28 Minutes

Being in customer service, no matter what industry, means being a patient person. It tends to be a prerequisite to doing the job. Smiling even though you are in a bad mood, sitting on the phone with someone as they go through a process that you’re really just listening to them read a website, and generally just being nice, always. Even as the manager, I’m in the trenches. I wouldn’t have it any other way. But it means I still get some interesting calls…

28 minutes an (I can only assume) older gentleman had me on the phone the other day. Started out like many other calls, him asking how to log in and pay his bill and order furniture, all the basics. Then things proceeded down a very dark path including:

Caller: it’s been a LONG time since I was able to say it was my “first time” if you know what I mean…

Me: uncomfortable chuckle; no worries, the information is all easily available on our site

Caller: You have the patience of an angel, don’t you?

Me: Well, it’s why I’m good at my job

Caller: Are you married?

Me: (very quickly) YES!

Caller: Do you talk to your husband like this?

Me: (because really, what in the world do you say to THAT!?) ummm, I’m very versed in making sure things go smoothly, is there anything additional I can assist you with today?

In any industry, if you call a customer service line and the person asks if there is anything additional they can assist with… you’ve either actually gotten to the end of their answers… or you’ve crossed a line somewhere (maybe a long time before then).line-in-sand

Stupidity at its Finest

Imagine this: So you call into a company, complaining about something and they ask for your information. You provide a very common word, such as Innovate as your company name. The person on the phone types in Innovate (because you didn’t specify anything differently) and cannot find your record. You get very mad at that person and tell the person that they are accusing you of lying and then WALK AWAY FROM THE PHONE cursing. So the person at the company tells your what she can only assume is your wife still on the phone to e-mail the information over so that she can assess further.

When that e-mail arrives the person realizes that you have spelled Innovate as Innov8… Seriously – You didn’t have the intelligence to tell the person on the phone that oh by the way, my company name isn’t spelled like the word!?


When “Please leave your name, #, and a brief message” is not enough

With 9 years in the tradeshow industry, preceded by 8 years in retail and a couple random job years in between, I’ve learned a few things about basic business communication practices. And it’s amazing how old I sound re-reading that! 

1- Make sure to put your out of office on your voicemail and e-mail messages. I promise I won’t contact you again until a few days after you’re back.

2-If you are leaving a voicemail, make sure you speak slowly during your phone number  Remember, I don’t have your phone number memorized like you do, and I’m not going to waste time looking it up because you couldn’t take more than a second to give your number.

3-Do not leave your life story on a voicemail. If your voicemail is over 1 minute in length, I probably won’t listen to the whole thing before calling you back, and you’re going to have to say it all again, so just don’t.

4-If it’s urgent, leave a message, don’t just hang up and call again 5 seconds later. If I don’t answer once, the chance of me answering 5 seconds later is even less likely than the first time you called!

5-Do not, under any circumstances, call, leave a message, e-mail, then call and leave a message again about the same subject, unless the process to do so was over 1 week in time from first message to last message.

I bring you this very helpful etiquette list because this week and last week have been quite busy, crazy, and probably 10 other words to describe insane! Today I spent a whopping cumulative hour actually getting real work done, the other 7 hours were filled with meetings, interviews, and putting out fires. So, needless to say, I wasn’t sitting at my desk waiting for my phone to ring. Of the 5 voicemail messages I received (8 missed calls) ONE single person provided me the information I needed to assist them. The other 4 were missing very vital information, such as name, company name, what show they are exhibiting at, one didn’t even leave a phone number. Come on people, help me, help you!

My outgoing voicemail message will be changing tomorrow, not that it will help, but maybe it will help just 1 more person give me the info I need to return their call properly.

If only

Should you need a license to operate a computer?

I consider myself a VERY patient person. In fact, it is a necessity in my line of work. Most of my day is spent assisting people with processes that are seemingly very simple to me, but does not make sense to everyone. But, today, I ran out of patience.

I had a 30 minute phone call today with someone who may want to consider not using a computer…

The first 5 minutes were spent trying to explain what a browser was, and that BING was NOT the browser and typing the web address into the search field was not going to work.

Then we had to discuss WHERE to type in the web address (when I asked what was in the white bar at the top of the screen I was told “H T T P two dots on top of one another and two slanted lines”)

Once we finally got to the correct website for registration, I was asked if everything was to be entered exactly as it was to be printed on the badge (not a terribly uncommon question); then, “do I just enter my e-mail address like normal?” I actually said, “I’m sorry, I’m not sure how to answer that question”

So we make it 2 more screens, and then this is the tricky part… creating a password. Our system does not have any requirements such as word length or must contain a number, HOWEVER, it does tell you if your password is weak, medium, or strong. This person typed in a password into the first field, and when it showed weak beneath the field, typed WEAK in the “confirm password” field… then hit continue… which of course it gave a warning and loaded the page again. This person re-read everything on the badge, confirmed, and again hit continue (without changing anything). They then proceeded to get frustrated, WITH ME, because it kept re-loading the same page. So I asked if there was a red bar with a warning at the top of the page. “I’ll just hit continue again” again I ask – “Is there a red bar with a warning at the top of the page?”  Customer says, “Yes, it says passwords do not match. What does that mean?”

