One of the advantages of growing older is that you have a pool of life lessons to draw from for solving everyday problems! One of those life lessons that I use frequently is "Make sure you're talking to the right person!" This lesson hit home recently and prompted me to write this article.
Several weeks ago I received a call from my older daughter who is attending first year university out-of-town. She told me that she lost her winter coat a few days earlier. She attended a party where she paid to check her coat. At the end of the evening when she handed in her claim ticket they were unable to locate her coat and she left without it. She and her roommate called the next day to follow-up but were told her coat was not there.
Unfortunately she checked her coat with numerous items in the pockets: her cell phone, cash, keys, student card, and health card. To My daughter's credit she had taken the SIM card from her new phone and put it in her old phone. The good news was that she took her old phone to the party. The bad news was that she lost a fair bit of cash, had to pay to have her room locks changed, had to replace her SIM card, her student card and health card. To make matters worse it was the coldest week of the year and she was without a winter coat.
Again, to my daughter's credit she handled the situation without my direction and did her best to deal with her misfortune. I encouraged her to go out and buy a new coat but she was busy with her school work and coat shopping was not her priority.
After going a week without a winter coat I went online with her and ordered a coat – paying a premium price to have it shipped to her overnight. When the coat did not arrive after 2 days I traced the tracking number and discovered it was sent regular mail and was expected to arrive the following week!
I immediately contacted the merchant who apologized, refunded the shipping charges and sent me a gift card. Unfortunately, though there was no way at this point to expedite the delivery of the coat.
When I spoke with my daughter I indicated that the people who checked her coat should be accountable. They may not be responsible for the contents but they should be responsible for the coat itself. Though I insisted she follow-up with the "coat checkers" I sensed that she was busy with school and would likely let the matter drop.
Those who know me well know that I'm not typically the "let things drop" kind of person!
I had ordered the ticket for this event for my daughter so I decided to email the people running the party. I had a quick reply from one of the "party people" who apologized but said he could not help me and I would have to contact the venue. He was not the right person to contact but he pointed me in the right direction. He did volunteer the venue but with a bit of searching I was able to figure it out myself.
I tracked down the website of the club where the party took place and sent an email to 2 contacts I pulled from the site. I had an immediate reply from one of the people who said he would contact the manager of the club who would get back to me. He asked me a few questions to which I responded – including a description of my daughter's coat.
The next morning I had an email from the manager who turned out to be the "right person". He told me my daughter's coat was in the coat check. This was 2 weeks after the event took place. I was both thrilled and shocked at the same time! I asked him if he could have someone deliver the coat to the front desk of my daughter's residence. Within a half hour he emailed me back with confirmation that he delivered the coat himself and gave me contact information of the recipient in case I needed to follow-up. I had found the "right person" who gave me the "right answer."
It reminded me of another incident where I ordered a return bus ticket for my daughter online. After ordering the ticket we realized the return date was off by one day. I immediately contacted customer service, explained my mistake and asked how I could correct it. The first support rep indicated that I would have to buy a new ticket and there was no way I could get a refund. I asked to speak to her supervisor who insisted (more rudely) that it was my mistake, "all sales are final", and they could not help me.
After hanging up I filed a customer service report and called back the next morning during regular business hours. I was able to find the "right person" who provided me with a procedure for purchasing a new ticket and obtaining a refund for the incorrect return ticket. The "right person" gave me the "right answer."
These are just 2 of many examples I could cite where I've discovered the importance of speaking to the right person. This is key not only in every day problem solving but also in sales, job hunting, and seeking technical support.
The next time you're presented with an answer that you're not happy with ask yourself "Am I talking to the right person?" If the answer is "no" your next step is to find the right person. There is no guarantee you will get the answer you're looking for but if you are dealing with the wrong person then the probability is high that you will get the wrong answer!