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Wednesday, February 26, 2014

The value of relationship in customer service

076Over the past few months, I've been having a lot of issues with our medical insurance company. Weird claims processing, being charged for things we shouldn't be charged for, bills I don't understand, etc. Today I learned something that completely changed my perspective on things not working as they have been. I realized just how important relationship is.

We've had the same insurance company for 15 years. In addition, we've had the same claims adjuster for that time. Over the years, I've been able to pick up the phone, talk to her, and figure out any questions or problems. It's been a very friendly relationship. As soon as I identify myself, she immediately says, "hello, Danica, how are you?" in a way that has always made me feel like I had an advocate in our insurance company. Rare, I know, but I think it's something I've taken for granted. Or at least it's something I've gotten so used to that I've forgotten just how powerful it is. One quick phone call was all it ever took to get really complicated messes straightened out.

Which is why all of the confusion we've had with our insurance company is puzzling. I couldn't understand why certain mistakes were being made, and why things that were usually taken care of had become such a mess. Today when I called, I finally got a live person. Someone new.  We have a new claims adjuster, and she hasn't known us for 15 years. She doesn't know the ins and outs of our medical billing history, needs, and how our providers work. All she knows is that she has a job to do and that's to push papers and crunch numbers. We're just names on claim forms. Our conversation wasn't filled with pleasantries or the warm familiarity I've come to recognize from our old claims lady.

I talked to our new claims lady and got everything straightened out. Yay! But as I hung up the phone, I felt a little sad at the loss of the old claims lady. Yes, business got done, and everything worked out. Mission accomplished. However, I realized that I'm going to have to make a lot more of these phone calls to straighten things out. There won't be any more friendly sticky notes on claim letters from the lady who knows us, telling me not to worry about something, or telling me what I need to know. Instead, it will be the formal letters with Dear Mr. and Mrs. X that will take phone calls to decipher and add a little more stress to my day.

Unfortunately, I don't know why our old claims lady isn't handling our claims anymore. She was an older woman, so she could have retired. Or she could have moved elsewhere in the company. Or she could have gotten a different job. But I'm going to miss her, and relationship we've built over the years. While she handled our claims, I didn't worry about anything having to do with our insurance. I always knew that she was on top of it. I knew that we would always work it out.

Most of my job is, in a lot of ways, related to customer service. My hope is that the people I've worked with for years know that I'm going to take care of them. That the new people I meet and work with will feel the same way. As people start reading my books, I hope that the relationship I develop with them will be about knowing them as people, and not just names in a database.

How has a good relationship impacted your customer service experience?

Friday, February 21, 2014

Taking the grumpy wumpus by the horns

IMG_20140221_141030Are you in a grumpy mood? Feeling down? Feeling insignificant?

I've had a rough week of that. It seems like everything I've planned on this week has fallen apart, and I haven't had the strength to do much more than mope. When I'm in these moods, I tend to hide away and just be... blah. Not a great choice, but I hate subjecting others to my moods.

So today, something interesting happened. I had a long list of things I was going to do to snap out of it. None of them materialized. Well, there's hope for one more of those things, but I've decided not to let my mood rise and fall on that event. I was feeling even more sorry for myself, and I have a huge list of things to do, but I couldn't bring myself to do any of it. Then my friend Barbara Phinney posted a blog about me.

Basically, she talked about how I made a great first impression and my interaction with her meant a lot. I had to drag out the tissues. Another friend commented that she'd felt the same way about me.

I felt like a fraud. Here I was feeling totally insignificant, and TWO people mentioned what a difference I'd made to them. Then I read a blog post by Alexandra Franzen talking about how we are significant, we are a BIG DEAL, no matter what size our audience is.


I realized that as much I felt insignificant, thinking that way was wrong. I was telling a lie about myself. I'm not insignificant. Two people today told me that I was important, and in just 45 minutes, I'm going to have a little girl wrap her arms around me and tell me how much she missed me while she was at school today.

So I took out my big girl pens, aka my Sharpies, and I started to catch up on my art journaling. I realized that during my doldrum time, I stopped doing the one thing that always makes me feel better. It's not pretty art, or at least it's not gallery quality art, but that's okay. Art is art, and it's a great way to clear out the fog. My ugly wolf did its job. It, along with the encouragement I needed, chased away my Grumpy Wumpus.

If you're in a similar mood, I hope my post (and the ones I linked to) give you encouragement. Then take out those markers, crayons, paints, or whatever you have on hand, and make something creative. It doesn't have to be perfect, and it can even be ugly. Make it your own, and chase that icky mood away!

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Winners!! And a name!

I gathered up all of the suggestions for the brothel name and I sent them over to my editor, asking her to choose one. I figured she'd be the best judge of what would work for my book and our readership, and she came up with...


The Pink Petticoat!


Crystal Ridgway, thank you so much for the suggestion. Let me know which online bookstore you'd like a gift card to, and be on the lookout for my second book next spring, featuring The Pink Petticoat.

My other random winner was Holly S.

Thank you everyone for your great ideas and suggestions!

Sunday, February 09, 2014

Book news! And a contest!

I finally have a release date for my first Love Inspired Historical book! Look for it November 2014! I also sold my second book, which will be out early to mid 2015.

With all that to celebrate, I wanted to share some of the fun. In my second book, a brothel called The Lucky Miner plays an important role in the story. My editor would like me to change the name to something that doesn't include the word, "Lucky." I thought it would be fun to let my readers help me pick a new name. My book is set in 1881 in Leadville, Colorado, during the silver boom.

I'm going to give you all a week to help me name my brothel. I'll take a look at all of the ideas submitted and choose my favorite brothel name. If two people suggest the same name, I'll go with the one who suggested it first.

The GRAND PRIZE: I'll use your brothel name in my book, you'll be featured in the acknowledgements, AND I'll send you a $25 gift card to the online bookstore of your choice.

And because I want to spread the joy a little, I'm going to give away a random prize to one of our entrants. Just fill out the entry form and rafflecopter will choose a winner to receive a $25 gift card to the online bookstore of their choice.

If you don't see your posts right away, don't worry... it'll be there eventually. Due to high levels of spam, I have to approve everything. Stinky spammers ruin it for everyone!


a Rafflecopter giveaway