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On the last business day before Christmas, Nicole Martin answered a call from a frantic customer. The customer was one she was familiar with; she’d been working with them for months. She had been helping sort out their finances for MyBudget, a company that helps individuals and families in Australia who are struggling with managing money. The customer was relatively new to the service and had made a critical mistake.
It was up to Nicole to save their Christmas.
It had been a long year for the customer. They were a family of five that had fallen on some hard times after the father lost his job. Soon after, they had been forced to sell their home and move back in with his parents. With three kids between five and 10 years old, their lives had been turned upside down and their resources drained. They turned to MyBudget.
MyBudget has helped more than 100,000 Australians get on the path to financial success. It can be difficult, emotional work—with counseling services and financial literacy tactics laid bare for the people who are struggling the hardest to make ends meet but still failing. Some clients call almost daily for advice. And the customer service reps on the other end of the line develop close relationships with customers.
They’re in it together.
During the holidays, their work is even harder. Depression becomes a very real part of the conversation. Some customers have expressed suicidal leanings and counselors have to know how to respond. But the conversation is the key. They are on the line to listen and help. That’s what Nicole set out to do—listen and help—and maybe save a family’s Christmas in the process.
She got the call at 6:30 PM. It was after the final payment run of the day. That meant that she was powerless to transfer the funds out of their savings and into their personal account, as they requested. The client was still learning how to use the service and wondered why they hadn’t received the funds in their checking account. And they desperately needed the funds because every single present for every member of the family was sitting in layaway at their local Target. After a rough year, the customer was facing the prospect of not having presents for their children to open on Christmas morning.
Christmas was on Monday. It was after close of business on Friday, but Nicole set about trying to find a workaround. Despite her further investigations, the finance team was unable to process a manual payment so late. The customer was in a different location, so they couldn’t just drop off the funds by hand. Nicole rallied a supportive coworker to help her. She didn’t want to let this go.
She spent the next hour and a half on the phone with Target, trying to improvise a solution. Eventually, they landed on a plan. She could buy electronic Target gift cards over the phone with her company credit card and then email the gift cards to the client. The store would be notified to accept the gift cards as payment for the layaway account, which was generally against store policy.
In the end, the family was able to pick up their presents and get them home, wrapped and under the tree by Christmas morning. It wasn’t a miracle, but it was a bit miraculous. Sometimes it just takes one person on the other end of the line to really care. This time it was Nicole Martin. And that’s why we’re proud to honor her as this holiday season’s CX Hero.
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