Tuesday, September 22, 2015

The Sears Customer Service Effect. From Trish in Texarkana.

Yesterday, one of my faculty remarked that it seemed as if administrators get together in meetings and then decide what the faculty should do. That is sadly true, in many ways.

But, I then thought of my recent experience at Sears, where I overheard the appliance sales person talk down an angry customer. This customer was upset because the delivery man had failed to turn on her refrigerator before he left. She didn't know how to make her refrigerator get cold enough to preserve her frozen chicken. And worse, the delivery person had left some of the packing material behind. She also didn't know how to remove that. This salesperson spent about 15 - 20 minutes talking her down, and in the end, offered her a discount.

( I was waiting endlessly for my own salesperson to help another customer, who seemed to be a very lonely person.)

This, I would say, is more the actual job that I do. Faculty, students, parents, other administrators. I help them turn on the refrigerator, and I take away the leftover debris.


  1. And I talk them down from the ledge, metaphorical and otherwise.

  2. Talking people down from a ledge I can accept (not my job, but as a relatively human human being, yeah, I can get with it).

    The fricking idea of serving cookies to students, though (a recent CM comment).....the stupidity not only hurts, it also makes me way less likely to be on the ball when a genuine crisis does occur.

  3. Amen, Trish. I just came from a morning class where all I did was act as a customer service rep. I resent it, but couldn't stop myself, mostly because that's all students see me as anyway.

    I don't know why I'm having such a hard time this term. I can't seem to hold the line any more. I feel as though I've fought the good fight a number of times, a number of semesters, over small and large issues, but they are winning...they, the students, the Adminiflakes who support the customer service model, etc. They are tougher and more resilient than I am. And Sears sounds like a simpler place to work now.

  4. Most often, from my perspective, the administrator is saying "well, you need to turn the refrigerator on and put the packing material in the garbage can."

    And I'm saying, "No, see, the delivery man didn't just turn the ridge on. He put it in my neighbor's garage and stuffed it full of radioactive waste, and the packing material isn't so much packing material as it is a live crocodile, and he seems peeved."

    To which the administrator replies, "Well, you see, you just need to turn it on and put the packing material in the garbage can."

    1. sometimes, administrators tell each other this.

    2. Eventually they'll hire a hundred new people in the Office of Student Retention and Appeasement whose sole job is to hold seminars where they hector the faculty about how we need to be more "engaging." Questions from the faculty about how being more engaging will magically solve the radioactive waste and angry crocodile problem will be met with blank stares and repetition of talking points.

    3. This rings far too true, particularly the hiring of all the non-faculty. At my joint, administrators and their support staff outnumber faculty by a sizable margin. They while away their days spamming our inboxes with forms, many of which request the same information. Telling them to get all the information from the other adminiflake who already has it has no discernable positive effect.

      I enjoyed the use of "Office of Student Retention and Appeasement". It seemed familiar, so I did some digging. Here's what I came up with, in reverse chronological order:

      Today in Student Success (tags)
      I am not immune
      RYS Flashback. 8 Years Ago Today.
      Big Thirsty on "Walking"
      This Semester's Excuses.
      Snowplow Stevie is Stuck.
      Give me a caption!

    4. Human beings are their own worst enemy is my takeaway, as they now say.. There are faculty flakes as well as admin flakes, student flakes, adjunct flakes....The nearly constant barrage of problems that define my day has made me weary. Some are real. Some I cannot solve but wish I could. Some are self-generated by the person, and those generate the biggest problems for me.

    5. I just figured out that I am not a babysitter--I am a janitor, scurrying thither and yon to mop up the puddles left by the melting snow.

    6. bad news, that puddle is not from melting snow./...

    7. Last I heard, engaging angry crocodiles was not standard operating procedure. But I may have missed an email somewhere; my inbox, like everyone else's, overfloweth with administrative pronouncements.

    8. "Office of Student Retention and Appeasement" is a perfect descriptor. I wasn't aware of its origin (thank you OPH!), but it is so apt that now I'm wondering if OPH and I are actually working at the same place...

      And the thing is, there are quite a few students who, despite what the Designated Enablers in the OSRA keep telling us, want a real education. They don't want to be appeased, condescended to, stalked on social media, or met where they are.

    9. Frankie B, I agree with all except the "quite a few" students measurement.

      In my current 2.0 FTE adjunct class load, I have a whopping TWO students who are up-to-speed, looking to learn, and lamenting classmates' lack of attention and/or interest. Totally messing with my head, these two have actually contacted me outside of the course to let me know how much they appreciate an instructor who actually is challenging them and pressing them to back up their in-class statements.


  5. This comment has been removed by the author.

    1. Frankie, I have often suspected we are in the same department on the same campus.

      It now occurs to me that linking to a bunch of my own one liners might be bad form. In pennance, I offer these links to items in which a similar epithet is used:
      Today's Big Thirsty. "Do you sometimes wish ... "
      Die extra credit, DIE!
      Candy from Casa Grande With a Friday Thirsty on Plagiarism.
      End of Term Flakes
      Did you ever feel like there just isn't enough
      I'd Prefer Not To