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Sometimes Scouting volunteers really bug me...

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My apologies for taking so long to respond. In one respect you are correct, the leadership in any troop should know who it has registered and who they don't. Yet unless the leaders go back and follow up on every mid-year registration, they will not know that the paperwork did not get processed until the name doesn't show up on the re-charter roster. I have had all the paperwork in my hands and yet the name was not on the roster. I guess to a certain extent, I wouldn't think it's the responsibility of the leaders to have to follow-up all the time and be checking over the shoulder of council personnel.


This is probably why it took 5 years to get a knot. I submitted all the correct paperwork and waited, and waited and waited. Finally I went in and checked and "they will look into it". Then there was more waiting and waiting and waiting. I go back they tell me there's no record of my request and so I resubmit my paperwork and waited and waited and waited. By the third request and waiting, follow up and waiting they finally "found" the paperwork (I have no idea which of the 3 submissions it was, but they had it.) Then after about 6 weeks, it was available.


The knot was not all that "important" in the first place (probably why the wait in between requests/follow-ups), but one would think that in order to retain quality leadership, the council needs to pay attention to how they treat them.


I have for 20+ years had a very good relationship with the council, but on occasion they have majorly dropped the ball. Multiply that by the number of volunteers, it could have a significant impact on council/volunteer relations.



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All right, I have to admit something: I'm rather hurt by some of the assumptions made on this thread about me. I suppose it's my fault for saying in the title I was "bugged". Bad move.


However, my entire question was on just how to brush up on my customer service skills. Some of you gave me some tips, but many of you simply said that I was horrible at customer service without having ever have stepped into my office. I simply wanted to know HOW to calm down a volunteer who is upset finding out he was supposed to register/his leader was supposed to have him register.


Yes, I have worked as a Scouting volunteer for 7 years.


As many volunteers I know regularly use online advancements to print out updated rosters once or twice a month, I have trouble believing any leader would have difficulty knowing who is and is not registered.


Thank-you to those who gave tips. As for the rest of you, responding with "Improve your customer service skills!" to the question "How do I improve my customer service skills?" is completely moronic.

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At risk of the ire of some - I understand.

As a volunteer Scouter (I don't get paid, and I spend a lot doing it), I am often in the Council offices and/or Scout Shop. Usually to get some business done as a UC, SM, or upcoming event. Sometimes just to say hi and check in on my pros.


I wish all my visits to the office were conflict-free but of course they are not. I once asked for the boundaries of the districts in our Council, only to be told by the professional Scouters (my DE, another DE, and the SE) that they weren't sure where the boundaries were... A few years ago, when my son's Eagle BofR was approaching, I had to sit down with the registrar and (again) go over every entry in his record, sometimes correcting the codes myself, to get his record straight. Thank goodness for keeping copies (paper and digital) of EVERYthing. Was once told event flyers and calendar updates weren't posted on the council website because that's a "volunteer's job" - of course when I asked why we have a PAID webmaster whose job description included posting the flyers and updating the calendar the answer was to attempt to shout louder. I volunteered for a specific and large project in one Council and a DE was assigned to "provide any help (I) need". His idea was that all supplies purchased had to be done in his presence and that he would keep them locked up and issue them to me - when he could - to (and I'm quoting) "make sure they didn't get used for non-Scouting activities".


Of course, I've also been present when the store folks are getting yelled at by a volunteer because they don't have something in stock (one Webelos DL because they didn't have 18 CS pocketknives and he needed him that night), or because they can't sell them the Lodge flap (despite the staff explaining he could get it at the connected Council office), or the numerous advancement chairs and SMs yelling, and sometimes cussing, because they asked for the advancement sheet before selling them Scout ranks.


I've also been there when the registrar was taking the heat because a unit didn't know about an upcoming event. And because a DE wasn't responding to emails. And even because the last Camporee was scheduled on a weekend they were working.


So I guess the lesson to all of us is that there are some people in the world that are great at what they do - and friendly, courteous, kind, and cheerful to boot. There are some who are great adult Scouters but when it comes to dealing with other adults, they just see them as servants, or roadblocks, or something else. Then there are the folks that aren't very good but are convinced they are - and they come in easy to get along with and not so easy to get along with, too.


