Thursday, August 10, 2006

Speaking to Entertain-Sample Speech, "That Extra Mile"

That Extra Mile
(Speaking to Entertain, Advanced Speech Project #2 in The Professional Speaker Manual, Aug.10,2006, ACT Club, Gloria Maris Restaurant, Alabang. Evaluated by Lolet Gabay, ATM-S)


INTRODUCTION

Good Evening!

Is there anybody here who has worked abroad even for a brief period of time? (brief interview with respondent) Is there anybody here who works or has worked in a field that is Customer Service-related? (brief interview with respondent)


Well I’d say that all of our jobs have a component called “customer service” Would you agree? Is there anybody here who has an idea what the phrase “Extra Mile” stands for?

Alright, well I’d like to illustrate that phrase with a story.


BODY

Way back when I was 24 years old, I had a wonderful opportunity – and that was to go work in the United States for 3 months. The US office for the company I worked for needed temporary help to finish a critical system in the US.




Being one of the more experienced programmers in the Philippines office back then, I was selected to help them.


Excitement Build-Up

I was excited! And why not? I was young and it was my first time to ride a plane, go abroad and to the United States at that! I had the month of December to prepare. I prepared my travel documents and took a crash course in driving.

The name of my boss at the US office is Bala - short for Balakrishnan. From the name of the person, I imagined that he’s Indian. Near the end of December, Bala emailed, telling me that he’ll pick me up at the San Francisco airport on the first working day of January.

I answered, “Great”. With that in mind, I looked forward towards my flight on the 1st week of January.


On the day of my flight, I was ready. I was wearing cargo pants. Do you still remember what cargo pants are? Cargo pants have several side pockets so huge you could put dinner plates inside.

In the right leg pockets were my travel documents and email printouts about the trip and the assignment. In one pocket were photocopies of these documents on the other pocket, a second set of photocopies. Yes. I.. WAS.. READY.

After the 15-hour flight, I finally landed at San Francisco International airport. Passing US immigration was a breeze. Like I said, I was ready.


Arrival at the Airport

When I got to the arrival area, it was packed! There was a small crowd at the side and the people had placards with names on them. You’ve seen those people at airports holding placards with names of their visitors, yes?

Well I saw a guy holding a placard with my name on it! And immediately, I felt I was a VIP! But the guy holding the placard wasn’t Indian at all. No, he was white, an American with golden blond hair! Maybe my boss was really an American with and Indian name!

In my excitement,I put on my company id. I rushed to him, put out my hand for a handshake and identified myself. The guy looked at me and said, “Well, hi! I’m Jim Bradley from the Budget Rental Car company.”

(raise eyebrows) Jim? Rental Car Company? I asked him, “Where’s Bala? My boss? ”Well, I don’t know, I’m just here to give the rental car keys to you.”




Thinking that Bala might still be looking for me, we decided to wait. After 30 minutes all the passengers were gone and still, there was no Bala. It was then when I thought that maybe, there was a change of plans.

Maybe Bala asked the rental car company to see me instead. I was worried. I showed Jim the address of the apartment where I was to stay and asked if he could at least take me there. I knew it wasn’t his job to do that, but I was desperate.

Jim looked at the address and shook his head. He said “Wow, this is a long way from here man, around 2 hours maximum.” Then I said, “Mr. Jim, I don’t have much driving experience. This is my first time in this country and I don’t know anyone here. Please help me.”

Jim looked at his watch. It was 11 in the evening. He looked at the address for a long long time. And then he looked at me, smiled, and said “Let’s go.” And we left the airport.



Long Drive

At first, the trip from the airport seemed forever. While he was driving, Jim noticed that I was very quiet and worried. He engaged me in a light conversation and asked about me, my job, the Philippines. We even had a few laughs along the way.

After an hour and a half we reached the general area but we cannot locate the exact address of the apartment. I told him I had a phone number of our US office but it was late in the night.

Jim suggested I check-in to a motel for the night and then call my US office the following day. Jim helped me check-in the motel.

Once inside, I realized that I had Bala’s home phone number also. We called up Bala from the motel and then I learned that he looked for me at the airport but we simply didn’t see each other. Bala promised to fetch me the following day from the motel.

Jim didn’t charge me a cent and before he left, I thanked him profusely. And for the first time, I was relieved – able to finally rest and sleep.


Letter of Praise

The following day at the office, I learned that Bala sent a nice letter of commendation to the Budget Rental Company for Jim Bradley, the Head Driver. The letter, in part, read as follows: (read letter, then long pause)


After my 3-month assignment with the project, we had a victory party. Over at dinner, my boss was recalling and joking about the chaos that happened at the airport when I first arrived 3 months earlier. Actually, I never forgot about Jim.

I decided to call him to say goodbye before I took my flight back home. The receptionist who answered at the San Francisco branch said that Jim no longer worked there and asked me who I was. I told her my name and said I was a satisfied customer.

The lady became quiet for a while and said that they missed Jim. She said Jim had to be transferred... because he was promoted from Head Driver in San Francisco to become Manager in the new Sacramento branch! That well-deserved promotion made me so happy for Jim.


CONCLUSION

On my plane trip back home, I kept remembering him and all the events that transpired on my first time in the U.S. Jim was a person who was passionate in his job and was willing to go an extra mile – a clear demonstration of excellent customer service.