Archive for the ‘Expectations’ Category

Service of Expectations III

Monday, December 27th, 2021

I wrote the first two in this series in 2012 (though I suspect there are many posts in which dashed expectations are at the core).

Image by Please Don’t sell My Artwork AS IS from Pixabay 

In one I covered highlights of irritants identified in a customer service survey where rudeness, passing the buck, waiting too long for problem resolution and having to follow-up too often topped the list of complaints and disappointments. In the other I described a person who didn’t send a message that he was kept waiting for his doctor’s appointment for three hours. He refused to own a mobile phone and didn’t ask the receptionist to borrow hers. Friends expecting his visit that afternoon were frantic when he didn’t show and didn’t call–which they expected him to do.

In a recent Social Q’s column in The New York Times, Philip Galanes responded to Ally who asked “Why Doesn’t Anyone Put as Much Effort Into Secret Santa as I Do? A reader feels consistently disappointed by her family’s gift exchange.” In part of his response he wrote: “This is like shopping regularly for heirloom tomatoes at the hardware store. You will never find them there! Try to lower your expectations before the unwrapping begins. Consider the other ways your relatives show they care.”

How many viewers of Face the Nation expect to be able to walk in heels as high as the ones Margaret Brennan wears [photo above]? Here she was this Sunday interviewing Vice President Kamala Harris. Do you think she walks far in them? I was on a set before a client’s TV interview where the host slipped off Uggs boots and put on heels just before cameras rolled.

Some friends respond to emails and texts and expect others to as well–but they don’t or it takes them ages to do so. Others generously share their contacts but that favor is never returned. These situations generate feelings of disrespect.

I see signs in windows for “quick turnaround PCR tests” for Covid and understand that there will be laws to punish those who lie as there must be plenty of them. They promise results in a day when the reality is closer to five.

My advice for happiness: Drop expectations. Agree?

Image by Samuel F. Johanns from Pixabay 

Service of Because I Say So: When is a Hope a Lie?

Thursday, August 6th, 2020

I ordered something on the Internet and tracked its whereabouts a day after receiving an email stating “your order has shipped.” Someone had printed a label. Would you call that “shipped?”

I’ve largely represented consumer products, organizations and events in my  career–no politicians or controversial issues. I’ve counseled clients when I thought they might word a description in a different way–a pattern featuring a green leaf is not “unique”–or suggested they drop an unsuitable element from their special event. Sometimes clients agree, sometimes not. I resigned one account run by a person whose inappropriate behavior and demands would have rubbed off on my reputation.

Nobody can counsel the president. I wonder if any try. He discourages me when he raises false hope and makes inaccurate declarations. The headline on Berkeley Lovelace’s article on, “Trump says U.S. may have coronavirus vaccine ‘far in advance’ of end of the year,” quotes the president from his August 3rd news briefing. He didn’t soften it with “I wish,” or “I hope” –which we all do. He declared it.

We want to believe it. Maybe he knows something we don’t know. But it doesn’t seem that way.

Vaccinologist and physician Gregory Poland, MD, of the Mayo Clinic predicted in an interview on WOR 710 Radio yesterday morning that the soonest we can expect a vaccine approved for emergency use would be early in 2021 though March/April for full use would be more likely. Even then, there wouldn’t be enough vaccine for everybody and essential workers would be inoculated first.

Is false hope a successful strategy if expectations are consistently dashed? Should a leader treat citizens as some adults do children declaring regardless of what it’s about–audience size,  state of the economy, vaccine readiness– “it’s true because I say so”?

Service of Handlers Mishandling with Potentially Devastating Results

Thursday, September 8th, 2016

I heard about Hillary Clinton’s four minute coughing jag when she was addressing a rally in Cleveland recently. Tyler Durden wrote on “She coughed and cleared her throat through over 4 minutes of almost incoherent babble before MSNBC cut away, joking that hillary had quipped ‘every time I think about Trump I get allergic.'”

I’ve run countless events and I write speeches for clients so that while her political opponents were predicting her demise, her health was the last thing on my mind. [If her voice didn’t give out after the grueling year she’s had; the number of speeches she’s given and the way she projects her voice at loudest pitch, I’d wonder.]

So what did I think of? “Where was Huma?” [Hillary’s campaign’s vice chairman, photo left.] “How could her handlers or hosts not jump into action after 45 seconds of sputtering, certainly well before 240 seconds?”

If there was no plan for this possibility [bad move No. 1 for the event planners], an official campaign associate known to the secret service should have warned an agent that they were about to hop on stage to rescue Hillary. Then the person would make light of the cough while either asking the musicians to strike up the band or the host to come back to the mic to regale the crowd so as to give Hillary a chance to recover, sip hot tea with lemon, until the jag passed.

I’ve had that kind of tickle and cough so deep in my chest that no number of Halls drops reaches or calms it. It happened once during a client meeting. He looked uncomfortable. Eventually it passed.

Where were Hillary’s troops? Why didn’t someone come to her rescue? Four minutes? Now come on! The Devil is in the details and because this one wasn’t handled correctly, the candidate’s opponents have something else to harp on. Can you think of other instances where a seemingly benign oversight with countless simple solutions can give an adversary the upper hand?



Service of Expectations II

Thursday, October 25th, 2012

A friend shared this instance with me–it’s about expectations and what can happen when they are not met.

Her husband had a doctor’s appointment at 1:30 and a date to visit friends at their apartment after that. At 5:30 the friends called her to find out where he was. Her heart stopped. She hadn’t heard from him all day and figured he was with them.

