Survival of the fittest

Michelle Ramsaran 2016

About

Have you ever met or spoken to someone who is passionate about their overall well being? If your answer is no, not to worry, because here I am. My name is Michelle Ramsaran. I am 29 years old from Toronto Ontario. I have a strong passion for traveling, soccer, fitness, and living a healthy lifestyle. I have been playing soccer for over 20 years, and I typically have always been very outgoing growing up. I am a moderately healthy person, who eats three meals a day and I do try to get in some sort of exercise. Aside from my three meals, I am guilty of munching and snacking at night, but who does not have a sweet tooth? I am also a strong believer in living life to the fullest and pursuing my ultimate dreams, passions, and ambitions. My smile is contagious, and I love helping others as much as I can.  In 2017 I went through a life-changing experience that has now made me the best version of myself.

My story

In May 2017 I began to experience digestive issues. I had just returned from Florida for a work conference. Considering I was a healthy person I found it very concerning that I suddenly started experiencing digestive issues. I decided to visit my Dr. immediately. He initially started me with acid reflux medication in the hopes this would relieve my symptoms. Weeks went by but the symptoms were still not resolved. I returned to my Dr. who began sending me for blood tests, and ultrasounds. I was tested for Celiac Disease and gluten intolerance. The ultrasound was for my gallbladder. Both tests came back negative. It was now August, and the symptoms remained mild enough, that I was still able to go to work. In the second week of September, the symptoms began worsening and I started feeling sharp pain down my lower back. I left work one afternoon and instead of seeking medical attention, I avoided it in fear. It was thirty degrees that year in September and all I wanted to do was soak up the sun and go swimming, I was in denial, and ultimately afraid of the worst possible diagnosis. After a fun-filled weekend, the pain returned down my lower back, and at that point I made the decision to go to the emergency. Thankfully, this was one of the best decisions I have ever made, and it has now saved my life. I was given a shot for pain and returned the next morning for a CT scan and ultrasound. Have you ever had an IV, stitches, or staples? Prior to this experience I would have answered no to all the above, but I experienced them all in one shot. Later that same day, I was rushed into emergency surgery and remained in recovery for an entire week. I was suffering the entire time from Appendicitis and an Umbilical Hernia. My surgeon was very concerned as he did not know how I suffered for that long. I had been suffering with more than one issue and was oblivious for months. This was one of the most emotional and challenging times of my life. 

The road to recovery

Michelle’s Breakfast 2017

The road to recovery was not easy. It took a while for things to gradually go back to normal. I was given two months off work and that is where I decided to take a more serious approach to a new lifestyle. In January 2018, I went back to playing in both of my soccer leagues and started to train three to four days a week in the gym. I not only lost weight but lost a lot of muscle mass as well. My diet was also very difficult to adjust too. I was disgusted by meat, seafood, and basically all of the things I once loved.  On the bright side, I no longer craved sweets or sugar. I created a meal plan to follow mainly for my breakfast and lunches. This went hand in hand with my gym regime. My healthy lifestyle was not only about what I ate or what I physically did. This also impacted both my mental and emotional health. I began listening to positive affirmations, took long walks on the trail near my house, and enjoyed the best parts of nature. As I started to build back my strength, immune, and overall well-being, I finally felt like a human again. 

Maintaining my healthy Lifestyle

Michelle Ramsaran 2018

 I am very proud to say that I am the healthiest I have ever been. I have gained more confidence in myself and I am happy that I have overcome one of the hardest things I never would have imagined going through. I continue to train in the gym and maintain my healthy eating habits. I walk, run, and jog on the trail while listening to positive affirmations, podcasts, and audible books. I spend ample time doing my own personal research in herbal medicine and natural supplements. This has helped me gain the knowledge and insight which I have applied to my everyday lifestyle. This entire experience has helped me understand myself more and that “we are what we eat”. What we put into our bodies is crucial for our overall health and well-being. The irony of this all, is that it is now May 2020 and COVID-19 has changed the way we all live. It is truly about; Survival of the Fittest. This is honestly what I practice each and every day. Our bodies are our temple and it is mandatory that we take care of ourselves, no different than the things that we value. The best investment in life is yourself!  

