Thursday, June 12, 2014

Teach Your Children Well

I used to volunteer at the Greater Philadelphia Film Office, doing clerical work, answering phones and putting location photos together. It was my in to get a start working as a production assistant. One of the other volunteers I worked with said something very smart to me one day. He said that if you ever want to understand a complex subject, find a book about it for for kids. I had, for some reason, always wanted to understand the science of physics, so I did exactly that-I bought a book about it written for kids. I was doing alright up until it got down with Einstein's time space bendy stuff-guess I was not kid-like enough to understand even at that level.

I have a five year old who asks questions non-stop. On a car ride, I get such an eclectic variety of questions from her and I freakin love it. See, kids just don't take "because" or "that's the way it is" as an answer. You will always get in return "But why because?" or "Why is it that way". And I want my child to understand what I am explaining to her, no matter what the subject is (after all, I am Daddy and I am supposed to know it all). The amount of thought that I have to put into answering the simplest questions sometimes staggers me;at the same time it sparks my imagination in a way that it has not been sparked since I myself was a child.

Some people say that customers are like babies and children and we should treat them that way. They call them stupid because they don't know how to solve a particular issue or they do not know what kind of software they are using. If you want to treat them like that because you view them as children, I am really concerned about the kind of parent you are (or might be one day). Would you ever call a child stupid because they did not know why we need to put gasoline in our cars, why butterflies are not birds, why there is imitation storms at the alligator pen at the zoo or how a hot air balloon floats? I would hope not. And as much as you would not expect them to know these things, you should realize the importance of teaching them, relating whatever it is you are explaining to the world around them and most of all showing them that you are someone that they can ask any question to.

So if you are going to think of customers as children, that's ok. But it should not be in a derogatory way. It should be one of thinking of yourself as their guide to whatever work center you support. You are the one they should trust to explain things to them in a way that they understand-with all the dignity and respect you should give anyone who asks for your help. To me there is no difference between teaching someone how to plug in their computer or remove malware from their system. One time I had to explain to a customer what a browser was. It was a very creative experience for me and left the customer with one less thing to worry about. Believe it or not, many times a customer will start off their question with "I feel so stupid for asking this and wasting your time". Before you offer any answer you should let them know that they are smart for calling for help and that without them you would have no reason to be here.

What is the most creative answer you have had to give to a customer in explaining something that you consider to be simple? Please comment below.........


  1. i will now try to do this correctly. your blog is so right on. i wish many more people would embrace your way of thinking. i spend a small part of my day explaining my GPS and cell phone to a WW II bomber pilot he never seems to understand it but we sure have fun with it.