Earlier today I spent about 20 minutes on hold while trying to schedule an appointment with a doctor. By the time my call was received, the person on the other end of the line was so anxious to get me off of the phone that she would cut me off mid sentence. She would ask me questions that I sometimes was unsure of the answer to, and then interrupt me while I searched for the answer. This is a person whose job it is to welcome patients into a medical practice. It is this persons job to schedule appointments for them for procedures, some of which are invasive and even scary. Today I was only scheduling an X-Ray and CT scan of my knee. Not life threatening. Not invasive. Not scary. Just painful and painfully annoying.
A little more than three years ago however, I was diagnosed for the second time with cancer. It was a little more than a month before my wedding. It was right in the middle of summer time and beach volleyball season. I was working diligently to become a successful sales manager of a growing logistics company. Then, I may or may not have been scared, but I was injured. Every ticking second on hold on the phone only grew my frustration levels. This time only allows someone to worry or become agitated, but I can understand that I am not the only patient in the world. I am just a guy who tries to get things done. What’s worse however, is how traumatically rude and condescending the person on the other end of the phone was. I say traumatic because yes, it was a traumatizing experience to me. I was dying. I was racing the clock. I didn’t know if I was going to be alive for my wedding. And then I spent 45 minutes on hold and was finally received by someone whom I was asking for help from, and it was abundantly clear to me that they didn’t care if I lived or died. They just wanted to clear the call.
With less than 24 hours before my surgery, I fired my surgeon. I couldn’t cure cancer and neither could my doctor. But they can impact the way in which a person gets treated during a trying time. They can make someone feel comfortable through this experience. I was up against something, but it was more important to me to not let the things that I could control add more insult to injury.
Think about this if you are involved in a customer service role. In transportation, remember that your customer’s experience begins long before you answer their call. They had put their trust in you, your company, your rates, your transportation management system, your customer service. Their business depends on being able to effectively ship their product to their customers. People’s jobs may lie in the balance. If they are calling it is because they have a need. They have things to worry about. They have tasks to complete. If something has gone awry, they are injured. They may have to wait on hold in order to receive OMG customer service, but it is worth waiting a few extra minutes to be sure that the person who takes that call gives them all of the respect and attention that they deserve. Remember that the implications of a late shipment could mean jobs lost, the success or failure of a person’s business, the rise and fall of profits, and at the very least this person had to spend precious time out of an already busy and hectic day to ask you for your help. Be sure to give your absolute best when given the opportunity to prove yourself.
My old boss once said to me, “it’s not whether something will or won’t go wrong: it will. It’s what happens when it does that you prove who you are.”
– Nick Klingensmith, Director of Sales Development