Reverse Customer Service.

These are baffling circumstances, to be sure.

These are baffling circumstances, to be sure.

It’s pretty much Reverse Rodeo Week, True Believers.

For a while I’ve been learning a whole lot about “customer service.” The time that I’ve been learning about it has been educational in many, many ways. Customer service is simple defined as the provision of service to customers before, during and after a purchase. According to Turban et al. (2002) “Customer service is a series of activities designed to enhance the level of customer satisfaction – that is, the feeling that a product or service has met the customer expectation.”

It’s hard to believe that this has a huge amount of interaction with education, but I have to agree that it certainly does. It is a different sort of “customer service” than one might expect. Satisfaction is often long term, and the parents and students are at least the clients, if not the customers. The job is to improve the client, in a way that is not intellectually or emotionally painful, while simultaneously satisfying in an emotional sense.

That’s not the way that I’ve heard the term used for a while, though. In that context, the way that I’ve heard it, “customer service” had a good deal to do with how my team and I did things to streamline the day of people above our pay grade. That seems less about the “customer” and more about the “employer”, but in the end…like all jobs, it needed to be done. The commentary didn’t matter that much at all.

Except for the thought it provoked in myself and others.

Many of the teachers were annoyed by the comments about “customer service.” I have to admit, it seemed an odd turn of phrase to me, and I still don’t fully grasp it. Not in the context it was used. A part of me hopes that it was used in order to provoke discussion and thought…but one can never be sure of the motives of another person’s speech habits.

That’s kind of where the art for “Reverse Customer Service” came from. I have a bunch of Union leaders, the officers, who are like clowns. Those people hand out orders to the dues payers that pay their salary…but do little for those people. Very little. Last week we had two Representatives who draw salary from dues that could not remember what our campus issues were…but were ready to have us sign up to protest for their issues.

Again…heavy handed metaphor. That’s a lot like a clown telling a cow to cook up hamburgers. If you’re the cow, and you elected the clown to represent your interests…that’s not good. Like the cow alien above…most Union dues payers don’t even know what they should stand for anymore, if they are teachers. It’s a bit sad.

I realized that I haven’t drawn cows the same way twice. They are all clearly “cows”, except every time pencil hits paper, they are drawn differently. They must be shapeshifting Skrull aliens…it’s the only excuse. So then I thought, what kind of cow/alien hybrid shape changer would be at the Reverse Rodeo?

Quickly, this draft was drawn:

One of my friends was involved in the film "Cowboys and Aliens."  In this case, the Cowgirl IS an alien.

One of my friends was involved in the film “Cowboys and Aliens.” In this case, the Cowgirl IS an alien.

I’m figuring that she’s a dues paying Union member, who will soon be somehow undermining whatever efforts I’m attempting to make to improve the school. She’s a new character, at least for the week.

Oddly, Reverse Customer Service is happening doubly. ISIC and Pledge LA have really stepped up to the proverbial plate recently to attempt to fix what is going wrong at our school. I haven’t exactly been a big fan of either organization, but once you start doing the right thing, I tend to be on your side. There was a meeting last week where they had more constructive things to say than any Union people did, and further, they were willing to put their money where their mouths were.

Somehow, ISIC and Pledge LA were seen as “out of line” and “inappropriate” for doing this. When providing logistical, procedural, and even emotional support to teachers is happening…I don’t see HOW it can be inappropriate. As a result, I’m finding myself sticking up for ISIC and Pledge LA today, at the highest levels. Considering that until recently I was the apex of persona non grata, that’s pretty Epic Reverse Customer Service.

Still, they are doing the right thing…and I will stand up for anyone doing right. Even if it seems odd, given the past year or so.

Next Issue: The Good, The Bad, and the Ponies!

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