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Inside The Actor’s Cubicle: My So-Called “Customer First” Story

By Gary Barton

“I want to speak to a supervisor!”  “Can you give me a call back?” “Hey, I’m driving; can you e-mail me the reference number?” These are just a few requests and questions that employees and I heard from customers almost every day and it’s to the point that these responses would convert me back to my problems of drinking…coffee (that is). In a year where change is as rapid as the government, my job decided to conceive an idea that will forever change the game of my current role, let alone career (which is a health insurance service advocate).

The “Customer First” experience, also known as the “Might As Well Take Me Now, Jesus!” experience, was a challenge to test the employee’s skills…and patience…on how to obtain customer satisfaction from every call. I’ll admit, I wasn’t all gung-ho with this experience once I created my avatar…which was colored blue by the way (Thank you, James Cameron). You see, my job wanted us to create a paper avatar to be like customers on our phone. I thought it was a lucrative idea for my job to put all of us on our heels to not only interact with our avatars (in a non-delusional way), but also have it where we treat them like we would treat customers (go figure).

Coming from a written team to now being back on the phones, I knew I had to hustle my way out of this one. Within every break of calls I would ask myself …what would (Denzel Washington, Rami Malek or Andrew Garfield) do if they were in my shoes? And then it hit me. I looked at my blue avatar (no joke) and it reminded me of a time that I had a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad experience with my old insurance. They wouldn’t help me on my issues and they didn’t even put any effort into finding a solution.

So when it comes to the age old question:  How are you, in your specific role, helping my job transform the customer experience? I simply reply “Just give out your best Oscar-worthy performance and give it your all to the customer.” But in reality, I used the “fake-it-to-make-it” tactic to first get involved with the experience. Once I did more and more calls, that tactic exuded into a desire where I can’t help but to give out 110%. I vowed that when it comes to bad experiences that I had from calls from my old insurance, I will never have it happen to the customers on my calls. It’s never easy, but I can say that if you can try, you can fly (but please, do it if you have wings or on an airplane).

So yeah, that’s my so-called life at my current position and I hope it motivates others to be the change that they want to be. Who knows, this would take others to places that would never dream of…for the better.


Top 10 Albums of 2017 (Number 1)

Kendrick Lamar “DAMN.”


You knew this was coming. He is number one once again. After couple of years from his black opus album “To Pimp A Butterfly”, K-Dot schools us again with his more personal and radio-friendly album, DAMN. Now don’t get me wrong. From his last album we had hard jazz and prolific storytelling. But now we get deeper into his world and wondering why God is leading him to a world of no promise. The only question that comes to mind is, what concept is he going to pick up next and how is he going to top his previous work. One thing’s for sure, it will be better than his last and all we will be saying is…DAMN.

Top Tracks: Just by the DAMN. album. It’s really worth it!

Top 10 Albums of 2017 (Number 2)

Lorde – “Melodrama”


The concept of going to and coming out of a party may seem simplistic at first; but with Lorde putting her on twist of the concept, the results are breathtaking. Her most daring and bravest album to date. Melodrama is the milestone from a teenage dream to a respectable artist in our generation. The originality of this album is just enough to be the best and smartest art pop album of 2017.

Top Tracks – Homemade Dynamite, Liability, Perfect Places, Sober II

Top 10 Albums of 2017 (Number 3)

Sampha – “Process”


Riveting. Stunning. Stellar. Sampha finally has given us a debut that is beyond this world. Winner of the 2017 Mercury Price, Process reaches out and will take your breath away. It’s so human and yet so inventive. From the opener “Plastic 100C”, you will feel like you are floating away and touching the stars through the voice of Sampha. And songs like “Timmy’s Prayer”, “(No One Knows Me) Like The Piano” and “Blood On Me” are just as captivating. Hands down, the best R&B debut in 2017.

Top Tracks: Plastic 100C, Timmy’s Prayer, (No One Knows Me) Like The Piano

Top 10 Albums of 2017 (Number 4)

Amber Coffman – “City of No Reply”


The former singer of the Dirty Projectors steps out of her own and creates one of the year’s diverse debut albums of 2017. Each track of No Reply has a taste of doo-wop, reggaeton, experimental, R&B and pop rock. Coffman puts everything in her debut: love, loss and learning how to let go and keep on moving.

Top Tracks – Brand New, City of No Reply, No Coffee

Top 10 Albums of 2017 (Number 5)

The xx – “I See You”


“I’ve been a romantic for so long,” sings Romy as she and Oliver profess their emotions and let loose on their 3rd album. Because of Jamie xx’s debut album, I See You’s concept is based  on growth and being open to forward ideas. Thus, this gives the group one of their dance worthy albums to date.

Top Tracks – Lips, Dangerous, I Dare You, On Hold

Top 10 Albums of 2017 (Number 6)



The debut album of 27 year-old Solána Imani Rowe a.k.a SZA from Maplewood, NJ.  Claiming that music isn’t her first interest, CTRL sounds like one of K-Dot’s masterpieces and the volumes of love on her debut is poetic as well as effervescent. With 5 Grammys nominations tied to her name, SZA has more to offer in the future with her music and CTRL is her blueprint.