The future way of learning

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In March 2020 the Ontario government made the tough decision to extend March break for an extra 2 weeks due to COVID-19. The kids were grateful to have an extended break, but little did we all know that this would become the new way of learning. Schools have now been closed until May 4th, and perhaps they may be closed for the rest of the school year.  So, what exactly does the government have in place for these children from Kindergarten to Grade 12?  Online Learning.

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Online learning

The term “E- Learning” has only been in existence since 1999, when the word was first utilized at a CBT systems seminar. Other words also began to spring up in search of an accurate description such as “online learning” and “virtual learning”. Online learning has primarily been used in both college and university.  It allows more independent learning and studying at your own pace. This course that we are currently taking is a perfect example.

Learn from home

The ford government has provided options for kids to participate in online learning from home. For families who do not have the required equipment, the school/government will be providing this. There are several learning materials and tools available covering subjects such as math, language, science and even French. I encourage all parents or for those that are interested in our education system to take a look a the following link https://www.ontario.ca/page/learn-at-home. This provides you with the breakdown of subjects offered per grade . I am impressed with the options that are available considering the limited time and panic we are all going through.

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Happy Easter to those that celebrate this holiday. Due to social distancing many of us were unable to see our families physically, but thanks to social media and the internet I was still able to video my niece and nephews. Let’s hear what the kids have to say when it comes to learning from home.

Name, Age , GradeAre you completing online school?What are you learning?It is easy/hard? Is it different?Do you get help or need help?Do you want to go back to school? What do you miss?
Kylah Folkes, 14, grade 8Yes – 10 hours a week ( 2 hours a day)Language History Math ScienceYes it is very easy but different since it’s not real school. No I do not need help, but I can text my teacher through Google classroom, but their response is delayed. I can also ask my mom for helpYes I want to go back Friends  Worried about graduation
Nicholas Ramsaran, 9, grade 3YesMath Language Science ReligionYes some of the questions are hard and it is very different from going to schoolYes my dad helps me when I am stuck on questions I do not understandYes I want to go back Friends Teachers School and classroom
Dylan Ramsaran, 8, grade 2YesFrench Language Math Science ReligionNo it’s not hard but yes it is very differentYes my mom and dad helps me when I do not understandYes I want to go back Friends Teachers Gym Class
Jaxon Ramsaran, 4, JKYes – my mommy prints it offLetters Number CountingIt is much easierMy mommy helps meYes I want to go back Poems Friends Teachers School
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Impact on parents

Even though I am not a parent , I love being an aunt and I’m currently in a relationship with someone who has kids. Even though this transition for learning is impacting kids it is also impacting parents. I spoke with my sister in law who shared a few comments.  It’s hard getting all three boys to concentrate and do the work. They sometimes feel like its a punishment that they have to sit down and work on school everyday. It is a lot easier to have them work on it individually, at home they are easily distracted, where as in school they are in a  learning environment around other kids and are more inclined to learn. This is more responsibility for parents,  but it allows them to take a deeper interest in their child’s education and learning development. A stronger bond, relationship and commitment are built with parents and their children when taking this time to help them with online learning.

Impact on the future

It is times like this where it makes children appreciate how important school is. My niece and my nephews had 1 main thing in common and that was that they miss going to school, they miss their friends and teachers and that they would like to go back. At this time we do not know when COVID will end and when schools will be re-opening. Will learn from home be the future? What are your thoughts? Based on the feedback from the kids today, they do not want this to be their future!

Facebook: Is online learning the new future? Are your kids learning from home?

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Twitter: The new way of learning is online

#onlinelearning#elearning#onlineisthewaytogo

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References

efrontlearning.com. April 2013. Retrieved from  https://www.efrontlearning.com/blog/2013/08/a-brief-history-of-elearning-infographic.html

Ontario.ca. March 2020. Retrieved from

https://www.ontario.ca/page/learn-at-home

The Importance of Excellent Customer Service

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Do you ever recall a time where you were so pleased at the service that was provided to you? That left you with a lasting impression? Or that you felt compelled to leave a comment, commendation for an employee, or you completed a survey because someone went above and beyond for you?

