Monday, January 28, 2008

1 (800) C F I — CARE

The title of this post is part of an old H.R. joke. "H.R." as in Human Resources. I AM a Human Resources Manager, after all.

In today's fast-paced, "gotta do more" world, many company Human Resources departments have opted to replace personal service with the ubiquitous toll free number for employees to call if they have questions about pay, benefits, policies, and so on.

Me, I'm a dinosaur. I still pretend that this company's H.R. department is really a sales group, and our plant employees are my customers. I still answer my own phone when I'm in the office, and try to put a smile on my face and in my voice when responding to complaints and problems. Even when it seems that everybody is complaining. Even when it's been a stressful day.

Do I always succeed? Hell no! But I try.

Why? Well, even though the complaint or question that I'm fielding may seem simple or even trivial to me, often, to the employee, it's an all-consuming, major issue! And if the employee is consumed by the issue, chances are he or she is not fully concentrating on their job and a lot less efficient than if somebody dealt with the issue FOR them.

So yes, I'm still a believer in personal service. Even though we live in an impersonal world.

I've worked for companies that used the toll-free number solution. Most of you probably have. The number is answered by a disembodied, mechanical voice that repeats something like this:

"Thank you for calling the XYZ Company Human Resources hotline. For English, please press one. Para Espanol, marque el numero dos." Pause.

"Please listen carefully to the following options. Our menus have changed!"

"If you know your party's extension, you may dial it at any time."

"For payroll questions, press one. For health plan questions, press two. For claims forms, please go to our web site at Double-you Double-you Double-you, dot whattawasteoftime dot com."

. . . And so on, until you give up in disgust after pressing ZERO repeatedly as either a desperate attempt to talk to a live human, or as an indication of your opinion of the value of this "service."

We H.R. dinosaurs refer to that system as, "Please call 1-800-CFI-CARE." Because that system SCREAMS that the company doesn't. Care, that is.

As a comment to my last post about fixing a home network that wasn't broken, my good friend (and excellent writer, btw) Karyn Lyndon asked me, "Will you please post YOUR toll-free number so we can call you for help-desk advice?"

Karyn, I think I just did.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

If it ain't broke . . .

Why can't I ever learn that old, old lesson? Why must I tinker?

Okay, here's my tale of woe.

Today (Saturday) was actually cold and blustery here in South Texas, so no golf for us wimps.

What's that? How cold was it, you ask? The temps never got above 51 in the mid afernoon, and the wind was blowing out of the north at 20-30! Brrrr!

Yeah, the sun was shining brightly.

Yeah, I know. I SAID we were wimps!

My excuse is that it had rained most of the night and the course would have been pretty soupy. It's not much fun cleaning mud off the golf ball (and your club) after every shot. Not to mention wiping it off your face if you take a little too much divot.

Heck, maybe tomorrow we'll brave the elements and play. It's supposed to be in the upper 50s with less wind, and the ground ought to be a little drier then.

All you folks suffering through single-digit temps are probably ready to take a swing at me for continuing to rub it in about our climate here, but you'll get your revenge next July and August.

Okay, back to my topic.

Since we didn't play golf, I got to messing with my wireless router. We have a little home network running here, and I had brought home a laptop from work to play with work on this weekend and wanted to tie it in to the home network using its wi-fi card. All I had to do was find the router's security key, type it in, and I'd be connected.

I accessed the router from my desktop and started browsing theough all the security settings looking for the key. Hmmm . . . not there. Maybe over here . . . nope. Click on this selection -- Oh no! I hit "save" by mistake. Wonder what I changed. Well, I'm sure I can fix it.

At that point Carol's laptop could no longer connect wirelessly, and she was less than pleased.

Don't worry, I assured her, I'll have it back up in a few minutes. Let's see; where are the docs for that thing? AH! Here's the CD that came with the router. I'll just re-install everything, and . . . The darn CD won't let me run the Setup.exe file. Why not? This makes no sense.

I'll try the Linksys web site . . . oh, I can't get online through the router since it's not working right. Well, I'll just bypass it and plug the network cable from the cable moden directly into my computer. (mutter) (mutter) Why are these cables tangled up and so hard to get in and out!?

Okay, finally I'm back online and logged into technical support. But where do I go from here?
(a half-hour passes while I read different Q&As and tech manuals with no help. Carol is fuming nearby.)

Ah! I'll download this "Easy Link" wizard which should automate the process. Okay, it's dowloaded. It's running. I'd better unplug everything and start from scratch.

I follow the steps of the wizard. It creates a new WEP security key, which I copy onto both MY desktop and Carol's (so NEXT TIME this happens we'll know where to find it!)

Finally, Carol is back on the internet and all is well.

Gee, only 3 hours have elapsed from start to finish.

And yes, I can even get the laptop from work to connect now! I mentioned that to Carol with some pride, and think I heard a muttered "Well, big *!!%**#! deal!"

But hey, I DID get it all fixed! (Even if it "weren't broke" to begin with. No, I guess I'll never learn.)

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

BAD blogger! No posts lately!

***(SIGH) ***

Yes, we're fine. And thanks for asking.

The holidays came and went in a blur. I took a long New Years weekend spiked with a couple of vacation days, and we went out of town just to get away.

Then things at work have been crazy busy. We're hiring folks like there's no tomorrow; doing our part to attack the rising unemployment figures.

At home we tried to sell the old van on eBay, but nobody came even close to the reserve we'd set on it. I really believe it's worth three times what the highest bid was, but "worth" is defined by what a willing buyer will pay for a product . . . so maybe I'm kidding myself. With today's gasoline prices and the few miles per gallon the van gets, somebody would really have to want a large-capacity passenger-and-baggage-hauling machine to put up with the operating expense.

During the next 30 days I'm planning to go off to two different college campuses on recruiting trips, split by our annual week-long ski vacation. Maybe at least I'll come back with some neat snowy-mountain pictures, and new shots of my almost-three-year-old grandson. Not that anybody cares but me, but he is REALLY cute!

Anyway, for those of you who have stopped by looking for a romantic ramble and found nothing but worn-out old posts, I'm sorry. Perhaps I'll get an idea for a poem, or a new meme or something.

Or, I might just not post anything until April. Guess we'll see.