Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Confessions of a Dog Mom

As most of you know, in May I became "mom" to the cutest little white fluff ball you've ever seen. 

It has been loads of fun (and work) and I have learned a lot about what it's like to have a living creature be completely dependent on you. There have been moments when I was sure she was as needy as a child. 

Most of you probably also know that I am a worrier. And no, not the "I worry too much every now and then" kind. I'm talking the "I have a headache so obviously it's a massive brain tumor" kind. One sure way of gauging how close I am with someone is how much I worry about them. Let me paint a picture of just how irrational and ridiculous it can be: When I was a kid (think 7 or 8ish), I used to be extremely worried that my mom would be kidnapped by aliens, they would clone her and then send the clone back to be my mother. Yeah, keep laughing because I'm laughing right along with you. Pretty ridiculous, right? Thankfully, over the years I have learned to get the worrying under control. But it's still always something that I will struggle with. 

Recently I had an experience that really helped me grow in this area. This past weekend, Daisy officially lost the ability to reproduce cute little white fuzz balls of her own someday. We (mostly Seth) decided that it would be better to have her spayed than to end up with an accidental litter of puppies to take care of. Being the worrier that I am, I was not about to take her to a vet clinic that I wasn't familiar with. So I drove her down to Norman to her usual clinic where one of my best friends assisted with the surgery. When we got to the clinic, I signed the papers that explained the surgery, risks and all that jargon. I probably shouldn't have read the "worst case scenario" paragraph, but of course, I did. My mind instantly went to what would happen if the surgery didn't go well and I almost teared up as they took her back to the exam rooms and I was left to spend the day hoping things were going smoothly. For those of you that have never owned and raised a pet, this probably sounds ridiculous and pathetic. (And to some extent, it is) But pets easily lick and snuggle their way right into your heart and become like members of your family. 

The surgery went well (praise the Lord!) and my friend who works at the clinic sent me periodic picture updates of how she was doing. 

Here is one from just after the surgery. Talk about a pathetic face. 

She was still heavily medicated and nauseated from the anesthesia when I brought her home that evening. You could tell that the incision was hurting her and the usual sparkle was missing from her eyes. Of course, I completely freaked out. Even though these are completely normal post-surgery symptoms, I couldn't shake the fear that she wasn't going to make it (for some unknown reason that I couldn't rationalize, of course). Watching her be in pain and feel sick was heart-wrenching to say the least. 

And now here is the actual point of this blog.

Thinking back on the saga, it struck me that this is only a glimpse of what it must feel like to have a child who is ill. Obviously the care and worry are much, MUCH stronger for a child, so I can't even begin to imagine what it would be like to send your baby in for surgery, chemotherapy or treatment of any kind. This train of thought gave me a whole new respect for parents. There used to be a sign in my grandparent's house that quoted Elizabeth Stone: "Making the decision to have a child is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body." I had read this hundreds of times through the years, but never had even the slightest concept of it's meaning until this weekend. At church the following day, someone asked prayer for a 6-year-old who was recently diagnosed with cancer. My heart broke as I tried to imagine the pain and worry those parents must carry with them every single day and the trust in God it would take to get through that. Suddenly, my worries became nothing even worth thinking about. 

Some people show strength through physical power and influence; but the strongest people in the world are parents. 

     To end the blog on a light note, here is Daisy in her most pathetic state ever. 
She got a homemade "cone of shame" so she wouldn't lick the incision.
As you can tell, she loved it! 

Monday, October 15, 2012

The Power of Social Media

   If you have ever taken a media class of any kind, you probably had it pounded into your head how social media has impacted businesses. As an advertising major, I heard countless lectures and read hundreds of pages on how it has changed the consumer-business relationship. But somehow I never grasped the gravity of the concept until this little episode. 

