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Born To Talk…How May I Help You?

I feel that customer service is a key element to any business. Honestly, just treating people the way you would want to be treated, seems like a no brainer to me.  The problem becomes, when we all have different standards of excellence.

I am at the final stage of processing my Medicare Enrollment.  This may seem like a boring subject for those of you that have already been through it and survived or those of you just inching your way towards that magic passage into “Active Older Adult” status.

As I am preparing, typing and contemplating my next sentence, I received a phone call, from my “service provider,” Sandy on a recorded line.  Can you imagine having the job of listening to recorded conversations?

Sandy is returning my call from earlier this week.  It appears that the 13 pages of faxed paperwork had a miscue.  Someone didn’t process the dental/vision portion properly and now that paperwork with my social security number is missing in action. Really? 

Would I be so kind to re-fax those 2 pages?  Is this a trick question for the recorded line humor?  No, Sandy, I prefer you find the originals that I sent.  No, I didn’t say that, I was thinking it, but what good would that do?

Understanding that she is doing her job, assisting me to the finish line, I’m not about to jump all over her.  I need her, frankly she doesn’t need me.  I’ll be faxing that again today and she will follow up with me next week. Why do I know this, because she has been recorded, of course?

I actually don’t mind speaking with customer service people from all over the world. I always get their name and I usually ask where they are located as we move through my endless questions.

Yes, I am the reason you are on hold for so long, I’m busy chit chatting with my new friend.  I get it, but I probably won’t change my style.  Think about how many calls these folks get a day.  I’m not just talking about this whole Medicare loop of people, but anyone that has the responsibility of answering questions on the phone.

The same questions over and over again. It must be difficult to gear up for that.  That’s where I come in. Why not add just a bit of the human spirit while asking your questions?

Of course, being expedient is their goal, but in the process of answering questions, wouldn’t it be the very best possible scenario if the customer service rep could anticipate a question or provide information that you didn’t even know to ask?

Remember, I was Born To Talk.  For 10 years I worked at my local Westchester Family YMCA. I thoroughly enjoyed the customer/member service relationship part of my job.

One of my job responsibilities was supervising the staff that worked the front desk. Actually, I had a coordinator that took the brunt of that responsibility, but accountability moves up the food chain.  She and I were a team.

Like any line of work that has a customer or in this case a member or potential member, how that person feels when they enter your space whether in person or on the phone is vital to the business.

This client/business relationship is two sided.  Some people are just nasty, plain and simple; no amount of sugar is going to sweeten them up.  However, the vast majority of members that entered our doors were pleasant.

Smiling and being welcoming is not difficult whether you’re on the phone or greeting someone in person. But you do have to mean it, because a false smile or a fake welcome is ugly.

Yesterday I was posting about TBT, (Throw Back Thursday) and how a picture reminded me of a time of sadness and gratefulness all wrapped up in one loving bundle.  Then a song came on the radio that held it all together like glue.

Today, as I am trying to find some inspiration about my blog. I received an email from the Embassy Suites regarding my upcoming reservation next week.

I’m planning a big “Medicare Reunion” for my classmates.  We’re all crossing over this year!  We’re going to have a great time, I’m certain of it.

I called the reservation desk to ask a question regarding the email and spoke with Robert. (I always get a name and the staff at the Y were always instructed to give their name, it’s just good business practices) Anyway, my new friend Robert told me about the extra amenities at the hotel and just verified for me, the parking fees.

                                                       I’m guessing his name is Robert!

He mentioned that if someone was going to upgrade their room that was in the block, they would likely not be located in the same location with all the other rooms in the block.  That information, made a difference for one of my friends. She doesn’t want to upgrade and be somewhere else in the hotel.  He didn’t need to offer that information, but because he did, explains why he provided such excellent service and why I will mention that to his supervisor when I check in next week.

Same thing happened at the Pasadena, Bed Bath and Beyond last week.  Every employee was knowledgeable about their products.  The guy in draperies provided excellent ideas; the guy selling the vacuums was also an expert. Neither of these men had anything to gain other than customer loyalty. And today, that means everything, just ask Amazon.

You bet I asked to speak to the manager, I could see his face as he approached me, and it looked like he was thinking, oh now what? But instead I smiled at him and told him how happy I was with my shopping experience.

He got on the load speaker and said, “Attention Staff. Thanks everyone. One of our customers is walking out feeling very satisfied, great job.”

Working with the public can be so challenging, isn’t it time we said thank you for excellent customer service?  Tell a friend.