Customer Service

I took a day off last week to go to the Social Security office and to DMV, along with a few other spots, in pursuit of making my legal name-change official. (So yes, if you don’t follow me on Facebook, I have returned to my maiden name. Really though, once this election season is over, just Chan or Channon is plenty. [And if you are local, no I’m NOT Chan Bryant. We both use Chan as a nickname, but our given names are notably different, and I am not running for sheriff.])

I am going to guess DMV and Social Security offices look a lot alike all over the country. It would be foolhardy to suggest our local DMV is the only one understaffed, using a convoluted alpha-numeric “take a number” system (that actually has some logic behind it, strangely enough), but our local DMV has had a reputation for poor customer service and very long wait times, so I was only hoping that I’d get done with both efforts (literally across the street from each other, so no travel time involved) in time to tackle few other errands before the close of business.

I reviewed the requirements, filled out the applications and double-checked my documents before I headed out. I didn’t take it as a good sign when I met a computer kiosk for check-in at Social Security, but I waited fewer than five minutes, and wasn’t with the efficient representative in the back much longer than that before I exited with the receipt saying my new card would be in the mail.

Riding that wave, I was optimistic when I went across the street to DMV. I wasn’t shocked to hear I couldn’t get a Real ID without the actual Social Security Card, and given that I have no big travel plans ahead, I happily enough proceeded with the “Federal Limits Apply” version. After less than 10 minutes, my number was called and I found myself in front of the friendliest person ever to work at DMV. She answered a few almost random questions I had about the name change, Real IDs and more, and again, I was on my way with less than an hour invested in BOTH offices.

Next stop was the bank. My bank is actually a credit union, and for thirty years, we’ve had a love-hate relationship. Every time I am about to break up with them, someone with exemplary customer service wins me back. The branch manager at my favorite location won me back in spades after my purse was stolen last fall. The entire mortgage department locked me in indefinitely time and time again over the winter-to-spring refinance debacle (not their fault and not a story worth revisiting), and the two tellers I saw last Friday continued on the remarkable trend. Even their annoying app that brought me to tears the night of the stolen purse (no ability to shut down my card through the app!) is being continually improved.

It was a day filled with women dishing out good service with a smile, and I feel the universe owes them all this mention, even though they’ll likely never see it. I don’t know that I’ve mentioned much at all about my job in years, but the thread of customer service is continuous, from firefighter/medic/dispatcher to today’s Service Coordinator in a multi-franchise, spanning much of the state automotive dealership.

When pressed to define what I do, I laugh and say I bat clean-up. Others say I’m a Jill of all trades. The manufacturers I hold credentials with would likely say I’m alphabet soup (BDC, service advisor, brand champion, etc.), but in the end, I spend all day trying to assure happy customers, happy technicians, sane service advisors and more. So when I am on the receiving end, I have very high expectations of customer service and at the same time, I try to be very patient and tolerant when those hopes are dashed. I hope for good service, and I want to be as gracious as is humanly possible when I’m disappointed. I know some days it’s harder than others to leave not-work on the back burner while you are working, and almost without fail, the person waiting on you isn’t intentionally raining on your parade.

When was the last time you had great customer service? What businesses have earned your loyalty and trust?

And are you a customer who inspires above-and-beyond levels of service? There’s one customer in particular who is my role model. I met her just before she was diagnosed with cancer. Even when her brother had to drive her and the car in for service, she was radiant and exuded joy as she introduced him to me and thanked me for inquiring about her health. I think of her when I know my foul mood is showing, and it inspires me to exhale and smile whether I want to or not.

There’s a co-worker who is sarcastic and very much a realist, but he NEVER fails to speak or tap on my desk as he goes by, even if it’s the 15th time we’ve crossed paths before lunch. He’s the one who dubbed me Chanpagne. He just has an easy, humorous way about him, and even when he’s griping, I laugh. He also finds acerbic yet publicly appropriate ways to call me out when I have let someone get under my skin. We can’t all be PollyAnnas, but we can all make others’ days brighter, in our own ways.

So thank you, to those of you who have been along for the ride through the various renditions of my blog. Kindness and candor are always appreciated here, and many of you have helped me, taught me, more than you know.