(For those who never experienced this…a phone switchboard)
We are caregivers of our clients, whatever our business.
More examples come to me all the time, tiny or big, of how we are caregivers or care receivers all along life’s continuum.
The first couple of years of my college summers I sat up high in my little switchboard corner at the front of the bank, totally in control of phone communication. I had the pleasure of talking with every person who called, connecting them promptly and with exactly the person with whom they wanted to speak. I glanced across to the bank officers as they looked at me and answered the calls, direct access never denied. They were there to be available to the customers.
No voice mail.
No waiting… and no interruptions of call waiting.
No journey through fifteen menu choices and still ending up in the wrong place.
Client served immediately and graciously.
It is a rather humorous memory to think about in this age of instant gratification. The instant gratification of connecting to the person with whom you wanted to speak was far more palpable back in the 60s and 70s, and even in decades before that. When I was a child, the operator asked whom to call on your behalf and promptly had that person on the line. There was no worry about an extra charge per minute and rarely did one get disconnected.
In my summer switchboard life there was the same call to be gracious, professional, friendly, and able to cajole a dour person on the other end of the line by making him feel like he was the only one being attended to…because he was.
At times I have true longing for those years.
Yesterday was one of them, ironically in conjunction with looking for information from a giant communications company.
I was sent from option to option and on to more options on the robotic menu, with the robot saying, “I’m sorry, I did not understand you” and proceeding to talk on. If I am fortunate, I find that saying the words “speak with someone” works to get me to a real person more quickly. That did not work yesterday. I was transferred no less than four times.
Which is how why I time-traveled back more than 40 years to my wonderful perch with all its cords just like in the photo.
The callers to the bank were my clients as much as they were the clients of the bank. I represented the hospitality of the business and was the first voice they heard. Care shown to them in that brief interaction played a part in how they began the next conversation.
Through what may seem like an odd example, my switchboard years reminded me that the ease of my client’s accessibility to me, my first point of conversation with them, and how I follow up with them is giving of care. It is more than “taking care of.” It is “giving care to.” It is making sure that I am serving each one from a place of generosity of spirit and of desiring that who I am with them will create a bond of connection and loyalty.
That is how many banks grew customers and deep loyalty way back when. It was far less about interest percentages and the latest offers.
It was about the relationships and personal attention, old-fashioned service as some call it.
I is exactly the model I want for my business…accessible and giving the ultimate care to my clients.