I Thought this Was Dead

The police department's rickety door squeaked as it was opened.

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.

She relaxed.

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.


Bijoux said...

Good customer service is a rare find. I'm glad you are letting a supervisor know.

Pat Hatt said...

Some people sure have a way of diffusing and being nice, I saw it a few months ago with one cranky lady and the clerk was as nice as can be, my first instinct was to tell the cranky lady where to go lol

Momma Fargo said...

Indeed! I am so happy to read it does exist. And bravo to you for writing a letter. They matter. A lot.

Stephanie D said...

Great post! A good reminder, whether we're playing the role of the cranky person or the clerk. :)

messymimi said...

Grandpa taught our whole family about how to reward good customer service. If we are all at a restaurant, and the service is outstanding, he insists on telling the manager about it. In other situations, he either talks to a manager right away or writes a letter, and sends us a copy.

You are right that it's rare to get such a wonderful clerk, and when you do, you should send compliments.

Kay G. said...

Good for you, to make sure that this kind behavior will be recognized!

Gloria Baker said...

I have to say is absolutely nice think this things still happens.Someone really try to help.
Love this post:)

joeh said...

I always eel that good friendly service is easier than bad grouchy service, but handling silly complaints takes a special talent.

Midlife Roadtripper said...

Excellent idea. The clerk will appreciate that someone noticed her patience and helpful manner.

ladyfi said...

Hurray for good customer service - it's a dying art!

Jax said...

I'm impressed also. It's not easy to get yelled at or be the blunt of a complaint. It kind of makes you want to tell back. And, kudos to you for letting her cut!!

Lisa @ Two Bears Farm said...

Hopefully they already realize what a valuable addition this employee is, and your letter will just be the cherry on top.

WomanHonorThyself said...

pay it foward my friend..Pay it foward!! xoxoxox

Carol Kilgore said...

It's great you took time to write a letter. Not enough people do that.

Miss Caitlin S. said...

That is a great story- I loved reading this this morning!!! Sometimes an agitated person just needs to be validated- whether that's warranted or not- to cool their jets a bit. How awesome that the clerk aided in that way. And great of you to witness and follow-up with a letter. Thanks for this this morning.

Audrey Allure said...

I agree, definitely rare to find excellent customer service. I do always try to reward it when I see it!

- Audrey Allure

Chrys Fey said...

I am applauding that clerk for handling the frazzled mother so well.

lisa said...

Yes, you are so correct in saying good customer service is rare. This would have been a marvel to watch! Simply understanding and validating the frustration this mom displayed was key to turning around a bad situation. I'm glad you'll be acknowledging this clerk's actions to management. Hopefully, they will be somehow recognized and rewarded.

Bob G. said...

It's often been said, that with FEW exceptions, most EVERYONE is in some sort of "customer service" business (and many don;t even think of it that way).
I;m always quick with praise for GOOD service., and with good reason:
It was once told to me that:
"A satisfied customer will always tell another person about the experience, but a DISSATISFIED customer will tell TEN people."

Therein lies the truth, hmm?

A very good post.

Roll safe out there.

Mary Kirkland said...

It's always nice to see when someone can talk and calm someone down when they are irate or mad and stay professional instead of stooping to their low and getting irate right back at them.

Stephanie Faris said...

That's awesome! Moving out of Nashville to a slightly smaller town, I've been amazed at the great customer service by public servants. I worked in state govt. for 19 years and very few employees had that level of service skill. They were just exhausted from dealing with the same thing over and over all day. Outside of the city, though, the pace is slower and the employees take their time and seem to actually enjoy their work. It's very refreshing and you INSTANTLY relax and want to be kind back to them when they're that way.

Stephanie said...

What a great story! I love when I see great examples of good customer service because it is hard to find these days. Do you know who does an incredible job of hiring the friendliest employees? Starbucks!! I don't know how they do it, but they have some kind of training magic :)

Stephanie said...

What a great story! I love when I see great examples of good customer service because it is hard to find these days. Do you know who does an incredible job of hiring the friendliest employees? Starbucks!! I don't know how they do it, but they have some kind of training magic :)

Gail Dixon said...

Very nice of you to take time to write a letter to her superiors. All of that good ripples out to affect everyone. What I can say for the mom is at least she was able to calm down a bit. There are some that are in such a foul mood that no matter how you approach them, they can't be pleased. I'm so glad I don't have a job dealing with the public. I dealt with some pretty crazy individuals when I worked at an emergency pet clinic.

Lisa Scherber said...

I love it - it was not even you who benefited. Hopefully they get more than a pat on the back - even a nice coffee from Starbucks would reinforce this excellent behavior. :)

Secret Agent Woman said...

The clerk handled that beautifully!