Friday, September 13, 2019

Be the Hero of the Story

In every great story and conflict, there is generally a winner and a loser.  A hero and a villain.  Someone who wins the day and someone who loses the day.  For this story, I was the loser who created the situation.

I love to drive.  I love to have silence in the car and let my mind wander.  The bad part is that I can be very forgetful or do dumb things right after I drive.  In this case, I was returning a rental car.  I pulled in, followed the process, and then went to my car.  About halfway into the drive home, I realized I had left my iPad in the rental car.  I quickly turned around and told myself how dumb I was to do that.  I pull into the rental facility and find the person who checked in my car.  He said that the car had already been processed.  I asked if there was somewhere I could go or someone I could call.  He said that I had to go online and fill out a form and follow the process.  I thought, really?  It has only been 30 minutes.  He said that was the best of his ability.  I looked at him and asked, “I feel a story coming on are you going to be the hero of that story?”  What I meant is, there isn’t anything you can do to assist?  He said no.

I had another business trip going on the next day and I knew I couldn’t wait for the process.  Defeated, I pulled into an empty lot and filled out the form. The form said it could take 7-10 days to resolve the process.  I started saying things to myself like, “How can it take so long?  It has to be right around here somewhere.”  I then thought of the Find my iPhone app.  I pulled it up and it showed that my iPad was in a lot across the street from me.  I decided to try and go get it.  As I drove in the entrance, it was guarded and required a keycard.  The security lady came up to me and asked what I was doing.  I said, “Barbara (I read it from her name tag), I feel a story coming on, do you think you could be the hero of my story?”  At first, she was very resistant.  I told her the story that had transpired and about the business trip and then showed her that my iPad was in the guarded lot.  She thought about it for a bit and let me in.  I talked with the people in the office and retrieved my lost item.

As I reflected on the situation that I put myself in, I really liked the approach of asking someone to be the hero.  In terms of ethical influence, I needed to offer something that I could do in the realm of my influence.  Sharing with you Barbara’s act of kindness fulfills the contract I made with her.  She was the gatekeeper (literally) and let me in.  I tell you all of this to remind you that in process, procedure, and policy, there are two key factors:  People and Common Sense.  Although I wasn’t technically allowed in the area that I was in, common sense was to finish the issue right then instead of allowing a process to transpire over 7-10 days.  The other reflection was on the attendant.  He COULD have done something.  He just chose to hide behind policy.  As a loyal customer of that brand, it had the opportunity to cost long term business.  Barbara on the other hand weighed the possibilities and decided based on the human factor.

When your next customer service opportunity comes to pass, remember, the issue is a story.  Are you going to be the hero or the villain?  Are you doing everything you can to resolve a true issue or are you hiding behind policy and procedure?  What is your intent?  Barbara’s simple act resolved a huge issue that I had caused myself.  She is the hero of my story.