The Role of Customer Service – Find Solutions!

Bird of Prey24 September 2021 UPDATE:  For the record, the doctor’s appointment forming the central element of this article was with Advanced Neurology Epilepsy & Sleep Center (ANESC), Dr. Aamr A. Herekar M.D.  The staff are now trying to report that I was threatening, demanding, insulting, and reportedly told the commando secretary to “sit on my lap.”  All of which I strongly and hotly contest.  I was at all times professional, but firm.  I did not swear.  I did not insult the staff.  I did not breach professional conduct.  I have never asked any male or female to EVER sit on my lap.  When told to get a face shield, I went to my vehicle, retrieved the face shield, and wore the face shield for the appointment.  For the commando secretary and other staff to accuse me of this behavior is disingenuous at best and I am glad to be rid of this provider.  If you are in the El Paso, TX., are, beware if you are referred to this clinic!

I do not care if there is a pandemic or not!  I care even less if there is sunshine or rain, wind, snow, sleet, or hurricanes.  Guess what; neither do those people expecting customer service.  They want solutions, and when they do not obtain solutions, that customer will be looking at your competition and wondering if their needs can be met elsewhere.Angry Grizzly Bear

Let me set the scene.  I have a follow-up doctor’s appointment this morning.  I traveled more than an hour for an early morning appointment, which included surviving multiple school zones, crazy rush hour parents trying to get kids into school and themselves onto work, and the inevitable school buses working tirelessly to deliver children to school safely.  All of this I can accept; I agreed to the early morning doctor’s appointment as I need to do things this afternoon.  Upon arrival at the doctor’s office, I am greeted by a commando secretary, who knows I have a breathing problem and cannot wear a mask.  Who invents a reason to deny me care.  She calls a supervisor, then “politely” invites me to a back room to try and tell me off.  She then walks out when I suggested she had two options, move my care to another neurologist or have me wear a face shield, and I was leaning towards option 1.

Since January, this scene has repeated itself more than 10-times in two different states, and frankly, I am sick to death of customer service people who refuse to look first for solutions!  Your first duty in customer relations is to find solutions, not complain someone is not wearing a mask, not embarrass, isolate, and denigrate.  Your entire mission is to find solutions that will work with government mandates, business policies, and customer needs.

?u=http3.bp.blogspot.com-CIl2VSm-mmgTZ0wMvH5UGIAAAAAAAAB20QA9_IiyVhYss1600showme_board3.jpg&f=1&nofb=1For example, I was a new patient at a medical clinic.  I explained my mask predicament, and the business already had a procedure to protect those wearing masks and accommodate those who could not wear a mask.  Better still, it did not require a supervisor, it did not require special approval, I did not have to be embarrassed by office staff judgments, nor did I have to fight for my right to breathe.  Two different medical offices, two wildly different approaches to the same customer problem, and two phenomenally different solutions and different mental strategies from staff to provide customer service.

Was discussing cellphone service providers; provider one has deplorable customer service, provider two is not much better, and there is no third option.  I asked about solutions for small businesses to compare between the two providers and was aghast at the lack of interest in providing help to owner/operator small businesses.  I do upwards of $3600 in cellphone business a year; yet, even though I have five lines personally and pay for an additional one for my spouse, and am a small business owner, the cellphone provider is not interested in looking for solutions for small businesses.  Is it any wonder that customers are looking for options to ditch their phones?

Call Center BeansInternet providers are another huge pain point for me and my business on the topic of service providers and detestable customer service.  After moving, I am paying double for my Internet service connection, not paying double for the same speeds.  Paying double and not getting similar speeds.  Worse, the customer inattention has gone downhill since I was last a customer of this company 18-months prior.  I have been told that deregulation is why Internet providers cannot compete fairly in markets and scoff.  I have been informed, several times, that the reason the costs are so high for Internet connection is from outdated equipment.  I have scoffed again.  When Google tried to muscle into Phoenix, the current Internet providers threw an unholy fit, and Google was rejected the permits through legal, regulatory means.  Apparently, competition continues to be anathema to cellular phones and Internet service providers, all while these same providers abuse customers and refuse to perform basic customer service, such as finding solutions!

What is the solution; I offer the following as potential places to begin launching a customer service revolution.

    1. Commit to finding solutions first. Quicken Loans is one company I know that asserts that they want to say YES before saying no.  Commit to the same; demand your people learn how to say YES!
    2. This might sound old-fashioned, but believe it or not, it works. Smile and say please and thank you!  When you are thanked, say you’re welcome.  Manners matter in setting the tone in customer relations.  A smile goes a long way to setting the proper tone.
    3. Another potentially old-fashioned idea, but worth considering if your front office staff looks rough. Customers will automatically not want to do business with you if their first impression is tattoos, body piercings, crazy hair, long nails, and scowling faces.  The doctor’s office, the lead office support person, is covered in tattoos, has a body piercing that draws attention to body areas that make professional interactions difficult to conduct. Her hair matches her demeanor, rough and disruptive.

