Panic. Palpitations and Panic. He was aware of sweaty palms and cold feet as he wandered around his new office, the Area Manager's office.
He had expected to feel the responsibility of the new job resting heavily. What he hadn't counted on was the President's advice. Thinking to prove himself worthy of the new position, he had promised the President to drive for quality in his department. Total quality.
"Great idea. Too narrow a focus," the President had told him abruptly. "Quality is how well our product works in relation to the customer's need. That's just one aspect of customer service. Customer service covers all the customer's needs and expectations." Then she'd added in a quiet but firm voice, "Remember, this company was built on customer service. If those others had understood that they'd still be here. I trust you'll do better."
The Area Manager knew that "those others" were the three Area Managers who had cycled through the office before him. Each lasting about eight months. The Area Manager also realized that "those others" had all known more about customer service than he did. He wondered what chance he had to hold the job.
"The only positive thing about this panic," he thought, "is that it shows I'm in touch with reality." The Area Manager eased himself down into his chair. He closed his eyes and leaned back, wondering how long it might be before he too was ejected and joined "those others".
As he thought about his future and customer service, he heard a small, attention-getting cough. He decided it must be his imagination and kept his eyes closed.
A second, louder, more persistent cough caused him to look up. At first he saw nothing. Then he realized a man was sitting on the couch. A stranger wearing sport clothes, and beside him, a golf bag.
"Ah, there you are," said the stranger as if he had just discovered the Area Manager, who, shocked to find anyone in his office, managed to stammer, "Who are you? I mean, what are you doing here?"
"I'm your Fairy Godmother," the stranger replied seriously. Then he added brightly, "As for what I'm doing here, I'm here to show you the three magic secrets of creating Raving Fans, the ultimate in customer service.
"Also, I'd hoped we might get in a round or two of golf. The heavenly links are so crowded you have to book at least a month in advance," he added with an apologetic shrug, gesturing toward the golf clubs.
"I'm not in touch with reality," the Area Manager thought. "I've already gone off the deep end."
"No, you haven't," said the stranger, reading the Area Manager's mind. "Nothing is more real than your Fairy Godmother. You'll want to remember that."
"You can't be my Fairy Godmother," the Area Manager challenged, "you're a man." That obvious fact, he decided, was irrefutable evidence that he was dreaming.
"I know it's a bit unusual, but I came in on the quota."
"Yes," confirmed the stranger. "You see, Fairy Godmothering is traditionally a female job and so, under the Celestial Equal Opportunities legislation, the job has been assigned a quota. When I applied I was snapped right up."
The Area Manager gave his head a sharp shake as if to drive the stranger away.
"Hi, still here," said the stranger gleefully, lifting his wrist and wiggling his fingers in greeting.
"Well, then, do you have a name, Fairy Godmother?" the Area Manager asked.
"A name? Yes, I keep forgetting about names. Here people usually call me Charlie. Let's make it Charlie, shall we?"
"Fine. Charlie it will be," said the Area Manager, wondering how he would get this nut case out of his office. "You're here about customer service, then?"
"You could say that," said Charlie. "Although, in another way, I am customer service. It's all a bit tricky," smiled Charlie, "depending on how you approach it."
"Of course," the Area Manager said in a tone of voice most people reserve to humor the very young or the very old. "So where do we begin?"