I then heard panting; someone out of breath.
A mom entered.
Her face was flush.
Sunlight from two large windows caused the droplets of perspiration on mom's brows to glisten.
College-age daughter, head down, walked in second.
Mom glared at her daughter. "What an insane place! I can't believe this!"
Flustered and obviously on the verge of a meltdown, mom stood in line behind me at a service counter.
Since my business with the college police that day was not time-sensitive, I told mom to go ahead of me.
She did not hesitate.
Mom leaned into window of the bullet-proof glass, and immediately vocalized to a young clerk how horrible things had been for her thus far.
- They could not immediately find a parking place.
- The available spots were way too far away from the police department.
- She asked: "Why are all of these hills on campus?"
- She questioned the wisdom of scheduling "all of this construction on campus right now."
- Finally, mom lamented that now they were going to be late in meeting with a professor, and that she had no idea how to get to the assigned building.
But what impressed me was the young clerk.
The employee calmly listened, and empathized with mom. "Yes, the construction has made things challenging, and it sounds like you have overcome plenty of obstacles this morning."
With useful conversation and a professional demeanor, the clerk helped normal blood flow to return to mom's face.
The discussion continued, but when mom's words began to tangent to complaints, the clerk skillfully redirected her--soliciting the vehicle information and other specifics needed for the temporary parking pass.
The young employee then provided mom with explicit directions to the building where the meeting was scheduled, and where she should park for the shortest walk.
Spent but calmer, mom thanked the clerk, and she and daughter hurriedly exited through the same ramshackle door.
Their police visit took less than 7 minutes.
Good customer service is not exactly plentiful these days.
But I always marvel when I see it.
The clerk could have met mom's behavior with equivalent anger and rudeness. She could have snickered, blew mom off, or simply frowned about some of mom's less than rational complaints.
But she didn't.
She expertly diffused what could have been a volatile situation.
Unfortunately in life, the folks at the top--CEOs, managers, vice-presidents, etc.--get lots of recognition when an organization is successful.
But what about the entry-level employees? The clerks? The troops on the ground? The ones who make that organization what it is?
Do they get applauded for good work?
Not often enough.
Well, this time someone will.
I have a letter to write: to unidentified supervisor regarding the actions provided by an unidentified police clerk.
Good customer service is not dead.
Story Note: Unfortunately for those that visit college campuses in the summer, they are typically one giant construction zone. Here in the Northeast, summer means fewer students in the way and no snow storms to delay new construction or street repairs. As such, every dorm, road, and building project is in full swing. Just another July at an institution of higher learning.