January 7: Long story for a tiny act: Lately it seems every time I try to use Pay Pal it limits my account (meaning I can’t use it). I have two accounts, so this is really just a mild irritant. Then today I got an e-mail in my junkmail box that I needed to provide a bunch of personal info to get my account back up and paying. I’m not consistently cautious, but this time I checked out Snopes.com to see if this might be a scam. Sure ‘nuf, Snopes said it was. I trust Snopes.

I figured I’d just call PayPal and ask them what was up, maybe give them all my particulars over the phone and be done. Only finding a phone number for PayPal isn’t easy (not for me, not today). But I finally did. and after being disconnected twice, I got a very nice guy named Colin (who looks like Taye Diggs in my mind — no reason, just my way of being nice to me, I guess) who fixed everything and made me laugh along the way. He didn’t just fix what I was having problems with but what he thought I might have problems with in the future because of the way my computers interact with the Internet. And he didn’t ask for anything more personal than my name and phone number.

All in all, it was a very pleasant experience. I told Colin that, and he seemed to be surprised. But then I thought, wouldn’t it be nice if he got rewarded for such good service, for just being nice to someone with a tiny problem. I asked if I could talk to his supervisor. He asked if there was something else he could do. Suddenly he sounded worried. “No, no, I just want to tell your supervisor that you’re good at your job.” Silence. “Oh, well. Yeah, that’d be great. Let me … well, I have to walk over; we’re not really set up for …” He suddenly sounded like … a regular person. “It’s OK. I have time.”

I was on hold for a minute. When he came back on he told me that he didn’t have a way to connect me to his supervisor unless it counted as “an escalation,” meaning he hadn’t done his job. His supervisor has an e-mail, but he’d understand if I didn’t want to go through all that (like I was going to have to carve it in stone, send it by Pony Express, or … I dunno … lick a stamp). I said I was at my computer now and it was no problem. He sounded sheepish but gave me the address.

I wrote a simple two-paragraph note about how much I value good customer service and that I found that in Colin who was kind and efficient. I said they were lucky to have him.

Now, if I were efficient, I could’ve just put here: “Wrote a positive note to a customer service rep’s supervisor.” But it kind of amazed me how hard it was to tell the boss he has a good employee. This isn’t the first time I’ve encountered this (try telling a McDonald’s franchise that their Keystone day shift is consistently the friendliest and most accurate crew in town). Companies make it easy for us to complain. And I know I’m quicker with the WTH than the Good Job, so it makes sense, I suppose. But still … I just wanted to take the extra effort to say Colin was nice.

Category: Niceness
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2 Responses
  1. Dayle says:

    It’s true: We’re quick to complain, slow to praise. I’ve written letters (the real kind, with a stamp and everything!) for employees who went above and beyond for me. 🙂

  2. Laura Akers says:

    Having been raised by parents who waited tables most of my youth, I was taught that customer service is something you should expect. And that when it is particularly good or bad, you should respond by doing more than adjusting your tip accordingly. More than once I have seen my mother explain clearly and concisely to a waiter how to take an order, as well as her mentioning to someone’s supervisor how much she enjoyed her experience at an establishment as result of their staff’s level of customer service.

    Having worked in the service industry myself, I will admit to something that seems somewhat verbotten: I ENJOYED it. I loved making a Port of Sub sandwich exactly to specification the first time, no matter how complicated the order was. How great it felt at H&R Block to take a frustrated or crying child from the arms of a parent trying to nswer the tax preparer’s question and find something really fun and involving for the rugrat to do armed only with office supplies. How much of a difference I felt I was making in running to get booster seats or using my broken French in order to help customers try get better seats when I worked at Cirque du Soleil. Why did I love it so much? Because very few people expect good customer service anymore, and when they encounter it, they are surprised at first, and then they literally melt in front of you, smiling a goofy smile and trying to find some way to express their thanks.

    Now, were we in the habit of paying people in these jobs a decent wage, that brilliant and grateful smile I used to get would have been bonus enough. Unfortunately, service people are generally treated badly and paid worse. ANY chance to reward them in any way for good service makes a better experience for us all.

    So without downplaying Cindie’s act of kindness, I’d like to suggest that it’s our duty to bring great service people to the attention of their supervisors. The world will be better for it.

    Go, Cindie…

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Cindie Geddes

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