Are You Killing Your Future Sales Like These Guys Are?

1. Katherine

Me: “Good morning, how may I help you?”

Katherine: “Hello, this is Katherine, from XYZ Phone Book Company. I’m calling to make sure you received our phone books last Friday.”

“Gee, I haven’t been in for a week, I’m not sure.”

“Can I have your name?”

“Yes, it’s Kelly, but I don’t have an answer for you yet. Can you hang on?”

“Thanks and have a nice day.” *click*

I didn’t answer and that counts as good enough for her? You know that was written down as Yes, books received.

2. Ben and Doreen

Me: [Unbearably long wait for help at department-store counter, while Doreen apparently has difficulty with customer in front of me. That customer leaves unhappy, which seems to be mainly her own fault.] “Hi. Just these, thanks.”

Doreen: “Okay. Umm, sorry about that other stuff.” [Manager Ben appears from other end of counter, where he’s been doing paperwork.]

Ben: [Without a word to me, taking over cash drawer in mid-transaction; to Doreen] “If I were you, I’d run away from here. As fast as possible.”

If you’ll say that in front of a customer who’s also stood patiently through the antics of the last person, what would you say if I weren’t here?

I think I’ll run, too.

3. Zandra

Zandra: “… Thanks for using Liverpool Lizard Auto Insurance, Ms. Erickson. Is there anything else I can answer for you?

Me: “Yes. That guy who’s going to call me to get the details of the accident for your records—could you tell me whether that would be today, or in a couple of days? I’m going on vacation….”

“Sorry, that’s another department. I don’t know when he’ll get back to you.”

“Oh. Well, will I need any documentation handy to take the call? I could bring the police report and the papers from the other insurance company with me on vacation.”

“No, you won’t need anything with you. He just needs the date. It only takes a minute.”

“Thanks, Zandra, that’s all I needed to know.”

The correct answer was: you will need everything with you, and it is a very detailed interview which will last over twenty minutes and will make you late for an appointment, after repeatedly telling the gentleman (though he didn’t ask) that now is not a good time unless it can be as brief as Zandra promised, which he assures me several times it will be: “Just one more question, Ms. Erickson….”


Say what you mean. “Insincere Phone Book Company. I get paid to dial your number and hear a voice. Thanks.” *click*

Watch what you say. “Customers always wreck a decent day. This one could turn at any moment. Run!”

Mean what you say. “I don’t know anything about how other departments work. I’m just a cog. I’m making this up as I go along, to take some of the anxiety out of your day. The next guy may put the anxiety right back in, but you won’t get snippy with me, ‘cause I’ll be gone.”

Three quickies, with not-too-hidden lessons. Customer service is a huge part of Customer Experience.

Your company can do it better than this, right? As easy as 1-2-3.


Grow and be well,

Kelly Erickson