Client service: Repetition with purpose

“Please let us know if we can be of further assistance.”

I type this phrase into the closing of my email responses literally dozens of times per day, as I assist the staff members of our newspaper affiliates with inquiries that run the gamut from simple text corrections to complex technical issues. The phrase is sometimes altered:

“If we can be of further assistance, please let us know.”
“If you have additional questions, or if we can be of further assistance, please let us know.”
“Please let us know if you have any questions or if we can be of further assistance.”
“Let us know if we may assist you further.”

And so on.

Yet the thing that strikes me is that no matter how often I write that phrase, how rote it has become, how boilerplate it might come across to a person on the receiving end, I absolutely mean it. My job, as a Newspaper Support client representative, is one of service. I am at the beck and call of the staff of our newspaper affiliates, to assist them in whatever capacity they may need… or at the very least, to find someone (if not myself) who can.

I support them so that they, in turn, can support their customers. I am a link in a chain of support.

When I first began working at I was informed that our primary focus was on providing the absolute best customer service and user experience possible; after being here almost seven years nothing has changed in that respect. In a world where the ‘service’ portion of customer service seems to be steadily falling by the wayside, it is actually a very satisfying feeling to work at a company where not only is client/customer service a hallmark of what we do, but something that is understood as impactful on a larger scale than simply “hey, I fixed an error today.” I know, just as the rest of the service staff here at knows, that when a newspaper staffer contacts us and asks us to fix a missing image (or anything else) what they are really asking is: “Help me, help my customer.”

This is no more crucial than when dealing with obituaries and Guest Books. Obituaries  require a type of care and sensitivity all their own. Behind every death notice or obituary is a grieving family, friend and perhaps coworker. So, when I get a request from a newspaper to add a missing letter to a name in an obituary, or correct a punctuation mark, or any other seemingly trivial correction, I realize that my correction, and the speed with which I make it, helps the newspaper support the family as they support one another in a time of grief. I become a strong, necessary link in a chain of memorializing, grieving, and hopefully healing, as survivors pay tribute to their loved ones who have passed on.

To be truthful, I have days when I wish I were on a beach in Belize (who doesn’t, right?) without an internet connection for miles. Yet, even on those days, I remember the main lesson I have learned from doing my job: that it matters. It all matters. No matter how miniscule the request may be, or how involved or time consuming, the end result matters to someone: a user, a grieving family member, a friend, an advertiser—even me.

One of many synonyms for support is “comfort.” How apropos, as every day, each time I write “may I assist you further” it is my hope that when I am taken up on the offer my actions create a ripple effect that just might indeed provide comfort— provide support. And at the end of the day, it having been busy or slow, I know that by providing the best customer service experience I can, I have held up my link in the chain that aids, assists, supports, and comforts. As the author Og Mandino stated: “Always render more and better service than what is expected of you, no matter what your task may be.”

Now, if only I could explain that to my cable company…

About lamaretta

I've been a puppet, a pauper, a pirate, a poet, a pawn and a king. Well... not really. Yet, I have been a Guest Book screener, customer/client service representative, shift supervisor, writer, journalist, teacher, and mom. Sinatra's lyrics rhyme better I find. I began working for in early 2003, or as many of us who have been around a while say, "back in the day". It has been a little like the book "A Curious Garden", where in the beginning there was just a tiny bit of growth, but just as in the book, with some patience and care the garden that is has grown vastly before my eyes in the last 7 years. I hold an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and a B.A. in Creative Writing and Cultural Studies from Hampshire College. What the heck am I doing at Legacy, you ask? Trust me, I did once as well. Yet, in short order I realized that my background has one particular skill that I have depended on time and again no matter my position at Legacy. The ability to communicate. It is after all what we writers fancy ourselves most capable of doing. Besides, the prince and pauper have nothing on me when it comes to stories to tell, many of them thanks to the unique experiences I continue to have as a employee. When I am not at work, I spend my time trying to kiss my three-year old's face off (much to his displeasure), baking, trying new restaurants, reading, and pondering...well, everything. Then again, sometimes, I just sleep.
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