Over the years, I have gained great professional business experience but none of those experiences left me as humble as my time at a large retail bank during the height of the economic collapse and the ensuing mortgage crisis.
Everyone has a story to tell or has at least heard of a story during that time where someone was in some kind of financial trouble. It doesn’t matter who you worked for or where you lived, there was no escaping hearing the stories. My story begins in 2009 when I worked as a call center agent in the foreclosure department for one of the largest banks in the world.
It was my job to assist customers and provide solutions that allowed them to prevent foreclosure on their property and continue to live in their house. It was a brutal atmosphere in that almost every phone call either began or ended with someone either yelling or crying. It wasn’t just a job to collect a paycheck and get medical insurance. Rather, it was the type of job that weigh on you emotionally and cause you so much stress that you had to put your medical insurance to good use and routinely visit doctors to measure your blood pressure. The hard truth was that you couldn’t help everybody, not even close.
Many people were going to lose their homes. The same homes they raised their children in and even their grandchildren. The same homes that they built with their own hands and created so many memories in. How do you say you helped people and did a good job at the end of the day?
When you are in business, the goal should be to help anyone and everyone. But the harsh reality is that you simply can’t help everyone as some people have needs that just can’t be met. Instead, though, you can provide them with an experience. You can provide them with service. That is what I quickly learned in my experience working in the foreclosure industry. Even though I could not assist everyone, I could talk to them and empathize with them, I could answer their questions even though they weren’t always the answers they wanted to hear. A lot of the frustration at that time was the misinformation being given out and being transferred from person to person with no one really giving you any answers. I think we all know that feeling. Whenever my customers called I would drop everything and make sure they were my “only” customer at that time. Whenever they would leave me a voicemail I would call back the same day, before I left for the evening. People appreciate this kind of service. They appreciate being listened to and they appreciate being given information. While I wasn’t able to help everyone keep their homes, every one of them was grateful that I assisted them during the process and they would often call me months down the road to let me know how they were doing. They would mention that I was the one bright spot during a dark time. At a time where most people were mad at the banks, my customers were simply mad at the situation they found themselves in and this was good for my company. We still maintained their business and would still be their first call when they needed something.
The power of conversation and the power of listening cannot be understated. If someone contacts you for service, even if you cannot help them, you should listen to them and provide them with assistance in any way that you can. I think our world would be a much better place if we all communicated a little better and with respect and honesty.