Customer Service Surprises When You Least Expect Them


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Are you in “The Customer Service Zone”?

This is type of mindset where, as an agent, you find that customers are generally friendly and cooperative, issues are resolved successfully and answers to questions are all found either in your mind or in the resources available to you. Pretty much everything is working right. No outages or giant technical bugs to squash. Things are simply flowing along.

Until they are not simply flowing along.

How can you look at those things that throw you for a loop in a different light?

Last week, I wrapped up my workday from home. I was meeting up with a friend in the afternoon. I grabbed my purse and car keys, as I normally always do when I’m about to leave. I exit my front door, close and lock it with my key. I’m not thinking twice about anything around me. I’m just moving along, in my zone after a productive day at work.

My purse slides down my arm and I move quickly to catch it before falling on the cement porch. As I do this, I catch a glimpse of something black out of the corner of my eye.

It doesn’t register at first. After what feels like hours, but was really only a few milliseconds, I understand what I am looking at – a snake.

The snake was sitting on our porch, about six inches away from my flip-flop wearing feet.

Fight or flight mode kicks in and my heart starts racing. My stomach tenses and I rush back toward my door. My hands are shaking so hard that I struggle fitting the key back into the lock.

Once inside, I hop up on the kitchen counter and peer through the front window to get a better look at the surprise visitor.

A California King Snake slithers across our porch. Non-poisonous and actually a snake that is immune to venom (meaning, they actually can eat a rattlesnake and be just fine), the snake doesn’t seem to be affected by my presence at all. It didn’t lunge nor hiss during our encounter. It just continued to slither along, trying to navigate how to reach the plant bed below our patio. If you want to see the video I took of the snake, check it out over on my Instagram.

Fun fact – as a kid, I actually had a King Snake as a pet. You can read more about my reptile-filled childhood here.

Over the years, however, I developed an intense fear of snakes. I avoid hiking on warm Southern California days simply because I do not want to encounter a snake.

But, on this particular overcast summer day near the beach in San Diego, I find a snake right in front of my doorstep.

I was no longer in “The Zone”. That was crushed with the impact of adrenaline racing through my body.

I text my friend that I am likely going to be late, as the snake is now stretched out across the length of our entrance way.

I watch the snake move across the floor. Is this someone’s escaped pet? I suddenly felt compassion for this lone creature. The snake took a few more minutes on our front porch before sliding down the incline into the bushes.

Had my purse not slipped off of my shoulder, I would not have looked down at the ground and this could have been an entirely different story.

Just like being in “The Zone” with our customers and focusing on what we need to get done, I never considered a snake being an issue that I’d face while leaving my home. I have a newfound awareness. Even when we’re in “The Zone”, keeping our eyes peeled for new and bizarre issues is imperative for the success with our customers. There’s an opportunity to thank them for bringing these types of situations to our attention.

So, here is my thank you letter to the snake:

Dear Snakey McSnakerson,

It was quite a surprise to see you the other day! I know that we are both happy that I didn’t step on you. I greatly appreciate you for making me more aware of my surroundings. I also want to say that should you decide to stay in the area, please remain off of our porch (or the porch of any other neighbors). You are also highly encouraged to eat whatever rodents or creepy crawlies that appear in the vicinity. 

All the best to you,


In contact centers, we’re often faced with surprises on a daily basis. How do we deal with these surprises?

In some cases, it’s much easier to run away and pretend they never existed.

But some of these surprises, corner us with no way out. The only opportunity we really have is to look at what came in our path and learn from it. Then we can look toward the future to understand what we must do to prevent this surprise from happening again. While we can’t stop all the surprises, we can at the very least, expect them to show up at the most random time, even when we’re in “The Zone”.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Jenny Dempsey
Jenny is Consumer Experience Manager for Apeel Sciences and FruitStand with more than 15 years of customer service experience. She is co-founder and a regular contributor on


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