Wednesday, November 21, 2007

30 seconds of fame

So any of you who went to the BYU v. Hartford basketball game last night were part of one of the most harrowing athletic moments of my life. I got picked to be the guy to go out on the court at half time, drive the length of the court, shoot a lay up, come to the other end, shoot another lay up, then drive to the other side of the court to shoot a 3 pointer. I had 30 seconds to do it in.

Short version: I suck at basketball. I was worried I would dribble the ball off my foot, and spend 30 seconds chasing the ball all over the court, or throw up an airball, and have the crowd boo me, or something. I missed my first lay up (I wasn't joking when I said I suck at basketball), and made the next two. My first 3 point shot hit the side of the rim, but I got the rebound just as the announcer called out 10 seconds left. Knowing that I only had time for one more shot, I took my time, got in position, squared up and took the shot right as time expired. I nailed the shot. 13,000 or so people cheering loud for something I just did. In a word, it was


I'm working on getting video of the occasion from BYU. I don't know if they'll release it or not, but if I get it, I'll put it up here. I don't have moments like that very often, so I have to maximize my enjoyment of them while I can.

Friday, November 09, 2007

A singular experience.

I just had an unbelievable experience, and I felt compelled to shout it from the rooftops. Unfortunately, the closest thing I have to a rooftop these days is my blog, so this will have to do.

I just got off of a phone call with a customer service agent with a really big company where I ACTUALLY RECEIVED QUALITY CUSTOMER SERVICE. I know, I know. You're probably skeptical, as I would be, but it REALLY happened. Read on, my friend. Read on.

I had to call an airline to get the details of my holiday flight home (because I'm a genius and deleted the confirmation email with these details). Here's how it went down:

My first surprise was that it took about 8 seconds to get through to an operator. I didn't even have to dial 1 for English, and then 3 for customer flight information, and then 5 for departure and arrival information, and then 2 for departure airports on the east side of the Mississippi, and then 5 for departures after 12:00 pm, and then 3 if I am a male passenger, and then 1 if I am not overweight, only to find myself in a 10 minute long queue waiting for an operator to pick up the phone and ask me how she can help me. Wait, after entering all that information, you still don't know why I'm calling? Gee, it's almost like pushing all those buttons is a colossally assinine waste of time, or something...

-As a side note, anyone who hates this process as much as I do might be interested in this web site. It's a compilation of the magical codes to circumvent these maddening systems and get to a human as quickly as possible. It's a brilliant idea, and I wish I had thought of it. But I digress...

So not only did I get to talk to an actual human being in a few short seconds, she spoke ENGLISH. I'm not one of those speak-English-or-go-home-type bigots. I can't stand it when people get like that. I want to make that clear. That said, it's frequently very frustrating talking to customer service operators b/c it does me little good to try to explain my customer service needs to an outsourced phone operator with a limited grasp on the English language, particularly since I don't speak Hindi.

Not only did she speak English, she was actually PLEASANT to talk to. No condescension from a pompous jerk on the other side of the line that can't believe how stupid I am to have the customer services needs I have (never mind the fact that it's my stupidity that gives her a job in the first place). She was genuinely nice.

Not content to stop there, she asked me what I needed, and my name, departure date and approximate departure time, and about 10 seconds later, SHE TOLD ME WHAT I NEEDED TO KNOW, and no superfluous junk info, and re-sent the confirmation email to me just for good measure. She didn't even try to up-sell me on something, or hit me with a stupid pitch for some service designed for the same tools that order crap from The Sharper Image, or Skymall. I had to pinch myself to see if I was really awake.

I hung up the phone, still a little in shock over what had just happened. I looked at the timer on my phone and noticed that the total time elapsed for the phone call was 3:21. 3 minutes and 21 seconds? ARE YOU KIDDING ME? I dialed the number, got my call answered by an actual person, and got my question answered by a pleasant human being that spoke cognizable English in 3 minutes and 21 seconds? That's unbelievable! You grow to expect a half an hour or more for this type of thing these days. I think speaker phone was designed for exactly this reason, come to think of it. Seriously, I probably wouldn't have believed it if it didn't happen to me.

So what company is this you might ask? What company is it that hasn't gotten the memo that customer service is something that big companies just don't bother with any more? Normally I wouldn't give out the free advertising to all 4 or 5 people who read my blog, particularly not to a big company, but this experience definitely warrants the big ups. Southwest Airlines, you just earned my return business. Impressive. Very impressive.
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