Alexa on the dot

The Amazon Echo Dot by CC Lozano

I actually got this Echo Dot last year as a holiday gift to myself, the only unit left at a local store where I queued supposedly to buy the collectible Game & Watch: Super Mario Bros. by Nintendo, but my curiosity as to how it compares to Apple’s Siri and Google Assistant got the best of me. This awesome find and “it” here is of course Alexa, Amazon’s own version of the intelligent personal assistant. Well, let’s just say I’ve had really good convo with Alexa especially when it comes to history, news updates, and trivia. This 4th generation smart speaker, available in three colors and costs around Php 3,000 here, now sports a spherical design and smaller than the previous model. There’s another version with an LED display that costs a bit more, but makes it a more appropriate bedside toy as it shows time or outside temperature when asked.

While this cute little ball of a speaker sounds surprisingly good given its size, it lacks the thumpy bass and volume vibes you’d want to hear when playing music. But it’s really Alexa and the amazing AI behind it that got me talking to it like it’s my personal secretary.

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Negative is the new positive

If the global pandemic has taught us anything, as we continue to cope with it changing our normal lives forever, it’s that being negative is the new positive. Not only am I referring to staying safe and clear from the COVID-19 virus infection, but how we have been struggling with stress and anxiety in the new normal that causes us to feel miserable and sad. Losing your long-held job or only source of income, the sudden death of a loved one, or simply being left with no choice but to face your personal issues on your own. These have become more common, and regardless of social status, whether rich or poor, we all have had our bouts with unpleasant experiences or unhappy episodes that somehow kept us feeling down.

We’d be quick to say “You’ll get over it, just be positive!” something that I’m actually guilty of doing. But this is the toxic positivity that might do more harm than help. Of course, there are benefits to being an optimist and maintaining a positive mindset. However, toxic positivity wants us to ignore or reject difficult emotions in the pretense of a happy and joyful life.

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Spilling the spiels

Most call it script, others call it dummy dialogue, I used to call it calibrated interaction, but now it’s commonly referred to simply as spiels, what contact center professionals use as either guide for managing calls or workflow to simulate calls and come up with the most productive information exchange, with the aim of providing the best possible call experience, for both ends.

Spiels can be in the form of questions and responses for specific call situations, sometimes printed (like a story script) or part of a training manual, or integrated into the CRM applications and call management software, a lot of times remaining unchanged or standard, tweaked only as the need arises.

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The daily huddle versus the pandemic

MRT ride during the pandemic by CC Lozano

Grateful to have landed a job last year after months of search in the midst of the global pandemic and I have since been working full time. By that, I mean physically going to and fro my office on weekdays as the work-from-home arrangement is not a viable and practicable option in the new company I’m working with. With prior experience working remotely, albeit a short stint, I thought remote work wasn’t for me having spent most of my career on business operations or “where the action is” and well, I was actually missing the usual face-to-face work routine or what I call the daily huddle.

So yes, while everyone seems to want to work at home, I went versus the new normal and have been braving the daily drive or commute to work while still under the pandemic. All’s well so far but that’s not to say there weren’t any hiccups. And especially now that we’ve been struggling for over a year now and have yet to recover from the recurring quarantines, with the new COVID-19 variants crossing borders, delays in vaccine availability and inoculation, and the soaring numbers in new cases. You’re crazy to want to go outside!

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Instagram this, Instagram that

It’s been over 10 years since I first discovered Instagram. While I have been wanting to do serious photography—and by that I mean get into a proper workshop or two, do an apprenticeship with friends who are doing this professionally, and go on road trips to finally bring that overly expensive DSLR out to good use—it was this photo-sharing app that got me into the habit of snap-shooting. So I sold my DSLR (which I didn’t exactly use as I intended to) and focused on phoneography—short for mobile photography or the use of mobile devices to snap photos and videos—greatly appreciating the idea of spontaneity captured instantly, with storytelling to a huge and continuously growing community across the globe, being the most valuable bonus.

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Honesty is the best teleselling policy

The office in black in white by CC Lozano

When your work involves any type of “selling” and in my case, it’s done mostly over the phone, every day seems to be an unending race for bigger numbers. And the challenging task of delivering these numbers are of course carried on by front-liners, guided by operations managers and team leaders with the focused mission of making sure precious calling hours on a shift are spent productively, with agents skillfully using voice, spiels, and attitude, to ensure that the day’s output stays on target.

While the combination of a pleasing voice, engaging spiels, and a positive work attitude help in building confidence, honesty, or transparency in teleselling proves to be a very important strategy in not only bringing in the sales but in making sure you engage in transactions that are intended to provide value to customers and from which the company will be able to grow its business. While most would engage in schemes to win the numbers game, the versus mentality tells us to do otherwise.

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Million dollar theory of happiness

We know him as the genius behind the theory of relativity and awarded the coveted Nobel prize for physics, but thanks to a handwritten note he left for a bellboy, that fetched US$1.6 million at an auction in Jerusalem in 2017, Albert Einstein seems to have espoused another theory, though short, this time about happiness.

“A calm and modest life brings more happiness than the pursuit of success combined with constant restlessness.”

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Celebrating Easter at home

Embracing the beautiful sunset by the bay by CC Lozano

Today’s the second year in a row that we’re celebrating Easter Sunday locked down at home. I’m not complaining though. We’re not exactly devout Catholics but before this pandemic, my family would’ve attended an anticipated mass already, to avoid the crowd and also because it has been our practice to stay at home on Sundays. Nothing of that egg hunting sort, just a festive lunch and dinner with the whole family at home. So this year will be no different, just happy to have food at the table to share, celebrating in silent prayer. “He has risen!” and we continue to be hopeful even in these trying times.

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