It may be a dream afraid of waking up, or it may be a dream coming to realization in the next morning.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Humanity in Customer Service

When I was working as a customer service officer in Kelana Jaya, I did a horrible job. You could ask any of my fellow workmates and they can confirm that. To be perfectly honest, the job bored me, which might be one of the reasons why I sucked at that job. But, after thinking for a while, there might be another reason why. It might be due to my lack of "humanity" in my service.

Any other good customer service officer would tell you this: that to be good in this job, you need to treat another call as a call from a human being, not another call to solve. Imagine you are sitting at your desk right now, waiting for a customer to call for whatever reason he or she has to. Then, the phone is ringing and you quickly adjust the microphone of your headphone to be near to your mouth and you answer, "Hi, this is *whatever company you're in*. I'm Taufik. How may I help you?". Then, the person tells you his or her concern, and in your mind, you will try to find the best way to solve any problem this customer is facing. You are rushing to solving the issue because apparently the more efficient you are, the less time you take to handle a call. While the issue might be solved, but you might be missing out the psychological aspect of the call that can help you deal with the similar issue in the future. Take a look at this example.

Customer Service Officer (CSO): Hi, this is XY. I'm Ali. How may I help you?
Customer: Oh, yesterday I was trying to redeem the points that I have in my account but I couldn't seem to do it. Is there a problem with my point card?
CSO: Can you tell me exactly what happened ma'am?
Customer: I don't know exactly. I was with my husband in your shop, and I saw this book, titled "Political Animals" that I would like to have. Then, when I tried to redeem my points, the card kept being rejected by the machine. I asked the cashier to do it again and again, but he kept asking me to call this number. So, I'm not sure if you could help me.
CSO: Oh, according to our system as you keyed in your ID number, your card has been blocked. I can just unblock it for you and you can start redeeming in about half an hour ma'am.
Customer: Oh, thank you!
CSO: Is there anything else I can help ma'am?
Customer: No, thank you!

The issue is solved right? But then, the interaction could have gone a little different, starting from the moment the customer told the CSO about the book she would like to have.

Customer: I don't know exactly. I was with my husband in your shop, and I saw this book, titled "Political Animals" that I would like to have. Then, when I tried to redeem my points, the card kept being rejected by the machine. I asked the cashier to do it again and again, but he also kept asking me to call this number. So, I'm not sure if you could help me.
CSO: Oh, the book is fantastic ma'am. I can see why it would frustrate you that the card would choose this time to make an issue.
Customer: I know! I have been following this author since his debut in 2004. I mean, my husband could have easily paid for it, but I've been loyal to your bookstore, so I really would like to see my loyalty being appreciated by me being able to get something free once in a while.
CSO: Well, I do understand that ma'am. It feels like a gift, especially when it's something that you like. Well, here's what I will do. I will unblock it so you could start redeeming in about 30 minutes, that is if you have the time today. Would you like to make an order for you so the next time you could just pick up a copy of the book as a way for us to apologize for the inconvenience?
Customer: Oh, that would be fantastic!
CSO: It would be my pleasure ma'am. Is there anything I can help you with?
Customer: No, I think that would be all. Thank you!

Can you see a little hint of empathy in the second set of interaction? Not just the issue was resolved, the customer was happier because you took an extra mile to help her and you actually rephrased her frustration. Well, obviously I didn't do this when I was a CSO, but learning to be a social worker really shows me how to talk to people sometimes. There's a lot to learn, maybe I can share with you more in the future!

Friday, June 15, 2012

Human Contact

"Basic human contact - it's bigger than any idea. It takes you outside yourself. It's more comforting than word. Without it, we die. Sometimes it's not enough, sometimes it's enough for now. Contact grounds you. It brings you back..."

I was watching this second episode of Saving Hope, a new medical drama (let's talk about how I so have time to watch all these when I should be busy burying myself with thesis work later), and it talked about the possibility that human contact, or specifically human touch, could bring you back to life if you're in a coma. Watching this well-made scene, I couldn't help but remember one story when I was having a bad fever.

It was a long time since I had my last fever and it reminded me that it didn't feel good at all. I was just back from the convocation in Penang for my master's degree, and for some reason, my body was failing me, when I could bat fever before it would become worse at any other times. I was shaking and no enough amount of blankets I could have that night that would take away the coldness. My mother gave me two pills of aspirin earlier and she said that tomorrow we'd go to the clinic first thing.

But, later that midnight, she went out of her room, and she checked up on me. I was still shaking, but I was also half asleep. She leaned toward me and touched my head, and rubbed it several times. It is the nicest feeling you can have when you are sick - to be touched, especially from someone you love. Then, she went ahead and changed the wet cloth above my head and rubbed my head again. Not much later, my fever started to go away. Little by little, I started to feel the heat caused by the blankets that I wrapped around myself. Until I completely recovered the next morning.

I didn't realize it, but I do remember how nice it was to be touched when I was in need of someone to take care of me. That's it, human touch is more than a physical gesture, it's a symbol. When done right, it can be an effective way to show someone that you love him or her. I think that's why it could replace aspirin to give the comfort.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

A PhD Journey

On 5th of June, I was finally registered to be one of the PhD students in School of Social Work in Universiti Sains Malaysia. It was a busy week, so I could not really update my blog and give opinions on certain psychological issues that I'd be usually be doing in the past. I have already met my supervisor and tomorrow I will be meeting my co-supervisor, someone who has the expertise in the field of criminology.

My thesis will be focused on the concept of restorative justice. Perhaps I will be talking a lot more about it in my future posts. But for the sake of an introduction, restorative justice is a revolutionary system of criminal justice where rather than alienating the offenders from society, we try to bring them back in, along with acknowledging the rights of victims in a process of a criminal conflict resolution.

I hope I would learn something out of this and I do certainly hope that something can be made out of my thesis, and it might become a real policy in our country. It is because I believe in the concept and I believe if implemented in the right way, we can benefit from it, especially the offenders and the victims.

So, please pray for my success. Ameen.