Sometimes Work’s a BIG Pain in the Neck!

A couple of weeks ago I spoke at the World Council of Credit Unions’ Annual Conference. What a terrific bunch they were, and what an honour and great fun it was addressing such a diversity of delegates from over 50 countries–an honour that almost didn’t happen, I might add. Why? Because sometimes my job is a big pain in the neck, that’s why!!! Literally.

I flew in late Sunday afternoon, with ample time before I spoke Monday morning. In typical fashion, and with a bit of an air of smugness, I schlepped only carry-on luggage. I confess, I feel quite the accomplished traveller to be able to regularly get both my business and personal effects into two permitted carry-on pieces. This time, however, my usual two pieces were heavier than normal, for I chose to bring along an extra box-worth of my books (in addition to those sent ahead of time). Turns out that was a big mistake (although I didn’t truly know that until the following morning).

Yup…come the pre-dawn of that oh-so-important Monday morning the weight of that luggage “yelled” at me. There I was, far from home, all alone in my hotel room…and unable to move! What had I done to my neck??? And oh the pain! And oh-my-goodness, what was I going to do? I had to speak in a mere few hours time! Nothing like this had ever happen to me before. For those of you who know HBO’s, Sex in the City, I likened this moment to the one where Miranda pulled her neck so severely all she could do was lie there and whimper helplessly, all alone on her bathroom floor. As for me…(darn it!), there was no Aidan to save the day. Who did come to my rescue, however, was a guardian angel from the front desk of the Calgary Fairmont Palliser Hotel named Sarah.

It was 5:00 a.m. and I didn’t have any “drugs” on me–you know, Advil, Lidvil, Ridvil, whatever. Enter the heroism of the front desk manager. Sarah went off to scour the hotel and score me some “good stuff” (it was my hope that some simple analgesics would relax my neck muscles long enough to get though my client commitment to delver my keynote). Turns out none were on site. Can you believe that? What to do, what to do? Bless her heart, without me requesting further effort from her, Sarah volunteered to go to a near by 24 hour pharmacy and save the day. And that she did, indeed. I took three of those lovely Advil’s before I left my hotel room–with the okay of a “tele-health” nurse, by the way–and swimmingly swanned through my address without any outward indication of my nasty neck injury (nor apparent inward indication either, I might add–what’s in that stuff anyway??? Amazing.).

My point in sharing with you this personal/professional little ditty is two fold:

1. The “show” must always go on: as much as possible we all must do our flat-out (no pun intended!) professional best to deliver on our client promises and commitments.

2. True Service Excellence is in the Professional’s Willingness and Demonstration to go that “extra mile”, unprompted by the client: tales of Excellence in Customer/Client Service are amazing, admirable, and all too few-and-far-between–the kind where staff intuitively (or, perhaps through conscious effort inspired by effective professional development training) just know what to do to go that “extra mile” to help a client they say they truly value, in a moment of dire need. Now that’s service excellence…and that’s a classy example of living up to all the service excellence platitudes that are plastered on company walls and websites everwhere.

What are your stories of “soldiering on” at work, for the sake of your client’s satisfaction and your own professional reputation and pride, despite arduous, painful or challenging circumstances?

What are your stories of being on the other side of the “desk”–as a client or customer, yourself, receiving outstanding service excellence from another service provider?

Please share and post your thoughts. Work can often times be pretty tough to take–agree? Therefore, let’s herald and celebrate both our own moments of professional heroism and those of others we’ve experienced along the way, everyday.

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