The Object of My Dejection — Tell us about the object of your dejection — something you made, a masterpiece unfinished, or some sort of project that failed to meet your expectations. What did you learn from the experience? How would you do things differently next time?
When I was a young mommy working full-time and raising my son, I thought I should make my own clothing. It would save a lot of money. My mom made all my clothing when I was a child. She continued throughout her life to make her own outfits and they were gorgeous and classy.
Now that I was grown up with a job and a toddler, she occasionally — if I begged and pleaded — made something for me. Things I wanted but couldn’t find in the store, or afford if I found them.
I waxed nostalgic about the days when Mom made my clothes. I didn’t appreciate how beautifully everything fit. How special the outfits were until I was much older. When I was a kid, I wanted was to look like everyone else. Kids are dumb that way.
I spent childhood watching my mother create things on her magic Singer Sewing Machine. Most the clothing I wore to school and all of my dress clothing was homemade.
How hard could it be? I picked up a second-hand sewing machine. Took a sewing class. Bought a few patterns. Bought fabric, zippers, buttons, threads — all those little widgets and doodads sewing requires. Thus armed, I dove in and made a few new outfits. I was delighted by how much I could make for a pittance, especially compared to buying its equivalent ready-made. People stared at my clothing. Admiration? They must be impressed. I was right.
Long pause. “You made that yourself?”
“How did you know?”
“Just a lucky guess.”
It turns out you have to set both sleeves the same way so one isn’t puffy while the other lays flat. There’s pattern matching and buttons which are supposed to line up. Zippers aren’t supposed to stick out or be bunched up. So many details. Hems? One length all around seemed to be the standard.
Those pesky collars — they never came out right. It was getting personal. Even is a big word in sewing — the noun, not the pronoun form. Both sides of a garment are supposed to be identical or so close that the differences are invisible. Unless your model is oddly shaped.
I took another sewing class. This time, I was ambitious. Tailoring. It didn’t go nearly as well as sewing had. There was padding and that stuff which stiffens fabric. I gave up, threw in my pinking shears and folded up the machine where it remains to this day.
Nowadays, I play to my strengths. I have cameras, take pretty good pictures. Write little stories. Wrote a book, maintain this blog. I leave the handicrafts to the handy. Does anyone need an older, but barely used sewing machine?
As I was coming back from my doctor’s office today, I got to thinking what could be done to improve the customer service experience, especially regarding voice mail systems. This is what I came up with.
LET ME SELECT WHAT I NEED
Your options have not recently changed if you can’t remember the last time you redid your message. If I know I need number 2, 3, 1, or 0, let me press it. Do not make me sit there while you rattle on. It’s an inexcusable imposition on my time and patience.
Moreover, everyone is familiar with voice mail. It’s not new technology. We know to listen until we hear the option we need. We are not stupid.
My time is as valuable to me as yours is to you. Don’t waste it.
DON’T BURY THE LEAD
Whatever your organization does, make sure the first choice in your list is the thing most of your customers want. It probably is not your address, business hours, website address, or the opportunity to hear about your new services — or take a survey.
If you are a personal service provider — doctor, dentist, veterinarian, massage therapist, hired assassin — scheduling should be on top. At least half your calls will be people who need to make, change, or cancel (or some combination of these) an appointment. Don’t send us to a sub menu with more options. Answer the damned phone.
If you are a utility — cell service, telephone company, ISP, power company, water — why do think most people call? Because your service isn’t working. No power, no water, no cell service, no dial tone. No WiFi. No cable. Do not tell us to use the website. If we could get to the website, we would not be calling you.
Whoever picks up the call must be able to reply to this: “Is this a general outage or is it me?”
- If the former: When do you expect service to be restored?
- If the latter, transfer the caller to tech support. Don’t ask us to make another call.
IT DOESN’T WORK
Number 2 should be Technical support. Of course. Something isn’t working or isn’t working as it should. Have a human being answer the phone. Even if it involves waiting, don’t make your already upset and angry customer wade through another set of prompts. Take responsibility. Be a person.
ABOUT THAT BILL
Number 3? They want to talk about the bill. Which they already paid, can’t pay, shouldn’t have to pay, is actually someone else’s. If you put them into another voice mail system, it will might make them angry enough to dump you for another provider.
They do not want to leave a message for someone to ignore and never call back. They want to straighten out what they hope is a simple misunderstanding. If you send them to more voice mail or an answering machine — and you don’t return the call immediately — expect to never get your money or lose our business. I have dumped providers at the first opportunity many times and I will do it again. If you aggravate me enough, I will hold it against you. Forever. And I will tell everyone why.
