Believe it or not, I’m trying to control my weight. I’m not being too successful, but I’m trying. I”ve lately been eating healthier.
Yesterday, I went to a local sandwich shop for lunch. I ordered a chicken sandwich. Better than a burger and fries, I rationalized. The woman working behind the counter, as employees from this national chain of sandwich makers do, asked did I want any special sandwich toppings?
I almost responded: “I want it ‘my way.’” But I controlled my tongue, in this rare instance, and replied, “Just a little mayo and honey mustard.” When I said “little” I smiled as broadly as I could and made a tiny pinching gesture with my finger and thumb.
To which she responded by grabbing the two appropriate condiment squeeze bottles, one after the other, and slathering, with a loud bluuurrp from each, a stream about a half-inch thick – yellow and white – on my open-faced Italian herb bread. “I said just a little!” I pointed out in exasperation. She looked up at me. “What?” she asked.
I couldn”t think of a way to easily fix what had become, almost literally, a mayo and mustard sandwich, so I took a deep breath and soldiered stoically on. “And some black olives,” I said. (I really like black olives.) She placed three pitifully thin slices of black olives on my sandwich. Now, anger building behind my eyes, I couldn”t help myself. “Maybe I should have asked for just a little bit of black olives,” I said snarkily.
“What?” she asked, entirely missing my sarcasm. “Nothing,” I replied, and with a profound sense of dejection ordered lettuce and a few onions, please. Did I tell you I said a “few” onions? She, of course, stacked a handful on, leaving me with an onion, mayo and honey mustard sandwich, with a trifle of chicken and woefully few black olives.
The reason I”ve told this story is because I think it might hold a good lesson for anyone who works with customers. When you tell a customer you are going to do something, you’d better deliver. When the customer expresses his or her needs to you, you’d better listen.
When you tell a customer you are going to do something, you’d better deliver. When the customer expresses his or her needs to you, you’d better listen.
In public power, when we do things right, we’re all about our customers. Providing outstanding service. Trying to make their lives better, more efficient, with fewer hassles. Listening and reacting to their concerns.
Sometimes, I know, this can be a difficult mission. The sandwich assembly lady probably saw the line of people behind me waiting to order lunch and felt pressure to perform quickly. But I think she lost sight of the big picture, focusing on making solid streams of mayonnaise and honey mustard. She could really lay it on thick. That didn’t, however, mean she was doing it correctly.
You see, she made a critical mistake. She forgot about the person eating the sandwich and instead thought only of the sandwich. In public power, we cannot afford to concentrate on power plants and power lines and forget about the persons who are paying for it. If we do, it is at our own peril. If we do, I believe in the long run it won’t matter how good the “sandwich” we make is, if it’s not what our customers want.