Tomorrow, November 13 is World Kindness day and it reminded me of an illuminating story from another day. I started that day at the E.ON customer service at 8:00 am as I needed my electricity fixed. For those who don’t know, E.ON is one of the world’s largest electric utility service providers.
I went there previously, on Tuesday, but I didn’t have a date then. They told me that they could only take me If I booked an appointment beforehand. I was disappointed. However, I understood that this is a rule imposed due to COVID and I did what was required carefully. I booked an appointment for 8:00 am on Friday morning. They sent a text message before the date so that I wouldn’t forget. It was a priority for me and I got there a bit early.
There were 9 people in front of me, 7 with booked appointments and 2 without bookings. The first person without an appointment had his electricity cut that day, the second man’s happened a few days ago.
At 8 o’clock the door opened, and they started calling the clients with bookings. The first man without a date was indignant. He got upset before they opened; made a fuss, called the security guard, and the customer service lady. He talked loudly and angrily. He questioned them: how dare they not pick up the phone? How is it possible that he could only talk to an answering machine the three times he tried? He needed to get an appointment right now. He said he cannot book an appointment.
But, the second man calmly told the customer service representative his problem, looking for a solution, hoping he could get in today, even without booking. They told them that they could book an appointment not only by phone but also online and if they do it now, they could get in very soon. The first man found this outrageous. He did not have electricity, so how could he go online? The second man calmly indicated the same problem asking for a solution.
The people waiting in the room joined in the conversation and started explaining to the second (friendlier) man where he could book an appointment online. The customer service lady told him about a location in the city where the booking could be arranged for him.
In the meantime, I listened. Then, I went up to E.ON’s website on my mobile and booked the appointment for both gentlemen, for the next day. When I told them what I had done, they looked relieved. The first one calmed down right away, and they both thanked me for my help.
I thought, well, if the solution is so simple, why don’t E.ON make a tablet available? Why don’t they have a customer service representative booking appointments for people? Why don’t they give immediate access to those who urgently need it because they’ve had their electricity cut? I thought to myself: this is frustrating, isn’t it?
My appointment was next. I walked in, sat down, and told the E.ON representative that I had booked an appointment for both men, and they were coming tomorrow morning. I told her that it would be a good idea to make a tablet available so that people could book an appointment right away. Then I suggested that in case of an emergency they could give people access without booking.
The customer service lady was very kind by the way. She tried to handle the complaints of all the customers. I noted that her day did not start well given that as time progressed even more customers arrived with similar problems.
Then she told me what was behind the scenes: originally there was a tablet in the waiting room and a customer service representative assigned to manage new bookings. However, the tablet was stolen and now that customer service representative had to handle angry customers all day. They also tried to let in urgent cases without booking, but someone (probably a customer with a booked appointment) reported them to authorities. They got fined with the note that they hadn’t handled the COVID situation well, as they let people in who were not booked for the day.
The lessons I learned:
Why are we selfish and why does it hurt when someone gets in front of us with a bigger problem than ours? Why isn’t it considered essential to help? Instead, we report E.ON so that no one else is better off? It would be much better to act selflessly. When we analyse this situation, it becomes clear, doesn’t it? With a bit of kindness, we can improve everyone’s situation. Thus, we could carry on easier with our own business!
Let’s do this! Let’s be kind and helpful! Not just at E.ON, but also with the elderly person who falls at the sidewalk, with the pregnant lady on the bus, and the list goes on.
Why are we outraged by everything? Shouldn’t we look for a solution instead? Why do we always blame others? Why don’t we look for the fault in ourselves? Aren’t we grateful for what we have? Why do we take out our anger on a poor customer service rep because someone stole the tablet from the store? It would be much better to count to ten and think that the customer service people are just doing their job. He or she is just a human, like us. Everyone makes mistakes, but we should not assume that a mistake was made before we know the facts. Wouldn’t it be better to not ruin someone’s day just because we don’t think about what’s behind the problem?
How much better it would be if everyone wished each other a good day. Well then, let’s do this: Instead of blaming others, let’s look for solutions! Let us wish a beautiful day to those we meet, so that they too may wish the people around them a beautiful day. Positive energy is contagious, and it will eventually come back to you.
This message reminds me of a short and sweet film. Here it is:
If you are reading this message, please share it with those around you. The more people we tell, the more people will think about it and they may change their behaviour. This way, step by step, we can change the attitude of many people around us, and if they carry on with sharing kindness, the impact will be great.
Thank you for reading and I wish you a beautiful day!
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