It’s safe to say pretty much everyone wishes their boss could trade places with them just once to see what really goes into the job.
As the story goes, the tech department at Microsoft got that wish all the way back in 1989. Their boss? The one and only Bill Gates, of course. It’s a story worth hearing if you haven’t before and one that is sure to make you love him even more (as if he doesn’t already do enough good in the world, right?)
In 1989, Microsoft wasn’t nearly the company it is today, but it was still huge, with more than $800 million in sales and 4,000 employees. So, it’s safe to say Bill was beyond his days of answering the phone to help customers with their computer woes.
That is, with the exception of Nov. 22, 1989, when he was on a tour of the product support department’s new office building. According to a blog post about the day, he simply asked one of the people manning the phones, “Mind if I take this call?”
He put on the headset and answered the phone, only identifying himself as “William.” He talked to the customer, searched for the answer and walked them through fixing the problem. The customer was pleased with the service and “William” ended the call with, “And thank you for using Microsoft products.”
The best part? The customer had no idea who they actually spoke to.
Most of the staff were on their lunch break during the call, but something like that doesn’t go unnoticed and word spread quickly about “that time Bill took a product support call.” Later, the same customer called back with a follow-up question. This time, he asked directly for William, saying he “straightened it all out.”
The customer support engineer looked at the call log only to see “billg” as the person who handled the call. When that engineer told the caller who took his call, his reaction was pretty much what you’d expect—“Oh my God.”
When was the last time your boss stepped into your shoes for a bit? Or, if you’re the boss, what about experiencing a little bit of what your employees do each and every day? It might just change the way you view them and the work they do!