Random Scribbles · writing

Daily Prompt: Are you being served?

Daily Prompt: Are you being served?

This post has nothing to do with my prompt group.  This is just me on a rant…

All right – I’m gonna pull on your coat a little bit here.  I am going to slip on my curmudgeonly hat and get up on the old soapbox.  You have struck a nerve with today’s prompt.  I have a word to say about customer service.  Two words actually, “The Bank”.

Maybe I am being a little oversensitive but, I am annoyed when I walk into the bank and there is a greeter who rushes over to me and says enthusiastically, “Welcome in!”  Who talks like that anyway?  Other than someone who has been given a script of things they are allowed to say to customers entering the building.  Greeters are for Walmart, not for Wells Fargo. Not for Wachovia. Not for Bank of America.  If you have a greeter then there should be zero wait for a teller.  If you have a greeter it shouldn’t be a young man with an oily fauxhawk and two of his shirt buttons undone.  Just because you are wearing a necktie does not mean you are dressed like a banker.  If the bank has enough money to pay this greeter then they are taking too much of my money in fees (and I don’t have that much money to begin with).

What is wrong with the teller saying hello to me when I get to his/her window (they are going to do so anyway and it seems much more dignified that way)?  But speaking of the teller experience, why do they speak from a script too?  I am really tired of hearing things like, “In order to ensure excellent customer service is there anything else I can do for you today?” Or, “In order to ensure I do things right the first time, we are putting this deposit in your checking account, correct?”

“Yes, that is why I have marked the box on my deposit slip labeled Checking instead of the one labeled Savings.”  I realize that “teller” is not a high power job at the bank but they are the people I interface with each and every time I come in.  They are the face of the bank.  It seems to me that a smart bank would invest their money in the hiring of smart employees with the right attitude and spirit, then train them to be an effective teller. If you are putting an employee in a position where they will be in constant contact with your customers all day every day, you want someone who demonstrates enthusiasm and a positive attitude, someone who could serve you better than a robot, reciting from a script that they have memorized.  And, believe me we customers can recognize the script.  Maybe not the first time we hear it but it won’t take long.

The financial skills that make a good teller can be taught to someone with the incentive and motivation to learn.  Attitude (towards your customers, towards your coworkers, and towards your job) is not something that you can teach.  A young employee who demonstrates individuality, enthusiasm and teamwork is an employee who should be valued.  A valued employee should be nurtured, trained and groomed for advancement.

I don’t blame these young people for behaving like robots at work.  I blame the bank management.  Senior managers who have no enthusiasm for their work develop business strategies that squash individuality and enthusiasm in the rank and file.  Management attitudes are picked up by these young people and for the most part a great manager has a great staff.  An unhappy manager conveys his attitude to his staff and they will be unhappy (and ineffective) as well.  Taking this to the next step an unhappy staff will make unhappy customers and unhappy customers will eventually take their business elsewhere.

I, for one, would rather go into a bank and interface with a representative who is professional, personable, individual, and friendly.  I want to work with someone who has been well trained and is empowered to address my business, my problems, and/or my concerns directly.  I want to work with someone who cares enough about their job and their company to help me quickly, efficiently, and professionally.

What is the turnover rate for bank tellers anyway?  I’ll bet its pretty high.  I’ll bet they could retain staff if they hired for attitude and invested in their hires. It seems to me that banks are hiring for body count and not considering attitude or enthusiasm at all. There needs to be a balance between skills and good attitude at each teller window.  I cringe when I go into the bank these days.  Soon I am going to have to find another bank, a bank that has effective employees, a bank that has effective management.

American business is falling behind and they better get smarter or they will lose.  Talk all you want about corporate power but at the end of the day business is conducted between people.  We need to value and invest in those people.


14 September 2013

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The prompts are:

1. Silk
2. So fix it
3. Huddled in the corner was ________.

Begin writing

Pablo hit the switch and the lights came on, at least one of them did.  The warm white color of the single working bulb in the single working fixture was almost yellow and did not offer a lot of illumination.  Something stirred on the other side of the room and he peered deeper into the gloom.  Huddled in the corner sleeping, was Kona, his blue heeler mix and best friend.  Kona had been rescued from a shelter outside Boulder about seven years ago.  She came over for some attention and then retired back to the corner to continue her nap.

