A Heart of Another Kind, Not an Option

Katrina VanHussMy father, Norman A., will not answer the phone. Ever. Because “it might be a telemarketer.”

I ask him, “Does it burn your hand when you answer a telemarketer’s call? Which hurts more, speaking to a telemarketer, or not speaking to the people you want to because you won’t answer the phone?”

My line of reasoning doesn’t work at all because he believes heartily in the benefits of “being Norman.” The family is forced to conform to his mentality. Like a line of worker ants absent-mindedly following some unknown Natural Rule of Order, we chant: we shall conform to the Norman… we shall conform to the Norman… we shall…. Action to the contrary is not an option.

But, I’ve recently discovered his persnickety phone antics have led me to a customer experience lesson worthy of sharing. Let me explain.

My dad left me five phone messages between 4:30 pm yesterday and 8:30 am this morning. FIVE.

His last message went something like this: “I called your cell yesterday afternoon, then your house last night, and your cell. And your cell this morning and your desk again. I can’t believe you won’t answer the phone.”

Along the way to that message I got: “I called your office last night at 8:30 pm. A real nice lady answered the phone. It was 8:30, and she was so nice. What are you running over there, a slave operation? She didn’t have to answer the phone. And why was she there at 8:30 at night? Tell me the names of all the ladies who work there so I know who it is. That was real nice. You need to think about how you’re running things.”

Text image for Turnkey Promotions blogThat whole 12 hour grace period to return a call is nonexistent with my dad. And, since he won’t answer the phone and you don’t get points for leaving messages, it’s tough to meet his expectations.

But, you know, I really couldn’t answer the phone between 4:30 pm yesterday and 8:30 am today. There was a client appointment, a developer meeting, a Junior Beta Club induction, dinner for kids, a trip to the dentist, and a sudden onset of strep throat. Those of you reading this post probably have days like this too, and I know you feel my pain.

After that last message from my dad I realized his expectations and that of fundraisers, clients, and even donors are the same. You might be thwarted by circumstance and they may be unfair in their assessment of your performance, but it really doesn’t matter. All that matters is their experience.

Which is why the only answer for my dad is, “I’ll find out who is working at 8:30 at night and get her donuts, and then I’ll figure out what’s wrong with my phones.” I’ll look for expectation opportunities. I may not always succeed, but in my heart I will follow: I shall exceed … I shall exceed … I shall exceed. A heart of another kind, not an option.

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