Spiritual Adventures in the Workplace

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Why Is Good Service So Hard to Find?

Series Disclaimer: The scenario in this series is fictional.  The bank, the banker, the customer, and the card in question are all created as an example for this series.  The training department, help desks, and procedures are equally fictitious.  Any resemblance to actual people and situations is purely coincidental.

You notice some charges on your debit card from a merchant you’ve never heard of before.  You stop in to talk to your local banker who is always so helpful, and she knows just what to do.  She asks you to sign an affidavit signifying that you didn’t authorize those transactions; within ten days the funds will be back in your checking account.  Meanwhile, she blocks your card so that the unknown merchant won’t be able to debit your account anymore.  True, you’ll have to do without your card for the next week or so, but you’ll get a new one in the mail very soon—a new card with another 16-digit number on it—and the unknown merchant won’t have access to that new number.  You thank the banker, confident that everything will be all right.

At first, you’re satisfied.  The bank does credit your account back, and the new debit card arrives as promised.  Life is good.  But then you start seeing unauthorized charges again from that same merchant.  Somehow he knows your new card number, and he’s using it.

Your banker is not only surprised but chagrined.  She is a kind person who prides herself on giving excellent service.  She knows her business.  She also knows that this isn’t supposed to happen.  Apologizing profusely, she blocks your second card and orders a third one—only this time she asks for a rush delivery and waives the fee.  You can tell that she is just as upset as you are.

The new card arrives within a few days.  The charges from the unknown merchant are again credited back to your account.  But you have a sneaking suspicion that the story is not over. . . and you’re right.  Weeks later, the merchant charges you again, and he uses your new card number.

Why is good service so hard to find?  We can all think of cases in which we were treated rudely by a person who was supposed to be helping us.  That’s easy: it just means that there are a lot of customer service reps who hate their jobs and take it out on us.  But those aren’t the cases we’re talking about when we shake our heads in frustration and ask, “Why is good service so hard to find?”  The real problem is much more complicated.  Why do we have to keep going back again and again even when the people serving us are knowledgeable and helpful?

I’m going to answer that question over the next several posts, but I’ll give you a thumbnail sketch now.  It has to do with the nature of the modern corporation and the constraints upon information-sharing across the various departments of the company.  In the case I just described, this honest banker is doing her best, but there is a key piece of information of which she is unaware.  She could have been given that information when she was trained as a new-hire, or in the many update courses she’s had to take during her tenure with the bank; but she was not.  She should have been able to find the information she needed in branch policies and procedures, but because of an executive decision, that information was withheld from the P&P.  She might have gotten a tip from the Help Desk, but the person she spoke with there was unable to enlighten her.

Over the next several posts, I’ll explain why each of these resources let the banker down.  In the process, I’ll give you an insider’s look at what’s happening behind the scenes in today’s corporate cultures.  And throughout this discussion, I hope to show you that we, as the Body of Christ, have our work cut out for us.


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