Thursday, May 10, 2012

The Indentured Servant’s Servitude

               Time to Break Free into Service

Often when we think of the term “indentured servant” we think cheap labor or being a servant to a big employer. What I am talking about is whether you work for someone else or for yourself we are often the indentured servant to servitude.

How can that be if I am self- employed? What I am talking about, you might ask – the self-employed set their own hours, dress code, policies, rates, product creation, services etc. and I agree.     

Where businesses of all sizes and of psychological makeups get themselves in trouble is in their way of thinking and their decisions that move them away from acting from a place of service into behaving from a place of servitude with their customers. 

To illustrate a real example of what I am specifically meaning, about 3 weeks ago I discovered that I forgot to pay my DIRECTV bill and my services were turned off. When I looked online to pay the bill, additional fees were added on and I wanted to talk to a live person.  When I phoned customer service, the recording said you cannot talk to a live person until you pay your bill and disconnected me. 

My first reaction was hmmmmm what a joke.  I phoned back and pressed 0 on my phone for an operator and the same message played “you cannot talk to a live person until you pay your bill” and disconnected me.  So being clever, I decided would outwit this system and a human will talk with me to explain my bill and to resolve this issue.
Yeah I was excited, I outwitted the system and I was connected to a human in a call center outside the United States.  This person said “all systems are down we cannot see your bill to review it with you.”  I let her know about the message recording that said “you cannot talk to a live person until you pay your bill” and disconnected me. She promised me if I call back in a few hours that problem would be resolved and a customer service person would be delighted to help me resolve the issue.

Guess what, I phoned back 4 hours later and received the same unfriendly recording.  Since I knew now how to outwit DIRECTV’s system to access a human, I did and was connected to a USA call center.  I explained to this human I want to pay my bill, I want further explanation of excess fees and wanted to know why I never received a bill, phone call or anything. Now surprisingly this human only explanation was this is our policy and I was disconnected.    
I phoned again and when I reached a human, I was frustrated. I asked the same questions again in a very different tonality.  I received the same unacceptable answers.  In that moment I thought to myself, I must be asking the wrong question.  So I asked this human, would you please connect me with a higher level human being that understands the concept of service.
Wow, this decision of mine to ask for what I wanted changed everything.  I was transferred to this lady named Susan.  I explained my frustration of the events that took place, asked for explanation of the bill and I asked for the DIRECTV service to be disconnected.  I was no longer interested in being a customer of a company that has wasted so much of my valuable time on paying a bill and who lacks any kind of service. 

Something magical occurred in this moment.  Something I never consciously fathomed ever happening.  Susan said “wait, wait, hold on, Christine, I am looking at your bill and the first thing I want to occur between us is for me to restore your FAITH in mankind and in our company.  As a company we have been charging you for some unnecessary fees the entire time you have been our customer.  I want to make things right with you. “
Susan had my attention and I replied “I am listening”.  Susan said “what you need is a clean slate and it is time to start over.” She asked me “when I watch the TV what do I enjoy watching” and then she said “I do not want to lose you as a customer, I value you.  I have taken away all the charges on your bill to where the bill has a credit that DIRECTV owes you and I have customized a  DIRECTV program offering that meets the TV watching preferences of your viewing needs that is half the price of what you were paying. I have taken you out of being obligated to a contract so you are FREE to stay with us as long as you like. And I am giving you all the movie stations for FREE for 6 months.  If you remember to pay your bill on time for three months in row, you will receive additional GIFTS from us.  Christine, would you stay as our customer? “

Tears of joy lightly filled my eyes and joy was filled in my heart because I never expected this to occur as it played out.  I said “yes, I am honored to stay because of you and because of your genuine service of going above and beyond anything I would have ever expected.  You treated me as a customer and let me know you actually care about me and my needs.” 
In this story, Susan was the only person I spoke with who understood real service and kept me as a customer. She really did help to restore my Faith that there are people who do digest what genuine service is.  She paid attention to what my needs were and corrected current and past mistakes on my account. The other employees I spoke with made the situation worse because they acted from a place of servitude the kept them unwilling to work outside of their comfort.

Susan on the other hand made the decision to go above and beyond – and DIRCTV kept me as their customer.