A Helpful Attitude Builds Relationships and More

There are people who are very easy to ask help or assistance from. They always go to great lengths to be of help to a brother, a parent, a cousin, a classmate, an office mate or even a complete stranger. It comes naturally to these people. My mother is the greatest influence in my life about being helpful. She showed me by her own conduct and attitude towards people how it is to be helpful.

It simply came very easily for her to decide to help someone. I have seen this dozens of times. I saw how she helped a man get his wife out of the hospital after giving birth to their child. The man said he had nobody else to run to. The hospital will not release his wife because of unpaid bills. My mother took a pen and paper, wrote something and then just sent the man off to wait for her in the hospital. It was our family driver who told me later on that she paid the hospital bills and just sent our driver to give the receipt to the man. She can't even remember the man after.

Another case was about two girls with really dark skin and very curly hair. They came one morning to ask for leftovers because their mother left them for about a week with no food. Their mother never came back. I can't forget it becaue she did not give last night's left overs. She asked them to sit around our garden table. She took my spaghetti (My Spaghetti) she prepared for my breakfast and served it to the two girls with hot chocolate. She just smiled and told me there's always a loaf of bread on the table for me. These girls not only lost food, their mother just left them. Of course I was ok with a loaf of bread but actually I just got two slices because she packed the loaf of bread and a bottle of peanut butter (my brother's favorite peanut butter) and gave it to the two girls. It's cool. I can always get two slices of bread from the table...I know.

Being helpful is not something you get after a seminar. Knowing how to write a sales letter, maybe something you can get from a seminar. Building a website is something you can learn from a seminar. Baking a cake is something you get from a seminar. A helpful attitude is simply not a thing you pull out of a kit in a seminar. A helpful attitude has something to do with character.

I always like working with customer service, technical support or even marketing people with an attitude of being helpful. It's always easy working with them even for long hours. When you work for a company that provides maintenance service for large computer systems, you must be able to respond to a customer call any way you can. What if, the caller is not your customer?

A call coming in on a Friday one summer was made by someone asking help in trying to print a report in WordPerfect. I used to do a lot of writing in WordPerfect back then and then switch to PageMaker and then to Microsoft Word. I was always the last to leave as usual. While everyone was rushing to the door to go home (it was already 5:00 PM), I was holding this phone listening to a desperate female voice.

I can't recall her name anymore but let's call her Beth. Beth called two of their suppliers who provided them their computers. She was told to call tomorrow morning because nobody is in technical support (Of course, it was already 5:00 PM.). To get help she called all the business names in the phone book under computers and fortunately for her there was only less than ten of us on the page. To make the long story short, I work for a company that was listed close to the end of the page of the phone book.

Receiving the call I immediately switch to our standard response protocols of asking the identity of the caller and the company, verifying if they are currently enrolled in our service, and blah blah blah. She was not our customer and her company is not listed in our maintenance support program. The usual response to this is to go into a prepared script meant to get her interested in our maintenance services but I felt the desperation in her voice. I felt that she was not in the listening mode right then. I simply switched to my listening mode and just let her talk about her predicament.

Beth called because her boss who is the Vice President of Finance for their company have prepared some financial data in QuattroPro and wants to integrate the spreadsheets in the report written in WordPerfect. At that time only WordPerfect can do this without any conversion being done with QuattroPro spreadsheets. The report is suppose to be submitted and presented first thing in the morning. His boss is relying on her to finish the report that same night to give her boss time to review it before he goes home.

I walked her through the process of how to paste the spreadsheets in QuattroPro onto the WordPerfect document. There were so many data representing many tables to be pasted on the WordPerfect document. After she completed the task she requested that I stay on the line while his boss is reviewing the report she printed. I told her that I will hang up and wait for her call. I promised her I won't go home until she tells me that the report is okay. Of course more requests came after I hang up, like how to create charts, how to paste the charts into WordPerfect and how to insert charts into Harvard Graphics (at that
time Harvard Graphics was a choice for presentations not Microsoft PowerPoint). Eventually, Beth did finish the report that night. I hang up and forgot about Beth and the call.

Several weeks after, my account executive comes to me and says: "Boss, remember that account we were trying to pursue for many months for our computer maintenance contract. Someone just called and requested for the maintenance contract. I haven't been approaching that client because the Vice President for Finance were giving us a hard time about our service fees which he said were higher than the other suppliers."

When I asked my account executive what brought about the sudden change of heart, he told me about the story of the Administrative Assistant working for the Vice President for Finance. Apparently, our proposals like all the other proposals submitted to the company were all expensive and were more or less of the same price levels. Finance have to decide on one eventually so the Vice President asked his Administrative Assistant which one she will choose. She chose us and the reason she gave was that somebody from the company helped her solve a technical problem even though she was not even a customer yet. Her logic was that if she can get help even if she's not a customer yet, how much more if she had a maintenance contract.

My account executive was thinking of sending her something to thank her but can't remember her name. I said, "Let me guess--Her name is Beth". His eyes brightened and asked me how I knew? I simply said, his "girl story" sounds like a Beth.


Mariposa said…
Very true...and I guess this attitude is one of the many reasons why I am where I am.

I just launched Customer Advocacy Group D.R.I.V.E. with my Quality team and this was my first topic! Guess what...we have zeroed out our Bottom Boxes on the first day of launching.

Launching a Customer Advocacy Group is excellent strategy. It is proactive and implemented with a very focus team at middle management level can easily cut across departmental silos like osmosis. Go get them girl!
Anonymous said…
Anonymous said…
Learning makes a good man better and ill man worse.............................................................

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