When I was 14 (possibly 15) I tried to help out my dad with his business... He's done HVAC and refrigeration since before I was born. He is one of the best heating and air guys in our area, or so I'm told by our customers, and he is pretty much completely self-taught. But with all that comes a bit of a know-it-all attitude. His favorite thing to tell me when I'm getting overwhelmed with phone calls is "Tell them 'I have heat/air conditioning'." Yeah, that wouldn't go over well. I've been well trained in customer service. I've been cussed at, threatened both on the phone and in person, and on a regular basis I am yelled at by angry customers. At the same time I have also been complimented on my professionalism and kindness as well as being able to assist some customers with quick-fix options instead of waiting for the tech to come out for something simple. I generally try to remain as composed as possible, explain our policies/procedures/whatever and I kindly let people know that while I am doing the best I can for them, I do understand if they need to contact someone else. I simply can't schedule a technician 24 hours a day, seven days a week, we don't work like that. We get a lot of referrals and repeat customers. The customers that stick with us know that we treat them like our own family and do the best we can without ripping them off.
That first day of answering phones for my dad, about twenty years ago, was the only day I worked for him for a good 12 years... That "lady" ripped me a new one... I had never been yelled at like that, even by my own parents! She was pissed and she wanted me to know it. I don't even know what she was pissed about. She called my dad every name in the book, of course, she didn't know that it was my dad, and I doubt she knew I was a teenager. I kept it together through the entire thing. I appologized and told her I would have him call her immediately. Then I broke down. I called my dad sobbing. It was embarrassing. And for years he wouldn't let me live it down! Always joking about how one customer could make me cry.
After that I worked in fast food, a fabric shop and eventually a bridal shop. I worked my way to management at each of these jobs. About eight years ago the bridal shop I was working at was closing, the owner retiring, and I was not ready to take on owning a bridal shop. My dad was going through a divorce and needed an office person, and there it was, my next adventure.
He teased me a bit about not crying if customers yelled at me. I've done pretty good about that. Until today, and she didn't even yell at me...
We went out to her property last Friday for a home warranty call, her heater needs a part (yes, the heater has to work in order for the air conditioner to work) and she was told we would contact her to schedule. Over the weekend it was 100+ degrees here, so Monday morning I walked into a crazy amount of faxed work orders and phone messages, I was in my office until 5:30 in order to make sure everyone was called back. This particular customer however was not called as we are waiting for the part to arrive. We did get a fax from her home warranty asking for status but as we were completely overbooked, no one had a chance to call it in. We got a call from the home warranty today and while Dad was on one line giving the report, the home owner called in and spoke to me about her job. There seemed to be some miscommunication regarding her job. It was her understanding that a technician would be out Monday or Tuesday to replace the part and she was missing out on a personal paid obligation. I explained the part had not arrived, would not be arriving for another day or so and that once it arrived I would contact her to schedule the appointment. She was very nice, don't get me wrong, and I completely understand her frustration. To a certain extent... I got another call a few hours later from the home warranty company questioning our report, saying that we should be able to pick up the part anywhere and schedule the job immidiately for this customer. I was told that the customer was saying very bad things about the home warranty and our company and complaining about how we do things, not just to their warranty rep but also on a social media website. I was also told that this customer was very "high up" in society and that she "knows people" and we should do everything within our means to make her happy. Then I was told that she "complained" that she heard children crying in the background while speaking to me. This is where I lost it. This was when my mommy-cat sprang up with claws and fangs bared. This was what made me upset to the point of wanting to crawl up and cry. Not only had I just spent the last hour dealing with customers that are unhappy we can't be out for a week because we are so booked, now I have to hear about how this lady is extra-popular and doesn't like my kids!?!?
Here's the deal folks... I am not a stay at home mom, I am a working mom that is lucky enough to get to keep my kids with me at work and sometimes they make noise. Yes, I do try to keep them as quiet as possible when I am working. I will leave the room if they are being a bit too distracting but I don't exactly let them scream their heads off all day long. I shouldn't be penalized for not putting my kids in daycare! Instead of calling my dad to vent I called my hubby. I was upset, I needed to vent. It did end up getting back to my dad and he was actually just as upset. His words "No one can tell me I can't have my grandkids in my own office!" Cute Dad.
I then used my uber-cyber-stalking skills to look up this woman. Guess what? If I found the right person, and I'm pretty sure I did, SHE'S OWNS HER OWN BUSINESS!!! You would think that a woman that owned her own business would be a little more supportive towards a fellow working mom? I've had customers that have heard my kids just talking and they say how wonderful it is that I get to have them near! In fact, yesterday, speaking to a long-time customer who just turned 94 last week, he said to me that he thought it was wonderful that I was able to do both! And most of the supportive comments I get are actually from men. It's not really that my kids are so super loud, its that I take my time with my customers on the phone to make sure I get the details I need for our company to do our jobs the best we can. My two-year-old knows every letter by site, can count to ten since she was 18 months and knows at least a dozen words by sight! When I'm not answering phones and doing paperwork I am working with my toddler to not only keep her mind challenged but to also keep her entertained when mommy is working. I also have a six-month-old that I am still nursing, all while trying to keep up with the flow of life. I'm not saying it to get sympathy, I'm just saying, hey! I'm getting it done! Today as I worked through lunch answering phones while feeding the baby my two-year-old put her lunch to her face like it was a phone and "answered" as if she worked for the company, said the company name and everything! She proceeded to tell the imaginary customer "yes, uh-huh, okay, bye-bye." And then finished eating her phone.
My job may not be as glamorous as some, it may not keep me moving in super-socialite circles, but at the end of the day, I actually like what I do.
And just to add icing to my cupcake today, I just received a call from a happy customer! I don't think we, as customers, understand how that makes a persons day. In general we are so quick to call someone out when we need to complain, but rarely do we pick up the phone or send an email when someone simply does their job, let alone goes above and beyond. Honestly, I almost didn't take that job today. I just happened to have the tech going to that area and squished it in holding my breath hoping that nothing go wrong. This customer called beaming that we had exceeded expectations with regards to communication and service.
So, I ask you, please pay it forward today. Give someone credit, even if it's just for doing something they should be doing anyway. For every complaint that you feel compelled to make, go out of your way to give someone else a pat on the back!
Thanks for letting me ramble.