds to decide if you want to watch the next episode (of course I will)! Though when I am doing that I am not with my kids, I am not day-dreaming, I am not repairing the leaky faucet.

With simple psychology and moderately good content it is often easier to follow a path of action based on what someone else has laid out for you. There will always be temptation, but it has never been easier to give in to it than when you are in front of a device.

Technology is neutral…there are great things happening in the world, and happening faster because of technology and social media. There are as many bad things too. If we do not keep our heads, we can be drawn the wrong way and not even realize it, and those providing that online content may not realize it either.

The good news is that the world will not be taken over by someone with my 40-something perspective. Those who have grown up with this technology will use it in ways we have not even thought about, and they will keep it in perspective. Maybe they will have flying cars, but I am not sure that computers will be hard-wired to people’s brains, or will become self aware and try to take over the world.

I am happy to drive a car with wheels, and to eat a real, sizzling steak once in a while. I also promise never (ever) to own a pastel uni-tard.

Despite the bleak future painted for us – latch-key kids, TV generation – we sorted out our future and kept it in perspective. I have faith in those that follow to do the same.


Membership Report – December 2014

January 19, 2015

Double-click on the picture below to see the report. Membership for the Manitoba Chapter has remained relatively stable with 50 CCPs, unchanged from December 2013. Overall the Chapter has gone down 4 people, attributed to a decline in the Affiliate membership.

Country-wide there has been a larger decline in membership of CCPs in Toronto, Conestoga and Edmonton, and there has also been a decline in affiliate memberships, notably in Montreal.

In Manitoba Affiliate memberships cost $35 per membership. Affiliate members are invited to all of our events, participate in our Chapter life and receive our emails and newsletters. They are an important part of our Chapter, and we are working on renewing our Affiliate members!

Dec Membership


GRAD 2014 in Pictures

December 18, 2014

On Thursday November 20th the Chapter gathered at the beautiful Qualico Family Centre at Assiniboine Park to celebrate our 2014 graduation ceremony. With the President & Dean Mike MacPhee in attendance, we welcomed grad Jean Grenier as our newest CCP.

We also recognized academic success with Jean Grenier winning all four of the top mark awards, and with Diane Fillion, Sean Seidel and Monique Vandekerkhove winning the second place awards for academic achievement.

We would like to thank all those who attended, and especially our sponsors, National Leasing, Pinnacle, Equifax, D&B, and TransUnion for their generous support of our Chapter and their significant contribution to our 2014 graduation ceremonies!

We would also like to thank Mike MacPhee, Dean & President of the Credit Institute of Canada for making the trip out on a cold Manitoba evening to celebrate with us.

Award Winners:

  • Jean Grenier: Highest Mark Awards for Advanced Credit Management, Canadian Credit Law, Credit Management and Managing Credit with Information. Yup, that is four awards! Way to go Jean!
  • Jean Grenier, Western Forum Sponsorship Award (for conspicuous achievement in credit)
  • Diane Fillion – Honourable Mention, Advanced Credit Management, Managing Credit with Information
  • Monique Vandekerkhove – Honourable Mention, Canadian Credit Law
  • Sean Seidel – Honourable Mention, Credit Management

You can read the 2014 Grad Programme here: Grad 2014 – Programme

Grad is the centre of our Chapter year, thank you all for making this grad very special!

Jean Grenier & Debbie Baines

Jean Grenier & Debbie Baines

Guests enjoying their meals

Guests enjoying their meals

Jean Grenier and Mike MacPhee

Jean Grenier and Mike MacPhee

Mike MacPhee

Mike MacPhee

Diane Fillion & Henri Van Dam

Diane Fillion & Henri Van Dam

Jean Grenier & Henri Van Dam

Jean Grenier & Henri Van Dam

Jean Grenier & Genine Parry

Jean Grenier & Genine Parry

Jean Grenier & Blue Hodges

Jean Grenier & Blue Hodges

Drinks before dinner!

Drinks before dinner!

Peter Smith & Debbie Baines

Peter Smith & Debbie Baines

Henri Van Dam & Don Lesage

Henri Van Dam & Don Lesage

The incomparable Karla Cullen

The incomparable Karla Cullen

Henri Van Dam, Mike MacPhee and Debbie Baines

Henri Van Dam, Mike MacPhee and Debbie Baines

Sean Seidel & Henri Van Dam

Sean Seidel & Henri Van Dam

Jean Grenier & Kim Misko

Jean Grenier & Kim Misko

 


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