In Two Minutes, I’ve Acquired A Lifetime Customer

Part of my experience in Customer Service, involves working for a company that was a major supplier to stores such as, Hallmark and JoAnne’s.  All of these items were designed, marketed, made in China, and then shipped to our warehouse. From the warehouse, we would ship these items out all over the world.  My various duties were to interact with the Sales Reps who sold the products daily and also our customers.  Interactions included: over the telephone, over the fax, through our website, email, Sales Reps, and a special computer program that allowed Sales Reps to enter large orders that they were sent directly to my computer.  As a Customer Service Rep, I had several customers who called on a regular basis and would ask to speak to me directly.  I had one such customer who ordered monthly and I always spoke to her at least once a month.  A month went by with no contact from her. At that time, there were heavy floods in her area and it had been all over the news.  So, I sent her the following email:

Pam,

I just seen on the news all the flooding going on (in your state).  It looks really bad in places.  I sure hope you are not directly affected!  I know we have a lot of customers who live in (your state).  I’ll keep my fingers crossed that everyone weathers the storm.

Please let me know if all is alright with you.

Cindy Thornthwaite

Three days later, I received the following reply from her:

Hi Cindy, thank you for your concern, that was so thoughtful of you.. Luckily.. we are in a location that was surrounded by the flooding waters. I am only 15 minutes from (Large City) which is being evacuated.. and lots of the small creeks and streams around us have flooded, but thankfully my family are all safe!  I have been really praying for everyone, its been very scary as the rain just kept coming and coming, my folks live in (State) as well and it was extremely close to them, but thankfully they built on a huge hill!!

Thank you again for your kindness and concern. I feel like forwarding your letter to every other sales rep I deal with, in the hopes that they too would suddenly become aware of how detached they are about really and truly caring about their customers.

Retailing has shown me alot about big corporations and You are one of the bright spots.

Thank you so much.

Again, God Bless you for your kind words, we are all fine.. Keep praying for those who have weeks of this to endure..

Sincerely,

Pam

It only takes a few minutes to send a note to someone.  I can’t stress enough the importance of finding those few precious minutes to ensure that your customer is safe, satisfied, and happy.  After this short interaction with Pam, she would only speak to me when she called in future orders.

Knowing that I can do so little to make my customers so happy, allows me to go home every single day feeling that I did my very best and it also ensures that this one customer is a repeat one (and that I stay employed!)

Black Clouds

I wrote this poem for all my friends who suffer from depression.  It can make you feel totally alone.  (Remember, just because your customer appears “normal” does not necessarily mean they are healthy.  They could be suffering from an invisible illness!)

Black Clouds

By: Cindy Thornthwaite

Standing alone in the dark with a large black cloud swirling around my head

Hanging there all the time and no one sees but me

I feel it swirl and lower around my face

It covers my eyes, my nose, and now my chin

I feel like I’m suffocating and no one knows but me

I struggle to breathe, I struggle to see, but no one sees but me

As it continues to swirl, it moves down over my chest

Squeezing the life of out me and no one sees but me

Moving further down around my abdomen and I struggle even more

Why doesn’t anyone else see but me

They could help me if they could only see

But no one sees but me

Further down around my thighs making it harder to move

I fight and I fight but it continues to squeeze

Someone please help me

Why oh why can’t anyone see but me

As it moves down my legs gripping me tighter I think I should fall

If I just give in and stop struggling so hard maybe I can finally breathe

That way all this hurting and fighting so deep inside will go away and I’ll be free

