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The View From Here | December 2011

Several topics were bouncing around in my head this month. I could write about the November day in Oklahoma where we experienced flooding, tornadoes and an earthquake. But who cares if you live in North Dakota?

In the end, I decided to focus on customer service.

To prime the pump, let me give you a little background. I can be both stubborn and impatient—bad combination. I was having major issues with the company who supplies my television signal and had been going back and forth with them for more than a month. Every time I called, they promised me something, but delivered something else. I was fed up and made up my mind to get to the bottom of it that day, one way or another.

I have a timer on my phone here at the office. After talking to six people, getting hung up on once by a “customer service manager” and nearly two hours on the phone, I THINK I have the problem resolved. We will see when my next bill shows up.

As fate would have it, later that same day, a very disgruntled subscriber called the office. I admit, we make mistakes on occasion, but one thing has been constant in all the years I have worked here. The magazine mails on the same date every month. No excuses, no exceptions. I even get these lengthy reports from the United States Post Office showing each and every magazine that enters their system. Often times the report is more pages than the magazine itself—efficient huh?

Over the years, I have explained that exact process to numerous people who have called in wondering where their magazine is. The fact of the matter is, once it enters the postal system, it is out of our hands.

But none-the-less, each and every subscriber pays us to have their magazine delivered in a timely fashion, so we always do everything in our power to resolve any mailing issues that arise. Most times, a resolution is found and the customer is satisfied.

Not so this particular afternoon. Nothing I said and nothing I offered was making this person happy. I honestly think they wanted me to hand deliver them a magazine each month, which I was considering, until I looked closely at where they live. I am surprised they have electricity there, much less mail service.

Despite my efforts, I never was able to make this customer happy, which to be honest, has only happened to me once or twice over the course of my career here. Which left me only one card to play. I offered a full refund on their entire subscription price, even though they only had a couple months left.

I guess it shocked him a little bit, because there was a long silence, followed by the question “Why would you do that?”

To which my response was, “Sir, some customers just aren’t worth having.”

Which reminds me of the saying, “You can make some of the people happy all the time, all of the people happy some of the time, but you can’t make all of the people happy all of the time.”

The older I get, the more important I find it to be able to identify the people you can never make happy, but more importantly, I find it imperative not to become one of those people myself.

I sure hope I have a TV signal when I get home tonight.

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