Working from a Human Story

I was having one of those annoying customer problems – you know, where I’m the annoying customer? The one who doesn’t know anything, in this case. You see, I’d had an accident and somehow shredded my Macbook Air cable, though I had no idea how this had happened. And so I bought a new one, only…um, it didn’t fit. 2013-08-08 08.47.52

I brought it home, plugged it in, but the part that connected to the Macbook Air didn’t fit. Hmmmm. So, I returned it. I ordered one off Amazon, after looking it over and being sure this was very much the same cable I’d had in the past. Only, um, that didn’t fit either. I returned that, and got a third cable. You’d think I’d master this at some point, having owned Mac products since 1984. But no, somehow, I bought a third wrong cable.

And then I met Alvin.

Sometimes, The Story Is the Right Tool

Alvin had an air about him from the moment I met him in the Apple store. He had a fast smile, a slow walk, and a really soft but certain voice. When I explained my exasperated tale of woe, he listened, as if anything I was saying was useful to him. He then dragged me over to the area where all the cables are stored, and pulled the box off the shelf that I needed and handed it to me. I felt my heart sink. He’d given me the wrong box. And I told him so.

“Well, let me explain,” started Alvin. “You see, the old cables were the one you’re describing, but there was some kind of problem. They kept breaking in a weird way. So these are the new cables. And they’re shaped differently. So you’re right. The old cable looked like the one you’re pointing out, but that cable won’t fit your Air. This one will.”

I was dubious. “I’m going to open this box right in front of you and plug it in, and I really really hope you’re right. (Because why would I trust Alvin? He only works for Apple, day in and day out.)

The cord… fit.

Alvin: “You know, it’s really confusing. I get it. You knew exactly what the old cable looked like, and no one was listening to you. But I knew that there was a new cable, and that you weren’t really hearing that, either. I’m glad we got it sorted out.”

To all the people (including – especially! – me) who get stuck in telling our stories like robots repeating lines of scripted code, remember to break out now and again, and listen beyond what you already know to be true. Because somewhere out there in between what I (the stupid customer) and you (the experienced professional) know, is what really has to go down to solve the problem.

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  • Jeff Korhan

    We do get stuck in our conditioned patterns from time to time.

    “Alvin had an “air” about him … was that intentional for a story about your Macbook Air? It made me smile. :)

    • Chris Brogan

      Wish I were that good. :)

  • Ryan Biddulph

    The annoying customer is usually….wrong lol Chris ;) Of course no right/wrong thing here, just a lesson for developing patience, tolerance and clarity of thought.

    Remove the old programming you received; the one that has you spit out your problems, your negative experience, and a funny thing happens……the problem, and the negative experience, are 100% your fault. Yes even if someone else screwed up, because you frame your thoughts and feelings surrounding any experience.

    We can all be just as jolly as the high energy sales rep, or anybody for that matter, if we are willing to choose our thoughts instead of allowing circumstances to dictate our thinking.

    Thanks Chris!


    • Chris Brogan

      Exactly. Thanks for your perspective, Ryan. : )

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  • Geoffrey Gordon

    Super sheepish moment, I am sure we have all had a few of those. We are convinced that we we are so right, when we are wrong …..

    I had this week, over a technical issue with a client, the irony is i was looking in the wrong place for the right answer and convinced that it was there.

    • Chris Brogan

      That happens to me all the time. If I’m already on a path, that’ll usually ruin my chances of being open for new things. : )

  • Gina Rafkind

    omg, so love this story…….and so resonates with a couple things I’ve just gone through (being on the seller side)…..thx Chris for perfect timing :)

    • Chris Brogan

      Well, I’m happy to help. :)

  • Chiara Mazzucco

    It takes time to learn the multiple languages saying the same thing but I think that’s what defines good customer service. The whole annoying customer thing is frustrating when there’s no gateway for communication! The customer needs to be open to testing out different ways of saying the same thing, too!

    • erma652

      what Carmen responded I am shocked that a single mom can make $9622 in one month on the computer. have you seen this webpage w­w­w.K­E­P­2.c­o­m

  • Katherine Bull

    I love this story, Chris. Been there… My frustration seems to overtake rational thought, i.e. that I’m talking to an expert, and my brain goes to a different place. Glad you shared what many of us have experienced!

  • JudyHelfand

    Yesterday I tried leaving you a comment, but maybe Disqus didn’t like me yesterday. Basically what I said was this: a few years ago you told us all to grow bigger ears! Do you remember that? Take care old friend. Judy

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  • Dennis Shamblin

    Hello everyone my name is Dennis Daryl Shamblin and I am a writer from Oklahoma. I have just published a new novel titled Surviving Bigfoot and the Dixie Mafia. The book is available through Amazon. It’s a great read I promise.

  • samantha657

    as Keith implied I’m startled that a mom can get paid $8402 in 4 weeks on the internet. have you read this site w­w­w.K­E­P­2.c­o­m

  • Akshay Nanavati

    Breaking out of conditioned patterns that are ingrained into neurological pathways can be one of the hardest things to do, especially since we are psychologically conditioned for failure, through things like the negativity bias and availability heuristic, but like you said beyond what you know to be true lies the answer to all our problems. Infinite possibilities really do live in the unknown. I love the way you illustrate this concept in this story Chris. What tips do you have for people trying to break out of what the already know but are struggling to do so? Would love to hear your thoughts. Thanks for all your awesome work Chris.

  • David Bennett

    Your statement: “…and somehow shredded my Macbook Air cable…”

    Alvin’s statement: “You see, the old cables were the one you’re describing, but there was some kind of problem. They kept breaking in a weird way…”

    Free cable?

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