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.
13 thoughts on “A hand for those who offer a hand”
HAPPY SATURDAY !!!
Maybe some of my luck is rubbing off of me and on to you. Out here in the boonies, I seem to be surrounded by people that take pride in their profession. Be it Walmart greeter or a clerk in one of the other businesses.
Using the phone, American Express can be TOO courteous, while my other contacts do their company ( and mom ) proud. I said mom because she was the driving spirit as we all grew up. Dad was there also, but most of us can thank mom.
Enjoy your Fourth of July holiday. Brought to you by the efforts of our Veterans and those serving active duty as we breathe. They protect our freedom, so make sure that you thank them. One and all.
I find CVS staff unfailingly polite and we remember veterans on 7/4.
you, my friend, will NEVER FORGET our Veterans. thank you
See – you’re always complaining about something! LOL!! Actually, I do the same thing as you, when it’s deserved. Because there is sooo much to complain about, regarding customer service (or lack thereof) these days, that when I do come across someone who goes out of their way to help me, I make sure that SOMEONE knows about it. It’s just the right thing to do.
Happy 4th, to ya, Stu!
Happy 4th to you, and when possible, I tell supervisors about good service.
I was really dismayed when I received notice from Go Daddy that there had been a security emergency and immediately I thought boy is Bykofsky going to be pissed because I must have knocked out his social podium. As I waited for some response I made a call to refill a propane tank to various providers and found all five who gave me another number for the same listed provider were all very courteous but failed to give me a price or returned my call. I have the same problem with phone companies whose service people are in Bombay and their first question is do you have another phone to call from so we can fix your phone. But the worst by far are the cold callers trying to sell you some product that is probably already obsolete but I thought maybe once I will pick up and talk to them to see if they are as courteous as my previous all talk no help calls. They always use two first names as a cover for being embarrassed because the job is always temporary. Long story short Bill Williams offered to help me be cremated at a very low price. I asked him if his company does two for one, as a friend at my local pub and his wife have no burial insurance and would agree to pass away on the same day. Bill gave me a courteous hang-up without a call-back number.
For service — like for ac or plumbing — I try to have two companies I trust and give the business to the one that responds to a message first.
In his book, The One Minute Manager, author Ken Blanchard makes a most profound and simple statement…..IMHO it’s one of the most vital parts of successful management….”Catch your people doing something RIGHT.” How true. I read this book for the first time some 30+ years ago. I’ve read it again and again. I committed to internalize this mantra into my life in general. And, I have. I rarely let an opportunity go by to say thanks for a job well done or acknowledge services well performed. Case in point….McDonald’s with my grandkids the other day. One kid wants a cheeseburger plain, the other wanted a cheeseburger with just ketchup and onions. One wanted a lemonade slushy and the other wanted strawberry watermelon slushy. Now, given today’s critical employee shortage, especially in low wage jobs such as McDonald’s, what do you think are the chances that this order would be filled correctly? Well, guess what? The order was not only correct in every aspect, but it was delivered with a smile and a thank you. And, the young lady that took the order was polite, efficient and I’m guessing under the age of 22. Before we left the establishment, with both a five and seven-year-old in tow, I walked up to the manager, pulled her aside and told her what a positive experience it was dining at her facility. I told her about the competency and politeness of the young gal that took our order, as well as the young man who delivered it. I told her how much I appreciated their efficiency, their attitudes and their smiles. When we got in the car, I reinforced the experience by reminding both kids that it’s important to tell people “thank you” when they do a good job.
In this ever increasingly ugly and selfish world we live in, it’s more important than ever to CATCH PEOPLE DOING SOMETHING RIGHT, acknowledge it and thank them. We are all told when we do something wrong… It’s up to us to make sure we tell people when they get it right!
I agree 100%
Great post Stu! I try to always get a supervisor’s email address when I feel that a CSR has gone above and beyond. When I send the email, I tell him/her to be proud of the work that (CSR’s name) did for me and then congratulate the company for how well their employees have been trained in dealing with their customers.
Invariably I receive a reply from the supervisor thanking me and the message that they will pass it along to (aforementioned CSR) and see that the rep will be called out to the other reps as someone to respect.
As I usually say to the supervisor, no need to thank me for giving a positive feedback, because if it was a lousy experience I sure as heck would have been quick to criticize them.
I do that too, when possible. When companies ask if I will take a survey after an encounter, I agree. They know who served me.
I am working as a customer service associate at Wawa now, and can totally relate to what you have written here, Stu… Thanks for sharing a few genuinely positive experiences you’ve had recently with those who work in customer service/sales. I agree that those who work at Macy’s are typically very good in their roles there. Have loved Macy’s in CC for years. And the customer service people I’ve encountered with various companies over the phone are usually very good (like with my wireless carrier, AT&T); agreed that it can be a completely different experience in retail stores. But what can you do, besides maybe accepting their shrugs with a shrug of your own? I just try to walk away from any interaction with a smile. Again, thanks for the relatable post. Hope you, Half-Pint, and any others you are celebrating with today have a pleasant 4th of July 🙂
Thanks, Mia. I am not in Wawa much, but I find the CVS staff very good.
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