"Always a Bridesmaid, Never the Bride"
I have started to notice synchronicities in my life. Work is not exampted from these synchronicities either. I have now had not one but two calls in which my primary addiction, acting, was the focus. Great calls. Calls with people who lifted my day and made me remember who I am, in the middle of "making a living".
I have wanted to be a full-time actor for a long time. It's not the only thing I want, but it's certainly a major desire. Some years ago I went to my spiritual teacher to ask a question about that desire of mine. I worked on the phrasing of this question because it was important to me that she understand where I was coming from. Never mind she knows everything about me well before I do, I wanted to be clear.
Many years before that - many, many Years before that, when I was 6 years old, in fact - I stood in front of my Kindergarten class in some long-forgotten exercise we had been assigned, and I did my first bit of acting in this life. I remember standing in front of the class. I remember how focused I felt, and how in my element, however briefly. I made my hands into claws, and I torqued my body as I imitated Margaret Hamilton's Wicked Witch of the West: "I'm melting!" I screeched, "I'm melting!", as I went to the ground.
"Just a Spoonful of Stupid"
Customers, Forgive us, for we no longer know what we do.
So goes my current and daily prayer because by the time 3:00PM rolled around this previous blizzardy weekend, my mind had had it, and I was saying stoopid things like - well, just keep reading.
And please...forgive us.
"Unexpected Work, Unexpected Gifts"
I didn't start life as a professional agitator and Customer Service Maven. I started working when I was 16. It was not my dream to be a "secretary" and I hated those first office jobs. I was a "Kelly Girl", back in the days (the 1970's and early 1980's) when Kelly Temporary Services was actually called "Kelly Girls". (Jesus! Shouldn't that have been back in the 1940's????) I would actually go into a business and say, "Hi, I'm the Kelly Girl. I'm here to work for the day/week/whatever." It didn't take long for me, as a card-carrying feminist, to begin saying, "Hi, I'm here from Kelly Services."
If the Receptionist responded with a cheery, smiling, "Oh! You're the Kelly girl!", that was on her. At least I wasn't demoting my own self.
The country's, and the world's, view of success in the 1950's, '60's, '70's, '80's, was based on advancement up a seemingly predictable upward trajectory. Go to school, go to college, get a job, get a family, get a kid, get a life, retire, and die.
We still tout this story in America. We set our self-image by it. And our worth. In a very alternative view, spiritual seekers learn that there is no predictable upward trajectory; that the journey is what life is about, and not the goal.
Good luck combining those two in your psyche. That's a spiritual journey in itself! But - not unusually - I digress. I am here to bury limitation, not to praise it.
"The Care and Feeding of Your Customer Service Agent"
Is this what it feels like to take on Customer Service? Been there. Done that. Once upon a time, about 20 years ago, I spent no less than 8 hours on the phone with AT&T. Why did I do that insanity? Because I was determined and a little stupid.
Want to tame the savage beast and get what you want out of your service call? FABulous! Here are some secrets you Did Not Know And Now Will. Here are a few suggestions about the Care and Feeding of your Customer Service Agent. Here is why your calls are sucking, and your Customer Service experience is less than fabulous... I mean, you want to buy your whatsis and we want to sell you your whatsis and get our commission. That's a win-win, right?
Yeah. Cool. So come take a seat behind the phones with us (don't worry, we won't make you answer any calls), and get the secret answers to making this shit work.
Let's do this...
"On the Other Side"
I initiated a chat with Customer Service yesterday, at Zulily's.
Suddenly on the other side again, but this time I'm self-righteous. Now I "know" how things "should" be done - a.k.a. how I would do it - so I'm appalled!
Now, this is on a Chat, and not on a phone, and thank God for that because it gives me a moment to breathe instead of going off. But just barely. Because I'm quick and I'm triggerable.
Patience and Shade
What do you do when you're sitting on the phone and no calls are coming through, you have no one in your pod to talk to, and you're looking at 8 hours of Zzzzzzzzzz?
(1) Turn on the online classical music radio station, low, so no one carps at you.
(2) Take out your knitting.
(3) Fight the urge to bang your head on the desk.
(4) Watch 10 people leave for the day with management's blessing...
Yep! People left for the day, valiantly saving funds for the company! Such selflessness! Such bravery! We salute thee!