Knowledge Check!Please note, I am not against tattoos and body piercings.  In professional settings, restraint is needed to show respect to the business environment and not distract properly.  The nursing staff all have tattoos, and they are not as disruptive as the lead office support person.  Others have body piercings on their faces, ears, heads, and body parts.  But, these are not distracting, and drawing attention to body parts best left unnoticed in professional settings.  There is a distinct difference between acceptable and unacceptable, and business owners will need to draw a line or be prepared to have problems with customers.

    1. Post in a prominent position what the customer commitment is and who to contact if customer attention fails. Want to raise awareness of customer solutions, post your commitment, and then live that commitment.
    2. Technology is wonderful; there need to be reliable replacement channels when you eliminate a communication channel. For example, the doctor I visited they do not have incoming phone calls.  You can text the doctor’s office, you can fax the doctor’s office, you can send messages through a group insurance website, and you can email the doctor’s office.  When you insist the doctor’s office do something to fit another bureaucracy, e.g., the VA, the office support staff through a fit and stop responding to text messages and emails.   So, not only is their attitudes inappropriate, the customer service communication channels are throttled intentionally to avoid angry callers.  Forcing patients to have to deal in person when technology is made to fail.

WhyCommit to customer relations, find solutions.  Commit to saying YES!  You will be surprised how fast people become customers and want to remain customers when employees representing your business are committed to finding solutions first and excuses NEVER!  End the abuse of customers; I know which doctor I will be ending my relationship with as soon as humanly possible, and I will leave online customer service reports.  Abuse me as a customer, and I will go out of my way to make sure other customers and potential customers know.

© 2021 M. Dave Salisbury
All Rights Reserved
The images used herein were obtained in the public domain; this author holds no copyright to the images displayed.

NO MORE BS: Let’s Talk About Root Cause Analysis

Flying BuffaloSome of you are thinking, “I will skip this article because the title does not sound interesting.”  I beg your forbearance, just please keep reading.  I laughed today, long and loud, over the incompetence of the current elected leaders in America, fully supporting public mocking, public shaming, and public humiliation over the following piece of news.

You cannot make headlines like this up:

Kamala Harris Emphasizes “Root Causes’” of Border Surge, Says the Problem is “Complex” while blaming climate change for the border crisis.

Let that sink in for a minute; the person who cannot hold a press conference, cannot even get VP added to her title, and cannot do root cause analysis!  I have been working since I was twelve; I was taught root cause analysis as a shade-tree mechanic; you have to be able to diagnose the correct problem to fix the engine.  This article looks like VP Harris is fixing the tires on a car without an engine, claiming this will get the vehicle running real good.  Here is VP Harris’ actual quote:

We are looking at extensive storm damage because of extreme climate, we’re looking at drought in an area in a region where agriculture is one of the most traditionally important basis for their economy, we’re looking at what’s happening in terms of food scarcity as a result of that and in fact, incredible food insecurity, which we used to call hunger food insecurity.”

Detective 4Let me see if I understand this statement correctly.  Political instability, Venezuela’s continuing meltdown politically, and the invitation from many politicians with (D) after their names have nothing to do with the “border surge.”  Just like a stricter stance on illegal immigration by President Trump (R) didn’t slow down illegal immigration on the southern border; do I have that correct?  Let’s talk about incentives, mainly welfare, housing, education, and a political base that refuses to enforce immigration law, do these not influence a southern border crisis, and buffalo wings come from flying buffalo.

What is Root Cause Analysis?Root Cause Analysis

Root Cause Analysis (RCA) is a process of logically working through a problem as a solution is developed.  I know some of you have other definitions for RCA, and that’s okay.  I am just trying to be real simple here, for if VP Harris sees this article, I do not want her confused with big words.  There are three goals to simple RCA, discover the root of the problem, understand how to fix the problem, apply what is learned to prevent future issues.  VP Harris’s comment above has already failed the goals of RCA; hence we can conclude that RCA was not accomplished!Fishbone Diagram

Effective RCA processes possess core principles that are apolitical and easily understood:

      • Focus on fixing the problems, not band-aid solutions
      • Symptoms relief is a short-term answer to buy time for long-term solutions.
      • Multiple root causes are possible; however, each root cause requires factual justification and logical discussion.
      • Who is never part of RCA, just HOW and WHY.
      • Methodical cause and effect evidence is required for each root cause.
      • Future prevention requires increasing learning and understanding.
      • Corrective action requires information and ACTION.

