Sunday, January 27, 2013

Ten Things Your Customer Service Agent Would Tell You.. if She Could!

I've worked in a couple call centers- the first one was a contract for the actual service provider and there were a lot of things about that employer that I definitely didn't like. There were limitations on what I was and wasn't able to do, so there was a lot of frustration.

The second, my current employer isn't a contract. I work for the company whose customers are on the phone. This kind of ownership is great- I don't know if it's because I'm not working for the contractor, but I have a lot more leeway to do what needs done and provide the level of service I really want to provide.

Having said that, there are some things I've been contemplating about the whole call-center/customer service paradigm that many people may not realize.

1-      Hanging up doesn’t solve anything- it only moves you to the end of the line or totally aborts any possibility there was of resolving your issue. It may feel good to slam the phone down, but it doesn’t really solve the problem.

2-     … And neither does interrupting us. We know you're frustrated, and we do want to help you, but there are things we need to do this. Yes, share your situation- that tells us what the problem is. But allow us the chance to ask questions to clarify the situation. There may be things that you don’t realize that we need. Then we can present a solution. This is our turn to talk. Allow us to share the solution we have and give you information you need.

3-       … And neither does threatening us. There’s a reason we don’t tell you where our call centers are. There’s also a reason you received a copy of the contract. You may want to check that contract before you threaten legal action.

4-     … And neither does swearing or yelling or insulting us or getting rude. Nowhere in our job description is it required that we tolerate verbal abuse. Yes, I understand that you're upset, but the vulgar name-calling isn't going to improve anything, I promise.

5-      There is only so much we can do to help you. If there’s something we can’t do, then that’s something we can’t do- either b/c it’s against policy and we’d rather keep our jobs, or it's illegal and we really don't wanna go to jail/prison, or it’s something that simply isn’t available to us.

6-      If you signed a contract or otherwise agreed to this, don’t expect a whole lot of sympathy. We'll do what we can, but you did sign the contract. We do our part in confirming that you're a legal adult, and we hope that you're responsible enough to know that a contract is legally binding. We'll do our best, but there are some things that simply can't be done.

7-      Every company has their way of doing things. Both of us are bound by that. I will do what I can, but if it can’t be done or if it will cost me my job, I’m not going to do it.

8-      I know the automatic payment came out right away, but I can’t just put the money back. Reversing a charge isn’t like reversing a car. It’s a whole separate transaction. The process to pull the payment was initiated 3 weeks ago. The process to reverse that payment is being initiated today… now think about that for a minute while I put in the request to reverse these charges which should be back in your account in 5-10 business days.

9-      Don’t breath into the phone.. or cough into it, or shout at your kids. We can often hear a whole lot more than you realize. I know it's a little thing, but it's not exactly high on most people's list of pleasant.

10-   Last but not least- We actually don’t mind a challenging question, so long as the customer is reasonable, understanding, and patient. We actually love those calls! Please give us a chance?

Monday, January 21, 2013

Quick Thoughts on the 2nd Amendment

Jan 19 was Gun Appreciation Day. All over the country, gun rights advocates gathered on the steps of state capitols to declare that we will not go softly into the night. We will not go the way of Holland, falling to socialists in 5 days because they weren't armed. We will not have God-given rights defined by our founding fathers in the Constitution taken away by executive order of a President who cheated his way into a second term.

Some think that gun rights are about skeet shooting or hunting. That's included, but that's not really what the Founding Fathers were worried about. Others take gun rights a step further, to personal and property protection. Again, that's included, but not really the ultimate intent of why the Founding Fathers wanted to secure the right to be armed.

The fathers of this nation wanted to limit government. The Second Amendment is about preventing military and government coercion. The right of a citizenry to arm themselves comparable to the military is a deterrent comparable to the little old lady armed to the teeth- she may be old, weak, and medically frail, but her sidearm levels the playing field between her and the strong healthy 20-something criminal intent on harming her, taking her property, or even her life.

There are those who think it's offensive and disgusting to even consider comparing Obama to Hitler. I will quote my brother's thoughts on this (a FB comment):
Comparing two things that are similar happens quite frequently. Why is it offensive and disgusting? Because we have the benefit of hindsight, a view of their end-game on one, and a large gaping hole to the other. A comparative analysis in an attempt to predict the future, or prevent a negative future or event also happens with relative frequency. I'm not trying to put anyone down, but why do you think its offensive?
I agree that we should promote what we believe in over putting something/someone else down. But in a comparative analysis or assessment you've got to weigh the pros as cons of both sides. Or at the least be aware of the pros and cons of both sides.
The reality is that Obama may be doing it slower, but he's attempting the same path der Fuhrer took prior to WW2. With the benefit of hindsight, why would anyone not take advantage of that wisdom?

