Communicating Professionally

Competitive UO Senior Planner

The Angry Customer: The only way to get what you need August 26, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jen J. Ashley @ 5:18 pm
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Companies make mistakes. It’s a fact. People run businesses and humans are far from perfect. Most errors are forgivable and somewhat easily fixed. This summer I have been living in a city by myself and have had a few mix-ups by companies. My father taught me that no matter what the situation is, there is no excuse to be rude. So when I approached some customer service representatives I have tried to be as professional and nice as I possibly could be. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way.

Let me focus on one example of an online transaction I had. (I am not going to reveal the company.) This website was offering a one month free trial membership. I signed on, decided it wasn’t for me, and before my month was over I called the customer service hotline to cancel like I was supposed to. 17 minutes later, no answer. I called again the next day on my lunch break and once more, did not talk to a person. I emailed their help desk and they replied to cancel my account I had to call the hotline. I tried a third time and what do you know no answer! Before I knew it the month was over and my account was charged over $30. I finally had to write a not-so-nice email explaining my frustration and in two hours I received an apology, canceled account and my money was being sent back to my bank. I was pleased yes, but confused. Why did it take me being irate to get what I wanted?

In general, I am not a person who gets angry. I don’t like to get in arguments with strangers. Yet it seems respectable customers are incapable of having a wrong righted. Why? Is it because unsatisfied customers who don’t throw a fit will stay with your business? Wrong. Companies seem to promote bad behavior because of their business model. If you are perpetually only providing helpful service to rude customers, you are creating rude customers. Not only is this bad PR but, this attitude makes customer service jobs undesirable and incredibly difficult. Why do you think workers at a lost baggage department at an airport have some of the highest suicide rates? Because customers have been trained to be mean to get what they want. Yes, people should rise above and present themselves in a professional and classy way at all times. However, sometimes you just need your mistake fixed. How do you do that? Complain rudely and loudly enough until you get it.


Seriously, Dress to Impress August 22, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jen J. Ashley @ 6:38 pm

I am interning this summer with a great health care insurance company at their corporate office. I am in the Strategic Communications department which means I deal with almost all facets of the company. I have met with different levels of management including the CEO and Vice Presidents, to other interns like myself. One thing that is true about all these meetings, you have to dress to impress.

Whether we like to admit it or not, we all judge by appearances. When someone walks into the office with their shoes shined, clothes pressed and not a hair out of place they demand attention in a positive way. Inversely, someone who wears jeans with sandals, no make-up and looks like they just woke up acquires negative attention. Here are a few tips I picked up on during my time in a corporation to not receive negative attention:

Don’t dress too stiffly

Professional dress attire shouldn’t equal completely uncomfortable. Even though I spend most of my time sitting down, I never know what my day will entail. I could be taking pictures from different angles or walking from floor to floor in heels because the elevator isn’t working. Besides, when you dress uncomfortably, you look it too.

Don’t be too comfy

On the other hand, you don’t want to dress to the point of where you feel at home. You may lose some professionalism to your day-to-day work life if you do. Remember, there is a fine line between casual and unprofessional. Make sure you do not flirt with it too often.

Beware of casual Friday

I have only participated in casual Friday once this summer, and that was last week in my tenth week of the program. Even though I am close to running out the door when Friday ends, it doesn’t mean the workday is nonexistent. Casual Friday is not ‘wear whatever you like’ day. Unfortunately, many interns in my department have not realized that.

When in doubt, overdress

I usually dress more professional then my manager. Not because I feel she under-dresses, but because I want to make sure I am not wearing clothing below professional. I do not believe anyone has said all summer “Hey, have you checked out that intern? She overdresses everyday! It’s sad really.” The old saying is completely true today ‘dress for the job you want.’

I am by far not the most fashionable person I know. However, I do know that professional work attire is part of all professional work. It is the first line of defense in communicating that you are a young, confident, and ready to work. Make sure your guard looks polished.