Stop “Shoulding” All Over Yourself

Why are we “shoulding” all over ourselves? We see the signs, we hear the warnings, and we have gut wrenching experiences that are all ignored. Whether it is joint pain, credit card debt or losing business, we all seem insulated from the obvious. Better Change.

Recently I lost my cell phone. What a feeling. It was almost the loss of a family member, my beloved pet, or a profitable client. I was remiss in backing up my data. I was not sure I had an address label on the back of the phone, and I started to question what I “should” have done instead of what I could do.

I called the phone in hopes that someone would hear it. Then I remembered I always kept the phone on vibrate. I thought about someone using the phone to call Hong Kong, Sydney or some other expensive long distance call, and reminded myself that I could have avoided that concern by implementing the “auto lock” feature of the phone. I was “shoulding” all over myself. After a full day of chest beating, I called Verizon to cancel the service. Getting a new phone was painful. So many choices. So much to consider, since I use a Mac and most phones are not Mac friendly. “Should” I stay with the familiar, or “should” I accept change and get something that works with my PC? Better Change was required, so I decided to upgrade to a new portable PC-PDA, and I am thrilled. I have access to the Internet, email, can receive Excel and PowerPoint files and images, and have moved into high tech communication with my clients and office. I “should” have done this two years ago, I reasoned.

But implementing the Better Change “should” have been easier.

After making the decision, I went to the local Verizon store to make the purchase. I went with great anticipation of a smooth transaction. After all, I had done my homework before going to the store. I understood the features and benefits of the model I had chosen. All I had to do was make the purchase. Right? Wrong.

It was a cold day in Chicago. It was snowing and I really did not want to go out, but I knew that I had to have the phone for the weekend so I could learn how to use the features. This was an expensive phone. It required a significant upgrade to my cellular phone service to include the email and Internet access. I would have to purchase an expanded memory card, and a Bluetooth headset to maximize all the features.

So, this was not just a big deal for me, it “should” have been a big deal for Verizon, too. But when I got to the store, I was met with “attitude.” This wasn’t just garden-variety indifferent customer service, this was downright mean. Three people behind the counter were engaged in personal conversations and totally uninterested in my immediate need for “customer service.”

Verizon, in all their advertising, all their consumer and B2B messages, claim superior customer service. Yet, I was made to feel like I was an interruption in their day. Maybe Verizon executives “should” have gone to one of their own stores, to learn that their field representatives, at least in the downtown Chicago store, needed serious education.

I “should” have purchased this phone on line, I reasoned. Same price? Nope, probably less. Nevertheless, what about hands-on training? Whom would I talk to about my questions? So I stayed and waited, particularly galling since not only was I made to feel like an intruder, but I was actually criticized for not being willing to wait while the staff finished their personal chit chat.

But wait! There’s more! I was told that the reason for the delay was that it was “shift time.” The incoming staff had not started and the departing staff did not want to take on a customer that may have delayed their leaving. Frustrated, I asked for the manager. I was told he was off, but the sales person on the floor might be willing to help if I was not going to wait for the “shift to happen.”

The Verizon manager was gone. The service people were indifferent. But, I needed the phone, so I gave it one more attempt. The “sales person on the floor” was a very pregnant woman sitting on a chair. It was obvious that she was tired and possibly ready to give birth any minute, so I approached cautiously, simply asking her if there was anyone I could talk to and purchase my new phone.

She apologized and asked if I minded her remaining seated? Mind? Of course not! I was thrilled and embarrassed at the same time. How could I impose my menial request on her? On the other hand, she really seemed to care about my plight. She offered her assistance and her wisdom. She agreed that my choice was appropriate and offered me a package deal that included the upgraded service, a discount on the phone, and a discount on the Bluetooth headset. She also provide me with toll-free numbers that were valid over the weekend “should” I need assistance in setting up the phone. WOW! It was like winning the lottery.

Verizon kept a customer because one person understood that it costs several times as much to get a new customer than it does to keep an existing one. She “should” have gone home. She “should” not have been at work that day. Yet, she showed me that sometimes help could be found from those seeming least likely to offer it.

She was not feeling well, yet she made me feel great. I took her name, and wrote and called Verizon to tell them they “should” promote her. Next day I sent her flowers and chocolate. I wanted her to know how much I appreciated her efforts.

And my lost phone? Seems I dropped it when I got out of a taxi in front of my condominium building. How do I know? Two days later, one of the doormen in my building called me. He had found the phone moments after I dropped it but forgot to call me. Maybe he “should” have, but offered no apology. Perhaps he Better Change? Hundred of dollars, hours of aggravation. All because someone did not take the time to do what they are paid to do…service the residents of the building.

Indifference is what is making this country decline. We know that global warming is melting the glaciers, and we can prevent it. But we don’t. We know that smoking is harmful to our health, and we can stop. But we don’t. We know we should see a doctor annually. But we don’t.

We need to top “shoulding” all over ourselves.

Better Change.

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