The reality is that the right to arm oneself was spelled out for the express purpose of keeping the government in check. Some elected officials have backed us up on this.

7 January 2013
The Honorable Barack Obama
President of the United States of America
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20500

Dear President Obama:
We, the elected sheriffs of Utah, like so many of our fellow Americans, are literally heartbroken for the loved ones of the murdered victims in Connecticut. As Utahans, we are not strangers to this kind of carnage – one of the latest being the 2007 Trolley Square murders wherein nine innocents were gunned down – five losing their lives.

We also recognize the scores of other recent domestic massacres, which have decimated countless honorable lives. As Americans, we value the sanctity of life. Furthermore, similar to our inspired Founders, we acknowledge our subservience to a higher power.

With the number of mass shootings America has endured, it is easy to demonize firearms; it is also foolish and prejudiced. Firearms are nothing more than instruments, valuable and potentially dangerous, but instruments nonetheless. Malevolent souls, like the criminals who commit mass murders, will always exploit valuable instruments in the pursuit of evil. As professional peace officers, if we understand nothing else, we understand this: lawful violence must sometimes be employed to deter and stop criminal violence. Consequently, the citizenry must continue its ability to keep and bear arms, including arms that adequately protect them from all types of illegality.

As your administration and Congress continue to grapple with the complex issue of firearm regulations, we pray that the Almighty will guide the People’s Representatives collectively. For that reason, it is imperative this discussion be had in Congress, not silenced unilaterally by executive orders. As you deliberate, please remember the Founders of this great nation created the Constitution, and its accompanying Bill of Rights, in an effort to protect citizens from all forms of tyrannical subjugation.

We respect the Office of the President of the United States of America. But, make no mistake, as the duly-elected sheriffs of our respective counties, we will enforce the rights guaranteed to our citizens by the Constitution. No federal official will be permitted to descend upon our constituents and take from them what the Bill of Rights-in particular Amendment II-has given them. We, like you, swore a solemn oath to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States, and we are prepared to trade our lives for the preservation of its traditional interpretation.

The Utah Sheriffs’ Association

One Utah Sheriff's signature was missing- Salt Lake County Sheriff Jim Winder. I asked him:

Why didn't you back my right to carry a gun in your county and not be disarmed by federal agents? Do you not uphold the Constitution, specifically the 2nd Amendment?

Rosa Parks didn't have a "need" to sit at the front of the bus, but that doesn't mean she didn't have the right to do so.

I may not "need" to carry a bigger clip, but that doesn't mean I don't have the right to do so.

Man up and take the solemn vow you made when you became sheriff seriously.

Why didn't Sheriff Winder sign this letter? Why was he not willing to re-affirm the oath he took when he took the badge?

I guess the part of this whole deal that bothers me the most is that there are those who would give up a little freedom to get safety. I have to agree with our dear Brother Franklin- they deserve neither.

Do I need an Ak47 to hunt a deer? No. Am I comfortable with the general public owning large clips and automatic weapons? No. But something I am far, far more uncomfortable with is someone attempting to take away my freedom. Even pieces of it. This isn't a gun debate, this is a freedom debate, and the fact you are willing to hand over a few of your freedoms... any of them, is alarming at best.
Thank you, dear FB friend from ages past who put it much better than I could have.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Analogies, Parables, and Teaching Stories- Part 6

I've always had a thing for analogies, parables, and the like. As teaching tools, they use every-day situations and ideas to explain complex principles, making those complex ideas a whole lot easier to understand. Often, they can explain ideas that would otherwise be nigh impossible to explain accurately.

Jesus Himself used parables all the time in His teaching. Sometimes this was to make the teaching of a certain principle easier. But often He didn't give an explanation. He simply allowed people to take from the "nice story" what they would- an act of mercy, given that we are each held accountable for following the doctrines we understand.

The first in this series was about ducks. The second one was about medicine.. and salvation. The third was about math class. The fourth was about engines and society. The fifth was about dirt.

This time, it's play time!

L-R: Me, Grandma Hale, Mom
Mom's first Mothers' Day as a mother.

