Your call is important to us – really?

I shared the manuscript of my book I am working on with a friend who has been with BT (Business Technology) for nearly 2 decades.

I received a very interesting response:

“You make a valid point; question is: are we too late in calling out to the leaders of business who wish to build organization capable of leveraging the power of technology? “

So is it possible that the world or at least all of world of business has figured out the importance of BT. Just like they have figured out the value of customer service or importance of employees etc.

It made me wonder, then couple of days later as a sheer case of coincidence came this daily dose of Seth Godin’s blog reproduced below:

Your call is very important to us

Rules for treating inbound customer calls with respect:

0. Spend a lot more money on this. Hire more agents. Train them better. Treat them with respect and they’ll do the same to those they interact with. Have a bright red light flash on the CEO’s desk whenever anyone, anywhere, is on hold for more than 5 minutes. If it gets to seven, have the call automatically route to the mobile phone of the CEO’s spouse.

1. Have a very smart and very motivated front line. “I’ll connect you directly to the person who can help you if you let me know what you need…” Don’t have these people pretend that they can help. It leads to long conversations and frustration.

2. 80% of your inbound calls are about the same ten things. First, eliminate those problems in future products, packaging and policies. The best way to handle these calls is to eliminate them. Second, put clear, fun and complete answers to these questions online where they are easy to find. And third, hire talented voice actors to record engaging answers to each, and offer them as a first resort as a result of #1, above.

3. Change your onhold music to Bill Cosby and Woody Allen records.

4. Whenever the wait is more than two minutes, offer a simple way to be called back, and then make sure it works.

5. If you’re closed, tell us the hours you are open and the relevant websites. Make sure the information is accurate.

Even famous companies get all of these wrong… Only one of the five steps is truly expensive, and yet all six are regularly ignored by companies that don’t care or act like they don’t.

(NB it’s just fine to make it clear that a call is not important to you. I’ve never built a company around amazing phone support, precisely because it’s so difficult to keep the promise. As far as I’m concerned, it’s fine for some industries to not do the phone well. Just be clear that this is the case by routing people off the phone or at least not lying about it).


Looks like getting the right customer experience via inbound call center is still challenge.

Call center technology that enables organizations handle inbound calls efficiently using ACD- Automatic Call Distributor have been around since 1973 ( Call center as a concept have been around for much longer (circa 1950s) thanks to super smart team at J. Lyons and Co. who probably built world’s first shared services that handled queries via telephone.

The technology has been around for a while and its importance is also well known but the question is how many organizations are getting it right?


4 thoughts on “Your call is important to us – really?

  1. Many thanks Norton for stopping by.

    Guess if more people/organizations were to get it right then a whole industry built around helping would shrink :-) On a serious note it is also the mindset of the leadership who have to believe in its importance…guess this is applicable not just to BT…

  2. Since call centres or customer care is here to stay, the points made are very apt. Companies spend huge amounts on R & D, advertising, Point of sales etc., but when it comes to the department that touches the final customer (which is what the whole witch hunt is about) they mess with the quality of human resources. Literacy levels, communication skills, language skills are compromised and the cheapest available option is chosen.
    Well written!!!!

    1. Many thanks Mamtha for stopping by.

      Also to your point most research now indicate that in industries such as Banking, Insurance, Telecom the key differentiating factor is customer experience. Despite that unfortunately most sourcing (outsourcing) decisions are made with out considering the impact on customer experience.

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