And in Act 2, How Larry Brooks Talked Me Down From a Full-On Rant

Dear Reader,

The Maximum Customer Experience-y portion of the MCE Blog will be somewhat brief today. In part because I had more fun with Act 2 than with Act 1, but Act 1’s more to our point here, so let’s dig in!

Act 1: Put It in Writing

MCE-readers do not need lessons in phone manners, right? Yet I’ve heard this story twice in the last week in very different circumstances, so I’m wondering whether it’s an aspect of Customer Experience that’s being forgotten right now.

Ever need to contact someone at a small firm about… let’s say, a critical issue for your family? Could be health-care related. Could be housing related. Could be banking, or transportation. The business itself or the division you’re contacting is very small, and The Person Who Makes Decisions has few layers between him or her, and you. Only a little gatekeeper…

Many readers of MCE are at small businesses just such as this, so you know what I’m talking about (even though you may not deal in “critical” issues at your company). Folks call you up, they say “I need to discuss XYZ, who in the office deals with that,” and you put them through to that person.

Only sometimes, the receptionist apparently doesn’t think the job is to be “receiving,” as in welcoming, to folks who call in. This person could instead hassle callers into mainly giving up their question… and if that fails, loudly shout for the hatchetperson.

The hatchetperson could be even more abrasive, attempt to dissuade the still-polite customer even more, and throw in random lies as suits the situation, to stop the fool’s attempt to get answers or solve problems before they become large.

The last lie is that the person you need to speak to does not have a phone. Does not return calls. And will not, in fact, speak to you, unless you put your request in writing. Over everything you attempt to say, in your most apologetic, maybe-I’m-not-explaining-myself-well-enough tones, comes the repeated, increasingly shrill, increasingly surreal, “Put it in writing!”

Folks, if this is going on, there are only a couple of possibilities: one, there are crazy people in the front office acting independently, or two, this procedure is acceptable and known to all. Either way, when you do speak to the person you need to, by finding “the back door,” all will be denied, you will be treated as an even bigger fool who misunderstood the lies and shouting in that earlier conversation, and someone, inevitably, will claim they’ll “get to the bottom of this” to get you to shush about it. And the original issue you called about, which was, as you know, critical, will seem like mush next to the craziness of how you’ve been treated.

Naturally, this is against all the rules of Maximum Customer Experience.

So, if you have folks like this in your office, tell them adios. They are toxic to your growth.

If you have people complaining that you have folks like this in your office, assume you do. How many of your customers have nothing better to do than to make this up?

And if you’ve been unaware of it, get more involved. Audit your company’s phone manners now and then. You may be surprised how things can get out of hand, even in a small firm.

Losing one customer is no big deal—that may be what folks who are manning your phones think, and maybe they even believe they’re protecting the business in some way—but believe me, that customer’s going to mention you to a lot of folks in her circle.

Act 2: Thank goodness Larry put this in writing

So, yeah. That small rant, combining two recent experiences, was going to be… a lot more rant-y.

And then I got a small missive from Larry Brooks (he’s a friend of a friend, but this wasn’t a personal missive, just the email-feed from his blog, the great Storyfix). Talking about getting your bad self published.

Well, since I just happen to have done that last week in exactly the same way as Larry Brooks is today (thanks to all of you who’ve bought a copy of our new e-book on website usability, I really appreciate your reading the guide and helping to spread the word!), I couldn’t resist clicking through and reading Larry’s pitch about his new e-book.

If you’d like to read his pitch, click here to find out more about Get Your Bad Self Published. I can write a fair pitch myself, but Larry always draws me in.

Disclaimer that doesn’t disclaim anything: As is often the case here at MCE with my reviews, Larry has no idea I’m inviting you to read about his new book on getting published, and as is always the case, he’s not compensating me in any way for saying Wow here.

It’s unusual—almost unheard of, in fact—that I talk about a book that’s outside of our small-business subject matter, but I know many readers here at MCE are writers for their businesses, and I have a notion that some folks may have a novel hiding in a drawer as well. (In addition to all my other writing? Yes. I do.) So please enjoy my off-topic review.

In my completely biased opinion Larry Brooks could sell anything to anyone and should never be allowed to stop pitching for businesses, just to focus on his awards-and-kudos-winning creative writing. Such a loss! So, because I was completely drawn in by his persuasive writing about his latest e-book, I decided to grab a copy of Get Your Bad Self Published.

And then I read it all, e-cover to e-cover, before I remembered that I hadn’t yet finished this post.

There’s a lot to recommend in Larry’s new, 101-page e-book, even if a novel’s not what you’re working on. His advice on queries, agents, and publishing applies to non-fiction folks as well… heck, even his advice on the quality of your work and how to compare yourself to the “big names” publishing in your niche is… to borrow a phrase from earlier in this post… critical for any writer considering traditional publishing.

His voice is calming; his pace is instructional but never slow. Just as at his blog, his advice is unapologetically stern—the unvarnished truth you don’t want to hear—with real advice to get your real talent noticed, if you’ve got it! For better and for worse, Larry can keep you from banging your head against the wall unless you really should be doing so—and if you should be, he can soften the blows.

So now that you’re half-through reading Why Your Website Sucks and How To Fix It,  🙂  making big bad strides for your business, and you’re looking for the next voice of reason, go on and grab Larry Brooks’ Get Your Bad Self Published for your bad self. It’s definitely a Wow.

& who knows? He might even talk you down from writing a full-on rant.

Happy reading!


Grow and be well,

Kelly Erickson