“Why don’t people do their jobs?” our son once asked after working a couple days on his first “real” job post college.
He had witnessed people in the workplace trying to get away with doing as little as possible. He saw that attitude translate into action which in turn made it difficult for him to do his job. The domino effect.
I do not think I am giving away any part of the plot of Downton Abbey when I tell you that the premise of the movie is the preparation of the Downton household for a visit from the King and Queen of England. There is a whole protocol on receiving the royal entourage. The servants are more than a little miffed that the royal servants have usurped their positions in their own household. The Downton servants want to work and serve the King and Queen of England when the royals dine at Downton.
As I recapped the movie to my husband ( I attended with some neighbors while my husband stayed home. He had seen enough of the Crawley family from the trailer to get the gist of the film without being subjected to watching the actual film), I reflected about the servants’ attitudes. I don’t think if this movie was set in today’s workplace that the Crawley servants would’ve been at all put out that they were given a couple days off. More time away they might say.
Most people I know would relish not having to work. Is it because they work too long and hard and are just worn out? Many people do not like their jobs and are looking for ways to earn money without that four letter word- w.o.r.k. In some ways it is so sad because our working lives/time takes up a big chunk of our lives.
Now I am not criticizing those people who have and have had horrible jobs- mean bosses, ditzy or cruel co-workers, unsafe working conditions. There are places of employment that swallow their workers and spit them out in a depleted overworked mess. Companies that do not care about those whom they serve, much less the people they put in the position to serve.
This summer, our beach house experienced a tornado. While a tree limb came down and pulled the utility lines off the house, we were quite fortunate that no structural damage happened to the house, neighbors’ homes or any cars parked.
In the aftermath of the clean-up, someone retied the cable TV/internet wire to a tree and left the remaining wire on the ground as it came up to the house. The wire was tied at only four feet off the ground and was a safety hazard: the height of the wire around the tree could garrote someone walking across the lawn. When I discovered the situation I called the cable company- explaining that while we did have service, this was a safety hazard and we would need someone to come out and rehang the wire.
When I made the initial call I was told that someone would come out to fix the problem within 24 hours. Needless to say, the twenty-four hours came and went. I called back and heard the same response that someone was scheduled to come out and the service representative gave me a date and time. The date and time would come and go and I would repeat the phone call. After each phone call I was asked if I would be willing to complete a survey, and each time I dutifully did. When asked, I would say that I would not recommend the company because they didn’t resolve my issue. Every time a well sounding customer service person would call back and express sorrow at my inconvenience and state that they have escalated my problem and it would be resolved.
I kept repeating the circle: call-customer service, receive scheduling, no show from technician, poor marks on the survey, inquiry from another customer service person about the survey, escalate problem, told that it “will be resolved”, problem not resolved, repeat. With the amount of times we went through this phone roulette and the amount of times I heard that the problem was escalated to another level, my issue should’ve been escalated to the CEO of the company (which I might add would’ve been welcomed by me. At this point in the charade, I had many suggestions on ways to improve the service.) It took over two months to rectify this situation.
I wish they would give those individuals an accurate title. Forget Customer Service Agent. How about: “Professional listener but powerless to do anything” or “Token listener for the company who has just duped you.”
The thing is, as a customer you become totally powerless and ineffective which leads to incredible frustration. I become conflicted: I do not want to appear unreasonable and do not want to play the demanding jerk card- yelling, threatening, huffing and puffing. And I know that the person on the other end of the phone can only do so much to help. They too are put into a powerless position. But, there are times when as a customer, one needs to hold a company to account. We all know that we get what we pay for but companies need to stand by their products or at the very least, fix situations that only they can fix. Of course, I know of people that are always trying to game the system and get work or items for free when that is not fair to those people who are doing the service, etc.
But this experience has also made me reflect on my attitude of work. Not just work for payment but any type of work. How am I in working with others? Do I do my job so they in turn can do theirs? Am I excited about my work that if I couldn’t do it, I would be “miffed” (like the Crawley servants)? Do I take pride in what I do? When/if I am in a position of power or decision making, do I look for the best interest of those I am serving? Do I allow those who I oversea to have autonomy?
Ecclesiastes 3: 13 tells us, “everyone should eat and drink and take pleasure in all his toil—this is God's gift to man.” The verse reminds me of the balance: go about your business of life- the day to day of living along with the pleasure of having work. We have talked about that balance in past posts. (see Work/Life Balance from October 2nd) But I also see this verse as an opportunity for a different attitude as we work. Work is a good thing. We are designed to work- to complete tasks, to create ideas and items, to join others in this “toil”.
Do I take pleasure in my toil? Do I see it as a whole expression of my devotion and gratitude to God? Do I work, not for a specific company, person or achievement but rather for God?
What about you? What has been your experience with customer service? Frustration? Resolution? Do you enjoy your toil? If so, what about it that you enjoy? How do you maintain that attitude? If not, what can you do to rectify that?
“Work heartily as serving the Lord.” Colossians 3: 23
P.S. Some of my suggestions for customer service:
Under promise and over deliver
Do not say anything that you do not mean or cannot carry out.
Think of the other person as yourself