Thursday, April 25, 2013

Small bank Big Customer Service

I’m still processing the feelings of a meeting this morning.

We moved the store’s account from a huge multinational bank to a local bank (Seattle Bank) several months ago. Each of two times that we have taken our credit card terminals off site to large meetings where we have sold books the terminals have malfunctioned and caused us considerable stress and accounting problems. A couple of weeks ago the event was large and the credit card malfunctions were large too.

Two individuals from Seattle Bank worked with us closely and long and hard. We phoned one of them Saturday evening at 8:45 and he returned the call Sunday morning at 10:00 to help us work with the malfunctioning terminals. He then spent many hours the following week working out ways to capture all of the credit card transactions.

This morning the manager of our local Seattle Bank visited us at our store and he brought with him the district or regional manager (I missed that specific detail.). That manager showed intense interest in the problems that we have experienced with the credit card terminals and the technical support that took a lot of time but often were of little help.

He took notes. And more notes. He asked probing questions and wrote down our answers. At one point he borrowed a highlighter and highlighted one section of notes. Before they left our store the manager assured us that our descriptions and his notes were going up the line and would make a difference for the future. Our local bank manager then gave us each a gift certificate at a small locally owned delicatessen that is also a member of the bank as a thank you for our time today.

Whenever I can I encourage individuals to shop with local independent businesses. The reasons include the real situation that those who are making their living by direct contact with their customers know their products better and give better customer care than those who work for the big megastore. I did not expect to receive such care and concern by my bank. I have no doubt that I would not have received that kind of personal care from our previous major name bank.

I’m still somewhat overwhelmed by today’s meeting.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

One of life’s joys, or is it embarrassments. And, is there a difference?

A “little old lady” phoned a few minutes ago. In her sweet and kind of shaky voice she asked, “Where are you located?”

I replied, “We are located in Seattle on Stone Way North, between the Wallingford and Fremont neighborhoods, just north of Lake Union and south of Green Lake.”

She replied, “Oh. Well, I’m in Denver Colorado.”

I assumed that she was asking one question, a local question. She was actually asking a continental question.

The laugh is on me!

I could have clarified with her first where she was located in order to give her an answer that met her needs. I just assumed too much.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Being on both sides of the wall

A young man was dieing from cancer. Near the end of his life the author writes:
“And he told me that the day before, he had been lying in bed, thinking about getting up, and suddenly out of the corner of his eye he had become aware of some sort of a barrier or a wall just behind him. As he noticed it, he realized that he had always known it was there but he had never seen it before. I encouraged him to say more, ‘Well, I know I’m here on this side of it. But at the same time, I know I’m on the other side of it too. I don’t know that that means. Do you?’ ‘…It makes me feel good….Sort of peaceful and joyful.’
Two days later he died.”  -- Copied without permission from Kitchen Table Wisdom: Stories that Heal, by Rachael Naomi Remen, Riverhead Books, 1996, 2006, paperback, page299.

This is a new thought to me. Part of us, part of me, could be on “the other side” and have always been there. What does that tell me about dying?

One description of dying is that it is something like our birth where we had lived for many months, our whole existence, in a dark, warm, liquid world and at birth we are released from that world into a world that is light, cold, and dry, but it is good to be in the new world. And the corollary is that likewise it will be good to be in the “next world.”

If we have all along had part of us on the other side of the wall then our dying here won’t put us into a new place but we will remember it when we get there from the part of us that has been there all along. It won’t be a strange new world because we will recognize it as part of where we have been.