– Day 35 – EXPIRED!

“Mistakes are part of the dues one pays for a full life.” Sophia Loren

If today’s inspiration is true… my goodness I’m going to have an amazingly full life, even if I never make another mistake… ever again!

You know that feeling you get when you’re driving on the interstate and the state trooper speeds up on your tail… YEP!

Let’s back up… (not into the cop – haha) – but I started my day 20 minutes behind… and it turned into 3 hours!  But along the way I had some amazing customer service.   I rarely leave the marina at this time of year, other than to go home… or the dentist.  I still have one more cavity to fill. Ugh.

Anyway, I was pretty excited today – I was taking my car into get it’s standard service.  Instead of interrupting someone else for a ride, I thought… I’ll just schedule a loaner car.  I could have waited for the car, but waiting 3 hours, that’s not much fun. (it’s ironic that I didn’t want to waste 3 hours – read on)

SO…. I arrived at the dealer and the dude said “we need your license and insurance” – crap.  Insurance… I never remember to put that in my car.  BUT, being a pro at “not remembering” I knew my agent could email it.

Start Pacman song when the ghost eats you…

“Um. Ma’am your license is expired”

No clue.  This is the embarrassing part… I had absolutely no idea it was expired.  I haven’t had any reason to even look at my license in 10 weeks!  The last date it was valid.

However, the nice lady helping the dude said, “we have a plan for this… we’ll just take you to the DMV.”

Score!  I knew I needed to get my tabs renewed, so this works out perfect!

So… about 30 minutes later I was dropped off at a DMV… and waited.  It was a very nice DMV.  But I got to the window and … keep that Pacman/Ghost theme handy… “We don’t renew licenses here.”  Here’s a purple piece of paper with all the area DMVs that create licenses.  Well, as long I waited in line… let’s renew my tabs.  I mean they expire this month.   Look at that, I’m ahead of the game! (If only I could drive – haha)

Next call, to the dealer…. who picked me up and transported me to DMV number 2… well, sort of.

I was dropped off at a police station/government looking building, I went inside and some woman at the desk said, “the DMV is across the street and down the block” — SWEET, it’s a great day for a walk!

I trotted over… walked inside, grabbed my number and then looked at all the lifeless souls sitting in chairs.  It was your “normal” DMV straight out of central casting…. I looked at my ticket, #94… then I caught a glance of the “now serving number”…. enter music from shower scene in Psycho… the sign was showing #73.


I found a chair right next to the door… it looked sort of clean, but I really wanted some hand sanitizer, FYI… I thought of asking the workers if they had a refill for the dispenser on the wall, then I thought, “I’ll just stay sitting and not touch anything.”

I waited… waited… waited… FINALLY 94!

I trotted up to the window… “you need to fill out this form – just step aside… 95, 96… 97, 98” – lots of thoughts went through my head.  But much like the hand sanitizer… I thought “thank you” was my best course of action.

LONG story short… I finished the form.  Then… “we need to check your vision” was said by the woman behind the counter.  UGHHHHH… My contacts are at the very end of their useful life. If your wear contacts you understand what that means.  If you do not, contacts steadily get less effective.   In my case, they work “fine”, but seeing detail like names on street signs is a little sketchy at distances.  SO… I just rattled off some letters, hoping I’d avoid the Pacman theme…

HARPS!  And a chorus of angels!  “You Passed”

I almost burst into tears… but instead I called for a ride, and made it back to the dealer to resume my loaner car pick up.

What does this have to do with the State Trooper?  I really did have one follow me on my way to the car dealer… and all I could think of on my ENTIRE 3 hour saga to the two and a half DMV’s was, this was SOOOOOO much better than finding out my license was expired from the State Trooper on the interstate!

What did I learn?

1) Have a plan for your customer if they “forget” something… like renewing their license… dang, I’m dumb.

2) Have a plan for your customer when they need a “copy” of something like emailing a copy of their insurance… shrug.

3) Have a plan for your customer if they arrive at your place of business and you can’t help them (the purple sheet of paper)…

4) Renew your license before it expires.

What an adventure… if you’re entertained, join my tribe!  start here

Episode #59 – Don’t Yell at Customer Service

Here’s your advice of the year, “Make sure to yell at people trying to help you!”  Shake head.   And yet, there are jerks in the world that do this.