This is business. I am a paying customer. Act like you care.
A CAUTIONARY TALE
I hear so many companies complaining how bad business is. Never do I hear them wonder if their own action (or inaction) might have something to do with it. Maybe the problem is how badly you treat your customers.
Consider this: Maltreating customers does not endear you to them. If they can, they will go elsewhere. At the first opportunity, they will drop you so fast you won’t have a chance to say “Hey wait, I’ve got a deal for you.”
A couple of years ago, a friend of mine got the option of using FIOS instead of Warner Cable. FIOS was a bit more expensive and had a slightly smaller offering, at least back then. She changed services anyway. She said: “I hate Warner so much, I’d happily pay more to anyone else just to be rid of them.”
I feel that same way about our cable provider. They think they are invulnerable because we currently have no choice, but eventually, we will have a choice. It’s only a matter of time. The ill-will they are amassing now will ultimately bury them. It’s a cautionary tale for all corporations who think they “own” the market — and the customers.
Talk to your customers. Be nice to them. Make them feel valued. Calm them down rather than throwing gasoline on the fire. If you are in a service industry, provide service. It’s what we are paying for.
Not being able to sleep is a serious bummer. In my case, it’s my back. I can’t find a comfortable position and the drugs that are supposed to make me sleep are not nearly as strong as the back pain. It’s not that I don’t sleep at all. I sleep a little. Restless, light sleep and then I’m up again. Waking and sleeping and waking again. As I said: Bummer.
It gives me a lot of time to think during those long, uncomfortable nights. I think about what I should do that I haven’t done. I really get myself going by thinking about what I did do that I shouldn’t have done. Best of all, there is what I should have done differently. In that direction lies true madness and I don’t recommend it.
Eventually, I crawl out of bed, get sort of dressed. I turn on the coffee, throw the dogs out into the cruel world to do their business, then settle into the recliner in the living room. Blearily drinking coffee as the sun sort of rises. It’s been grey and dark for the past three days, so it never really feels like daytime has come and sunrise is just a slightly lighter color grey than night.
Right before bed last night, Garry and I were having a conversation. It was a reminder of why I love that man. We were talking about baseball. For those of you who aren’t fans and don’t follow this stuff, the “winter meetings” are in progress. This is when teams dig into their pockets, pull out their checkbooks, and negotiate with players. Whatever the holes in their lineups — pitching, hitting, fielding — they are going to try to sign players to fill the roster for the coming year. Hopefully, for a lot longer than just one season.
The Red Sox, our home team, traded away pretty much the entire pitching staff at the end of last season in favor of a bunch of sluggers. Not that it helped much because we still managed to get a firm grip on last place and hold it to the bitter end.
So, no one is arguing they didn’t need the offensive players, but perhaps they might have shown a bit more restraint in cutting loose people like Jon Lester, who clearly didn’t want to be traded and is the el primo pitcher in baseball. This week, as the meetings continue, they are trying — balls to the wall — to get him to come back to Boston — and he isn’t playing nice. No home town discounts this round of talks.
I said “They over-estimated their ability to sweet-talk him back to Boston.”
Garry said “They over-estimated their clout at the winter meetings.”
I said “They under-estimated how pissed off he was at getting traded.
And Garry summed it up. “Hubris,” he said. “Hubris. Gets them every time.”
Hubris: (noun) Excessive pride or self-confidence. Synonyms: arrogance, conceit, haughtiness, hauteur, pride, self-importance, egotism, pomposity, superciliousness, superiority; more. Antonyms: humility
(In Greek tragedy) Excessive pride toward, or defiance of, the gods, leading to nemesis.
“Hubris,” I agreed. “That covers the whole thing.” After which we stumbled off to bed.
But in how many husband-wife discussions does “hubris” figure? Not a lot, in my experience. That we can have conversations like this and not have to say “Come again?” or “What do you mean by that?” makes a world of difference, to me at least.
Better yet, it was all about baseball. They should have held on to Lester. Especially in view of the fact that Lester just signed with the Chicago Cubs for 6 years at $155,000,000 with a 7th vesting year that could take the contract up to $170,000,000.
Theo Epstein, who left the Red Sox with a mad on because they didn’t treat him well — and Lester, who was unceremoniously traded by the Red Sox against his wishes and thus also departed with a mad on, got together to jointly stick it to the Red Sox. I’m sure they are both smiling. Chicago has reason to celebrate while Boston scrambles to find a couple of top-quality pitchers. Good luck with that.
