Charles Howden

September 15, 2006

Just as your mother taught you!

Filed under: Uncategorized — Charles @ 7:15 pm

I’m always on the look out for new training material and yesterday during a routine Google search I came across a company called “Respond”, who promise “We can help you make more sense of what your customers are telling you, so you can extend and improve customer service, empower frontline staff, reduce costs and boost efficiency”. Wow, I thought, I bet they’ve got some really good stuff, I wonder how they deliver their customer services training, perhaps they use associates like me…

Well I could have emailed, except that I am currently on a “just do it” mission, so I picked up the telephone and called the telephone number on their contacts page. No reply, the answerphone came on. Ok, I thought, maybe they have one receptionist managing their incoming calls as well as everything else, I’ll call back. Which I did half an hour later, and then again after another half hour.

I thought I would look at their office locations and found their London details c/w a phone number, which I called. Now I was expecting, well what would you expect from a company that promises to “extend and improve customer service”?

The phone was, at least, answered with courtesy.

Me. “Good morning, can you help me? Could you put me through to whoever arranges the customer services training in your business?”

They. Silence. “Do you have their name?”

Me. “I don’t, perhaps you could help me. Who do I need to talk to?”

They. “I can’t give that information out, has someone given you their name?”

Me. “No. I was rather hoping that you would be able to help me”

They. Pause. “Shall I put you through to sales?”

Me. “This is not a sales enquiry, I was hoping to speak to someone who arranges your customer sales training”


Me. “Is there anything you can do to help me?”

They. Pause “Perhaps if you speak to the office manager”

Me. “Thank you, that’ll be great”

They. Much clicking, silence, more clicking followed by a dead line.

For sure I was not buying from that company on that particular occasion. Some might say that if I was in the role of a salesman I should expect a different level of service, except that one of the basic rules of customer service is that you never know who your customers are. Today I am a salesman, tomorrow I may be a buyer.

For pragmatic reasons alone, it is worth looking after everyone who interacts with your business. The inconvenient caller requesting an impossible request from you today, may also be the person who licks stamps in the post room of your biggest customer. How fast are they going to be tomorrow, to mail out the envelope with your cheque in it. OK so payments are made electronically today, you get the picture.

Back to my call. It is possible that the company has rigid rules, which prevented the receptionist from helping me. How should that be handled? Using the absolute number one rule in any customer interaction, with rapport and empathy. With politeness and civility, just as your mother taught you.

“Thank you for your call. I’d love to able to help you, if you’d like to email your request to me and I’ll see that the relevant person receives it”

“It sounds like I have not been able to help you, we have rigid company rules which prevent me from giving out the names of our staff, could you put your request in writing?”

“It’s not my intention to be difficult, I really would like to help, it’s just that we have strict company rules about how to deal with sales calls, perhaps if you put your request in writing”.

You get the picture, dead easy really and at no cost to the company providing it, except of course, it is so rarely done. Should keep me in work for a while though!


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