As a journalist, and social critic, my role is to observe, analyze, evaluate, and criticize.
When I got my first assignment to be a critic for a newspaper, Mom said, “It’s nice you will now be paid for something you have always done for free.”
Love you, Mom.
The critic’s goal is to make things better.
Part of that is to offer praise when it is earned.
Today’s topic is customer service — it sounds like an oxymoron — and I’ll bet many of you have a long list of complaints. I do, but that’s for another day. Today is for praise of people who do their jobs well, meaning efficiently and pleasantly. Grace under pressure.
“Applause is the only appreciated interruption,” accurately observed Arnold Glasow.
People who earn applause are few and far between, or it seems to me. Too many customer service people just don’t give a damn.
Locally, we have a name for that — the Philly Shrug. That’s when you tell someone who you think is in charge that something is going wrong, and what you get is a shrug.
The other day I called GoDaddy, the outfit that sells domain names, hosts websites, and does some other things that I barely understand. I liked their ads featuring Danica Patrick, who sells cars, or drives cars, or something.
I preface this by saying my lifelong job has been to provide content (as it is disgustingly described today), not run the machines of distribution.
I know no more about my laptop than I did about a Linotype. (Go look it up.)
Something was wrong with one of my websites, meaning “wrong” as in the blasted thing disappeared. When they tell you nothing ever disappears in cyberspace, don’t believe them.
So I called GoDaddy on the telephone and a robot said it recognized me from the phone number I was using. But, just in case, it asked for my pin, to make sure the call was being made by me and not by someone who may have found a lost cellphone or hacked my account.
I would be hard pressed to explain why someone like that would care about my long inactive GoDaddy account.
Anyway, I skated through that, Ms. Robot asked me a few questions about the nature of my problem and promised to get me a human.
She switched me over and another robot said I would get a human in about 4 minutes.
It took less.
That was a pleasant surprise.
Not to bore you with my problems, but Laura handled my issues — including my lack of technical jargon — efficiently and pleasantly.
I had two other problems later in the day and two other GoDaddy reps handled my issues with professionalism, and courtesy. Thad even suggested I was paying for two security services that could be replaced by one, for lower cost.
And Thad saving me money reminded me of the time I was in Macy’s buying something — I forget what — and the woman at the register said if I put it aside today, but picked it up the next day when it was on sale, I would save 20%. Which I did.
On another trip, I was buying an expensive piece of jewelry as a gift, and the clerk said if I could wait until next week, it would be on sale — and I would save a lot of money.
Some people might think these employees should be fired for costing their employer some money.
That’s short-term thinking.
Giving me advice on how to save money made me feel very good about the staff at Macy’s — who are usually very polite anyway — and made me want to go back, and to recommend Macy’s to friends.
Yes, the store lost a little on my sales, but it turned me into that most treasured of all things retail — a satisfied repeat customer.
I had a problem and had to transfer a lot of material from my iPad to my laptop, which to me was like transferring DNA. It even stumped Half-Pint, my in-house IT
Problem: It was Thanksgiving. What was the likelihood of getting tech help on a national holiday?
Answer: No problem at all.
It took — brace yourself — five hours on the phone, during which I learned the tech guy was working from home, and this was before the pandemic. Not a word of complaint.
Well done, everyone.