Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Helping people is what I do.

Once upon a job I was low-man on the totem pole and a customer came in very unhappy about something. I couldn't do anything both technically (I didn't have the know-how) or legally (I was specifically forbidden from doing aha needed done.) so I got the manager who, when he listened to her story which she got more and more upset retelling she was crying… he shifted his body back and forth to prevent other customers from seeing her upset. "He cared more about other people seeing he was upsetting me than about fixing what was upsetting me!" she said later.

I knew there was some sort of big-shot supervisor mucky-muck in the store and saw him so I dragged her over to near him where I recapped the problem and restated it all so he could hear it, realize it was precisely within his bailiwick and rush to the rescue! Surely he got promoted for his outstanding skill helping customers and thereby building company image. He finally wandered off and while I know he heard us, he stayed to eavesdrop, he did nothing.

Later the phone rang and I took the call when i got back from some errand or another the cashier said to me as I came in, "Can you take the call on line 2? The guy's really pissed about something." So, I dashed to the office to fix it. Finally! Something I could do something about! I couldn't. It was her husband calling to continue the complaint about something wrong. Not only that, the manager had left him on hold for 23 minutes, unwilling to take the call! I explained who I was, that I'd known her for longer than I'd worked at this location and I cared more about fixing the problem and helping her than anything else. I told the story both from her point of view and the company's, pointing out the points of commonality and what areas I could do something about and that I would. I assured him it wouldn't happen again as she had my full attention and I'd take care of it. He hung up mollified, perhaps satisfied that I was sincere when I said I had a good outcome as my goal as well. In any event, when we hung up after a seven minute phone call he was certain he and I were both on the same side. The super-duper-visor who'd heard the problem from the manager, eavesdropped on our conversation and done nothing had been in the room for the whole phone call he said, "You handled him well."

I said as I left the office to go talk to her again, "I didn't handle him. I helped him. Isn't that what we're supposed to do here?" The door clicked closed behind me and neither of us saw or spoke to each other the rest of his stay there.

Helping customers is why I like customer service. I like helping them. I don't like DOING it for them. If you come in to buy a bunch of stuff at my new job and don't have the coupons… I'm not going to go get them for you or just edit the price. You want the coupon? Bring me the coupon. I'll help though. If you need help I'll help. I like to help. I'm good at helping. I said something similar to the manager of the store in the past that this story is talking about and he said, "If you do that for everybody they'll want it for free." I said, "They get it for free. You don't. You pay me to help them and do it better than anybody else."

Helping people is, in the parlance of today, my brand. It's what I do. It's true from my last job and it's true at the jobs in between and it's true at my new job. I'm good at fixing problems. I like fixing problems. I like helping customers. What I don't like is management who doesn't know that they're in the job of helping customers.

Ever had a manager or boss who you thought was in completely the wrong line of work? What'd you do?
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