I will never understand two things… 1) why do people yell at customer service reps and 2) why it’s “acceptable” to yell at customer service representatives.  I’m waiting for the day that an employee sues for hostile workplace based on having to answer phones with nasty people that scream, belittle, and even swear at them… that’s right screaming at the person who is trying to help them.

I just saw a help wanted ad that actually mentions they are seeking people that are “…assertive & able to remain calm and controlled when faced with emotional customers under stressful times”  You’d think this was for a hospital, court, or funeral home employment.  Nope it was for a “big box” retail store.  This makes you do a double take!  Customers are under such “stressful times” buying an end table that the employment ad is forced to mention it as a “realistic job preview” – how far down the crazy road have we traveled?!

I’m a little different in my supervision, my staff is instructed, if the customer swears you will remove yourself from the situation. If that means hanging up or walking away, that’s acceptable.  (NOTE: Often alcohol is in the mix, so sometimes customers are not in their clear mind) — but that aside, no one, and I mean no one, deserves to be sworn at for doing their job.  Our business is REAL LIFE not Reality TV.  We do not accept poor behavior.  There are other business that will gladly accommodate the screaming/swearing, but we are a family environment, swearing does not align with our company values.

Some might be thinking, “oh gosh, that’s horrible to hang up on someone.”  Well, it’s also a pattern interrupter.  They’ll call back and then you can clearly restate the rules which are no swearing.

Do you realize I actually stepped in between a 55 year old man SCREAMING at a 16 year old employee?   How do I know how old he was? I asked.  Yep. That’s cool, scream at someone three times younger than you.

If you want to stay on the phone and get sworn at, go ahead.  But think about this, if the mind is so incredibly powerful that messages received in your brain alter you…  (It’s real basic but, happy music makes you happy, sad music makes you sad)… so if messages alter you, why listen to a customer that screams/swears/belittles you or your staff.  That’s actually not healthy.

Another thing to consider if you want to challenge my “remove yourself from the situation” rule… as a parent, do you want your child to be spoken to that way?  Remember, a great portion of the customer service jobs are “front line jobs” meaning lots and lots of first time employees hold these positions.  That might be a mind bender the next time you decide to get upset with the customer service representative on a phone… how old is the person on the other end of the phone?

There are things to do on the front end and a good representative will have the tools to control a situation, but you need to help your staff.  It gets harder and harder to find good employees, your job is to not put them into unhealthy situations.  Give them tools to succeed AND do not let them sit in abusive situations.  I mean… think about it… do you really want the responsibility of having paid someone every day, 40 hours a week, to sit at a desk and have their mind filled with nasty hostile messages?

Now… if you are the one with the problem, stop, focus, and decide how to solve the problem… but do not yell at the person trying to help you, “Be an encourager! The world has enough critics already.” W.Thurston

PS: if you love my post… give it a “like”!

Action Step
1- Don’t yell at customer service representatives, if you have a problem, figure out what the problem is and solve that problem – the person on the other end of the phone or behind the customer service desk is a human.  They are getting paid to solve the problem. That’s it.

2- If you have a customer service area or people that regularly deal with hostile customers.  Trace your problem back to why there is such a heated topic and ELIMINATE that problem.  This might mean slowing down and allowing more “one-on-one education” during in the buying phase.  But somewhere you have a problem that needs to be addressed.  But don’t let your employees get yelled at as a requirement of their job.  That’s just wrong.

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Listen to Episode #59 of the Two Minute Commute


Ask Better Questions

Did you fall?  Clearly the person is on the ground…

What happens when you start to ask better questions?  Earlier this week I had the opportunity to listen to a customer on the phone with his credit card company.  He spent over 10 minutes, calm as can be, until the problem was resolved.  When he was finished I asked, “what job are you professionally trained at… you never got mad”.  His answer surprised me.  He didn’t say psychology, police officer or clergy.  He instead told me a story.

His mother raised him with the belief that he only has so many “get mads” in life. Each time a situation arises he asks himself “do I want to use a ‘get mad’ on this?”

I asked a different question and received a beautiful story.

Action step
-Start asking better questions.  You already know the person fell…

CLICK HERE to Listen to my podcast about this topic