My Grandma Hale loved jigsaw puzzles. By the time she passed away, she had an entire closet full of them! Unfortunately, they hadn't been exactly kept separate, some puzzles were in the wrong boxes, and some puzzles were just in zippy bags (It happens when you raise 5 boys!). Good times ensued trying to figure out what pieces went together, what the picture was meant to be. If you don't think that was a task- The only way to make sure you had the whole puzzle was to put it together... all of them!

That's kinda like the truth of God.

He's got the full picture. He gives mankind the full puzzle, including the picture on the top of the box and we rip into and put it together. Some people don't like the picture, others want to be the one to put the last piece in so they hide one or two pieces. Sometimes people just make up their own pieces.

Now take these kinds of shenanigans and multiply them by centuries.. and add power-trippers and bad lighting for translators... you get the idea. You have loads of people who think they know what He's got going on, and they're all a little off.

But Father loves us and doesn't want that for us. So every once in a while, Father re-issues a new box with a full set of pieces for His puzzle. He gave a new puzzle to Adam, Noah, Abraham, Isaiah, and Joseph Smith (not a comprehensive list, clearly).

This church has the most complete copy of Father's puzzle available on earth today. I'm positive there's more to it, but we're not ready for it. In the meantime, I'm grateful for the pieces we have, for the beauty of the picture we've been given.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

My Father's Daughter

Once upon a time, Dad was asked to teach a dutch oven cooking class. He made 2 or 3 different dishes, as well as a desert- pineapple upside down cake.

One of the people attending the class asked my dad afterward how many times he had made the cake.. He said "Once.. tonight!"


Well, I did something similar, Monday night. I was at a friend's and we decided to go grocery shopping. I went along for fun. She supposedly went for eggs, but visited the bakery, fresh produce, as well as the dairy section. While in produce, she chose to get a couple pomegranates. I told her I knew of a super-easy way to get the seeds out of a pomegranate.. without the bowl of water

"All I need is a good knife and a wooden spoon," I said. "It's easy!"

We took the lovely foodstuffs home, and I found a knife, a small bowl, and was given a wooden spoon to use.

I scored the pomegranate around it's "equator," set aside one half, and placed the second flat side down in my palm. I smacked that sucker and the kernels just fell out. Easy peasy!

One of the people there asked where I learned how to do that, I said, "Youtube."

I then admitted that I'd never done it before!

Yep, I'm my father's daughter!

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Another Movie Review

Jean Valjean, Prisoner 24601
For those who have read the book or seen the movie (there have been a couple) or musical a lot of this will be a review.

The story starts in post-revolution France and the law at the time was pretty hard-line about criminal behavior- Jean Valjean stole a loaf of bread and got 5 yrs. Of course he tried to escape and ended up serving a total of 19 yrs.

With a criminal record, he was unable to find work and was left on the street- cold and hungry. He came to a church and was given food and a bed for the night. He got up in the middle of the night, filled a bag w/pieces of a beautiful silver service, and ran. He was caught by the police and brought back.

Valjean had lied to the police, saying the silver was a gift. The priest of the church then did something extraordinary- he could have condemned Valjean to a life sentence in prison, but instead, chose to agree that the silver had been a gift, and asked Valjean why he left the best pieces- a pair of huge silver candlesticks.

In this small act- choosing to not accuse him- the priest offered Valjean forgiveness and compassion and a chance at redemption that he didn't expect to receive. Valjean was able to receive that gift and he ran with it, becoming a successful businessman, even the mayor of the town.

Jean Valjean, ready to fire a warning shot
at Javer at the last baricade.

Throughout the rest of the story, Valjean then offered those same gifts to Javer. Two separate times, Valjean could have utterly destroyed his enemy, but he didn't. He forgave him, and spared his life.

But unlike Valjean, Javer was simply unable to wrap his head around these concepts. He couldn't cope with it.

Valjean's compassion, forgiveness, and honor conflicted with Javer's concept of him being a criminal- a  "dangerous man." It flew in the face of everything Javer had based his life on- justice and the letter of the law.  Valjean's character simply didn't fit this black/white paradigm.
Valjean proved that Javer's entire life had been based on a lie, and he was unable to accept the forgiveness Valjean offered and the goodness in Valjean's character.

I think that's really the wonderful and tragic thing about this story- two men from such different backgrounds who need the same thing and are given that very thing they need so desperately. While one is able to take it and make a wonderful life for himself and those he loves, and the other is unable to accept the gift.. and the dissonance in his own soul destroys him.
The Atonement really is an amazing and wonderful gift.. if we can wrap our heads around it and accept that gift.