Let me take you back to 2015, when I decided to try a free 30 day trial for Amazon Prime as it was fairly new to me. Not that I was a fan of online shopping at the time, or had anything specific in mind to buy,  but hey it’s free I had nothing to lose.  As time went on I forgot about my Prime membership, and did not use it within the 30 days. I received an email from my financial institution about  a strange $80 charge from Amazon and if this was something I should be suspicious about as it did appear very randomly. I immediately called my credit card company to ensure  this was a legitimate charge. I then contacted Amazon who were very empathetic, patient & understanding and ensured they were going to help me. I expressed my frustration that I did not sign up for Prime and I was only on a trial, I felt that this was not authorized. After a very minimal hold, the representative acknowledged my concerns and informed that I contacted Amazon USA instead of Amazon Canada. Before getting more frustrated they went on to advise that they would contact Amazon Canada on my behalf and initiate a refund request with them so I would not have to repeat myself. I was transferred to Amazon Canada and my request was completed all within 5 minutes. They verified my information and informed that it would take a few business days to appear on my credit card. My story alone shows why Amazon is such a reputable company today, and I am proud to say I am now an active prime member.

What is Excellent Customer Service?

In my opinion excellent customer service is the heart of any business and it’s about meeting and exceeding customers expectations. Its about  how you make the overall customer experience, leaving them feeling valued and respected.

Why is Excellent Customer Service important?

It is important because it can:

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  • Increase customer loyalty
  • Increase your profits (how much each customer spends with your business)
  • Increase how often a customer buys from you
  • Generate more business by word of mouth

How do we deliver Excellent Customer Service?

There are many ways and strategies to deliver the best customer service. I have broken down a few with the 5 P’s:

  1. Prompt: quick response and speed is essential for great customer service. Especially when dealing with a time sensitive request.   Example: You wake up one morning with a flat tire and take it to the mechanic or local auto body shop to get it patched. 30 minutes later your tire is patched and you still made it to work on time.
  2. Personal: Knowing and understanding your customers wants and needs is also the best interaction with customers. Example: Starbucks writing your name on your cup while it’s being made.
  3. Perfect Problems: Even though there is no such thing as perfection, fixing your mistakes, taking full responsibility and transparency are essential. Example: When handling problems, complaints, issues or returns and ensuring the unsatisfied customer becomes satisfied.
  4. Pass/ Exceed Expectations: Going the extra mile will always leave a lasting impression. Example: Amazon USA contacted Amazon Canada on my behalf explained the situation and ensured I was refunded .
  5. Positive Experience/ Brand Promise: A customer is for life or long term. Example: I chose to continue using Amazon now in my future since I had such a  wonderful experience in my past with them. I am also a proud user of another Amazon product, Audible

Did you know?

As per Superoffice, Customer service has an impact on both existing customers and potential customers. A recent survey found that 68% of consumers would react by telling family and friends about a bad experience by posting it on a social network. It is also six times more expensive to acquire a new customer than to retain an existing customer!

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Now that we know the importance of customer service lets look at the flip side. Do you ever recall a time that you experienced bad customer service or a generally horrible experience where it turned you off. How did this make you feel? Did it change your perspective on the business or company?  I am also not referring to ordering your regular coffee at Tim Horton’s and its not consistent everyday. I have 2 different experiences to share:

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One Saturday evening back in December 2018 my friend and I decided to grab Harvey’s before going home. We decided to order through the drive through as we had a long evening of Christmas shopping.  We ordered our meals separately in 2 bags,  2 original burgers for her and her husband and 2 original burgers for my mother and I.  After leaving the drive through I ensured my friend checked to make sure both orders were correct, as a customer it is very frustrating to find surprises after the fact.  I dropped my friend home and arrived home 15 minutes after purchasing the food. My mother opened her burger and I opened my mine, only to discover 2 dressed buns with no burger meat! I was in shock. Humiliated and disappointed as my mom was hungry. Her exact words ” didn’t you check the bag”. Of course I checked the bag, there were 2 burgers or at least wrapped buns which I assumed had burgers in them. In that moment I didn’t know how to feel. I was more than angry, frustrated and highly annoyed. I called Harvey’s and tried my best to bite my tongue and  control my temper in the most cool and collective way. Just like Amazon, they listened and understood and asked me to come back. Harvey’s did not refund my whole meal, but they did give me brand new buns and toppings, refunded me for half of my meal and gave me a free order of frings. Despite this being a fair offer, I still think I deserved a full refund. Coincidentally Harvey’s was the sponsor of my first soccer team I ever played for here in my home town Pickering Ontario.

