“Your Friday prompt for Stream of Consciousness Saturday is: “to/too/two.” Use one, use them all, but most of all, just have fun!”
Helen didn’t mention any extra points for using all three forms, but I’m going to assume that a proper accounting will be made. Anyway, let’s see where those struggling voices in my head want to go with this.
Remember the scene in The Wizard of Oz when, after his mea culpa, the Wizard started handing out brains and hearts and whatnot? I always liked the part where the Wizard says:
“Back where I come from there are men who do nothing all day but good deeds. They are called phila… er, phila… er, yes, er, Good Deed Doers.”
I was reminded of that this week, albeit in a curious way.
I was trying to get credit in a rewards program for activity that seemed to have slipped into a dark corner of the accounting department. Maybe my activity happened near month-end, I’m not sure, but I paid the bill and I should be granted the points. Apparently, it can take up to 10 days, so I waited. 11 days later, I visited the company’s website and I filled out the form to get credit for missing activity. That seemed simple enough. I jotted down all the relevant details and I uploaded a copy of my invoice.
I was instructed to wait 10 – 14 (more) days.
Waiting. Ooh, that reminds me of another great movie scene, the one in Ocean’s Eleven where twin brothers are staging a drag race between a monster truck and a model of the truck. Waiting for his brother to go first, the brother in the real truck says:
“I’m going to get out of the car and drop you like Third Period French.”
Anyway, back to where I was, which was waiting for 12 more (23 in total) days, I went back to the website to see what my other options were. It seems that since I waited the requisite amount of time, I was now entitled to speak to a human being. Actually, I could have spoken to a human earlier, but being one of the geeks who builds web-based things, I trust the system more than I should have. I say that, because the human being I spoke to said:
“Oh, when you submit an issue via the website, it just goes into a pile. If you want things to be reviewed quickly, you need to call so you can send the information to the attention of someone specific.”
Well, back where I come from, see, you thought there wasn’t going to be a connection, we treat web-based requests differently. We have people who do nothing all day but answer these questions. OK, that’s not true. We don’t get enough questions to keep anyone busy, but we do treat them all as if they were going to a real person. Because they are. Sure, you can call our office and talk to a human, but if you submit a request for information via our website, your request goes to a real live person, immediately.
Of course, the real live person that it goes to is based on what you say your request is related to. So, if you’re looking for information about an invoice and you select “Engineering” for the subject, things may take a bit longer. Giving an engineer an invoice is like, as one former engineer once said, giving a monkey a hand grenade…the odds of it ending well are not great.
My point, yes, I do have one, is that if you are going to try to add value / save money by having web-based or otherwise automated points of contact, treat the people who take advantage of those points of contact with respect.
By the way, lest you think that my “this / that” option above is curious, the motivation for putting customer contact in the hands of a machine is usually to save money. Money that the company behind the curtain of automation is unlikely to pass back onto you, the customer. Home Depot isn’t going to lower the cost of that two-by-four just because you twisted your back trying to scan the barcode, located at the other end of your cart, at the self-checkout. They might reduce the hours of the person standing lonely at the next counter, but they’re going to keep that savings. It goes in the same jar as the money they save when you picked the two-by-four and when you carry it out to your car. I’m sure their accountants don’t really keep money in jars, except maybe at month-end.
One thing is certain, if there are accountants and jars involved, there will be two jars. One for debits and one for credits, don’t you know. You won’t get anywhere with an accountant just because you give money to Home Depot in exchange for a two-by-four. No, you have to take the money from somewhere and put it somewhere. You can take money from “Cash” and put it toward “Construction Expense,” but you can’t just say “I gave Home Depot money and I’d like to be reimbursed.” Pbbbbft, no, uh uh, that would be too easy.