A Nice Surprise

Friday, December 14, 2007
Isn't it nice when people surprise you with a completely unnecessary act of kindness?

In my work as a Systems Engineer, I support a very large pre-sales community. Now sales people aren't very well known for their consideration of others (at least in telecommunications). I'm typically treated like a serf, there to provide instant service to whichever of the hundreds of sales people I support, and I want that deliverable right this second, thank you very much. You can imagine how pleased I am with this behavior.

Sometimes it's the account team, sometimes it's the account. When I was a field SE, I had one particular account (let's call them The Asstard Company to ensure I don't get in trouble) that just drove me crazy. They were rude, they were demanding, they treated their vendors like their beck-and-call girls. And they very seldom spent a significant amount of money with us on new sales.

Once I moved from the field to an inside support position, I no longer had to deal directly with The Asstard Company, but because I was so familiar with them, I did continue to receive requests for engineering support. In the last six months, I have done an enormous amount of work for this account, which has resulted in a total revenue stream of $0.00. This is because while making their vendor dancing monkeys jump through flaming hoops is just so much fun, it doesn't mean they'll actually buy anything, oh, no.

So a week or so ago, I heard from the account team. The customer wanted another complete rework of a proposal that's been on the table for at least 4 years, because the sales person was sure that this time they were going to buy. Sales people...is there anyone more crazily optimistic with no supporting evidence?

While I wasn't happy about the idea, I've still spent the last week working the designs, and ensuring their accuracy.

So what should appear on my doorstep on Wednesday? A Godiva gift basket, complete with chocolate raspberries, milk chocolates, and truffles, sent by the account team to thank me for my efforts. Completely unexpected, completely unnecessary, and it completely made my day.

Thanks, guys.

12 comments:

Shawn Powers said...

I got a plate of homemade chocolate chip cookies a few years back from a teacher I helped with a minor problem. It made my day.

Then last year, I received a gift basket with a cute coffee mug, and a pound of fancy coffee beans from a teacher that assures me I helped her immeasurably. I do not recall this heroism on my part, but the gift kept me from walking into oncoming traffic for quite some time.

I'm not even a big "gift person" -- but the thought behind spending enough time to actually get and deliver something to me goes a long ways in my, "hey, you're not a piec of crap" list making.

David Klecha said...

Ah, salespeople.

Most days I think that our company would have revenues 100% greater if we had actually charged for the service that the sales department gave away for free in the hopes of engendering sales down the line.

The company actually gave me a small LCD TV one year in lieu of actual thanks from the sales department. That was kinda nice.

Janiece Murphy said...

Shawn and David, I don't think it matters how valuable the gift is, just that someone actually went to the trouble to acknowledge your existance and the contribution you try to make.

When I was a field SE, I sent thank you cards at the end of every fiscal year, thanking those who went beyond their assigned duties to help me. It cost me very little, and I can't remember how many people called me to tell me how much they appreciated the gesture.

Anne C. said...

I'm not much of a gift giver (too self-absorbed, I think) but you guys are right. It's not the gift itself, but the acknowlegement. There are a few people I really ought to acknowledge like that.
Hmmmm....

Steve Buchheit said...

Mmmm, chocolate. In this season of vender thank you gifts (of which I am not on the lists anymore, yet I do much of the work), my favorite line is, "Bribery will get you everywhere."

I like bringing in food and snacks for my coworkers. Just a bag of shared pretzles can make a day brighter.

Janiece Murphy said...

Anne, for me it's the act of acknowledging other people. I want to be the kind of person who is thoughtful and says "thanks." And people appreciate it so much, it really makes my day, too.

Steve, I'm all about giving away chow. I always make much more than we can eat, and people usually appreciate goodies.

Anne C. said...

When I have time, I love to bake for entertainment. I, however, don't want to eat all those goodies, so I bring 'em in to the office.
On a daily basis, I do thank people who help me. IMO, this is a more important thing to do than the holiday thanks, but I was thinking how nice it would be to do a little extra thank you.

Janiece Murphy said...

Anne, I understand. I wasn't thinking you were some ungrateful wretch who treated people like her bug-eating bitch-boys.

I think being courteous on a daily basis is vitally important. I can assure you that I'm much more likely to work late or go out of my way for someone who asks me politely than someone who treats me like an indentured servant.

Jeri said...

Janiece, that is so cool that they did that! And I bet - well-deserved.

I hear you on the sales team issue... I see it from multiple vendors, wild promises on one hand, and flogging/blaming internal support on the other.

I'm glad you got some recognition for your efforts.

David Klecha said...

Janiece, you're absolutely right about the gesture aspect. Which is why it's a little irksome that the gesture has to come from the tech side of the house, on unwitting behalf of sales.

Janiece Murphy said...

Thanks, Jeri. Me, too.

Janiece Murphy said...

David, I suspect that the type of person who is successful in sales over the long term is also the type of person who would not think to make an extra effort to recognize people who supported their success.

Unfortunate, but anecdotal evidence seems to indicate that's the case.