O…M…G – really!?  Calmly I proceeded to answer that it probably meant that what was typed in the first password field did not match what was in the second password field.

OK – Yay – we get pass the password created. Then to the demographic questions… oh no, shoot me now! I had to say – “I don’t know, what DO you <insert question here>” for EVERY SINGLE QUESTION!

Phew, we made it through the questions, we’ve hit continue, the last screen before payment is a bunch of up-sell options so I try to just make things easy and say “bottom button on the left says Complete Registration, select that” before even listening to anything was read to me. And it worked! THEN the really horrible part…

the VERY last screen in our process is the payment screen, where you enter a credit card… This person says, Oh, I don’t have the company card, I’ll have to send this over to work, can I just print this screen? Nope… our registration must be done in one sitting… we’ve just spent 30 minutes of anguish for NOTHING!

Me: “I’m sorry, but payment is due at the time of registration, you’ll have to start the registration over when you have the form of payment as it must be completed in one sitting”

Customer: “oh, you mean I have to pay for the registration? I can just save all this right? It’ll be there when I log back in, correct? Well, that was a waste of time, I guess I’ll just have the office register me, good bye” Click…

Yup… I will forever be asking if someone has a credit card to pay for the registration BEFORE doing anything from now on.

Lesson learned, Good night!

On the Internet!

Did you do that? Warning, you didn’t do that!

I am a firm believer in the saying “if you give a man a fish, he will eat for a day, if you teach a man to fish, he will eat for a lifetime”. So I always encourage those on the other end of the phone to do the registration process themselves, but I will happily walk them through the process. Unfortunately, sometimes that backfires on me… Yesterday, I had one such caller.

(M=Me & C=Client)

C= the system keeps denying my registration

M= oh, that’s not good (thinking, our system doesn’t deny registrations), are you at your computer now?

C=Yes, but I just want you to register me

M= well, it will take less time if you answer the questions over the computer because of the multiple choice options, but I will of course walk you through the process over the phone. (that was apparently improper information)

C=My name is (obviously, not the callers real name) “a..b..c..d..e..f”

M=Are you entering the information into the registration screen?


M= Sir, are you at website-a.com?


M=So, you’ll need to fill out the requested information on the screen, first name, last name, company name, and e-mail address.

C=Oh, you want ME to enter the information?


C=”a…b…c…d…e…f”   pause  “g..h..i..j..k”  pause  “abcdef@ghi.com” pause Now what do I do?

M= Select the Start Registration Button at the bottom

C= OK, now it asks for type of business, I selected that, now continue?

M=Did you also select the sub category for your business type?

C= I selected continue, and it is saying I didn’t select the sub category.


C=What should I select?

M=Well, what does your company do?

C=I’ll just select this first one – Now hit continue?

M=(Shaking head) Yes

C=So now it’s asking for more information. What is Title?

M=Your job title?

C=I don’t know what that is

M=Um, well, it’s what you do? the description of your job? So on your signature line for e-mails, most people have a job title under their name?

C=So, Sales?

M=Sure! (of course when I looked at the registration after he completed it, it actually said “Saler”)

C=What do I put in the address field?

M=(remembering the article my boss had just sent me about Disney’s approach to the “what time is the 3’Oclock parade”) You’ll want to put your business address in that field, if you’re business is in another country, you’ll just need to change the country field so that you can enter the address in the correct format.

C=Searching for addressentering information So now I hit continue?

M=Make sure to select the check box that says “I agree to the show policies”

C=Hmmm, passport information… “a…b…c…d…e…f” So now do I hit continue?

M=Did you select the check box that says “I agree to the show policies”?

C=I hit continue and I got a warning that says I didn’t select the box that I agree to the show policies.

M=Ok, so check the box that says “I agree to the show policies”

C=Now what, Continue?

M=(screaming in my head) If you checked the box that says “I agree to the show policies” then yes, hit continue.

C=So, when can I get my invitation letter?

M=Since you are a first time attendee, you’ll need to submit proof that your company fits into the category you selected during the first page of your registration. Once you complete your registration, you’ll get an e-mail that explains what can be submitted.

C=My invitation will be e-mailed to me?

M=You’ll receive your invitation letter once your registration has been confirmed, after business proof has been received.

C= OK, so what do I do now?

M=I think you just need to select Complete Registration

C= I don’t see complete registration. there are a bunch of buttons, which one do I choose?

M=Select the one that says Complete Registration, it is the last one in the list.

C=I have Upgrade, Add another, Child Badge, and Complete Registration – Oh, there it is!… Now I need to get my invitation letter, how do I do that.

M=As I explained earlier, you’ll need to submit proof that your company is a retailer. Once we have received that, and approved your registration, you’ll get a confirmation and your invitation letter.

C=Can I have your name?

M=Sure, it’s Sarah – s..a..r..a..h






M=Yup. (I’d given up by this point)

C=And what’s your phone number?

M=Umm (yes, this question threw me, coming from a person who just called me), you just called our number, but it is 555-555-5555

C=OK – so for my invitation letter, I’ll just get that via e-mail right?

M=Once you submit proof of business, and your registration has been approved, then yes.

C=OK – I’ll call back. Thanks! ‘Click’

I’ve been told that I am an extremely patient person, but I had to take a walk with the dog and a friend after that call.

Happy Saturday!