Hubris, hubris, hubris.
(Note: In case the Daily Prompt gets their act together this is part of today’s dysfunctional prompt: All or Nothing? – “Perhaps when we find ourselves wanting everything, it is because we are dangerously close to wanting nothing.” — Sylvia Plath
The Red Sox wanted everything. I hope they don’t end up with nothing.
Thought I’d just offer a few “around the house” pictures. We haven’t put up our holiday decorations yet. I’m waiting for some of them to arrive. They are, I am assured, on their way.
No big tree this year.
We are going to go with the miniature, baby live pines. In the end, I got two of them: one for the living room, the other for the dining room. They are small enough to look good on the tables, big enough and decorative enough to add a festive look. Especially when we add the wrapped gifts with their ribbons and tags and all.
So this is the house just before the holidays, after the Thanksgiving snow has melted and before the next storms arrive. A peace mini-interval between periods of busy and hectic!
Wronged Objects – If your furniture, appliances, and other inanimate objects at home had feelings and emotions, to which item would you owe the biggest apology?
Pity my poor electric range. Cursed, sworn at. Abused by everyone for its tendency to flare into super nova status and burn everything, or decide it’s not in the mood to cook today (I can sympathize with that viewpoint, actually).
Of all our appliances and home furnishings, the range has suffered the most as humans speak to it cruelly, harshly, without compassion.
Yes, I pity it. I do. It is not its fault it isn’t a gas range. This area doesn’t even have natural gas available. We had no choice but to get an electric range … and it certainly had no choice about becoming part of this household. To be fair, after you understand its limitations and quirks, you can bend it to your will, sort of. I can bake banana bread and pound cake that’s pretty darned good.
So pity my poor, abused, under-appreciated range … but you totally gotta love my little Waring convection oven. It rocks.
Today’s a perfect day to reblog this one. It made me laugh. It made me laugh a lot and I have to admit, it did not make Garry laugh nearly as much.
Sometimes I think there is only one husband in the world. He comes in a variety of packaging options — size, color, age, ethnicity — but underneath, it’s the same guy.
Originally posted on Stuff my dog taught me:
The other night I had an argument with the husband so I harrumphed up the stairs and went to bed early. (Actually, I harrumphed up then back down then back up, since I had forgotten the ipad in the living room. This took away a fair bit of the effect from my initial harrumph but it also allowed me to watch a new season of The Vampire Diaries in bed, so…).
Buster the Schnauzer did not have even a moment of angst over what to do in such a situation. Without hesitation, my loyal friend followed me up the stairs, AND back down, AND back up. As I settled under the covers, he sat upright on the bottom of the bed with a look that clearly said, “You are everything wonderful and perfect in the world and HE is an ass.” (Buster has a very expressive face). As we shared…
View original 469 more words
ATTACK OF THE ELECTRICAL GREMLIN
Garry was on his way to visit his brother in New York. He got a late start … too much last minute stuff, too much time checking email and sipping morning coffee. When finally he got on the road, it was almost noon. He was a couple of miles from home, heading for the Mass Pike, when the electrical gremlin hit.
The right side rear window went down and refused to go back up. Finally, after some wiggling of switches, the right rear window closed. But the left one promptly went down and refused to rise again.
Why? Who knows? The mystery electrical gremlin, the bane of modern computerized cars had struck. It has happened before. For no reason.
Garry called and said he was coming home.
When the car was in the driveway, I went down to see if I could convince the system to reboot. I opened and closed windows. I jiggled switches, turned things on, turned stuff off. I turned the engine on, off, on.
Locked and unlocked the doors. Eventually, the gremlin was exorcised, disappearing as mysteriously as it arrived.
Garry had enough.
“I know how to take a hint,” he said. He called his brother and rescheduled. Next week is looking good.
WHAT’S FOR DINNER?
My enthusiasm for cooking is at an all-time low. I’m not sure why, but it may have something to do with 45 years of cooking meals for husbands, children, family, friends … even myself. But, like it or not, dinnertime arrives everyday.
I am left staring into the freezer wondering what to defrost. We just went shopping, so there’s a choice. My fallback position is frozen pizza, but we’ve eaten too much pizza lately.
As I stood there pondering, a package of frozen Italian-style turkey sausage flew out of the freezer and landed at my feet.
“Okay,” I said. “Got it. We’re having pasta and sausage for dinner.”
I too can take a hint.