Now lets look at experience # 2

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If you have ever worked in the corporate world, Christmas time is always favored by employees. When being an employee that’s part of a team, Secret Santa or Chris Kringle is usually favored. Since I was fairly new to my company I decided to participate as it was a $25 limit. I ended up picking a colleague who I knew better than others as we ate lunch together. I purchased her a Spa Gift Card from Shoppers Drug Mart. Something to keep in my of, is that I have been purchasing gift cards from shoppers drug for many years now. I attached the receipt in the card that was given to my colleague. Since we celebrated this early, my colleague informed that the gift card did not work. I immediately felt embarrassed and upset. How could that be possible? The receipt was attached. I felt that I needed to take full responsibility, and told my colleague I would handle this. I contacted Shoppers Drug Mart, made a trip back to the location I purchased the gift card from, only to be sent in  a loop of circles. An investigation had to be initiated with their head office who then contacts the supplier of the gift card merchant. The head office informed me this would take 10-15 business days which was well after Christmas and also would affect me as I was going on a cruise at the beginning of January. To make a long story short, after sending them pictures of the front and back of the gift card and receipts, they were unable to resolve the actual issue and offered to send me a $25 shoppers drug mart gift card almost a month after I brought this to their attention. Meanwhile my internet connection was not the best on my cruise so they did not receive my responses in a timely matter and closed the case. I did try to respond but never received a response back. Now even though I was out $25, Shoppers Drug Mart did not care to follow up with me. They now lost me as a loyal customer

Let’s relate both experiences to the 5 P’s,

StrategyHarvey’sShopper’s Drug Mart
PromptYes Harvey’s was very prompt in this matter once I contacted themNo not at all, I was sent in circles and then the wait time was after the fact
Personal They were not aware that they were my first sponsor or that they were my preferred burger spotI expressed to the representative on the phone and in person that I have been purchasing gift cards from them for years and on every occasion
Perfect ProblemsA partial refund and new food were both givenThey tried to offer me an insulting offer after an entire month of investigating
Pass/ Exceed ExpectationsDespite my expectations were all not exceeded, the customer service was still acceptableThey did not exceed any of my expectations
Positive Experience/ Brand PromiseIt was an overall positive experience and I have recently ordered from them againThis is overall one of my worst experiences as a customer

As you can see there are many different experiences when it comes to customer service. Customer service is a competitive advantage. Standing out and always striving to be the best is the key to keep your customer’s loyal and them to continuously interact with your brand. If you provide excellent customer service, you will not only retain your customers, but you will acquire your competitors’ as well.

Facebook: Customer service goes a long way. Click here to find out why!

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Twitter: Is customer service important?#ExcellentCustomerService#Deliveringcustomerservice

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References:

Superoffice.com. April 2020. Retrieved from https://www.superoffice.com/blog/five-ways-to-deliver-excellent-customer-service/

6 Feet Apart

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My employer sent out an email three days ago informing we are an essential business.  The company split employees up in different areas, locations and sections to ensure we had our own spaces, 6 feet apart, and more than an arms reach away.  Today I was laid off from my job which was unexpected due to the above measures that they had in place. Is this a bad thing or is it truly a blessing in disguise?

As each day goes by we are all  in this together. Living, breathing and practicing social distancing due to COVID -19. I don’t think any one really anticipated the extent of this virus or that our regular daily routine and regimes would result in being 6 feet apart.

What is social distancing? Making changes in your everyday routines in order to minimize close contact with others. Social distancing  information PDF. (Canada.ca, public health network, 2020, para. 1)

Let’s take a closer look at how social distancing is affecting and impacting the different areas of our lives.

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The Grocery Stores

Lets face it, grocery stores are essential for us. They carry all of our basic needs and necessities for us to be able to eat and survive. It started with a toilet paper crisis and limiting us to 1 pack per family, and then the cases of bottled water were limited. Then the basic fruits and vegetables were limited. As weeks go by COVID-19 continues to spread, and social distancing is becoming more and more serious. Grocery stores now have long line ups outside because they are limiting the amount of customers in the store at a time. When you enter the store your cart is disinfected and so are your hands.  ” Excuse me miss please stay behind the line” the store clerk said to me at my local No Frills. Little did I realize they implemented taped lines on the floor to ensure I am 6 feet away from the next customer in line.

