Wednesday, November 5th, 2008
Welcome to The Importance of Earnest Service‘s first post. I’m excited to get started, so I refer you to “About This Blog,” here, to read more about what the blog will cover.
You need the best service when you feel time-pressured and stressed. Don’t computers–or e-mail servers–revolt as you put the finishing touches on a project that’s on deadline? Appliances too. Refrigerators die on the 4th of July weekend when you expect company and a sun-broiled New York City fire escape or sweltering porch are not options for storing food and drinks. In either instance, you’re in a super swivet as you reach for help on the phone or the web, which some customer service reps understand. That makes all the difference.
Doesn’t the attitude and competence of the person you deal with seem even more crucial when you feel thin-skinned? The reason you’re at the end of your rope doesn’t matter: job insecurity, a loved one’s health, acceptance of a child in a school or college, financial pressures to pay for same, worry over out-of-work relatives and friends or concern about their shrinking incomes and savings-or yours. When you get to your office to find your takeout coffee is black with sugar–you clearly ordered it with milk–you feel angry, almost insulted, because someone cared less.
When rested, happy, in control and feeling beneficent, you can afford to be more tolerant if confronted with a glitch and inadequate service–up to a point.
Will we share more positive or negative experiences as time goes on? We’ll see.
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You can Bank On It
Now that I’ve introduced my blog, here’s my opening thought.
Banks have been in the news lately. I haven’t yet figured out whether the bailout will cover banker’s bonuses. Aren’t bonuses supposed to be like tips: You get them when you deserve them and the amount depends on how well you’ve performed? If a bank, or any business, requires a bailout, does its staff deserve bonuses?
It was while waiting in long lines at bank customer service desks that it first hit me: the words hanging over many of these desks are an oxymoron. I can’t erase from my memory the bored look of “get over it,” combined with a dollop of “big deal,” when a customer service officer told me I’d have to wait to clear up a $6,000+ bank error. The bank had subtracted $6,390 from my account instead of $63.90. I wasn’t frantic over 50 cents, for goodness sakes. While practically tapping her fingers on the desk with impatience, Ms. Customer Service told me I’d get a fax of the check in question by the end of the business day. It took three months to clear up that discrepancy.
Another time, a major bank closed our business account by mistake, without letting us know–we learned about it from an unhappy supplier–and when we asked the reason, the banker told us, “it was for your own good,” with no other explanation. So we moved the account to a privately owned upstate New York bank with a headquarters in one town and a branch in another. Its staff is responsive and attentive, the lines are never too long, and so far, they haven’t lost our money or our account: We consider this a bonus.