But once you’d mastered the OP job, it can become boring. So when new jobs opened up, we cross-trained an OP, so they could have more variety, and expand their skills.
Emelia comes to mind. She sounds like a sweet and retiring kind of woman, doesn’t it?
Well, actually, she alternated working for us and smuggling cars into Nicaragra. Not guns, but cars. Why cars? I never understood this, but I’ve always been stupid at politics. How were the cars smuggled? I don’t know. What I do know is that Emelia looked pretty, but she was tough.
We thought immediately of Emelia when a position opened for the job of “Collector”, meaning somebody to call slow-pay clients, and bug them to pay. Emelia learned it quickly, but the next week she complained, “I can’t seem to get these folks to take me seriously.”
We decided to give her a tougher-sounding name; she became “Barbara Thorn”. Barbara Thorn had no further difficulties. Emelia said the same words, left the same messages, but got better results. Because of her new name, people responded differently.
Now … about bookkeepers. When a bookkeeper left, it took two months from placing the newspaper ad, to getting them interviewed, started at work, and trained on the job. I was the backup, so I was really glad when I could return to concentrating on my own job. But when I’d returned to my own job, clients would still ask for me. They wanted bookkeeping assistance, and remembered me from last time. Bummer.
Then one day, our new bookkeeper, Ron, vanished. (We found out later that while smoking grass and dancing in a club, he’d become highly paranoid, and so he took some LSD on the theory that it would calm him down.) At the time, we didn’t know where Ron was, only that he was gone. So I placed our newspaper ad, and, groaning, opened up the bookkeeping phones. “If you get any calls for Ron,” I told the OPs, “just put them through.”
A client called. “Ron?” he said.
“Yep,” I said.
That is how I became Ron the bookkeeper. A couple of months later, with a new bookkeeper trained, when people called and asked for Ron, they were put through to bookkeeping, and not to me. Everybody happy.
When the salesman, Henry, left San Francisco, I became Henry in sales. Over the years, I became several different people, because it permits you to stop being them later. When we sold the answering service, I kept the voicemail business, and used the identity of Harry, the manager. Customers wanting special deals would ask for the owner. “He’s not in,” I said, and returned to our standard terms. Life was good.
These days, I use my manager name (Harry), my legal name (Arthur), and my stage name (Traktor). Whenever a caller asks for one of these guys, it’s immediately clear whether the call is about voicemail, or personal, or about music.
Someone asked me recently, “How do you get so much done there, with only the three of you?”
“It’s easy,” I said, “We three have worked together so long that we act as one.”