Issue 20, Fall 2010
I needed to change my flight plans — and dreaded going through the process.
I'd done it with other airlines, and it was always a protracted, frustrating ordeal. To make matters worse, this particular morning I was on a deadline and had little time to spare.
I braced myself for dealing either with an automaton-like personality, or worse yet, the dreaded "Press 1 for this….Press 2 for that….Press 3….Press 4….and if you'd like this menu repeated, please press…." Yikes! I drew a deep breadth and made the call.
"Hello, my name is Susie. How may I help you today?"
I paused, dumbfounded!
"Are you a real person?" I replied, after propping up my jaw.
"Yes," she said in a friendly, receptive voice. "My name is Susie. How may I help you?"
"Well, Susie, my name is Larry, and I have a problem. I need to make a change to my departure time to New Orleans."
"That's no problem, Larry," she said. "Just tell me what changes you need to make.
I did, and in the process we laughed and joked about my initial anxiety about making the call. I was off the phone in less than 10 minutes — and didn't even mind paying the $70 fee to make the change to my ticket.
But before hanging up I asked Susie for her supervisor's telephone number and called to compliment on how well Susie had served me over the phone. "Susie's a great Director of First Brand Impressions," I told her supervisor, without reservation. "And I'll fly with your airlines any chance I get."
But what really happened?
Getting off the phone, I tried to analyze what had just happened. What had Susie done to make me want to spend the extra time to call her supervisor — on a morning when I was pressed for time, at that?
My answer was surprisingly simple: Susie was just doing her job, albeit, in a competent, friendly manner. Nothing more. Nothing less,
Isn't it sad, I thought, how low our expectations have become for receiving good service — and how much we recognize and appreciate it when we are served well.
Fact is, the overwhelming majority of first-contacts to most organizations come over the phone. Yet we often overlook the critical impressions those contacts have on callers.
I don't know about you, but in my years of calling hundreds of organizations and dealing with countless "phone receptionists", I've often been given bad information, talked to as if I were an imposition rather than a valued caller, put on interminable hold, felt like I had just woken the person up, or been treated downright rudely. Heck, sometimes I don't even get past the receptionist and I'm already questioning whether or not I want to do business with this group.
Take the test yourself. Call your own organization, and then ask, "Was I received in a way that would make me want to call this organization again?"
And, for heaven's sake, if you need to use an answering machine, please, please make it sound like a human being recorded the message. And keep the menu options to a minimum. I beg you!
As always, I look forward to receiving your feedback, questions, success stories and branding challenges. Also, if you are in need of a motivational speaker, trainer, branding consultant/coach, or management consultant who can help you answer the questions: Who are we? What do we do? How do we do it? And should anyone care? I invite you to for more information.
In the meantime, good luck with your branding! — Larry
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