Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Customer Service

I write because I love to write and because I love to create stories. I'm in love with love so I spin love stories.

If I had my way, I'd only write. I wouldn't promote. I wouldn't do anything on the business side of writing. I'd just write.

Unfortunately, I'm not able to hire a business manager, an admin assistant, or a promoter. I wish...

That means I also have to do customer service from time to time. As if I don't get enough of that in my day job.

Today was a gruelling day at the day job - my alter ego is a customer service manager - and so the angriest, least satisfied customers are forwarded to me.

Unfortunately, today, I had a very important doctor's appointment and I had to leave work by 3:15 to run across town and make the appointment by 4:15. At 3:15 I had signed off my computer, tidied up my desk, and was slinging my purse over my shoulder to walk out the door when one of my staff ran to me because she had a very disagreeable customer that demanded to speak to the manager.

My heart fell. I had just enough time to safely make my appointment but my job called. My employee was looking at me with big puppy dog eyes to save her from a situation she couldn't handle. So I took the call.

For ten minutes the donor rambled angrily without getting to the point of her call. When I got a break, I asked as nicely as I could if I could call her back tomorrow or if I could have one of my very capable coworkers help her.


The customer was offended. She didn't want to speak to another of my coworkers and after that, she wouldn't stay on the line with me, either.

Just as bad, I ran to my car and started driving to my appointment. I called my doctor's office and explained I might be a few minutes late, that it was unavoidable. The doctor's receptionist told me not to come, that I had to reschedule. They would not wait for me. Now I have to leave work earlier tomorrow to go to the doctor. Although I went back to work today, this is still not good. Right now my office is being deluged with phone calls, emails, and letters. I also can't afford to anger another endocrinologist - there are only a few on my plan in my area. One already dumped me for missing an appointment which is why I was so anxious not to miss this one.

In retrospect, I'm still confused. Should I have given up all hope of keeping my appointment and stay with the donor? Should I have told my first employee to transfer the customer to another employee who is good with handling difficult customers? Or was I within my right to ask what I did of the customer? I'm still learning. I wasn't born a manager.

Likewise, I'm still learning the craft of writing, of business, of promotion. I don't know that people ever stop learning. While I wish I'd known the answer to today's dilemma, I also don't want to become stagnant and stop growing.

Don't forget: To win a pdf download copy of "Naked Ambition" leave a comment for me on this blog before 8 pm EST Sunday February 7th. Tell me what your favorite Valentine's Day date would be.


Unknown said...

I can't believe the doctor's office told you not to come. You probably would've had to wait for them if you arrived on time.

Your gut told you to take the made the right choice.

The Redhead Riter said...

I would have kept my purse on my shoulder and said, "Goodbye!"

I've been in that situation. As a manager, you can not always be there all the time and if you don't take care of your body first, you won't live long enough to ever do anything for anyone.

Next time, remember you come first. If it had been your child with a broken arm, wouldn't you have run out of the door and the customer would have just not talked to you that day? yessssssss


"If I had my way, I'd only write." I could write all day long long!

Unknown said...

I agree with Redhead Riter. You were already leaving for an important doctor's appointment, and I don't think it's expecting too much for another competent person to handle an angry customer from time to time.

Linda Kage said...

I think either decision would've been the right thing to do (either sending the call on to someone else, or taking it and being late to the dr's appointment), but no matter what you'd decided it would've still ended bad (you feeling guilty for passing the buck, or the doctor's office being total @#$%heads about you being late).

Sounds like one of those rock and hard place situations that make life no fair. I hope today goes better for you.

Unknown said...

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The Bumbles said...

You should have left the call to someone else - even if they were uncertain about being able to handle things. Your attempt to try to please everyone left you screwed on all sides.

As one who is a liason between our clients (investors) and their vendors (account companies) I can appreciate that your irate customer didn't want to be told she'd hear from you later or to start over again with someone else. And I understand that a doctor's office can't always stay late or let things run over - especially if you have been late or missed an appt. before.

Which is why you need to just delegate those calls when you are in a time crunch and do what is best for you - seeing the doctor.

From a "customer" point of view - I want someone to listen, feel like they understand my point of view, and will do their best to find a compromise. If I am made to feel that way, I am less bothered by being told they will get back to me at a later point - I feel as if they are taking time to research and resolve what is best for me.

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