As far as how to respond to the yelling/upset volunteer that comes into your office? Well, politely, consistently and with the courtesy and consideration you'd like to see from them. It is the nature of anyone in a customer service position to deal with customers who just aren't that easy or fair or reasonable. It is even more difficult if you're in a company that has a bad reputation for service (like the Council offices). When it comes to someone cussing at you or a certain level of yelling, I'd think another professional would be coming out to your assistance. I'd also like to think another volunteer might try to intervene if appropriate. I've found that volunteers are often more likely to listen to a fellow volunteer than anyone in the office once they're upset. A registrar is not paid to deal with a lot of things they get the heat for.


For those of us that do volunteer, I guess we should all be open to hearing about the other side of the fence. Try to understand that sometimes it is OUR fault and when it is, to be honest with our fellow Scouters, accept responsibility for the mistake and not take the easy way out and point fingers at Council.


Before our last move, I turned in money and my adult volunteer application to the Troop. Three apps later, I'm still not registered. "Council lost it" is the same thing I hear every time. Of course, being the track it down and solve it kind of anal retentive person I am - I'd already been to see the registrar after the first time. They were on the lookout for my paperwork. I called them one week and two weeks after the turn-in to the Troop on the second and third times. Lots of adults in the Troop are having the same problem. The SM then tells me its the "membership chair", she must be losing them. There isn't a "membership chair", she moved away months before I arrived; the SM had them all. Sitting in his truck. I know because a Scout found them there. I wonder how many angry adults visited the Council office wondering why they weren't registered? I wonder if any went back to apologize.

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Thank, ntrog. I really had no desire to show up as a witch on here. I am a people pleaser who can't stand the idea of a volunteer walking away upset. I have plenty of answers and solutions and apologies when it is the council's fault. I'm just at a loss with how to respond to "Why didn't my unit tell me I had to do this?" without blaming the unit. I did get some good tips on here and from some other sources. My council does its rechartering with the calendar year... so stuff like this is popping up frequently right now, leading to further loss on what to tell people.


So far my decided tactic is to explain registration is done through the unit (without blaming the unit for not doing it), hand so-n-so an application and go over it with them, hand him my card if he has further questions, wish him a great day, and realize and accept he might not be leaving comletely happy still.

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Backroads, I've been involved in Scouting for over 20 years. I don't consider it a "hobby" which is what you called it. Hobby seems to diminish the level of commitment one.


I've met and had to deal with more than a few professionals who seem to think that because they get paid they are better or more important than the Scouters. On the other hand the vast majority are good, hard working, dedicated people.

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Essentially this isn't a scouting issue, it's a customer service issue. Learning how to keep a cool head and remain professional when your customers are jerks is something that people in many professions have to deal with. It takes effort and practice. Do some digging on the web or in books for some helpful hints, and slowly but surely start incorporating them into your dealings with your customers. There are also some professional training courses available, including one-day events. Look around for one and see if your council would pay for you to go.


At the same time you need to make sure that you are doing the best job you can.


Good luck!


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"What's a good customer service way to avoid this drama? There's only so many strings I can pull."


Get out in front of the problem by:


1. Communicating regularly to units--Remind them to send you stuff and remind them that they can check their rosters on-line. Attach instructions. Put this stuff on the front page of your council website or at least somewhere it can be easily found.


2. Make sure they know what your postal and email addresses are and then respond to every app you receive with a short "Got Bob's app. Thanks! BR"


3. You know who your problem units/leaders are. Stay on top of them.


4. If this is a real problem in your council, talk with the powers that be about incentives for units that turn in any apps by mail/e-mail.


5. At summer camp, if you have some video-related MB, ask them to do a 30 second funny video on filling out forms, etc.


Stop being passive and do your job creatively.

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I work in a satellite office in our council that covers 2 districts and am also a volunteer with a unit. I get accused of "losing things" as well. I few weeks ago, I had an irate den leader send a rather terse email to the DE for his district because I had flagged a handwritten advancement report for nonregistered Scouts. The leader said he turned the applications in weeks ago and I must have lost them, which he "understands is a regular occurrence." I don't lose things.The main Council office does--it is a bureaucracy after all and things get misplaced. All applications that get turned in are put in a folder. I looked up the sales records and found that he had turned them in. So, I went and looked in their unit file and there they were--I had put an error notice page on them because they lacked the Unit leader signature and had indicated that I had emailed the Unit leader on record; I then went and found the email. The Unit leader never did anything about it.I emailed back and said they weren't lost and where they were. The CC came and signed them.The CC then requested that I CC her in any future emails, because evidently this CM is a paper doll;)


