Service of No Info at Information

July 24th, 2023

Categories: E-books, Information, Technology, Travel


Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay  

I am intrigued by people who are so secure that they don’t care if they can’t answer a question even if they sit behind a desk with an Information sign overhead. This also goes for those who work in customer service or as dispatchers for a bus or railroad company. What really gets me is that when they can’t, many don’t try to find out the answer.

I’ve always been too insecure to behave this way.

I’ve been a volunteer guard in rooms in private homes for house tours produced by historical societies and before the visitors arrived I’d learn as much as I could about the antiques or paintings there in case there were questions. As a longtime PR person, I’ve felt that I couldn’t expect to know the answer to every question about a client’s product, initiative or organization and I wouldn’t rest until I found out and I’d get back to the inquirer a.s.a.p.

But that doesn’t seem to be de rigueur these days.

I was knocked off the New York Public Library eBook app which was strange since my membership is good until 2026. Nevertheless the popup notice informed me that my membership had expired therefore no eBooks for me.

I visited the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Library (SNFL) on Fifth Avenue and 40th Street, iPad in hand. The ground floor Information desk staff has previously solved all my issues and/or answered all my questions. The pleasant young woman that day sent me to the second floor. There I again stumped the Information attendant who called for the tech expert. Her first response on hearing my situation was that she hadn’t been trained in eBooks. Between the two of us we finally finessed it so that I am once again able to download eBooks. Hooray! But it took a while.

I guess it’s vacation time.

A friend found Long Island Railroad staff similarly lacking in knowledge with a dollop of “who cares?” She’d missed the train to her usual beach destination and there was an hour wait for the next one. She made a last-minute decision to hop a train to a different beach that required transfer to a bus. Not only did a person advising her in Manhattan neglect to mention that the wait for the bus would be half an hour—adding even more travel time to a much longer train ride–it turned out that between the ride, the wait and ride to the beach, she would have been better off taking the next rain to her original stop which is a short walk to the beach.

In addition, there were no signs indicating where the bus stop was located once she got off the train–two blocks from the station–and when she asked about the return bus schedule, all she was told was where to pick up the bus. No timetable.

Have you found that Information staffers aren’t always informed or helpful? Are any apologetic or do they seem content in their ignorance?


Image by D. from Pixabay 

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13 Responses to “Service of No Info at Information”

  1. ASK Said:

    Your post reminds me of the young travel agent who asked my late husband if Copenhagen was in Sweden. We got a new agent…

  2. Jeanne Byington Said:

    ASK,

    My husband was asked by a young woman who worked for one of the top three accounting firms where Istanbul was. She was working on the account of a Turkish concern.

  3. ASK Said:

    Maybe it’s time for grade schools to replace social studies with geography and history?

  4. Linda Levi Said:

    Linda on Facebook: Sadly my experience is those that don’t know also don’t care. More rare these days when a “helper” actually “helps,” but good service sure does stand out when it happens.

  5. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Linda,

    I wonder if employers tell employees how important their jobs are–how essential they are to the operation. Some would appreciate the praise while others would demand more money and maybe they deserve it.

    I so admired a client–he was a division president–who would send to the plant copies of the placements we made that featured the products a special sample team would whip up in a flash, always under deadline and huge pressure. When I visited the plant in the Carolinas the seamstresses had tacked the magazine articles on a bulletin board and beamed as they showed them to us. He gave context to their hard work.

  6. Jeanne Byington Said:

    ASK,

    I don’t know how you teach curiosity.

  7. Linda Levi Said:

    Linda on Facebook: I’m sure some employers do, those that are mission-driven, well-managed, genuinely try to engage and empower employees, etc. But 1) employees have to be receptive to it, and 2) it has to be genuine or employees rightfully see right through it. Did my MA thesis on “mission, vision and values,” so this topic close to my heart.

  8. Lucrezia Said:

    Life is a learning experience, so if one isn’t given desired information from one source, then it makes sense to seek it elsewhere. I’m not sure where security/insecurity fit into the equation — but then, that can only mean there’s much more to learn!

  9. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Lucrezia,

    I’m insecure about looking uninformed or dumb. Those whose job it is to inform who don’t know something and don’t give a fig appear secure to me.

  10. Dawn Gour Said:

    Dear Jeanne,

    In my previous life, I recruited customer service professionals for an investment bank’s collections team. While I must say that job seekers come from all walks of life including flight attendants, it is tough to get the smartest and brightest for these professions since they don’t pay very much. Some folks that I encountered were so professional, humble, well spoken and others had a lot more work to be done.
    I have noticed more and more companies relying on Chatbots to answer the visitor’s questions on their website. However, I have noticed the folks at my local library to be very soft-spoken, kind, patient, and knowledgeable about the services and products available to their guests. I wouldn’t know what the salary banding is for these jobs we get what we pay for.

  11. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Dawn,

    I suspect that librarians aren’t paid that much.

    I don’t expect anyone to know every answer no matter what their jobs are. I am surprised by those who appear to have no curiosity to find the answer. They are more interested in passing the baton to someone else. It’s OK to say “Let me find out,” but I don’t hear that much.

    Any collections job would scare me to death. What a depressing thing to have to do–scare people who can’t pay or deal with those who want to cheat and not pay. Dear me!

  12. Dawn Gour Said:

    Dear Jeanne,

    Collections for credit cards are a tough world to survive, chronic problems that never seem to go away. But banks need to collect their payments otherwise they will run out of money.

    Couldn’t agree more with you on customer service folks demonstrating their lack of initiative or the sense of urgency in helping someone who is stuck. I learned very early on in my career that I cannot turn people away who come to me for help, that I don’t know the answer to their questions.

    I would have to politely inform clients/visitors that I would get back to them as soon as I found out the answers to what they were looking for. More often I found people to calm down because they knew I was trying my best to help and may not know all the answers to their problems.
    Being turned away empty-handed is not the greatest feeling in the world.

  13. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Dawn,

    What gets me is that the collection team frightens Joe Citizen into paying but banks let big borrowers who soak them for $millions get away with it. One technique for not paying is to go bankrupt again and again. Incredible.

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