The Joys of Customer Service

Years ago I worked at a company that sold science projects for schools. I was a customer service rep, and I was on the phone daily for people who wanted to buy the products for their school or for themselves. There were all kinds of neat projects for school age kids, but one of the most popular ones was the butterfly tent.

The butterfly tent had a large branch inside the net that could be hung up in the classroom so that the kids could watch the caterpillars turn to butterflies. The premise was that, once the butterflies emerged, the teacher would take the tent outside with the kids and then set the butterflies free. The kids always loved it, plus they learned a lot about butterflies in general.

Also, there were people who wanted the butterfly nets just for their own pleasure. One such person called me and asked if she could order ten butterfly nets for her wedding day. She wanted to be sure that the butterflies would be ready to come out so that she could let them go after she and her husband said their “I do’s.”

I told her that we could certainly sell her the ten butterfly nets but warned her that we  couldn’t guarantee that the butterflies would emerge on the day of her wedding. She insisted on buying them and told me that she was “positive” that the butterflies would be ready on her special day.

Just to be on the safe side, after I took her address and wrote up the sale, I went to my boss and told her about the “butterfly wedding.” Of course, she laughed her head off (and so did I). We were just about positive that some of the butterflies actually might be ready on the wedding day, but as I told the customer, we couldn’t guarantee that all ten would hatch in time for the big day.

A few weeks later, I got a call from a very angry bride (guess who; the butterfly lady!). She told me that only one of the butterfly nets had any butterflies in them, and that the nine other ones hadn’t emerged yet. She was livid and demanded to talk to the “person in charge,” which would be my boss. I told her that, sadly, the boss was in a meeting but that I would be sure to tell her what happened.

It was at that point that the angry bride went into a tailspin. She said, and I kid you not: “I don’t want to talk to your boss, I want to talk to the person in charge of those butterflies! Who is it?!” I said “God?” The woman hung up on me and when my boss was out of her meeting we had a good laugh. I refunded the bride’s money, and from then on we all referred to what happens at weddings when you expect your butterflies to come out on demand. Sheesh.

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