Being of Service

Friday did not end well at work.  Planned to leave on time as had made plans to run errands for family and had cleared my list of things for the week.  About two hours before official knock off time, received two very last minute requests. First request was simple and straightforward (new hotel reservation) while the other involves a lot of coordination as 1) need to book new flights for Tuesday, new hotel reservations and communication with client on new schedule 2) changes to be made on an issued ticket and that now traveller want to travel out on Monday instead of Tuesday, travel with the new traveller on Tuesday and travel out to a new location on Wednesday plus find a way to return home on Thursday by road (a part of my day job is to support travel arrangements to client/project sites).

Obviously upset with the last minute requests (as this is not the first time from the same traveller), spent about 30 minutes waiting for the traveller to be in touch because of poor phone connections and trying to create miracles on a Friday afternoon is really tough.  Working on a complicated task that requires giving clear instructions plus meticulous eyes when one is emotional is a huge struggle because a single mistake could be costly (tangible in terms of money and intangible in terms of efforts, inefficiency, etc).

And true enough, a mistake was made.  I did not change the dates when I gave the instructions to the travel agent to make the changes.  I did not realise the mistake when I first received and checked the itinerary and even after the traveller said it is a go (forward it to him to check), I did not realised the dates when I did the final check before instructing the travel agent to issue the ticket.  I only realised the mistake after I had left office and checked the issued e-ticket via my mobile (yes, sync work email to phone but on manual push).

“Best of all” this was not the only mistake.  As I left my office building, received a phone call from the travel agent and I was stumped when he said “how is he going to travel on Monday when he does not have his passport with him?”.  His passport was sent to an embassy to be stamped and was scheduled to be returned to him on Monday.  This was for a project that was handled by colleague who is not based in Singapore and I was assisting her with the application. This totally slipped my mind when speaking to the traveller and he informed me that he wants to travel on Monday (and yes, he did not realised about his passport either). Fortunately the agent realised this when he was about to issue the ticket.  Fortunately the passport had been released earlier in the afternoon and fortunately it was him who received it from the visa department and placed it in an envelope.

The agent informed our account manager about the passport and the latter made arrangement to personally return the passport to the traveller at his home.  At that moment I thought all was sorted as that was before I realised the mistake on the dates.  When I informed the account manager about the wrong dates on the newly issued ticket and worried about the additional costs involved, he immediately contacted the agent and assured me that they will sort it out and will try without incurring additional high costs.

I had been working with the account manager and agent for four years and this is not the first time that they had gone beyond the extra mile to support my team and I.  Among all the vendors that I had worked or currently working with, they are the best.  Our working relationship goes beyond client-vendor and both parties always try to help one another (had no qualms to be a referee when they were bidding for another major client last year).  As a client we can choose to be difficult.  But is that necessary? As much as they need us, we need them more especially during crunch times.  The support that they had given me on Friday was a support that I am truly grateful for.  The last minute request did not only have implications on me but on them.  It was very late on Friday afternoon and just like me, they do have plans and we are not their only client.  By the time we had sorted the e-ticket it was already close to 8pm.  The account manager wanted to return the passport earlier but it was raining heavily where he was at and riding a scooter is definitely not safe under such weather (plus he had a bad accident before).  Again, he assured me that he will try to return the passport by Friday evening if the weather permits and will text me when it is done. And again, assured me that it is part of his/their job to provide necessary support when I said my gratitude to him.

Being a client does not give us the right to be a pain and we should never ever take the phrase ‘being of service’ for granted nor misuse it.  The term client in this context applies to both internal and external. I am a firm believer that whatever actions that we do and especially did not do have implications on others.  One should not be living inside his/her own bubble at the expense of others for only the other will know the cost of such expense.

About the mistakes, yes I admit to those.  And the reason why I don’t like to do rushed jobs as mistakes bound to happen.  Not a good excuse, regardless.

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