I’m not really that old. At 54, I am surely not old enough to remember communicating by smoke signals or drums. But I am old enough that while working for a huge engineering company, I was trained as a back-up for the regular telephone operator, and that meant learning how to operate the old cord switchboard. When Centrex telephone system was introduced, I learned about that as well. Back then, women – even engineers – were all expected to type. And those in the clerical field were expected to learn at least enough about customer service, greeting customers face-to-face as a receptionist, and how to run a switchboard, that they could fill in if the regular receptionist or switchboard operator had to be away.
A few years later, I learned to send and receive telex messages. I remember well the clicking and clacking of that horrible machine. I also remember that not many in the clerical pool wanted to learn to use that machine monster, and rightly so. I had nightmares about whether or not I could get the tape inserted properly and having to type without error to be understood on the other end of the world.
Then came facsimile machines. A fax machine was often guarded by an executive, and everyone had to make arrangements to use it in his office, when said executive was not in the midst of something top secret or more important than having you transmit pages over the fax machine. While Mr. Executive waited impatiently, one had to try to send and receive quickly. But fast was not how one would define the technology, when each page might take six minutes or more to transmit, all the while racking up long distance charges. If the recipient’s machine malfunctioned, you often did not realize that until it appeared that the document had been totally sent and received. Time and again, we had to send and re-send, just to get an entire ten or twenty-page packet to another company or a client.
Things have certainly changed for the better, as we have zoomed ahead with the types of communication tools available to us today.
Still, there was something different about those “old days. ” Back then, anyone who might work in “telecommunications” in any way was probably at least partially trained by the old Bell Telephone people. Customer service was more important than actual technology knowledge.
There times have truly changed. Customer service and the old “the customer is always right” methodology has disappeared. And yet, a company that wants to succeed and thrive would be wise to institute some of those old customer service practices. It could make a company stand out in today’s market, since it would be an oddity, rather than the norm.
Marilyn Mackenzie has been writing about home, family, faith and nature for over 40 years. This article has been submitted in affiliation with www.Facsimile.Com which is a site for Fax Machines .