Wednesday, February 13, 2013

The customer is always right.

Title Correction: The customer is always the customer.

Sometimes customers can be real jerks, and you wish you could yell at them - but you can't. So instead, you act as polite as possible, and the second you hang up the phone, you look a little something like this:

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Today's blog is brought to you by my daddy for another 'episode' of Retirement Ramblings.

Being newly retired I've been enjoying some fond trips down memory lane (in my head, of course). This morning I recalled four funny stories, all from the mid to late 1980s when I worked at the weather office in Bedford, NS. I thought I would share:

I got a call from a man who wanted to know the water temperature at Lawrencetown beach, along the eastern shore of Nova Scotia. Canada was still in its infancy with the metric system and we were required to ask our citizens which units they wanted. Being a good and dutiful public servant I responded by asking him, "would you like that in Celsius or Fahrenheit?" He cheerfully replied, "Oh it doesn't really matter, I'm quite comfortable with both sets of units … but I guess you can give it to me in kilometres." I gave him the Celsius number but choked back the laughter while wondering if the number would mean anything to him at all.

Sometimes our citizens (clients) humble us with their confidence in our abilities. A meteorological colleague in Ontario once summed up his job perfectly, "Peter, my job is to manage expectations."

He is spot on. We all know that it's the national pastime to roast the weatherman and make small talk about how weather forecasts are useless.
The reality is that the majority of people have an unrealistic expectation of our capacity. Case in point … one of the guys received a call in February inquiring about detailed weather conditions in New Brunswick in July. Well the only credible information that is possible 5 months in advance is a climatological perspective about what happens on average, so my coworker provided this generic, but still useful, information.
The citizen picked up that the weather expert was not providing an authoritative nor definitive answer about what the day would behold, meteorologically speaking. He tried convincing this citizen that such details were beyond the scope of reality. The citizen really didn't buy it but acquiesced to a generic answer. An hour later my buddy had a similarly ludicrous call inquiring about detailed weather in June in PEI. Everyone in the office had a long chat about the unrealistic expectations that exist out there in the public.
The final straw though was a call from a woman who was helping her daughter plan her wedding. The daughter was getting married on the 3rd Saturday in August in Halifax (yes … about 6 months into the future) and she wanted to know what the weather would be like in Halifax. Without hesitation our expert questioned, "what time will the wedding be?"
Needless to say the rest of us were rolling on the floor.

1 comment:

Staci said...

Hahahah that last story is hilarious! One of my old college professors had started out as a PR person for the Weather Channel. He said one time a women called in & said a pair of her expensive shoes were ruined because it rained that day. And she wouldn't have worn them out if she knew it was going to rain but the Weather Channel told her it was going to be a clear day.

They asked for the name of the shoe & her size & sent her a new pair! They said it was easier than trying to fight with her about it.