Saturday, February 22, 2014


I’d forgotten what it was like, through a decade and a half at an executive level, or working in tech and/or with engineers, what it was like to have a job in which there’s much contact with vendors and clients.  It didn’t even occur to me, taking on a new job with a company which sells actual products, but among many other adjustments, this one is a fundamental gear-shift for me.

If I’d thought about this and had a chance to say whether it’d be appealing, I almost certainly would have found a way to stay where I was.  I might have felt that dealing with salesmen (our own *and* those seeking our business) and – “worse” – customers, or people with complaints would be a deal-breaker.

I’d have been an idiot, of course, but the underachiever in me never was a sharp tack.  Nor even a comfortable person – laziness isn’t ease, not by a long shot.

What has turned out to be ease, and a great surprise to me, is this very dealing with people which almost certainly would have done me out of this job.  Among other things, I take calls from people who have had issues of one sort or another with our drivers.  Fender-benders, poor parking, bad attitudes, or dangerous driving in the winter storms ravaging almost all of us so far this winter.  The interesting part is, the worst I’ve encountered so far has been stress – not actual nastiness nor even griping.  People are so very glad to have a human being to speak with that when I simply LISTEN, they seem to come away satisfied.  Of course, I go farther than that, explaining to them what I will do to follow up, and I give them my name and direct number – which almost none of them will ever need again (one hopes …), and THAT is customer service solid gold.  We all see those “How’s my driving?” numbers – and for many years, the facility to use one was limited – but then came cell phones, and you can reach out in real time to discuss truck number such-and-such’s high speeds in the snow and so on.  In one case, the complaint was about noise – our driver’s radio was on too loud – and the insurance office calling did so while the driver was still there, explaining how they’d approached this driver in the past and wanted to call the law.  Once they talked with me, there were no police involved.  It didn’t take much, but it saved our company a certain amount of nuisance, and – I would imagine – money as well.

I’m not per se surprised that I’m good at this.  There’s enough of my mom in my DNA and mentality, it’d be impossible for me to be bad at it.  What surprises me is that, unlike my facility for math – and unlike my expectations of myself – I don’t HATE picking up my office phone.  So far (and it’s early days yet, yes), there’s no dread nor grudging attitude toward this part of my job.

Perhaps, at the tender age of forty-six, I am doing a little growing up.

Or, just maybe, I’m actually providing something worthwhile professionally.  I bet they pay people to do that …

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