"When It's So Bad It's Good"
Working for a retailer has introduced me to TONS of interesting stuff I would never have known. Brands I never heard of: Giani Bernini, Cuddl Duds (a brand name just cute enough to nauseate), Alfani, and Tasso Elba (sounding ever-so-Italian - but probably made in New Jersey, who knows? Certainly not me, the non-style queen.).
And I have seen some weird things - from the Lobster On Pedestal I wrote about in a previous blog, to a scent - Bvlgari - that is bottled and marketed as though it is a combination lock on acid...or that has been beamed up when the transporter has had a really bad day.
I'm fascinated with all of it, really. Shape and color and general weirdness have always fascinated me, so in this way, working in retail is A Kinda Cool Thing. Except for the exceptionally ugly pieces of clothing that you just can't even imagine someone buying, much less wearing.
Reflections On a Year in Customer Service
"What's APR???" they would say to me, their voices dripping with fear and frustration and anger. "Why do I owe $6,000 when I only borrowed $500???" That was RISE, a company that offers short-term loans with interest rates through the roof. Up to 298%. And yes, you are reading that correctly. There, I offered education and respect and understanding to those who called me, freaking out. I couldn't offer them lower interest rates. I couldn't believe the high ones are lega but it turns out they are in fact legal. "Moral" is an entirely different story.
I did try to get out of that gig and get into a better sales job within the matrix of sales campaigns available, but we had an odd cast of characters leading the charge. The Supervisor who had a substance abuse problem and an anger problem. The 21-year-old Supervisor - need I say more? - who followed the lead of the Supervisor with the substance abuse problem. The Scapegoat Supervisor who the drinking Supervisor hated for no particular reason. The Head of the Department who smiled well, made beautiful promises, and was preternaturally resistant to fulfilling them. Stories within stories within stories unfolded in that crazy department, and anyone who actually did make it out of there (they for some reason hated letting anyone go to another campaign, especially if it bettered the lot of the employee) was seen as a heroine.
It's actually the people on the phone that make this kind of job fascinating. I met Johnny on the phone one day. Johnny lived and worked in L.A. in its heyday, and he had stories to tell about seeing Liz Taylor across the street and being absolutely dumbstruck by her remarkable, purple-eyed beauty. He was a Casting Director back in the day, so you can imagine how ardently I wanted to keep him on the phone all day long.
Okay, so that was December of 2017, not 2018, but I love that guy, so I just had to mention him.
Fraudery and Freakery and Fuckery
I used to wonder how Judge Judy could just look at someone, listen for a moment, and know that they were full of it. I'm beginning to get it. And there are levels. Levels of stupidity, some of which is based on simple (and frustrating) lack of experience of the world we phone jockeys live in, and some of which is based on a sense of entitlement and greed - regardless of financial status or color or sex.
There is the Kindness stupidity:
"The number of my credit card is 4444 ... [pause for 2 beats] - space - 5555 - [pause for 2 beats] -space -6666 - [pause for 2 beats] -space..."
Wow...now I know you have never worked in an office or in retail before.
There is the Blindness stupidity:
"Well I already tried calling the store, so you're never gonna get through."
Really, Sir? I work on the inside - think there just might be a way I have at least a different mode of contact???
And there is the You Think I'm Stupid stupidity:
"Well, the store should come out and remove the security tag from my clothing. They've come out and done it before! Yes they have!"
... [wow, that's a beaut. No. They really haven't.]
"It's Nice of You...But Really...Who Cares..."
Who knew the word "stylist" could mean something besides a hair dresser?
One woman spoke to me on the phone of having been advised by her stylist, and not long after I realized we weren't actually going to talk about her hair but about her clothing choices, I received another call from another woman and became her clothing stylist for an hour and a half.
"What are your measurements? Okay, let me look at the size chart. You need a Medium... Yes, I am absolutely sure. But there is one thing that concerns me. What concerns me about this plunging and revealing swimsuit tankini top [which is completely useless for a swimming class], is that it ties behind your neck. Your breasts pull on the ties which pull on the back of your neck and it's not great for your neck muscles. [Not to mention that you're looking at a picture of a 5'8" model who is 24 years old, and you're 65 and 5'1". What are you thinking???]"
Do you like the idea of breaking those social "should's" that have held you back for too long? Do you like the idea of successfully changing your modes of communication, your business goals, your self-image, and to your quality of life?
Lori Kirstein, CEO
The Goodbye Good Girl™ Project LLC
Kicking the Good Girl Rules to the Curb!
Cincinnati, OH 45205