Who’s there? Who cares? Who gets it?

June 30. By Cheryl Kane. When a service is needed, the quickest return call is often the one who gets the job. The same is true of peer-to-peer, or subordinate to supervisor communications or vice-versa. Those who are reasonably responsive are those who build relationships, create relationships built on reliability, and gain repeat business due to their dependability.

However: When your desire for flexibility is a barrier to doing business, you lose on many fronts. Dependability matters.

Temporarily tough times
We are still currently in a tough job market for service providers trying to fill staffing needs. In some businesses though they have plenty of staff, their efficiency and effectiveness wanes due to employee expectations of flexible working arrangements. It’s an uneven mess.

Who’s done it well?


During 2020-today due to Covid, I’ve had a multitude of helpful, efficient conversations with those who I believe are work-from-home (WFH) staff. Calling representatives for my family members and myself to an Iowan phone call center, multiple insurance providers, medical care schedulers, the Social Security Administration, appliance repair companies, and help lines of Baby Lock sewing machine and King Arthur Baking Co. have been examples of splendid experiences.

Who’s failed?

During this time I’ve also run into many blockades put up by companies who have (had to?) lower their staffing to levels that subjected me to incorrigible hold times, and too many people who in their expectation of flexibility create incomprehensibly matrixed work hours for me to figure out.

Examples of excellent service quality

The best experiences with well-trained WFH service providers and some pleasantly serendipitous situations were with knowledgeable staff with powerful technology and innovative training able to offer me empathy, ideas, and resolutions to many a problem, expeditiously.

—While on hold with one courteous service provider instead of mechanical music I got to listen to the children’s song, “Baby Shark”-which I thought was creative and I could not help but chuckle-it took the sting out of holding as I hummed along (who can resist this song?). When I complimented them on their company’s creative hold-music they were confused at first-then they realized their toddler child playing near the desk had played it at the same time I was asked to hold; it was a chuckle-induced break from the tedium of business.

—An Iowa call center representative handled a menacingly complicated problem for me; in the process I learned they were working in a generator supported location due to a massive weather event, and they were sleeping in a tent with their family to be near this call center-their home had been severely storm damaged. The loyalty to their company despite unbelievable conditions and the company’s efforts to support them all, came together to offer uninterrupted service to customers. I was deeply humbled.


On the other hand I’ve had people who have no back up for their role send me unhelpful “try again” automatic email notices about their unavailability, those who only respond at odd hours of the day or night vs. during normal business hours, and organizations who have their artificial intelligent voices tell me with artificial sincerity that they value my business and someone will be right with me…again and again and again and again.

How long will this go on?

When will this minefield level out? I suspect, soon. High inflation and reduced demand will make the job market tighter and employee evaluations will again be evaluated by quality of performance vs. unreasonably anchored in the need to just fill positions.

Who gets it?

Employers can still be creative with WFH if employees are able to demonstrate they are doing good work for the customer and the company. If the employee is knowledgeable, cares about the customer, is available when customers or team members need them, and has the right tools and resources, work from home can be effective. This is employer dependent.

As the job market stabilizes employers will be better able to have staff who stay long enough to train and reward and be appreciated. Employees will need to be diligent and perform well.

Time will tell…

Cheryl Kane, MBA, PHR, GPHR, SHRM-SCP, is a strategic business consultant, sales trainer, & professional speaker specializing in problem solving and strategic planning. Cheryl welcomes your communication at email: [email protected]


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