I am not here to hurt VP Harris’s feelings, but her comment about the southern border crisis being climate-related still does not pass the smell test on the core principles of RCA.  Let alone any logical test for veracity.  Thus, again, we can conclude that RCA was never followed to justify her commentary!

The easiest and simplest RCA is the 5-Whys Approach.  Here is the 5-Whys Approach in a simple analogy:

      1. Why? – The car battery is dead. (First why)
      2. Why? – The alternator is not functioning. (Second why)
      3. Why? – The alternator belt has broken. (Third why)
      4. Why? – The alternator belt was well beyond its useful service life and not replaced in a timely manner to save the battery. (Fourth why)
      5. Why? – The vehicle was not maintained according to the recommended service schedule. (Fifth why, a root cause)

Using the 5-Whys Approach, one can also work backward from a completed RCA to double-check integrity in the process.

5 – I am holding the maintenance records showing timely maintenance was conducted.
4 – The alternator belt is broken, but so are the other belts in the engine. Are we sure the root cause is the alternator?
3 – The alternator is missing.
2 – The battery is missing.
1 – The car is not working; why?

Using VP Harris’s comment above, we can back check the climate-change excuse to the erroneous assumption using the same technique.

5 – How many illegals at the southern border are only from the three countries being blamed for illegal immigration?
4 – Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras, suffered from El Niño and El Niña in 2017 and 2018, but there was no increased immigration during those tumultuous years of extreme weather.
3 – Since 2015, food security has been an ongoing problem in Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras. Again, we do not find a surge in citizens from these countries immigrating illegally to the US Southern Border.
2 – According to the World Bank, regardless of the weather issues and the global financial crisis, Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras are still being favorably looked upon as places to invest in for good returns on investment.
1 – What is causing a southern border crisis immediately after a presidential election year?

Please note, I only researched to 2015 for the weather, economy, and food security issues, as obviously President Trump (R) never had a positive influence on the Southern Border Crisis.  President Biden just inherited President Obama’s mess.  Does the RCA backward and forwards process make sense?  I ask solely because we have had migration issues on the southern border before today.  The politicians in America never seem to find the root causes and act to protect America’s defensible borders!  Blaming the weather, which has been changing in cycles since recorded history, for recent events, is akin to blaming the position of the planet Mars for burning one’s hand on a hot stove.

ApathyYet, let’s give VP Harris the benefit of the doubt; maybe her staff did complete an RCA process to reach this conclusion, while she has been sequestered and unavailable since the election.  If so, it would be easier than stepping off a curb to produce the RCA in detail and allow us, the electorate, to see how and why she is blaming the weather for a migration crisis.  This is a reasonable request, produce the proof an RCA was completed, where climate change is the only root cause in a “complex problem.”  Want to raise the stakes a little; if you cannot produce the RCA and accompanying evidence, along with the plans of action, you leave American politics forever.  If you produce the evidence and RCA, I will issue a sizeable public apology and never write about politics again.  I am waiting!

© 2021 M. Dave Salisbury
All Rights Reserved
The images used herein were obtained in the public domain; this author holds no copyright to the images displayed.

 

NO MORE BS: Intention and Discernment – Tools Worth Knowing

Foghorn Leghorn - MedicationParents, how many times have you witnessed a toddler going about their day, an idea crosses their face, and you can tell they are about to do something that gets that toddler in trouble?  I heard a comedian talk about witnessing this as the toddler saw the cat sleeping in the sun, the toddler crossed the room and kicked the cat.  When asked why the toddler claims “it was accident.”

What is intention?

Intention is all about deliberate action, using a plan, and involving ideas in action.  According to Webster, intention is also the healing process of a wound, but this definition is not part of our discussion.  From Latin, we find intentio as “stretching purpose” and originates with intendere meaning “towards, stretch, and tend.”

Calvin & Hobbes - Irony HurtsConsider these definitions for a moment and the story about the toddler kicking the cat.  We have a plan, a purpose, and a deliberate action.  How does the parent discern the act was deliberate; the use of observation as to what the toddler had done to the cat previously, what the toddler was doing immediately before they kicked the cat, and the attempt to use an excuse to get out of trouble.

Discerning Intention.

Never Give Up!When defining discernment, I am not entering holy waters to discuss the pieces of discernment that belong to discerning for religions.  Discernment is the ability to obtain sharp perceptions, observations that empower decision-making.  Discernment can be psychological, moral, or aesthetic.  Discernment is also defined through the contexts; scientific, normative, and formal. The process of discernment involves going past the mere perception of something and making nuanced understandings about its properties or qualities.