I would love for it to go away

Please Lord, take it all away

Then out of nowhere I see toes next to mine

Where did they come from and to whom do they belong

I want to know who is there, black cloud go away and let me see

Dear Lord but I need to see

I can do this, I can fight, I can push it away

Push, push, push

Now I can see their legs, their abdomen, and then their chest

I get more excited by the minute because damn it I want to see

Black cloud go away just a little more I’m almost there

Push, push, push there it goes

I see their face and would you believe

It’s my children whom I love so dearly

It’s for them that I struggle and fight so damn hard every day

If I could only send that black cloud far, far away

But it still hangs there over my head all day long

It never leaves me even though I try so hard to run away

So someone please tell me

Why oh why

Does no one see but me

Please Hold for 3 Hours

Please Hold for 3 Hours

By: Cindy Thornthwaite

August 19, 2015

On Monday, August 17th, Day 1 – we arrived at our office to discover our internet and telephone lines were not working properly.  We are a workforce development agency and assist a wide variety of individuals with filing and registering for unemployment; job searching; training for school; etc.  When you realize that you have no telephones and no internet – you are unable to complete even the most basic job duty and unable to assist your clients.  Having to tell a client that you cannot register them for work to meet their unemployment requirement – thus causing them to be denied their payment – does not make for a very pleasant work day.  We also have computers available for the general public to use for various reasons.  Clients walk in and have to run around and walk right back out.

I don’t know about you – but in my world – this is 100% unacceptable!!!  I simply detest having to make my customer return for any reason.  I want them to be able to complete their transactions/business in one shot and leave completely satisfied.  Not frustrated because I am making them return yet again to the office.  Remember, we are dealing with individuals who are out of work.  They do not always have money to purchase more fuel, just to drive back again.  We also live in a rural area and sometimes returning to the office requires you to travel 25 miles or more.  Totally and completely unacceptable!

Using personal cell phones, we put in a call to our administrative office, which by the way, pays all the utility bills.  They put in a service call to the telephone company who handles our accounts.  We were then notified, yet again, by personal cell phone that someone from the telephone company would be out before the day was over to fix the telephones and the internet.

Our technician finally arrived at 2:00 pm.  Very pleasant woman who immediately asked what the situation was and where to find the telephone lines and equipment.  She was directed to the correct location in the building.  After several attempts, she was able to get our telephones up and going again, but stated she had to do some “re-routing” until the “box” was fixed.  Stating that the initial problem is with our internet provider, not the telephone company.

We were able to call out to the admin office and relay the message concerning the internet.  Our admin office was able to contact the internet provider and state they would be at our office first thing tomorrow morning to replace the router.

Day 2 – Tuesday morning, Romeo, our wonderful IT Technician arrived at the office with a new router.  We were all ecstatic thinking our internet woes would soon a thing of memory.

But, guess what??  The internet is operating properly and there is no problem with the router.  Romeo, changed the router box anyway, thinking maybe, just maybe, it would do the trick.  No luck.  The problem is in fact the T1 line and that is the responsibility of the telephone company.  Here we go again, no internet and upset clients/co-workers.

Another repair service call was placed to the telephone company.  We were told that someone would be at our office before 5 pm.  Five o’clock came and went with no repair technician insight.

Two days gone with no internet and no way to assist our clients.  Most clients will come into the office immediately after filing their unemployment claim to register.  But, they technically have until 3 days before they call before they have to register.  So, some of those clients don’t come into until it’s crunch time and some actually forget to come until they try to call for payment and are denied because they forgot to register.  When those individuals come to the office – and there is no way we can assist them – it makes for some very unhappy individuals.  They cannot get their unemployment payment until they register.  When you keep someone from getting their money – they can get ugly very quickly!

(The Michigan Unemployment Agency downloads to our system every night at 5 pm in order to know which individuals registered for work that day.)

Day 3 –    Upon arriving at the office – imagine our total surprise that the internet was still unavailable.  Clients who were here on Monday and Tuesday are returning, all under the assumption that the internet has to be repaired by now.  I mean it’s been 3 days.  Nope, still not working, we are still unable to assist our clients.

We contact our administrative office and retrieve the account number for the internet/telephone provider.  One of the lady’s in the office proceeds to phone the company in order to find out how they plan on getting this situation squared away.