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The Highways

Two months ago the traffic on the 401, Gardiner, DVP, and highway 400 was a typically congested commute for all Torontonians. The pandemic has resulted in many businesses to close their doors, and some to offer work from home accommodations. With these changes implemented, and social distancing being our number one focus, the highway congestion has disappeared. I can honestly say I am social distancing while driving in the GTA. In my whole experience driving, I have never witnessed the scarcity of motor vehicles on all of our highways than I have in the past two weeks.

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Gas Prices

I am a proud owner of my Honda Accord, I have been driving since the mid 2000’s, and I must say it has been very nice to see gas prices as low as they were when I was a child back in the 90’s. It’s amazing how $35 can fill my tank which usually costs me over $60. Even though this seems to be a great benefit, where are we filling our tanks to go? To stay home and practice social distancing?

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Social Media

 They say always save the best for last. Whether your on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube,  or even communicating via text or WhatsApp,  you are bound to come across a meme, conspiracy theory, or a fact about COVID- 19/Corona Virus. Two months ago I was sent a video of someone eating bat soup, another day I was sent a link for a Netflix series – The Secret Terrius made in 2018 where Coronas virus was a man made weapon, I wonder what I will wake up to tomorrow? This is a very serious virus that is globally affecting the world and economy. Although social media may benefit us while we social distance, information is misconstrued and this can lead to people feeling very anxious and uneasy and not knowing how to feel or what to believe.

As mentioned above, we are all in this together. We will make it through. Let’s remember to wash our hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and water and avoid touching our faces.

I strongly recommend reviewing the community based measures to mitigate the spread of COVID – 19 in Canada. https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/diseases/2019-novel-coronavirus-infection/health-professionals/public-health-measures-mitigate-covid-19.html

FACEBOOK: Social distancing to due COVID-19. Let’s stop the spread together!

TWITTER: How does social distancing affect you? Are you 6 feet apart?#Weareallinthistogether#Washyourhands#Stopthespread

COM0011- Blog #1 -Society’s Best Friend

COM0011- Blog #1 -Society’s Best Friend

Let me take you back before the late 90’s where flipping a newspaper, listening to the radio, watching television and visiting a library were the main sources of gaining knowledge and  finding out general information. When taking a road trip and getting lost, we would pull over and reach for the map from our glove compartments and check a legend or compass to ensure we were travelling in the right direction. How about turning on 680 news or the weather network to check the daily forecast to ensure we were well prepared for what mother nature had in store for us each day. Let’s also not forget those big bulky timers we had set to ensure our Christmas trees and outdoor lights shut off on time. Who would have thought all of these things would become second nature and life would only get easier as technology advanced? In 1998 our best friend was founded and a more convenient life was established .

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Introducing society’s best friend better known as Google . Google’s mission  is to “organize the worlds information and make it universally accessible and useful”. Can we all agree that we use google at least once a day? Aside from Google being the # 1 search engine ( Google Chrome) it constantly benefits us in our everyday lives through our mobile devices, smartphones, tablets and laptops.

” Hey Google, can you turn off the lights?”: Google Home

” Hey Google, please translate this from French to English”: Google Translate

” Hey Google, I need to get to the airport for 10:00, what’s the best route?” :Google maps

Google is not just our best friend but is also our Personal Assistant. Our personal time has increased along with our knowledge because of the unlimited access to Google and the information it provides us.” Lets google it” has become the catch phrase to life’s daily questions and answers.

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For the future I envision Google becoming an actual AI robot that can physically reside with us as human beings. As creepy as it may sound, this seems to be where the next phase of technology is heading. We can either choose to embrace it or run from it. The choice is ours. As an Android user I have strong faith in google products  and applications and only see it growing and benefiting us even more than it does today. We are all fortunate enough to live in this generation and have access to our best friend Google.

Reference:  Larry Page, Google’s Founder, 2004 https://fourweekmba.com/google-vision-statement-mission-statement/

Facebook: Society’s Best Friend #Googleit #Googlemaps #Googletranslate https://bit.ly/38SytrF

Twitter: Society’s Best Friend #Googleit #Googlemaps #Googletranslate https://bit.ly/38SytrF