Note, there is also a legal definition, or standard, for discernment, “the cognitive condition of someone who understands; savvy, understanding, apprehension knowing about their actions before, after, and during the act;” which is where things get sticky when discernment and intention cross paths.  Hannity and Carlson disagree on the actions of the jury in the Derek Chauvin case.  Not being a lawyer and not knowing all the legal jargon, the best I can do is form an opinion.  I base my opinion on other high-profile cases where the media has condemned an individual as guilty before the judge and jury are formed.  Meaning, I feel the jury was intentionally and unfairly biased against Derek Chauvin due to the influence of the media and the mob outside the courtroom’s doors.Thin Blue Line

There was a shooting of a teenage girl in Columbus, Ohio, by a police officer.  The girl had a knife in hand, did not listen to the police officer responding, and lunged at another person before being shot.  Again, we come to discerning intention and split-second decision-making.  Only, in this instance, the officer has no history of the person holding a knife, only reports of a stabbing and an apparent altercation involving a knife when they arrive on the scene.  I offer no judgment in this case as this case continues to unfold, details are still being investigated, and family interviewed.  Yet, the media is already off and running their biased opinions, and mobs have formed for mobocratic justice, which is never just nor proper.

Calvin & Hobbes - Ontological QuandryUnfortunately, this pattern repeats too often, and thus the need to understand discernment and correctly discerning intention.  My intent is not to make you as adept at this practice as a police officer. In a Republic, and even in many democratic societies, the citizens need to discern and discern intention, two separate processes.  The media will sell a lurid and emotionally charged story with all the bias of a bull in a China Shop and never care about the consequences.  But, the citizen does not have the same luxury or legal protections as the media.  Hence, we must discern what the media relates and discern the media’s intention before we ever read or listen to their story/reporting of events.  Thus my intent in this article and bringing up this topic, we, the citizens, are held to a higher law than the media and cannot afford to form mobs, trust the media’s reporting, or even rely upon the press reported “facts” to discern and discern intent.

How do you make a decision requiring action?

GearsThe process for critical thinking, leading to intentional decision-making, with purposeful action, generally follows the following pattern:

      1. Gather data
        • Requires knowing the validity of the source data and trusting the sources.
      2. Organize the data
      3. Make preliminary decisions and determine an action to take.
      4. Beta test the decision through application to a minimal audience to refine the solution and ensure the integrity of the data.
      5. Roll out the entire decision, including the solution and the reasoning, take timely action.
      6. Monitor and make course corrections as needed.

Detective 4These steps are useless unless we understand our own intention before launching a decision-making process.  Consider, do you intentionally believe that others are doing their best or giving their best efforts?  Do you intentionally shut down your own opinion to consider the perceptions of others in making decisions?  Where in those steps do you stop and take a moment to ponder the short and long-term consequences of the solution devised?  When making decisions, do you ever consider the axiom, “If a solution is not Win/Win, everyone loses?”  Do we fear failing to make a correct decision if the future teaches us something new about the data changing the pattern of decision-making?  How do you learn?

Let us briefly examine that axiom, “If a solution is not Win/Win, everyone loses,” does not mean making everyone happy.  A good compromise leaves everyone upset and feeling cheated and settled on the issue under consideration.  Yet, the media and many politicians firmly believe that unless they win everything they desire in a solution, they have been robbed and feel justified in stirring up public angst and creating a worse problem.  The adults in society must understand both the good and the ill in creating Win/Win solutions, or all is lost, and the patients run the asylum.

Anton Ego 4In going back to the analogy of the toddler kicking the cat.  Does the solution in the short-term mean corrective behavior modification for a long-term lesson learned?  Does the better solution involve instruction as well as behavior modification?  Have we, the parents, discerned correctly the intention of the toddler sufficient to justify our decision?  Will the cat be safe around the toddler in the future because of the action we take at that moment?

How do you learn?

In answering this question, we must return to the topic of failure.  Do we consider failure a learning moment?   Do we appreciate the power of failing as integral to achieving success?  A close relative of mine in high school went out for the track team as a pole vaulter.  I looked into pole vaulting to learn more and was surprised at the ways, means, and multiple times the pole vaulter will fail.  The technical skills to pole vault are incredible, almost as unbelievable as being an operations manager in a manufacturing environment and being a parent.  Hence, the need for discernment and intention.

2012-08-13 07.37.28I close with a challenge, use discernment more intentionally in learning your way through failure to success.  Liberty and freedom allow us the power to fail our way to success, but only if we consciously choose to learn and discern better our steps in decision-making.  Know your intent, take a moment every day to consider your intent, and purposefully make decisions to live your intentions.  Trust yourself to discern.  Your confidence in discerning is key to understanding and using your intention to power decision-making as a process.  Please remember, what I am discussing requires time, you will fail, but you will also win and win BIG!  Enjoy the journey of discovery!

© 2021 M. Dave Salisbury
All Rights Reserved
The images used herein were obtained in the public domain; this author holds no copyright to the images displayed.