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Who Decided This Was a Good Idea?

Man leaning on a wall in frustration
Photo by @danielmingookkim

I don’t know about you but a week never goes by without me encountering some situation where I feel like if I handled it or ran it, it would be better. This is not to toot my own horn but more a matter of thinking in a certain way in order to make something run smoother and more efficiently. Whether it’s the waiting list or reservation policy at a restaurant, boarding an airplane (zones? really?) or my latest encounter, poll worker training for Election Day, I always leave these encounters thinking I can do better.

I’m Too Practical for This

I signed up to be a poll worker this year because it didn’t seem right that Senior Citizens should be working the polls during a pandemic. Crazy, right? Well, what’s crazier is that apparently these elderly people have been working 17-hour days for decades. 17 hours? Who does that? And who can do that? It’s crazy. And, not only is this the mandatory hourly commitment to work the polls, you work one station all day rather than perhaps changing places with someone else, to, oh, I don’t know, change your brain and stimulate your mind by not doing the same thing for 17 hours. Oh and you get 2, 1-hour breaks. So my bad, it’s a 15-hour day. Where you eat twice in 17 hours.

Buckle Up Kiddos

Let’s break this down into the way I think this should be done. Assuming you have enough poll workers (and I admit this might be an issue), why don’t they have two shifts? One does 8.5 hours in the am, and the other 8.5 hours in the pm. Seems reasonable, no?

Second, why wouldn’t you rotate staff throughout the day like lifeguards? There’s a reason they do that. It forces them to not only stay awake but the change of scenery drives alertness. I get that perhaps there’s a slight learning curve at each station, but I’m sure people can make the mental switch in order to revive themselves. And this only means you have more “skilled” workers at each station each year. It’s not brain surgery people. No shade at poll workers, but you’re mostly putting names in an i-Pad and handing people a ballot in a privacy sleeve. Honestly, teenagers should be doing this job. They’d get paid and they’d learn how to interact with the public. Again, if I ran the world…

But Wait, There’s More

Now, let’s get to the training. Bear with me here, because of course, there’s a point to all of this. It was scheduled for 3-hours but luckily we ended early. The training involves being lectured at the whole time with slides, receiving two large manuals and taking an open book “test” that they give you the answers to and at every turn you’re told nothing needs to be memorized because you’ll have these manuals to reference. So why “train” at all when you can just give people the manual and say go read it? Or better yet, do the training online like those defensive driving videos where you have to watch each module on your own, can’t advance the video until you’ve watched it and then answer questions after each section? This saves time and money, plus you don’t need to bring people into a room together during a pandemic, or outside of a pandemic. But again, if I ran the world…

If Only This Didn’t Have to be Painful

I’m fortunate to be able to take off and work on Election Day. My boss is pretty badass that way (that’s me in case you missed that). Just like I’m fortunate to dine out or fly or do anything that usually results in my saying how I can do things better. But, here’s the thing. The reason all of these experiences so often frustrate people or seem inefficient is because they lack the most basic thing that they should be focused on: The CUSTOMER!

When you put the customer first, in your messaging, in your actions, in your thought process, you always serve them better and create a better experience. Because you’re thinking about their pain points — not yours. Typically these situations are directly related to customer service, or lack thereof. The business or entity is thinking about how THEY want to be more efficient or run smoother, but not how this affects their customers. And therein lies the problem. I guarantee that when you focus on the customer — who, by the way, is paying you for your service or product — you immediately serve them better. All this takes is simply putting yourself in their shoes, instead of yours as the business owner, and thinking about how this experience will be for them.

Ask and Ye Shall Receive

Better yet, you could ask them. Surveying your audience, community or clients is a great way to see what you’re doing well and where you can improve. And this makes them feel involved and therefore invested in your process and your business. Because people want to be heard. Because once they’re heard, they go from customers or clients to full-on rabid fans. Because you showed them you care. And for most of us, that’s all we want to feel, cared for and about.

Not sure how to put your audience first or address their pain points? I can help! Let’s talk.


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