Archive for the ‘Customer Service’ Category

Seasonal – nice work if you can get it…

November 19, 2012

How many times do unemployed people hear that at least they can pick up work at the department store because it is the holiday rush?  And what happens when they try?

I know what often happens.  And I don’t know why.

What happens is that they don’t get the job.

  • you don’t fit the profile,
  • sorry, we already have a list of qualified applicants,
  • you’re overqualified.

Why?  I was reminded today that seasonal hires are often considered for permanent employment during the next year.  And if this never was your career goal, you truly wouldn’t be an appropriate candidate.  Your resume doesn’t support this goal, your references are not prepared to talk about retail, your wardrobe and demeanor are not quite on target.

But I’m guessing.  Have any readers been successful at being hired for seasonal work lately?  If so, please share!  What was the interview process like?  How open were you about your aspirations?  And how did the job work out?

There’s something about September

September 4, 2012

…. that makes me want to wish you a Happy New Year.  It’s a remnant of that old, ingrained school schedule, I guess.  But I’m somewhat out of step with news coverage.

Listening to the news reporters last night, I heard the same cautionary tales that you did – with the requisite groaning,

  • Everyone’s back in school,
  • Everyone’s back to work,
  • Vacation’s over.
  • Let’s call it Terrible Traffic Tuesday.

So why are we groaning?  Think about it – your children are healthy enough to be in school, most people have jobs, and evidently a whole lot of you had a vacation.

I think all those people in the cars that clog the highways have blessings to contemplate.  Here are some things to think about:

  • Having somewhere to go,
  • Being sometimes excited by their work.
  • Or being excited about what they might be doing next year instead.

The unemployed, the underemployed, the lonely ones would be happy to be in your traffic jam.

Ease up, you reporters.

Good news in Maryland

August 23, 2012

A friend who shall remain nameless attended a mandatory workshop for the unemployed, sponsored by the State of Maryland.  He was reluctant to go – it’s in an unknown location, on a time and date not of his choosing.

Well!  The report was glowing, and I’m delighted to share the good news on a state service.  The building was beautiful, very clean, and filled with resources for jobhunters, including free copy machines.  The workshop began promptly and was conducted professionally.  People were cordial and encouraging.  Handouts (primarily of websites that post job openings) appeared to be promising.

There was also a required interview to assess one’s actions in looking for work.  My friend reports that the interviewer was courteous and encouraging.  Not one’s worst fears at all.

My friend is still unemployed, but he does in fact feel a bit better about the situation.  I want to take this opportunity to thank my colleagues at the state level, who do their work with professionalism, tact, and optimism.  You more than meet our expectations.

The Runaway Interviewer: what would you do?

April 12, 2012

A friend just posted an unusual happening on LinkedIn.  She said she had been stood up for an interview, and wondered what to do.

Several of us have weighed in, and in general, the responses look like this:

  • what kind of organization is that?
  • there may have been a misunderstanding.
  • Do you want to work at a place like that?

I guess I have lived and worked and made mistakes too often to write someone off without more information.

I’m for “wait for the explanation”, but not everyone feels that way.  My friend posted that she left him several messages and was awaiting a response.

What do you think?  Has this happened to you?  What would you do? How would you interpret this incident?

Way to go, Insurance Company!

March 28, 2012

Have you had a fender-bender lately?  If so, let’s swap stories.

I’m at fault.  I drove into another patient’s car in the minuscule parking lot at the dentist’s office.  Cccrunch.  (Is there a more sickening sound?) I was going probably two miles per hour, backing out of my spot, and didn’t see the nice shiny silver car behind me.

The car owner, rescued from some kind of dental procedure, was very nice. Likewise the receptionist.   Then I went home and called my insurance company.  (Okay, it’s Allstate.)

Talk about nice!  Questions:  are you all right?  Was anyone hurt?  ( fine and no.)

When I was referred to an accident reporting number, yet another seriously polite and professional person took the information.  Not only was she totally pleasant, she informed me about the next steps.  I particularly like the part in which I don’t have to pay a deductible because of something called silver protection or platinum or something.  Anyway, it was good news.

Today, at the collision office, another friendly person provided an estimate and cut a check for repairs.  When I asked about what made people so darned nice at Allstate, he let me know that his two-month training was at least 50% on providing exemplary customer service.  He said their philosophy is to put people on pedestals – to provide the best service it is possible to provide.

