April 2nd, 2021

Slow morning in the customer service world

I had a kind of shower thought during the first few years of owning my business.

"There is nothing louder in a small business than the phone that doesn't ring"

A morning like today was terrifying.  Typically there were four of us in the shop and we'd bounce around like pinballs trying to find useful things to do when the shop work ran out.  Very aware (at least I was) that  money was flowing out the door, overhead for renting the space, employee salaries, utilities.  It was almost a visible river that was only slowed or backed by customers calling, by new business.

The obvious solution was sales.  Sometimes I got so bad we resorted to some kind of shoe leather marketing.  All of use hated sales and my personal attitude infused the attitudes of the crew with increased negativity in that area.  In retrospect and after all I've learned the only thing that matters in small business IS marketing and sales.   We always said 'we'll grow with referrals' which means we're terrified and hate sales and are saying that to make the fault sound noble.  I've frequently heard it from business owners in the same way it came out of my mouth.  

All of which is to say that you you want to get something done that requires you to call customer service, any customer service, today is apparently the day to do it.  Operators are standing by and it is quiet.

First Lieutenant

I was 26 years old when I graduated from OCS and was commissioned an Ensign.  Much like Ensign Pulver in 'Mr. Roberts' I was sent to a Reserve ship.  In my case it was not a support ship but was a World War II destroyer, USS McKean, DD 784.  Guns fore and aft and really a relic.  I was First Lieutenant, in charge of the deck force, the Boatswain Mates.  Swabbies.  We didn't talk a lot about Yeats and Sartre.  But that's a different story.  This one is about my first day.

I reported to the ship and was taken to the Executive Officer who gave me my first collateral assignment.  Officers typically have three or four collateral assignments in addition to their primary duties (in my case the primary was maintaining the exterior of a 45 year old ship, maintaining good order and discipline in the ranks of the sailors assigned, etc).  I was collateral duty legal officer having been through a two week school teaching the Unified Code of Military Justice.  Two weeks is plenty to be a lawyer, right?  I  was also in charge of tracking drug offenses and rehabilitation.  And, since I was the junior Ensign, I was in charge of setting up the projector for the evening's movie.  As we didn't get underway much this was not a huge thing to worry about.  Until we got underway.  Then it was a nightly chore.

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