Advice From Customer Service
Posted by Ben on 2011-06-01
Now that I’m a bit better rested, I thought I’d give you all a slightly better breakdown of Anime Central, in as much as my limited perspective allows me. As I previously stated, I was working customer service for the convention, sadly this meant I didn’t get to do most of the fun stuff (other than a bit of running around in the dealer’s hall on the last day (though the reason I missed a lot of events when I was off shift is because of jet lag)). That’s okay though, the whole customer service department is crewed by some of the friendliest and most helpful people I’ve ever met. Seriously, you have to admire a group of people that will gladly take in three completely random strangers, at the last minute, and treat them like family within the day.
Good thing too, the whole point of customer service is to help the con-goers and make sure they walk away from the con happy. The whole situation was actually a bit surreal to me. I work in customer service normally (you know, when I’m not doing the comic) and honestly, I get treated like dirt by most customers. So to suddenly be in a situation where the customers (con-goers) actually wanted my help was like being thrown into weird bizarro-world. Bizarre, but comforting at the same time. Most of the questions were cut and dry directions to panels or questions about when certain events were happening. But it’s always nice to know you made sure someone got into the Masquerade on time, or found the Kenshin photoshoot. Though on that note, I think I’ve got a list of decent guidelines for making our job easier, and your con experience better.
Check the customer service desks occasionally. Acen is a chaotic time. You should get a schedule of events and panels and all the staffers and departments are doing their best to keep everything organized and orderly for you. But sometimes silly things happen and we have to reschedule on the fly. Customer Service theoretically has the most updated schedules posted, so whenever you’re in doubt check with us and we’ll tell you when and where.
If it’s not from a staffer, it’s suspect information, doubly so if the person is asking for money. Several people came up to me asking where they could get tickets for various events (the Flow Concert, Masquerade, etc.) A couple of people were claiming other con-goers were offering to sell them extra tickets to those events. I know Acen has run the ticketing system in the past, and may move back into it in the future. But Acen 2011 was run on a first come/first serve basis. Anyone offering tickets was scamming you. Again, check customer service.
Make your stuff distinctive. Customer Service deals with Lost and Found and this year Anime Central had around 20,000 people attending. Which means we had to deal with 20,000 people worth of lost stuff. If you make your items really obvious, it makes it that much easier for us to help you out. It sounds kind of 5th graderish, but when someone comes up and says “I lost a red DS” and we have 3 red Nintendo DS’s, things get a little complicated. But when someone asks, “Do you have a red DS covered in Hello Kitty stickers and pirate skulls?” we can usually find the item instantly.
On that note: Don’t send your friends to look for your stuff. For various reasons we can’t show you what’s in the Lost and Found, you have to describe it to us, and we have to make absolutely sure that we’re giving you the right item. No one knows your stuff better than you.
The Soap Bubble is part of Anime Central, not Anime Central itself. The late night party at Anime Central is probably one of the best large scale parties in the area. But it’s still just another con event in terms of planning. Don’t show up Saturday night expecting to be able to buy a day pass and then be allowed into the Soap Bubble at the last second. The day pass pays for ALL convention events that day, not just the Soap Bubble, and sadly, fire regulations require that we limit the number of people in the room at one time. We will do everything we can to make sure you have a good time, but we have to treat you just as fairly as we treat the other con-goers. That means you’re at the same level of treatment as the guy who pre-ordered the weekend pass, even if you came JUST for the Soap Bubble.
Don’t Sweat it. As said, Anime Central is huge and chaotic. Which means there’s a lot that can go wrong, and often does go wrong. On the plus side, Acen is huge and chaotic, which means there’s always something else going on. One full panel, or cancelled show isn’t the end of the con. I guarantee you there is something equally awesome and fun happening at the same time.
Well, that’s the end of the list. Sorry if it sounded a bit preachy, but I figure it’s good to head off some of the common problems I saw. As for me, I met some awesome people, made a few new friends, hung out with my some of my oldest and best friends. But mostly, I got a plushie narwhal, which makes it the best Acen ever.