#ROW80 / Books I've Read / Writing Community

Customer Service Woes & #ROW80 Check-In

Lucky Brand Jeans zipper label, "Lucky You"

When I was in college, I worked in a retail store called The Buckle. If you’ve never shopped in one, it’s basically a trendy clothing store. The specialty product is denim. When I worked there Doc Martens were all the rage, as were Lucky Jeans.

I bring up my experience of working at The Buckle because if you have shopped there, you know what my training is. Some might say the sales tactic employed by the store is “pushy”. We preferred to call it “helpful”. But what it did teach me colors my view of every customer service experience I’ve had from other companies.

The Buckle taught me that you work until the problem is solved. If a customer wants a pair of jeans, by golly you will FIND the perfect pair. I had to ask questions. I had to listen. I had to convince the customer to try a brand they may not have been used to in order to find a pair that fit (or at least made their ass look awesome…we all have our priorities).

The Buckle taught me that “I don’t know” is not an answer. “I’ll find out” is. And if you can’t find out, you find someone who can. And if that person can’t find out, you seek another solution. A customer is never left to solve the problem completely on their own. Why? Well, because The Gap is across the hall and they sell jeans too.

Customer Service Happy Face Wearing a Headset

So imagine my frustration when I had to call my cable company about our down internet. You guys don’t want to see me without access to the internet. I get all twitchy. And grumpy. I start panicking. “What do you MEAN I can’t get on Twitter today?” or “I have a BLOG to write, people!” Also, and more seriously, our land line is one of those internet phone jobbies. Without internet, we have no home phone. Our cell phones don’t work inside our house. It’s just one big communication fail.

Anyway, I call the cable company and they inform me the issue is with our modem and since we own the modem (instead of renting one of theirs) we have to call the manufacturer. So I call the manufacturer who tells me the issue is not their very fine modem, but the cable connection, I need to call my service provider. All on a cell phone that doesn’t work inside my house where the modem is.

Finally, after three full days of back and forth on this crap (uh, hello…do they think I have nothing else to do?), the cable company finally agrees to send out a technician on Tuesday. This news came on Saturday. So you can imagine my further agony of having no solution for another few days.

Jim Carrey as The Cable Guy

The technician comes out and again tells me the issue must be with the modem. Ugh. He tries to have me open a webpage on my laptop (which I cannot do). And I say to him, “You know, you guys told me to call the modem guys and they said the DNS error messages coming up mean it’s your problem.”

The tech’s answer? “That is so typical of them, argh, blargh, mkpuiormwenheirjd.”


He tested something.

“Oh. Um, wait a minute.”

Turns out the cable feed WAS malfunctioning. Aha! I am not an idiot.

He fixed the issue. We try loading a webpage again. No dice.

Turns out the modem was ALSO malfunctioning. Whoa.

So they were BOTH at fault.

What’s my point? Other than venting (thanks for letting me do that, by the way. *smooches*), it’s that the blame game was pointless. If one of the original representatives on my initial phone calls had worked a little harder, my internet service would have been restored last week. Why would no one claim responsibility?

Therein lies my REAL point. #ROW80. As you can see, I had no internet access last week. I could make this a super easy scapegoat for my lack of blogging (my goal is three times per week).  But the thing is, it’s not the cable company’s fault. Or the modem manufacturer’s. It’s mine. I could have tried harder. There is a Starbucks, a Panera Bread, a Caribou Coffee and a public library, all with free WiFi, within a three-minute drive of my house. I could have claimed responsibility to keep up no matter what. But I didn’t. So, the fail is all mine.

Of course, not having the internet did provide some time free of distractions for planning my novel. I’ve redone the beat sheet, answered a few character questionnaires and have plotted Part 1 and a portion of Part 2 on index cards (which is a fabulous method) and am still working on finishing. I even got a little twitchy and started writing the opening scenes yesterday–1500 words worth. So, the progress there has been great, actually.

And since I am now addicted to books on the craft of writing, I’ve started James Scott Bell’s Plot and Structure. And for fun I finally got around to reading Cassandra Clare’s City of Fallen Angels. A librarian friend of mine picked it up for me at ALA and it’s signed To Erin: Good luck with the writing. How sweet is that? It’s like I have my own, personal Cassie Clare cheerleader. Perhaps her success will rub off on me a little bit :)?

So, I’ve done well on my writing and reading goals, but have slacked on my blogging goals.

How did my fellow #ROW80 participants do? 


6 thoughts on “Customer Service Woes & #ROW80 Check-In

  1. I hate technology! Well I love it when it works, hate it when it doesn’t! It can take so much time to get things sorted.

    Glad you managed to get some writing done though and lots of planning. I think for my next WIP I will plan on index cards, sounds like a good idea.

    Have a great rest of yoru week.

    ps. love your new banner!

  2. Thanks, Em.

    I hate technology too. I think I’m going to be one of those old ladies who complains about it all the time.

    I like planning on index cards because you have that ability to just snag and rip one that doesn’t work. Or move it a few scenes over. Or insert a new one somewhere to see how it flows, all without screwing up thousands of words on the screen. It’s liberating :).

    The banner is actually from The Flint Public Art project (I did a blog post on it). It was taken by Eric Hinds. That’s an abandoned building in downtown Flint, MI they opened up to do a performance art piece. Very cool.

  3. OMG! I LOVE the thoughts on customer service! I’m a store manager of a specialty retail store, and we’re ALL about “finding solutions” in our business! In fact, I chirp like a parrot to my team, “Find Solutions, not excuses! Find solutions, not excuses!” (they really love me, promise!) 😉

    I’m very grateful for my pay the bills job because of the strong personal accountability that I’ve developed there, which I’ve applied to my “health/fitness” life and, of course, my “writing life.” And, as I’m writing this comment, my inner voice is poking at me to get out of the blogosphere and get into WIP2 already!

    Great job on the writing goals, though! In the end, your goal is to write a novel, so celebrate those steps that have brought you closer to your goal!

    • Thanks, Liza! “Find solutions, not excuses!” Love that. I should write that on a sticky note and leave it stuck on my computer somewhere. It’s great advice for everything. Retail really does have a lot of life lessons. I loved working at The Buckle.

      And thanks for the encouragement on the writing goals too. (And get to work on WIP2, missy 🙂 ).

  4. Oh my goodness, you should have heard my conversation with our internet provider today. I cancelled my home phone with them and kept the DSL, and you’d think it was liking changing presidential administrations to get the new account up and running correctly. Meanwhile, the “customer service” reps seemed to be pulling out excuse-ridden scripts to explain why I’ve spent hours on the phone working a problem that should have been resolved in 10 minutes! Thanks back to you for letting me rant! *breathing deeply now*

    Maybe the tech fail was just what you needed to get going in the other areas. I did miss your blog! And I’m glad you’re back. As for me, ROW80 goals are a bit stalled – success in some areas, laziness in others. Alas, I have no one but myself to blame. 😉

  5. Vent away, sister! I feel your pain :).

    It’s interesting to document a journey of goals like ROW80. I’m finding it more of a way to find out my own habits rather than a tool to drive my pace, if that makes sense. I’ll have to analyze all my check-ins and look for ways to improve for the next round. One thing I think I do know: I’m not ready for something like NaNoWriMo yet. And that’s OK. Marathon runners don’t go from 1 mile to 26 overnight.

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