|Learn from the past and quickly leave it there |
to look to the future
As an internet or e-commerce director, my responsibility is to drive my store's profitability through a digital medium: To put our best foot forward through a customer's perspective via our website, email communication or the phone. A basic part of the email standpoint is to use effective email directly to each individual per their inquiry (basically to ensure we answer any question a potential customer may have given us) or to use a mass emailing to elicit a response. Mass emailing must be targeted unless I want to run the risk of a high opt-out rate which would lead to ISP's or Internet Service Providers like Yahoo!, MSN and AOL to view our IP address as a SPAM generator. This I do and have done for years. In fact, I have probably sent out more than 500,000 emails in my career to prospective and current customers. This week was much the same as any other communication.
For those of you in a position of responsibility, you know you have many distractions- your people, contemporaries, supervisors, owners, manufacturers, customers, your daily process, etc., etc., etc. In other words, MANY distractions. For those of you who are not supervisors, you have many distractions as well: Life, home, friends, etc. I am no different.
With the Christmas holiday right around the corner and then the end of the year next, I had been aiming to send out a mass email to our unsold prospects, and had been trying all day to get it written and compiled before it was too late in the day on Monday the 23rd of December. Unfortunately, I had been unable to complete this task due to many distractions until around 4:00 that afternoon. Long after I knew people would be reading this email at their morning break at work.
A couple of hours later, I received a very threatening voice mail on my mobile phone that if I wanted "my side of the story" to be heard on a "national article about the dealership" and to be named in it myself, I was to call back before the end of the night. I normally don't do well when people try to threaten me- after having been under direct fire before words have little effect in causing me any anxiety. Out of managerial duty and curiosity I returned the call and the person confirmed it was him- we shall call him Larry.
Larry started on a line of questioning like he was an attorney so I was quickly on the guard, and I asked him what he in fact did for a living. He informed me he writes articles for national magazines like Time and such. Terrific.
I asked how I could help him and he started to tell me how I had lied to him. Okay sir, you now have my attention.
"How did I do that to you?" I asked.
"By emailing me that I had previously made an inquiry by email to buy a car. I had not had I?"
"No sir, you did not. I see you were in for service previously, and had not made an inquiry about a purchase. That was my mistake."
But he persisted and again said I lied to him. I told him I had made a mistake and it was an oversight for which I held myself responsible.
The third time he called me a liar I pushed back hard. "THAT is enough!" I said. "You will not call me a liar again. I have owned up to the mistake, I have apologized repeatedly, what more can I do? What more do you want from me?"
It was at that exact moment I realized I was being attacked by evil. God had given me the patience and words to endure this withering assault against my character, my store, my job and my family.
His mood instantly changed and we spent the next 30 minutes talking about his experiences while photographing various topics. I viewed his website and some of his images and I couldn't help but think to myself "I'm the liar?" Every one of his photos were no doubt photographed with high performance SLR cameras with filters to capitalize and emphasize the lighting. Perhaps even digital manipulation.
In other words, every one of those photographs, as they were depicted, never truly happened. Ironic.
I even went on to edify him, lauding his vast experience and accomplishments, and thanked him for his insight and bringing this to my attention. I don't think he knew quite what to do.
After hanging up I was quite upset, not quite angry, but still shaken. Surprisingly, I was not nearly as agitated as I would have ordinarily been.
When my GM came in the following day, I knew he was going to be calling the customer back so I gave him back-fill from my experience and he just smirked, shaking his head. He went on to tell me how this "gentleman" came to be our customer.
He had come in just a couple of days before I started in August, and complained about how he was not treated well with two of our competitive stores, one of which has written a book on customer service. He had come in for a major service and insisted on meeting the mechanics whom would be working on his car. Not a bad idea.
Bending over backwards to earn his business, Ken asked the customer if our manufacturer had offered him any sort of coupon for his experience and he said no, they had not. So Ken then directs the service department to sell the service at cost for him. Then right in front of Ken, this person pulls out a $500 coupon from the manufacturer and hands it to the service writer.
"Wait, I thought you said they didn't give you a coupon" my GM asked him.
"Oh yeah, well, I bitched a little more and they sent me one. I just want to get the best deal possible."
No, you just wanted to lie and steal from a company in the auspices of good faith.
This made me even angrier than I was before. A low-life scum bag like this accuses ME of lying. Someone who has never amounted to much of anything, probably never will, trying to pull someone else down to make himself feel better. His inflated resume is just that- inflated. Surely someone whom has contributed to TIME magazine for example would rank somewhere in search results, but no. The ONLY references I could find for him were the aforementioned website of his and an introductory page about him on an equine-focused website.
It is clear this person is devoid of a moral compass and peace. He is clearly hurting and probably doesn't know why. All I can do is forgive him and pray for him.
- Hurting people hurt other people.
- The more someone tells you how great they are, the less likely it is they have accomplished anything they are building up in your mind.
- Liars think other people lie. (Or at least think sales people will sit quietly and take it)
- God extends us grace though we do not deserve it. Some people expect perfection from others and extend no grace. Perhaps they enjoy seeing the other person fail or they are purposely creating an environment to exploit to their advantage.
- Even when confronted with a situation like this, with His word and guidance, a Christian can defend themselves AND not destroy the other person with their spoken word.