May 19, 2021–The world would function more smoothly, warring factions would join hands, and we would all sleep more soundly if organizations and businesses would hire one person. Who is this magical being?

Someone to answer the damn phone.

I believe every customer service issue would be resolved if this happened. Hire a personable person whose sole job was to pick up the phone when it rang and listened to the caller. They wouldn’t even need to know or do anything above having a cursory knowledge of the business. They would simply listen, say yes, and write down the issue, and promise that they would find an answer and have someone call them back.

That’s it. That’s all they would do.

Do I really need to explain this? Okay. Let’s start with your favorite government agency. Post office. Driver license bureau. Public school. Any City or County office. I’ll bet every reader can readily cite three examples of less than stellar customer phone service. Not here, necessarily, but somewhere at some faceless agency in some town in some county in some state.

How about when you get that salmon-colored slip in your mailbox directing you to pick up a package at the mailbox? How many rings of the buzzer did it take to get someone to step away from their tasks and hand you your box? Couldn’t they hire someone just to do that? Why do we even need to go to the post office to pick up a package? Isn’t “delivering mail” sort of the premise of that institution?

Schools. I’ve worked at public schools in three cities, two states, and one dictatorship. The foreign school might have been best at communicating with parents, and we didn’t even speak the same language.

Try calling a large public school (again, not here). Welcome to phone vine entanglement. I worked at one 4A school where my department was the only one that picked up the phone. That’s because I insisted on it, often doing it myself as director just because I couldn’t stand for it to go unanswered. The public noticed, and soon we were fielding calls from parents for all campuses. Several told us, I know you can’t answer my question, but I knew you’d answer my call. They just yearned to hear a human voice.

The phone answerer could be paid a reasonable rate, and would not need any degrees or special training other than being a real person. That’s usually the basic qualification on every resume anyway. This position would yield a generous return on investment, because the amount of goodwill and repeat business generated would be manifold the cost.

It would be a win-win for the employee as well. If they do their job with energy and aplomb, fewer people would need to call, so eventually the person would be paid to do nothing.

Have to stop now. Someone’s trying to call.