Well!  They are succeeding, in my opinion.  They make this complication in my life hurt quite a bit less.  Yes, I pay.  But it seems that I’m getting something for the money, and that’s more than we consumers often get.

So here’s to Allstate.  Thank you for being so responsive.  Thank you for answering the phone within a ring or two.  Thank you for keeping me informed about your process. Thank you for modeling customer service as the foundation of doing business.

(I’m a long-term customer and I approve this message.)

Thank you, Ikea delivery service!

February 15, 2012

Don’t you think people should say thank you more often?  I do.

So here’s a huge one to the delightful men who made a delivery last Sunday afternoon to Greenbelt, MD.  You brought the bed and mattress on time, you manoevered the boxes around tiny corners with good grace and humor.  You took away the old stuff although you were unsure if it was part of the deal.  (We were unsure, too.)  With a lighthearted “let’s avoid the foolishness”, you took it away anyway, rather than stand and argue.  Wow!

My daughter and I thanked you profusely, and you actually said we were the nicest customers you had met all day.  Wow again.

I don’t think I’ve ever been thanked for being a nice customer.  You made our day, truly.  Thank you.

A story you’re going to love…

August 26, 2011

It’s my privilege to share a good news story from time to time.  And today, I heard a good one, which my friend Kevin has agreed to share with you.  In his own words….

On the first of March, I signed a one-year lease to move into a one-bedroom apartment in Hyattsville for $909.00 a month, including $45.00 for utilities. I chose this particular apartment based on the income I was bringing in as a temporary employee for EEI Communications and working for the agency’s client, Seamon Corporation (formally B L Seamon), a company I had been with for nearly eight months. 

And then my contract ended. 

By the time I moved into my new apartment April 1, 2011, I only had three days remaining at Seamon Corporation with no immediate prospects lined up, not even a promise for future long-term assignments from EEI Communications.  So, I immediately decided to apply for unemployment benefits for the first time in my life.

While still unable to buy new furniture for my apartment and dreading the rent each month, I turned to my career counselor Anne S. Headley for advice, along with staying in touch with former colleagues from my previous assignment, including Michele Valentine, who had been my managing editor.  I also posted my resume on job sites including Monster, Careerbuilder, The Washington Post Jobs Section, and even Job Services on the Virginia Employment Commission’s (VEC) website. 

Realizing the difficulty I was having in finding work in my own field, I decided to apply for whatever job I could find as quickly as possible; so I turned to Craigslist where I soon found work as an administrative assistant for to a man named Daniel John, who needed assistance in composing and sending letters to U.S. Senators and Congressmen to have his aunt who was suffering from various health problems transported from India and to the United States. Mr. John paid me $10 an hour for two weeks to perform various tasks for him, which during my earlier stay here in this apartment came in handy when I combined his check to the last ones I had received from EEI Communications, including one for the last week of my 8-month assignment at Seamon Corporation, along with one for another short-term assignment at a corporate site in Bethesda, Maryland, also courtesy of EEI Communications. 

Further assignments at EEI Communications became few and far between, lasting less than one week and with even less money, so again I sought other alternatives. By that time, I was finally receiving calls from prospective employers for desired positions, including: Writer/Editor, Technical Editor, Program Manager, Freelance Writer, etc., most of whom had responded to my resume posted on Careerbuilder’s website, among others. Although I was thrilled to receive such attention from so many employers, I found myself more often than not being outdone by other candidates who were considered to be more qualified for those positions. 

While still desperate for steady income, I followed up on an ad in The Washington Post for a part-time Utility Mailer position for the same newspaper, which was a fancy title for a worker who collates newspaper inserts. Soon, I found myself working graveyard hours between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. wearing a smock and goggles for paid training. 

During the day, however, and thanks to my connection with Anne S. Headley, I was already working as a freelance reporter for an online newspaper called on my first article after Shannon Hoffman, a College Park Patch editor, saw my resume posted online.

Finally, after nearly five months of collecting unemployment benefits, accepting sporadic assignments for less pay from EEI Communications, working nights collating newspaper inserts for Sunday’s The Washington Post, and doing clerical work for a neighbor, I finally found full-time work as a Copy Editor for a government agency called NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology).  My resume was discovered online by a recruiter for a temporary agency called the VNS Group Inc., whose client was NIST. For the first time in five months of job-hunting, I felt alive because my credentials were both discovered and appreciated as the perfect fit. And to prove that I was worthy of the attention, I took NIST’s assessment test and passed it with remarkable results.

