“It says here that your order has left the carrier facility.”
“Yeah, I saw that,” I said. (I’m no tech wizard, but I can figure out how to click on ‘Track my order’.) “Do you have an idea when I might receive it?”
“It says you’re scheduled to receive it between Dec. 13 and 17.”
“Right. So obviously that’s not happening,” I said, seeing as the 17th had come and gone without the arrival of my niece’s gift.
“Well, once it leaves our warehouse, we have no control over it. You’ll have to contact UPS.”
Breath in, breath out. (My yoga instructor always says that when all else fails, just say to yourself, ‘I am breathing in. I am breathing out.’ Sounds ridiculous, but it works.)
“I understand that,” I replied. “But I ordered it from your company. Isn’t there anything you can do?”
“If the package doesn’t arrive, contact us and we’ll either refund your money or send out a replacement.”
Super, I thought. That’s going to do a lot of good when I have no gift for my niece, a sweet kid who had the misfortune of being born in late December, and therefore, already gets cheated in the birthday category. And while I understand that the customer representative with whom I was speaking didn’t have a crystal ball that could help her locate the package, she certainly could’ve done something to help expedite the order. But instead, she made the experience an unpleasant one for the customer.
It was 180 degrees from an experience I had about a week earlier when I received an early Christmas present from my brother — an ornament commemorating the World Series title of our beloved Red Sox. When I saw that the glass ornament was cracked, I was heartbroken. Luckily there was a form in the box with a number to contact. I related my sad tale to Harry (the person with whom I spoke actually had a name!), who couldn’t have been nicer. He apologized and said he’d send out a replacement right away.
I was floored. I wasn’t put on hold. I didn’t have to relate the same story to nine different people. I didn’t even have to fill out any forms. And two days later, I had my replacement ornament (which, for about a week, was the only one to adorn our tree).
It prompted me to do something I don’t usually do. I went to the company’s website and its page on Amazon and wrote glowing reviews. I wanted other people to know that they provided excellent customer service, and if they had an issue, it would be taken care of, quickly and effectively.
It was important that I communicate this to other buyers, because unfortunately, what often happens is we are quick to report faults or post negative reviews (the Internet allows us to be as mean as we wish without revealing our names), but fail to mention the positive experiences. By doing this, by focusing on the negative, not only are we leaving out a key part of the story, but we’re sending out the wrong message. We’re giving in to the old adage that the squeaky wheel gets the grease, when in fact, we should be greasing the other wheels; the reliable wheels.
This topic came up in a recent interview with Anne Lara, CIO at Union Hospital of Cecil County, who is a strong believer in positive reinforcement. Lara subscribes to Ken Blanchard’s theory that the best way to keep people motivated is “to catch them doing something right,” rather than getting mired in the mess of why mistakes were made. Positive feedback, she believes, “is the breakfast of champions. People need that. They need to know that they are doing a good job. You can’t catch doing right enough, because that fosters more and more of the right behavior.”
It’s a great message.
Although she has just one year as CIO under her belt, Lara already understands one of the key facets of leadership: that an organization’s success starts and ends with a motivated staff. A good leader knows that if you focus only on the negative and save all your grease for the squeaky wheels, you won’t go anywhere.