This past Friday I had the opportunity to experience both excellent and poor customer service. The phrase, "Outstanding Customer Service", is one of the two core values of my new employer, SeniorCare EMS, and had been oft repeated during my previous three days of orientation (the other core value is "Clinical Excellence", for those of you who were wondering). Going out of my way for the satisfaction of my patients, their families, caregivers, resident facilities, etc. — all of whom are also my customers — happens to be an ethic I believe in; but I was perhaps hyper-aware of it due to it's emphasis during my job orientation.
SeniorCare uses WhenToWork.com for scheduling shifts. WhenToWork.com (w2w) is a really nifty service that provides a lot of powerful scheduling solutions to both employees and supervisors. It's quite handy and easy to use and I've quite enjoyed using it. My previous employer, the Ambulance Service of Manchester, also uses w2w. When I logged in using the temporary sign-in ID that my supervisor had provided me with, the system asked me to pick a permanent username. I tried to pick "elipongo" which is my standard login name. The system refused to allow me to use it because it didn't recognize that I was the same person as the one who had worked at ASM.
I wrote an email to w2w explaining the situation, that the truth of the matter was easy to establish since both accounts were assigned to the same email address, and requested permission to re-use my old sign-in name. I sent the email at around 9pm on Thursday night and in all honesty did not expect a reply earlier than sometime on Friday at the earliest, if I got a reply at all. I wasn't too worried about it, it's not like I haven't had to compromise on my username before.
Dan from w2w's customer support wrote back at half past midnight to let me know that he had forwarded the request to their tech department. By 12:50am he wrote again that the permission had been granted. He was even patient with a couple of crossed emails on my part and was cheerful despite the late hour.
I was very struck by this. WhenToWork.com had taken the trouble to make a manual change to their system very promptly and in the middle of the night. It is especially surprising in light of the fact that I am not even their customer per se. Rather it is my employer, SeniorCare, who is their customer; I am merely a brand new employee with zero seniority and no ability whatsoever to affect purchase decisions.
Such attention to detail deserves to be lauded when encountered. Thank you Dan, with attitudes like yours and the rest of the w2w team's I'm sure you'll all do very well.
As I mentioned in a previous post, my first road shift with SeniorCare is on Sunday. I had to retrieve from Connecticut some equipment I needed (stethoscope, shears, etc.) for the shift. I also needed to purchase a new tire & tube for my bicycle and I needed to have my new uniforms tailored and their patches attached. I had made some efforts to find places in NYC to do these things, but I realized that since I was going to Connecticut anyway, it would be simpler and faster to go to the places I already know of that could do them. Between the fact that Shabbos arrives very early this time of the year, and the fact that I had to be back before my shift started on Sunday, I decided the fastest way to get these all these things accomplished would be to rent a car for the weekend.
When I've needed to rent a car in the past, I have used Enterprise Rent-A-Car and had always been satisfied. Their staff was friendly, the cars were clean and well maintained, and the rental process was quick and painless. I had even joined up with their Enterprise Plus preferred customer program.
What I thought would be Enterprise's most convenient location to get to from my niece's Washington Heights apartment is in the Bronx. Getting there, I had the pleasure of having to take the 1 train all the way to its northern terminus at Van Cortlandt Park–242nd Street because the northbound trains were by-passing all the stations between there and the Dyckman Street station (very slowly, on a little used express track) due to track work. I had to take a southbound train back to the 231st Street station where the Enterprise was located.
So I got there later than I expected; additionally when I arrived I was informed that their computers were down. I asked, and they were cool with me eating my lunch while they checked me in manually. I thought I would choke when after a bit I was asked to produce a payroll stub and a utility bill. I was informed that because I was using a debit card (I don't do credit cards anymore, hate 'em!) and had an out-of-state driver's license I had to prove my residency using these items. While I did just happen to be carrying a pay-stub from my old employer (I obviously haven't gotten one from the new one yet!) I told them that the only utility I paid was to Verizon Wireless and that I had paperless billing. They said they could call the utility for people with paperless billing, but that Verizon Wireless couldn't be used because of the "temporary nature" of cellphones — this despite the fact that I've had the same phone number and account since 1989. I asked them what exactly a utility bill would prove that my Enterprise Plus account wouldn't.
I had rented from Enterprise just two weeks prior from their Vernon, Connecticut location when I went down for my job interview at SeniorCare, so I asked them whether this rule was limited to New York state; they didn't seem to understand the question. I asked them to call the Enterprise location in Fort Lee, New Jersey to see if they would have a similar problem with my renting from them. The staff was kind enough to make the call and I was informed that New Jersey had the same rule.
So I told them if the problem is simply my trying to use a debit card with an out-of-state driver's license, then I would take MetroNorth up to New Haven and rent a car from there where my license would be in-state. They said that would probably be a good idea and they even offered to transfer my reservation over; but since they seemed to be hazy on the geography (they mentioned another town than New Haven), I told them that I'd book it by cellphone from the train.
So I burned through yet more time traveling the subway all the way into Midtown to Grand Central Terminal and caught a New Haven bound train. I used my cellphone's VZ Navigator program to find the Enterprise location closest to the train station and gave them a call. I was careful to mention my problems with the New York location, and was informed that I still couldn't rent because the hold-up was with the debit card and not the out-of-state license as I had been informed. At this point I gave up on Enterprise, telephoned a Hertz location just a couple of blocks from the New Haven station and rented from them without any issues whatsoever.
I called Enterprise's corporate customer service number and asked them why they had treated a loyal customer so shabbily. That while most people would have called another company immediately upon getting problems at the Bronx location, I had put forth an extraordinary effort to remain their customer and had been summarily rebuffed. That I didn't understand what a utility bill, which could easily have been faked in Photoshop, would prove better than my own Enterprise Plus account I had with them. I told them that I had formerly been a person who spoke highly of their company to my friends, and encouraged them to use Enterprise when needed; but that now I would not be shy about sharing my negative episode with them because in my own experience companies that change their rules like that are often already a good way down the road of going out of business. The young lady on the telephone was courteous and apologetic, but obviously couldn't do anything besides start a complaint file with the corporate offices and promise that I would likely get a call back in a week or so.
...and the Ugly.
Because of all the time I wasted due to my misplaced loyalty to Enterprise, I barely made it to my home in Connecticut in time for Shabbos. I didn't have time to get my uniforms tailored and their patches attached, I didn't have time to get a new tire and tube for the bicycle, and I barely had time to get something to eat. I hope my sister Sylvia, with whom I'll be staying the next few days, can help me with the uniforms anyways, else I may have to resort to using staples...
Elias Friedman A.S., EMT-P ⚕
אליהו מתתיהו בן צבי