I find that units aren't given good information about what is needed.A new person takes over and isn't told what to do. I always ask them was the application turned in? Do you know when or approximately when? I'll look it up. (We use Sellwise, so it is easy to do) If it is there, I'll go and check their unit mailbox etc. IF it isn't there, then I apologize, make a copy of their unit copy and enter it in with them standing there.We aren't perfect and we are going to make mistakes. We had a bunch of issues because our registrar quit and a bunch of applications got overlooked. Things happen.I just smile, say I'm sorry and that I'll take care of it and go and do it. That usually diffuses them. Some volunteers are jerks no matter what you do.

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A LOT of time it's not us!!!!!


Our council has informed us that they have no records for four people. They're idiots because the 4 people are me, ASM and SM for the fast 5 years, an ASM who's also been a den leader for 5 years, my wife who's been a MB cousilor for 3 years and a commitee member for 2 years. This is the same idiots that told me my training wasn't up to date, when I went to check online. those idiots changed my account number. Our council is one big mis-managed group because....NO ACCOUNTABILITY.


These paid people forget that they have jobs to support us, the units. Until they figure that out....I don't send the money. (my way of encouraging them to be accountable)


I hate recharter time!





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BR: I assure you, multiple registration numbers are not only possible, but not that unusual.

"Once upon a time", I applied to staff at the National Jamboree. I had to prove I had certain training. The record said I didn't, but I did have the leetle blue/gray cards, so I trundled down to the Council office and the registrar and I sat down and discovered that I had no fewer than four registration numbers. From the days I was a DL and CM, thru my work as a ASM, and Commisher, I had been re-registered under various permutations of my name, with and without the middle initial or name. Also, to complicate things, it seemed that there were at least 5 (five!) other men in the (large!) council with the same first and last name as me, but I was the only one in my county with my middle initial.

Never changed address, or SSN, or unit. But there it (they) was.

Council problem? Filling out forms correctly problem? Trainer problem? Unit re-chartering person problem? Never found out. I presently have ONE membership number and a suitably long list of training certs.

So: Assume nothing, and ALWAYS re-register and sign up for training under the EXACT same name , every time.

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Don't ask how many numbers I have. :)


Back in the day, when I went to PDL-1 and met the director of the SCOUTNET project, I was told that SCOUTNET would prevent multiple numbers, and that advancement and training records would move with you.


Then I recently found out that SCOUTNET was never capable of doing that, despite what the old national director said.


Which explains why A) I kept getting new numbers everytime I moved and B) None of my training records followed me.

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Unfortunately, the same thing is true for many, if not all, of us that move. When I lived in this Council before, they assigned a new registration number. When I moved away, I received another registration number. When I came back to this Council, my registration automatically went back to the registration number I had here previously. I now have several numbers...


As a result my tenure, positions served, and training have been whacky over time. Fortunately I don't really care about the tenure and I keep all my training records.

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being at the front desk of any help desk situation you have to realize that part of the reason folks show up or call is because they either Have a need for information they think should be available to them and they can't find it and know council should have it(they're the Pro's right?) Sometimes this is frustrating - as a help desk person in part, myself you have to defuse them and realize they aren't upset at you they are upset at their situation which in some cases is just being upset that they couldn't find what should be, and may in fact be, easily accessible information.

Or they need to drop off a form but they may realize it's late and it's their fault and frankly it's embarrassing and they're upset with themselves but guess who get's it - you already know.

Or it is the third time they've delivered it (and dang it), it WAS on time the first time...


It's a part of the job.


Learning to communicate clearly and especially to make real interpersonal contact - understanding what they want and what they are feeling more than just the specific language communication - giving them the idea that you really WANT to help them and are committed to FINDING not just the book answer but to do the best you can to resolve their problem - is the essence of being a good help desk operator - you can be a great technician and steer them through the bureaucracy and still leave them feeling cold and un-helped even though they were masterfully guided thru the maze of regulations and red tape.


And if that means smiling as you hand them a membership form and explaining that they do need to fill it out completely and add they YPT module paperwork and then get the signatures of the CC and/or the SM depending on the form sand who it's for. Gotta say a little candy on the desk couldn't hurt, but it won't make up for the "I REALLY am here to HELP you :) " attitude.

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