I’ve learned that it truly pays to explore all the alternates during challenging economic times, even if it means accepting positions that you may not want. I learned that networking is a lifelong process, and that absolutely nothing should be ruled out, as long as it pays the bills. Keeping those things in mind, I haven’t been late one time in paying my rent.

And now, I have officially accepted a full-time position that pays at least one dollar per hour more than the EEI Communications assignment I had lost just prior to moving into my current apartment. Talk about poetic justice! But, I didn’t achieve this goal without settling for less first or staying close to former colleagues and my beloved career counselor, Anne S. Headley. 

So it pays to be humble and assess your situation first, above all else. Not a sermon, just a thought.

Kevin Harris

Dear Kevin,

Thank you on behalf of those who are struggling.  Thanks for sharing those really painful steps during this difficult time.  You remind us that the monthly rent check is a challenge to be kept in mind at all times.  I think it is evident from your letter that you are a person with  good manners,  who understands that people who are recognized will remember you fondly for a long, long time.  I wish you the very best in the new position, and I’m glad you’re going to keep writing for I hope you’ll write for this blog from time to time, especially about letting go of the anxiety of unemployment and enjoying a successful adjustment to the new job.

Awash in friendliness – enough!

June 4, 2011
  • What did you do this week-end?
  • Did you have a cook-out?
  • What are your plans for today?
  • What are you going to do with all that money?
Stop already!  You bank tellers – you know who you are!  I do not wish to tell you of my plans.  We all understand – you have had training on being friendly, and by golly, you’re doing it.  To the extreme.
Friends, try this:  ask your colleagues/neighbors/relatives what happens when they go to the bank.  I did this the other day, and was shocked at what I heard.  I was venting about being cross-examined about my Memorial Day week-end.  (Did I cook?  Go elsewhere?  How else did I observe the holiday?)  Do they want to hear about the laundry, sleeping in, checking email, and oh yes, my unremarkable grilling?
A young friend said that when she made a withdrawal from Bank of America, the teller actually asked what she was going to do with that money.  The bank customer, a new college graduate, admitted that she was beginning to consider making up stories to answer those pesky, intrusive questions. How ridiculous!
I’m thinking of saying something to the branch manager, but I fear being labeled that old grouchy lady.
I’ve taught customer service myself, and I do realize that the purpose is to establish rapport.  I get fidgety with the usual questions (It’s really hot today!  Just wait a few weeks!), but I can tolerate them.  But this new trend – getting way too personal – is making me uncomfortable.
What do we do?  If anyone from Capital One is reading this…. please consider toning it down.
Suggestions?  Does anyone like this so-called friendliness?

Talk or Text: what’s your preference?

March 28, 2011

WordPress asks us to ponder our preference for the talk vs text debate.

I’m not sure my opinion matters much (it’s talk), but the question is significant for the job hunter.

I believe the pro-text argument goes like this:

  • it’s fast,
  • it’s less disruptive to the other person,
  • it’s a contemporary communication tool used by millions.

How about pro-talk?

  • you can give more details,
  • yes, it takes more time, but it allows for nuances to be exchanged,
  • it’s warmer and friendlier.

So, did I miss anything?

If you are on your way to a job interview and need to touch base, which will you use?

If your office has just announced a position vacancy for which your friend would be perfect, which will you use?

If you are meeting with a client and a problem arises, which will be the more professional method to use in reaching your manager?

I’m interested to hear your views on this talk/text debate.  Comments?

What have you learned?

February 16, 2011

Here’s a job interview question: what have you learned lately?

We could quibble about the meaning of lately, but let’s not.  Let’s take this question as an opportunity to shine.

Would you be ready to discuss something new or emerging as of this year?  Here are a few examples:

  • I’m still learning patience with difficult customers, and lately I’ve been sorely tested!
  • I’m completing a certificate in internet technology.  I’d like to tell you about the recent advanced web design course.
  • I’ve just finished participating in my first audit.  Scary, but successful.
  • I’m learning to persevere in lining up job opportunities, and that’s how I found your company.
  • I’m learning to roll with the challenges of temp jobs, and am gaining a breadth of experience I didn’t know was possible.

See?  Now get ready with your answer:  what have YOU learned this year?