She is on hold for over 1 hour  — NO JOKE – 1 hour~!  She had to speak to 7 different “Customer Service Reps” before she found number 8 who would assist.  All 7 stated, “Let me find someone who can assist you, that is not my job!”  Are you friggin’ kidding me – not your job?  What the hell do you do there anyway??

Customer Service Rep #8 puts in a repair request and states that he will return our call just as soon as he “jumps through the hoops” to get our local repair out to the office.

1 hour and 8 Customer Service Reps before you can get any assistance??  How in the hell do you call that Customer Service??  The audacity of any business to put their paying customers in that situation is no business that I want to deal with. I will NEVER, AND I MEAN NEVER, use this telephone/internet business for anything personal. 

The biggest joke of all is that they never once asked if this was a business or a personal line.  How many businesses in this day and age do you think can function one day, yet three, without internet?

Eventually in the afternoon, Customer Service Rep #8 calls to inform us that the repair technician should be to our business by 2:11 pm.  Yes, that’s right, estimated time of arrival is 2:11 pm.

Can you imagine the look of surprise on my face when I tell you that is it now 3:16 pm and we have seen no sign of our repair technician.  Where oh where can you be??

So, back on the phone to the find out where this person could possibly be.  After being transferred 2 different times the connection is terminated.  Can you even imagine the frustration level?  I can tell you that it is going through the roof!  I pity the poor repair technician when they finally arrive!

Now the next phone call and this new person has never put in a repair ticket before.  Back on hold she goes.   According to Customer Service Rep #11 –  the repair ticket had been CANCELLED – What???

How in the world did that happen?

This is totally unacceptable customer service!  This is Customer Service from hell!

So finally, one hour and fifteen minutes later the repair man finally pulls into the parking lot.  States he just got the call at two to come out and fix our internet.  Finally, someone is here.  Maybe we are finally back to being online!  Whoo Hoo

After looking over all the wires, lines, and whatever else the repair man checks – he discovers a bad “part” and has to come back tomorrow with the replacement.  Insert sad face here!

Day 4, both the telephone repair technician and our IT Technician return on Day 4 and eventually, between the two of them – we now have internet service.

Four long days with no internet and no resources to assist our clients.

Will we be able to recover from all the inconvenience we just put our clients through? Only time will tell.  So, far, I am noticing several “regular” clients are not here.  I wonder if they could possibly be at the library using their free internet.  Most likely, I’m sure the library will not inconvenience them the way we have.

Sticky Bathroom Floors

Sticky Bathroom Floors

My husband and I currently live in Michigan.  My father-in-law, Roy, lives in Alabama.  He comes every summer to visit for 10 to 14 days.  We try very hard, in that short period of time, to make sure he visits all family, gets out and does “vacation” type activities and just generally “sees the sites”.

2015 has been no different than every other year he has come for a visit.  The first and most important things on his to do list:

  • See my great-grandsons; ages 2 and 5 months.
  • See my grandchildren; two boys (ages 26 and 30) and two girls (ages 28 and 25).
  • Visit his elderly sisters and extended family.

As you can imagine, with us “out and about” every single day, we stop at a wide variety of places and meet a lot of interesting people.  As someone who is dedicated to providing excellent customer service, I see all types of Customer Service – The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly!

Two of the days Roy was visiting, I had to work.  One full day, one half day.  On the half day, I got home at lunchtime.  We decided to take Roy out for lunch before we continued on with our visiting.  Today, we were headed to Aunt Alma’s.  She is 87, lives in an assisted living complex, and is feisty and independent as ever! Aunt Alma previously lived in Alabama, in the same town as Roy, but moved back to Michigan to live with her children when her and her husband’s health was failing.  She rides her motorized scooter to the neighboring store to purchase lottery tickets and cigarettes.  She takes the bus to various casinos in the state.  Aunt Alma’s number one rule – never let anyone see you without your makeup!!

Mind you, we live in the thumb of Michigan.  Rural sometimes does not cover our environment.  We stopped at a small diner in order to eat.  Now picture this:

A – We walk in the door, unsure if we should seat ourselves or wait.  As we are looking around for an open table – the hostess runs up to us like we were breaking the rules!

