Little Yellow Notepad

How a customer service rep made me a better parent

Posted on: February 18, 2014

Customer service

The caller ID said North Carolina. Hmm, I don’t know anyone from there. I picked up the phone with a cautious hello.

“Can I speak to M—— or L—— ?” said the professional voice.

I nearly dropped the phone. Who wants to speak to my 9 year old and 6 year old?

“Is this 9**-***-***2? Do I have the right number?”

“Yes, you do. What’s this concerning?”

“We’re calling from Blackboard Collaborate. They downloaded the 30 day free trial and we want to see if they are happy with the service.”

I nearly laughed out loud. No, I would not share their age!

“Thank you for the call… Yes its working fine… They will call you if they need help… Thank you for your concern.”

And I hung up. And finally laughed out loud.

You see, my children attend a unique school – it’s all online! The Shluchim Online School is a religious school that affords them the ability to access high-level Jewish education even when it’s not locally available.

It’s quite different than attending a “regular” school, its all online. Yes, in a classroom; with rules and permissions and a whiteboard and friends, just that they’re on webcams and across the globe. It’s truly a marvelous use of technology. And the kids learn and love it too.

Now, the platform the school uses to run this program is Blackboard Collaborate, which I now know is based in North Carolina.

And so when the kids “hang out” with their friends across the country and play “School”, they cleverly figured out how to make their own online classroom. It is the “in” thing with their friends; download a free 30 day trial of the platform and you get to run the show! Once you have your own classroom, you can invite friends and rule the room! Oh the joy the kids get from being able to control the classroom, turning off each other’s mics and webcams.

And to think this poor company in North Carolina imagines that they have dozens of potential customers downloading their trial software when in truth, its a bunch of third graders!! I kinda felt bad for them; perhaps business wasn’t quite as good as they thought!

But hey, maybe they did know they were dealing with kids. Maybe they were just efficiently serving these little guys with great customer service. The way they treat everyone else, they were treating them like real people!

That got me thinking: They may be little people now, but people indeed. Adults of the future. They have ambitions and concerns. Sure they’re mischievous and limits-pushing too! And precisely at those challenging moments, I take a deep breath, zoom out and remember the bigger picture; these little guys will be successful adults one day.

And that helps me navigate the chaos that comes along with getting them there.

This leaves me wondering; what type of customer service do I offer my children?

When my 9 year old excitedly reports he wants to be an engineer for Lego because he knows the ins and outs so well, do I follow up with him, motivate him, like the Blackboard Collaborate reps did?

When my 6 year old thinks he’ll be a world class juggler because he can throw (but not catch!) juggling balls; do I even offer him a trial period?

When my 4 year old wants to vacuum the house (which really is NOT a help!) do I give him a chance or brush him aside?

Yes, I do think the Blackboard Collaborate guys have it right; our kids deserve the best customer service.

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