The real thing

I spent some hours last week filling in for several traveling Client Services employees and for the most part, enjoyed talking to clients, assisting with their needs, and getting the job done. And then there was *Frank.

Frank was a ticket buyer – and called because he hadn’t received his tickets in the mail. Our agent explained that in this case, there was an order for the ticket stock that was seriously delayed due to the east coast storms and flooding, and that his tickets would be mailed the following week.

For most buyers, this was reasonable. But Frank – for whatever things are going on in his life – decided to escalate the call to a supervisor. It was, as he said, “ridiculous and unacceptable.”  It was almost closing and the supervisor was in my office, so I told him I would take the call. It had been a number of years since I’d handled a customer complaint, and I thought it would be good for me to stay in touch with the daily dealings of my staff.

Frank was agitated and repeated his story to me. I told him that I would love to mail his tickets, but I had no paper on which to print them. He continued with his rant of ridiculous, unacceptable, and I let him talk. Finally, I asked him, “What can I do for you today that would be reasonable?” He shouted, “I WANT MY TICKETS NOW.”

This went on for a few minutes, and I again explained why that wasn’t possible, I understood, and that he would have his tickets prior to the show he wanted to attend. Again, “I WANT MY TICKETS NOW.” I’m now realizing that Frank is not an uncommon customer in America – frustrated by what really is often ridiculous and unacceptable, they enter the conversation with a whole lot of baggage and an expectation of failure to please by the provider. And that perhaps he doesn’t want resolution.

Another customer last week had a mix-up at a concert and wrote a letter saying that she was caused embarrassment and distress by what happened. We called her to set it straight, and she was almost speechless when we asked for her address to send her a dinner gift card as an apology. Not what she was expecting.

Frank asked to cancel his order. Inconsolable. So upset about a delay, he gave up on a nearly $300 evening he was probably really looking forward to.

One of the core values of TicketForce is to do what is right by our customers. When we make mistakes, we correct them, and go above and beyond to make things right. But when you are dealing with live events, emotions sometimes run high, and you will inevitably have a Frank whom you just can’t please.

It’s at this point that I sigh, and I think about what we call in our office “first world problems” – in other words, there’s a disproportionate amount of energy spent on frustration over things that in the end, really don’t matter. There are people who don’t have water today. Are you worried about your next meal? (Please visit http://www.one.org/us/ to find out how you can help those who are).

Understandably, we are in a recession.  And maybe Frank lost his home or job last year.  But truth is, tempers are running high, and though there are more companies than ever working hard to treat our customers right – how did we get here where yelling, threatening, and exasperation over tickets – or a microwave – a carwash – or sandwich – is the order of the day?

I wanted to take Frank through a breathing exercise right there on the phone. Sit down, close your eyes, and take a deep, long breath. Have him sit in child’s pose for two or three minutes. Get him a cup of tea. And start the whole thing over.

At the end of the day, I’m sad that though most of us live without real needs, have so many options for happiness, and are free from warfare on our soil, we’re so wired up that we are ready to burst over a delayed ticket. Can’t I just give you a little bit of happiness?

I grew up in the 70’s and as a 7-year old, got my worldview partly from the Coke commercials, where people from all over the world were holding hands and singing,

I’d like to buy the world a home
And furnish it with love
Grow apple trees and honey bees
And snow white turtle doves

I’d like to teach the world to sing
In perfect harmony
I’d like to buy the world a Coke
And keep it company

Watch it here. And then go spread a little happiness.

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3 thoughts on “The real thing

    • Thanks for reading, Leslie! You, and all our clients are a pleasure! I hope that we succeed in spreading a little happiness whenever we can…

  1. Pingback: Pleasing Patrons With Awesome Customer Service « TicketVoice: The Official TicketForce Blog

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