B – The hostess only seats us.  She never asks us what our drink orders are or what we would like.  She never even told us that, “Your server will be right with you.”  Nothing at all.  She walks us to the table, puts the menus down, and walks away.

C – As we are sitting there looking over the menu trying to pick a choice for lunch, we casually look around and see servers, literally everywhere – but not at our table.  I make eye contact with several of them – but they continue on with their mission and never approach our table.

D – As the minutes click by on the clock, this chick gets more impatient by the nano-second.  I openly admit that I have zero patience and I know that about myself.  But, come on. You have 3 new lunch patrons and no one – and I mean no one heads to our table to introduce themselves or to take our drink orders.

E – My husband and I talk about the “lack” of service and notice two separate servers looking at each other.  Without saying a word, it was very easy to “see” the discussion between the two.  It went something like, “I’m not going to wait on them – you do it.”  Both saying the same thing.  Someone make up your mind.

F – As soon as this exchange happens, I say to my husband, “That’s it, I’m done.  We’re leaving.”  Before we can totally get up to leave, a server rushes over to get our drink orders.  Ok, we decide to go ahead and stay.

G – The server returns with our drinks, takes our lunch order.  Without ever looking anyone in the eye.  Oh, please don’t worry about looking at me directly.  I just might say something you don’t want to hear!

H – The server brings our food, turns around and leaves.

I – The food is ok at best.  Small diner, greasy, untasty food.

J – The server never one time returns to our table to ask if we are satisfied, if we need anything, if we need any drink refills.  Absolutely nothing!

K –  Sitting there for what seems like an endless amount of time waiting for our bill.  Just as I was ready to get up and ask the hostess for our bill, our server finally appears and gives us the bills.  States that she can take it up for us when we are ready.

L – My father-in-law ends up flagging her down to come back and get our money.

M – I decide to go to the restroom before we leave. As I walk into the bathroom, my feet stick to the sticky bathroom floor!

It simply does not matter if this dining establishment is a high-end, high-priced venue or a small rural town diner.  The customer service should be OUTSTANDING!!!

The morale of this story, if you walk into a dining establishment and receive terrible service right from the onset.  Do yourself a huge favor and turn right around and walk out the door.  Save yourself the frustration!  Or you may end up walking on sticky bathroom floors!  (How can you as the business owner, not have enough respect for your business to have clean restrooms for your patrons??)

Why Did I Start This Blog??

I started this blog because of deep belief that there is never enough that you can do for your customer.

Being a customer myself and also working directly with customers on a daily basis, I see examples of customer service that drive me totally insane.  You name it, I can bet I’ve seen it.  Both good and bad!

I cringe when I see or hear co-workers not giving the customer 100% – or waiting until the customer is out of sight or hearing range to let loose a string of foul language or nasty, inappropriate comments.  I don’t care what that individual did, how they acted, what they said:

Without Them You Are Unemployed!!

For the life of me, I just can’t understand why you, the Customer Service Representative, don’t get that!  When did it become so totally acceptable to complain about what you are getting paid to do.  You are being paid daily to assist those individuals.

Someone please tell me what has happened to work ethic?  Where has it gone??  And for goodness sake, how can we bring it back???

It amazes how many employees think it’s not their place or even flat out lie to a customer just because they do not want to do the work at that particular time.  For the love of God, just do your job!  Stop putting the customer out just because you are being lazy.  Please, please, please, whatever you do – don’t inconvenience your customer by making them return on another day.  Do whatever you have to do to satisfy them WHEN they are there.

Some days, I just wish I could be the supervisor for one day, hell even one hour.  I would make so many changes in how you deal directly with my customers, if you really don’t want to work or are too lazy – find a new job!  You are wasting my time and you are wasting the time of my customers.  Go away!

I believe every single business should strive to be Number 1 in Customer Service.

Why Would You NOT???

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