Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Patience and Kindness

Over the past couple weeks, I have been traveling what seems like non-stop. We spent a week going about Chicago and Wisconsin, followed by three days 'at home'. I use quotes because I spent the bulk of those three days at work. Sunday morning, Gabriel and I rose before dawn bright and early to get on a plane. We took three flights to get to Colorado. By the time we got there, we were both so exhausted that even though we got there at 2:30 in the afternoon, we didn't feel like doing anything.

Today, we got up at an ungodly hour bright and early to return to Kentucky. We got to the airport, hurried through security, hopped on our plane, pulled out to the runway, returned to the gate, got off the plane, and sat for three hours while the Denver airport was pummeled with wind. We finally got off the ground after our flight from Denver to home had already left. (We totally had time to go back to our hotel and get the chocolate we accidentally left there. TSA was being mean rule followers. Whatever. I hope the cleaning lady gets to eat it. Maybe I should call the hotel and give her permission.)

When we arrived in Denver at noon, I immediately followed all the other passengers over to the customer service desk. There, I listened to a man castigating the employees because of the delays.

So, today I'm here to tell you something the world really needs to remember. Sometimes, things are caused by bad service. Sometimes, the person behind the counter is to blame. Usually, they're not. If you would like to file a complaint, please do so. I guarantee you the person behind the counter is exhausted from the stress of having to work quickly and efficiently to get as many people where they want to go as they can. They are not going to report to their company what you said. By the time they get off work, they're so tired all they want to do is go home and have a drink. You're making their lives more difficult.

Do you know those requests you're always getting on your receipts to complete surveys online? Those are prime opportunities to let your voice be heard, whether it be in terms of good or bad service. Did you know that most companies, even tiny ones, have websites now? They have Facebook pages. They listen to the comments you make on these sites even if you don't think they do. 

When we went on our cruise last year, I had one major complaint. I felt that the availability of free water was lacking. In my opinion, it should be available everywhere, if only to keep passengers from getting dehydrated. I made a comment about this on their comment card at the end of the cruise. Before I arrived back home from the cruise, I had a phone call from the cruise lines to discuss it further. 

I work in a service industry. Sometimes, due to the number of customers arriving at once, or because one of our employees has not shown up for his shift (I will not be able to get to my shift on time tomorrow because I'm stuck in Denver for instance), the speed with which we serve our customers is not to their or our liking. When customers mention this on the surveys, our manager and district manager take it seriously. When someone mentions it to me, I do what I can, but what can I do? I can do my job as quickly as possible, but chances are I'm already doing so. I can tell my manager what they said, but chances are I don't remember by the next time I see him. But I can tell you that knowing that customers are upset about speed can really bother me. I am in customer service because I enjoy taking care of people, not because it's the only job I can get. I want my customers to be happy, and take pains to make that happen. When a customer is not happy, I'll do everything I can to change that, but there's only so much I can do.

So, what can you, as a customer, do? You can smile. You can be polite. You can make the lives of those around you more pleasant. You can be nice. 

You can make your voice heard to the people who can make a difference. I'm not saying you shouldn't complain. If an airlines you fly consistently has delays, perhaps they schedule their flights too close together, and need to stop cutting costs in that way. The only way they'll do that is through customer feedback. Is your favorite restaurant always slow because they're understaffed? Let the manager know. 

The next time you're delayed by the weather, be thankful for the atmosphere that gives you that weather, and enables you to have oxygen to breathe. And be nice.

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