Musée des arts et métiers, Paris. Machine à écrire portable Corona, 1920.

Pablo sat down at the typewriter and stared at the keys.  He sighed and pulled a sheet of paper from the ream in the desk drawer.  As he ran the paper around the platen, the bulb blinked once and then went out, plunging the room back into inky darkness.  So fix it, he thought, pushed his chair back and went in search of a replacement bulb and a torch.

His late wife’s admonitions rang in his head.  “If you would write during the day, like a normal person, you wouldn’t have these problems,” she used to say.

“Too many distractions during daylight,” he answered her.  “I can’t get anything done then.”

“You’re not getting much done now are you?”

“You’re right,” he said aloud.  “You’re always right dear.  I don’t want to argue with you now though.”

“Good,” she said, and it was almost as though she were standing in the darkened room next to him.  He could smell the citrus scent she had always worn.  The one that she said was lemon but always made him think of grapefruit.

He felt her lips brush against his ear and she whispered, “Are you going to kill him tonight?  Do you have everything ready to do it?”

“I’m not going to do anything until I get this light fixed,” he answered as he made his way into the laundry room off the garage.  He found a bulb and a torch and went back to his study.  Using the torch to see, he removed the defective bulb and put the new one in its place.  It blinked on and he flicked off the torch, sat down at the desk again, staring at the blank sheet of paper in the old Corona machine.

He heard her in his head again, “What are you doing?  Kill him, kill him now!  Are you scared?”

He rested his fingers on the typewriter keyboard.  It was a dark and stormy night, he wrote. Suddenly a shot rang out.

“Are you happy now?” he asked her.

Time is up. Put down your writing implements and step away from the paper


07 September 2013

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07 September 2013

I am going to change formats a bit here and rather than continue the same post for an entire month I will make each week a separate post.  Not sure anybody but me will really care but it should make it a bit easier for me to manage.

The prompts are:

1. I thought ________ I can do that
2. He glanced furtively around the room
3. Mementos

Begin writing
There we sat on the side of the highway.  The four of us in the car with the Texas sun beating down and smoke pouring from the engine compartment.  I remember as though it was yesterday but, I was probably only about six years old and my shirt was soaking wet, stuck between my back and the plastic seat covers in my dad’s Buick.  My older sister’s page boy haircut was limp and strands of her brown hair stuck to her face.  My younger sister escaped this heat as she was yet to be born.

We had gone on a long car trip from Corpus Christi to Abilene to see my grandmother.  My dad had been chain-smoking and driving, cigarette clutched between two fingers of his left hand; while that same left hand mostly hung out the driver’s window.  My mother, as always, had been constantly busy trying to tune in a radio station; looking for Glen Miller, Artie Shaw, Benny Goodman, or one of the Dorsey brothers.  The car problem announced itself with a large bang – followed almost immediately by a sudden loss of power and a cloud of dark smoke.

My father was an artist.  He knew nothing about automobiles so we sat.  We sat and suffered in the heat for what seemed like forever but was probably less than thirty minutes when a green and white Chevy truck pulled over in front of us, a local farmer and his wife on their way to a “Revival” meeting just up the road a piece.  We took a ride and all jumped into the back of the truck.

When we got there the tent meeting was going full tilt and featured not one, not two, but three different “fire and brimstone” preachers.  I listened to them with rapt attention, fascinated by the cadence of their voices as they testified to their faith in an awesome God, about which I had never heard before.  People were singing, dancing and speaking in tongues.  The effect was one of controlled chaos and elation.  I was drawn into the tent and as I walked in a man handed me a sheet of paper listing the day’s schedule of events.  I kept it to this day as a memento of that meeting and when I got out of seminary school I had it framed.  That’s it on that wall over there.

The Reverend Theotis Baker is the one who inspired me to the church.  As I watched him work the crowd that hot afternoon I recognized, even at that tender young age, that Reverend Baker was going to make a lot of money that day.  I listened to him talk, shout and sing with the congregation and thought to myself, Shit! I can do that.
Time is up. Put down your writing implements and step away from the paper