Have you ever called the customer care centre’s of some of this our phone companies or banks? Many times you end the call angry and frustrated. The frustration starts building up when they first waste your time with some adverts that plays repeatedly because as usual, “all their customer care agents are busy”. When you finally get through, of course your anger is now at boiling point. Let’s say your complaint is about the 2.5GB data you bought at night and never used and by the morning whilst checking your Facebook, you suddenly got a text saying “your data has been exhausted” etc. What does the customer care agent tell you? “Did you leave automatic updates turned on”? No. “Did you watch/download YouTube videos”...etc? No. (you roar back). “Maybe your kids were browsing with it”? “Nooo, I live alone”.(Now very angry) “I am not a kid”. “I know how to use a phone”.
Why all this annoying questions?
Well, what they are doing is giving you training school answers. That’s what the training school manual says they should say when a customer calls. Instead of being of service to you, they become techy and defensive. A good number of them lack the creativity, passion and will power to do the needful. When you are stuck with repetition and instructions in your job, its your duty to add passion to what you do. If you are not passionate about a task the tendency not to be creative is high. So when someone like the hypothetical caller we mentioned in the beginning of this post now calls, an unmotivated staff will look at the work manual or remember what he or she memorised and try to use that to answer the questions. Unfortunately, it’s not the answer in the book the customer wants, it’s an explanation of how “2.5GB dissappeared without use” . Since that answer is not in the training manual, the tendency to begin to play games with an already annoyed customer arises.
I have a company I do monthly payments to. After paying, the sales representative, a lady immediately confirms my payment and sends me a mail. Recently I made the same payment and called the company and another person answered the call telling me the lady no longer works for the company and that I should write a mail concerning the new payment. All my explanations to him that he should just check their records that the payment has been made (I quoted the invoice number and the bank transfer details etc) fell on deaf ears. As far as he was concerned the law was that I should write a mail on the payment. I even tried to explain to him that the person who occupied that position before didn’t relate with me like that. He insisted I should follow the instructions or my service would remain suspended. So I complied, wrote the mail and got another reply from them stating that I addressed my mail to the wrong person though I got the dept right. Eventually, I wrote about three mails on this subject before my payment was acknowledged. If I had another option on that day, I would have canceled my subscription to them. Bottomline is this, the new man to me was just an unmotivated person who lacked passion for his job and was not creative. I mean what would it take to confirm from his computer whether payment had been made or not.
Let me put it another way.
Haven’t you seen a situation where in a hospital, you see a long row of let’s say pregnant women insisting they wanted to see a particular doctor when others are free to see them. It’s because that person they are waiting for, knows how to communicate as well as listen to them. He follows the book but he adds passion/creativity to his skills so he is able to relate well to the people. At other times, people will insist that “I don’t want so so and so nurse to give me injection. I will wait till nurse XYZ is free”. Its because the latter does her job in a certain way that makes it worth it to wait even all day for her than the former who just jabs the needle into your “butt” exactly the way the manual says it should be done.
This is where I am going –
If you do your work by the book without artistry or passion you will be slowly killing the company you work for. Sticking to the rules does not mean working without emotion. People can detect that in what they do with you. Check out some of the “greeters” at the entrance of our banking halls. They may say, welcome to SS and S bank. I observed most customers don’t even bother to answer because the welcome is “too automated”. You can say welcome in a conversational way not like a robot and people will respond. That’s what creativity and passion is all about. There used to be an old man in a bank in my area who stands in the banking hall. On days like Friday when everyone is in a rush and the hall is full with most people already tensed because of the long queues, this man always has a funny remark, a complement or something that diffuses the atmosphere. He will coax people to remain on the queue and then turn to the cashiers and say something like… “Please answer them quickly cashiers. Mrs XX is getting married today so don’t waste her time”. “Pay Mr YY his money quickly so he can leave before his landlord comes….”. He always says something that makes the people laugh. I used to tip him and have seen others tip him too. That’s what I call creativity.
Recently, I entered a flight with my wife from PHC to Lagos and as we entered, the flight attendant ordered all of us to switch off our phones and was outright going from seat to seat bullying everyone. We all complied. The atmosphere was tense in that plane till we disembarked. I told my wife I would never fly that airline again if I had a choice. He did it by the book and his lack of creativity and positive passion at the time of executing his duties made his company lose a customer in my person. Maybe he had had a long day. I get it. But this is a people job. A job where there will be a lot of contact and egos rubbing together. You have to bring your passion to work to do this kind of job.
Bring creativity into the rules given to you. I didn’t say disobey the laws of the company. I don’t know whether you have met some traffic wardens here in Nigeria. Some make the work interesting such that people give them money as they pass traffic and everyone obeys without problems. They are there, standing in the hot sun, all kitted up, yet they still add creativity to a job that is actually not easy to do bearing in mind all the road rage we see exhibited on Nigerian roads by various drivers. The same job is also be done by others in the same work space yet there is no life in what they do whilst directing traffic. They are doing it by the book but they are not doing it with passion /creativity/joy. Repetitive tasks can be boring. You have to be creative with it.
My wife an I met a lady who was representing a tour company at our hotel in Dubai. We stopped by her table to make enquiries concerning touristry areas and how much it would cost. This lady was all engaging without being pushy. She didn’t give us the normal sales pitch. She spoke from her heart. She spoke in favor of her company and spoke of the benefits to us if we toured with them. She gave us tips beyond what she was supposed to do without breaking the laws of her company. She wasn’t just making/closing a sale, she was making friends with us. Needless to say, my wife and I booked a tour with her company immediately and we never regretted it. She promised and her company over delivered. Any time I am in Dubai, I am touring with that company again.
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