The back-story: The man had been sick for months and was weak but fiercely independent and insisted on going out and about alone. You can imagine what a shock this news of his seemingly falling off the earth’s face made to wife and friends. The latter had heard from him at 3 to say he hadn’t yet seen the doctor and that’s the last anyone heard.

I read a statistic that in 2011 there were 5.6 billion mobile phones in the world. Seems everyone has one regardless of age or financial status. Her husband did. He also refuses to turn his on, she explained, so that nobody can reach him that way. However, doctors offices also have phones that they would let a patient use.

Imaginations on fire, those in the dark panicked. Were they wrong? We have extraordinary means of communicating with ease these days and we expect that everyone takes advantage of them. Many find silence like this unusual. But do we over-communicate, setting ourselves up to be frightened when someone doesn’t?

Service of Gambling

Monday, August 6th, 2012

Antics of MIT’s black jack counting students in “Bringing Down the House” became famous in Ben Mezrich’s great book-turned-movie. Some of those pesky kids are at it again-MIT undergrads along with a biomedical researcher helped a gambling group game Massachusetts’ Cash WinFall.

Bonnie Kavoussi of The Huffington Post described the game as: “… players had to match six numbers on their ticket with randomly drawn numbers. But if no one matched all six and the unclaimed jackpot was around $2 million, the prize money was redistributed among ticket holders with fewer matching numbers. Statisticians calculated that players buying $100,000 of tickets were virtually guaranteed to win during those brief periods.”

The Boston Globe reported that the gambling group won about $48 million on an investment of $40 million, wrote Kavoussi. That paper has been bird-dogging the story since last summer.

What riles: The Massachusetts lottery officials knew about the MIT kids’ wagering strategy for the gambling group in 2010 and did nothing about it because it generated some $16 million for the lottery. Nice for innocent players who thought they were gambling in a good faith situation overseen by authorities.

I guess the lottery officials in Massachusetts don’t read the gambling trade media. According to Kavoussi, Gerald Selbee’s gambling group–the one involved in Massachusetts–had previously trounced a similar game in Michigan where his “winnings” were almost $8 million. When that state discontinued its WinFall game in 2005, he set his sites on Massachusetts. It was in that year that Selbee and his mathematics geniuses set their sites on New England.

This year the state closed its Cash WinFall game. Kavoussi quotes the Masachusetts state treasurer, Steven Grossman, of telling the Boston Globe. “I feel it is important to essentially apologize to the public. We’re sorry some gained unfair advantage.”

And here I thought, when buying an official lottery ticket, that while my chances of winning were less than slight, at least I had a chance. Who knew the playing field was canted toward professional gamblers. Sounds a bit like the stock market to me.

Should the lottery authorities have closed down the game as soon as they learned that the formula was uncovered or is it caveat emptor in the lottery/gambling game regardless of who oversees it? We hear of people winning big time by buying one ticket, but it sounds as though you must “invest” $100,000 to win–only if you’ve figured out the strategy. Has this changed your policy about buying scratch off and lottery tickets? Think this formula-cracking consortium might come up with a winning prescription to save our economy?

Service of Expectations

Thursday, May 31st, 2012

I read about the 2012 American ExpressGlobal Customer Service Barometer” in a research brief from the Center for Media Research. Many of the findings in “Consumers Bail if Service is Bad (…..duh),” weren’t surprising, as the title infers. On reading some of the conclusions, I wondered what part of the world the respondents came from. I’m pretty sure that impatient New Yorkers and anyone with a job must not have been represented in large numbers.

The brief notes that “The survey reveals a sorry state of service in general, pointing that 93% of Americans surveyed say that companies fail to exceed their service expectations, while 55% walked away from an intended purchase in the past year because of a poor customer service experience.”

How my gripes meet the respondents’:

According to the brief, “When asked about the top customer service irritants most likely to lead them to switch brands in 2012, 79% cited one of these ‘Big Four Gripes’:

Rudeness:  An insensitive or unresponsive customer service representative, 33%

Passing the Buck:  Being shuffled around with no resolution of the issue, 26%

The Waiting Game:  Waiting too long to have an issue resolved, 10%

Being Boomeranged:  Forced to continually follow up on an issue, 10%”

I wrote this post in the middle of a to-do with my office phone landline provider. I’d not had service for four days. Apart from the obvious inconvenience, my biggest gripe involved the time it takes to follow-up which I had to do several times a day. There is no direct phone number to repairs as there once was. Customers must press one, press two, and press something else to finally get a person and sometimes, once in the right place, wait on hold for an operator. Once resolved, you hear from many by text, phone and email messages galore.

The first day I expected the repair crew I got in on early and in mid afternoon got a call on my mobile phone to alert me that nobody would be coming because of heavy repair volume. After that, live people left messages on my mobile phone without it ringing so I couldn’t speak with them. Frustrating.

Nobody was rude; there was shuffling around with no resolution and I had to wait far too long. Further, I was given conflicting reasons for the breakdown from crossed wires and installation of new wires to programming issues.  The joke: There is only one other option to handle my landline, so who are we fooling? I can’t switch brands and everybody knows it. I’m at the mercy of the vendor.

My boiling point comes much faster than the survey participants’:

“The average consumer hits his or her boiling point after 13 minutes on hold, creating a golden opportunity for companies to increase customer satisfaction by beating the clock,” according to the brief.  “Similarly, Americans will wait an average of 12 minutes for in-person help at establishments such as banks, retail stores or restaurants.”

Me to survey takers: I wouldn’t wait two minutes, much less 12 to 13, for a retail store or restaurant to pick up the phone. I probably would wait a bit longer for a bank but wouldn’t be happy after four, at most five minutes. Who stays calm after that?

What are your expectations as a customer and what are your limits?

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