It's funny how people make the difference, isn't it?
In the few days between Christmas and New Year a lot of people in the UK take a few days off. This means that although there are less of us to cover the area there are less calls to cover.
I was in work because I drew the short straw. The areas to the north and to the east of mine were my responsibility and the engineers who cover them are different in their attitude to their work. Their customers react differently to field engineers as well. My patch was quiet so I picked up calls from the surrounding areas.
I called on one of them and they greeted me with a smile, a cup of tea and full co-operation. I soon dealt with the worn out belt, ran the machine to check it sounded OK, drank my tea and was sent on my way with a smile and a thank-you.
Moving across to the other engineer's patch my reception was a little different.
"About flippin' time too! – It's over there."
"What seems to be the trouble?"
"You're the expert, you tell me!
"No chance of a cup of tea then?" I thought to myself.
There was very little wrong with the machine that I could see so I asked her to show me the problem.
With much rolling of eyes and tutting she ran the machine, it seemed fairly good for its age, a little noisy but nothing out of the ordinary.
I took the covers off and cleaned up the dust, adjusted a few belts and ran it again, it was a little quieter and this seemed to satisfy the customer. With a final wipe of the covers I packed up and left. It was amazing how one customer made me feel welcome and wanted me there, the other seemed to resent the fact that she had called me. I felt as though I had treated them both the same and could only base their reaction on their previous experience.
On my patch most of the customers seem to be reasonable, there are a couple of grumpy ones but I try not to let them bug me.
What struck me about the day's tasks was the similarity with the calls yet the reception I received was completely different. The one thing I didn't do was take a call in my own area, which would have been useful for comparison purposes.