Day 1:
   Like most people, we chose Cox for our Internet service, as they seem to have the best deals and service in Oklahoma. Seth went online and set up our account so all we had to do was go into the store and pick up a modem. The gentleman in the store was very nice and informed that all we needed to do was go home, hook up the modem, activate our account online and we should have Internet that day. Simple and easy. 
   That should have been our first red flag. Because let's be honest, nothing is ever that simple. But we went home an followed the instructions anyway. And of course, it didn't work. We put in our first call to the Cox helpline number only to find out that we actually needed someone to come to our house and do a "quick connect" (turn on some kind of signal in the backyard). They apologized for the misinformation and told us that a dispatcher would show up sometime between 8AM and 7PM the following day. Luckily I had enough to do at the house that I decided I would just spend the next day working on the never-ending to-do list. 

Day 2

   I kept watch out the windows all day for any sign of Cox. Six thirty rolled around and still nobody showed. I called to make sure we were still on the list and they confirmed that someone would be there by 7. We waited until 7:30 and then called again (this was call #3). This time, we were told that that they actually had until 8PM. Annoying. So we said we would call back after 8, knowing that they wouldn't show in the next half hour. And guess what? They didn't. Cue call #4 to Cox. 
   This time, we were told that they didn't know why nobody had showed up. The woman was very nice and emailed the dispatcher to see what the issue was. She assured us that she would call us back by 9:45 when she clocked out. 
   It was 9:55 and still no call from Cox. So we started call #5. While we were on hold waiting to get through, we got another call from the call #4 woman. The dispatcher had not responded to her email, so she assured us that she would call us back the next morning and update us on the status of things. When we switched back to the other call, we were still on hold so we decided to speak with a supervisor to see where the error in communication was happening. There wasn't a supervisor available, but the service rep apologized and credited our account for the poor service, which was nice. Then he told us that all the dispatch schedules were full for the next day, but he would put us on the schedule anyway. 
   Let's pause and examine this for a second. Nobody showed up when we were on the schedule. But they want us to believe that someone will show up on a day that every dispatcher's schedule is completely full? HA. This must be a joke. But we didn't have another option, so we waited until the next day. At least we would be on the top of the list since it was suppose to be done the previous day, right? ...  

Day 3:

   It was 10AM and I was sick of waiting around for them to show up and to hear from "call #4 woman" (yeah, we still hadn't received the call she assured us would come that morning). And I had a list of errands to run. Frustrated, I got on Twitter and posted about the situation. 
   Then things got interesting. In less than 10 minutes, my phone buzzed with a Twitter alert. To my surprise, Cox had responded to my post. They asked what was going on and I explained that this was day 3 of no Internet after 5 phone calls and all we needed was a quick connect. They apologized and asked for our address so they could look into it. 
   BUT, before I could even respond, there was a knock at the door (literally only 10 minutes after the Tweet was sent). Looking back, I think I literally said "HALLELUJAH!" when he introduced himself as being from Cox. He asked if we had been having trouble getting our Internet turned on. Apparently, his manager called him and told him to drop everything and "get over there and take care of this." Wow. 
   Three days, five phone calls, and all it took was one Tweet about poor customer service to get someone to our door in ten minutes. The management team at Cox apparently has a good grasp on the importance of customer service. After seeing notes from the 5 calls on our account, it only took a matter of minutes for them to make sure that the issue was resolved. Now that's customer service. 

   There were several things we took away from this experience. Notice: this is where my advertising/marketing nerd side takes over, so consider yourself warned. Ha. 

   First of all, Cox does an excellent job of monitoring their social media presence—something that every company should be doing in order to know what people are thinking and feeling about their brand.

   Second: Companies care about customer satisfaction. Sure, they may care more about those customers who talk about their bad experiences, but it's better than simply disregarding the consumer altogether. Cox did a great job of making up for their poor service and because of that, we will probably keep using their internet as long as we are in Oklahoma. 

   Last: Social media has given the consumer the power to communicate with thousands of people at once about their experiences with a company, making customer satisfaction a top priority. Previously, word-of-mouth circulated the frustrating tales of poor customer service. But let's be honest, how many people do you verbally tell a story like that to? Not many compared to the hundreds you communicate with on social media sites.  

All this to say, speak out about your experiences with companies. If you have experienced one of these tales of poor customer service, talk about it and talk to the company about it. You'd be surprised at just how much companies care about your satisfaction.