The Telephone Doctor: Direct link between low consumer confidence and poor customer serviceNancy Friedmancustomer service, consumer confidence, phone manners, customer relations
For years, The Telephone Doctor saying has been: "We will pay
more for better service." And today, during these challenging
times, it means even more.
Fact: There is a direct correlation between consumer
confidence and how you treat your customers.
This is a true story. Picture this: We're in Lambert-St. Louis
International Airport. Some stores have already closed & vacant
areas abound. We're hungry; there are a few restaurants available
to us. None are terribly crowded.
We sit down in a bar/grill, hungry, thirsty and tiredalthough
not necessarily in that order. It's not that busy. The waitress
finally came after a 10-min. wait, and that was after we got up and
asked the hostess if our table came with a waitressshe didnt catch
Finally, with water and menus, she walks up to the table and
asks: "Take your order?"
"Yes," we say.
"Diet Dr. Pepper, please," I say, and as I start to continue,
"We don't have Dr. Pepper."
"Okay," I say. "What do you have?"
"Diet Pepsi," she explains.
"Okay. Then, I'll have a Diet Pepsi," and continue, "and a
grilled chicken sandwich, please, on whole wheat bread."
"We don't have whole wheat bread," she says in the same tone as
the Dr. Pepper line.
"Okay. Let me double check the menu." Quickly, I tell her, "How
about the burgerno bun and no chips."
"How do you want that cooked?" she asks.
"Medium rare please," I say.
And in all seriousness, she says to me, "We only cook them well
done." I didn't have the heart to say, "Then why the heck did you
Normally, we'd laugh our way through this type of situation, but
neither Dick, my husband, or I felt like we wanted to spend any
more time or money in this bar/grill, which we have now named "The
No Restaurant." Our eyes locked. We knew exactly what we were going
to doyes, we went elsewhere.
Since I wrote this article, several other situations have
happened to make me spend my money elsewhere. What about you?
Spank them with your wallet, we say. It's a better retaliation
than getting angry and yelling.
I can pretty well guarantee you that there had been no customer
service training in that bar/grill. No alternatives were suggested.
No apologies were made. And we felt as though the waitress was glad
to see us leaveone less table to handle.
There is a definite correlation between consumer confidence and
customer service training. No doubt about it. When we feel secure,
helped, wanted, needed and appreciated, that is where we spend our
money. Think Nordstrom, Disney and your five-star restaurants.
These and many other companies place high value on customer service
Fact: When a consumer walks into a location or calls on the
phone, they are looking for confidence from the person they're
talking with at that time. That confidence comes from product and
customer service training. Increasing consumer confidence will help
the economy. Increasing consumer confidence will help businesses
both large and small.
Increasing consumer confidence will help the employee.
Increasing consumer confidence is a benefit the business gives the
consumer. What are you doing to increase consumer confidence in
"Be nice" is not customer service training. Everyone thinks
they're nice. And we know everyone isn't nice. Customer service
training is tangible, explainable, useful, understandable and
Be nice is something your mother might tell you when you're five
years old. It's not customer service training. Some folks, sadly,
don't know how to "be nice." If they did, everyone would be nice.
And, as said before, we know everyone isn't nice.
Here are five simple, helpful tips based on The Telephone
Doctor's Customer Service Training. They are simple, yet effective
techniques that will increase consumer confidence and help this
1. Offer alternatives
The product is out-of-stock? You don't have what I need? Don't let
me walk. Offer some alternatives. Give me choices. Keep me
interested. Don't let me go. It's so easy just to hang up or walk
out and go somewhere else. Give me a reason to stay with you.
2. Smile and be friendly
Yeah, if there was ever a time to do that, it's now. And for those
of you who don't feel like smiling, do it anyway! Watch what
happens. As for being friendly, that's more than just: "Can I help
you?" It's saying something proactive, something easy, or something
simple. Maybe just a "good to have you here today" or "nice to talk
with you" will do. Or even that great phrase, "Thank you for your
3. Be a double checker
Most salespeople know that no is not forever. It gives a whole
other meaning to consumer confidence when I'm told, "The last time
I checked, we were out of the widgets, but let me double check,
just in case I missed them or new ones came in." Double-checking is
a great confidence builder! Immediate nos are deflators.
4. Ask questions
We don't need to answer a question as soon as it's asked. We can
ask one to gain more information. The more information you have,
the easier it becomes to increase consumer confidence. Determine
the needs of your customer before trying to 'sell' them. Besides,
asking questions shows you're interested, and that in itself can
increase consumer confidence.
5. Do something different
Did you write a thank you note? Did you call to see how your
customer is doing? Did you personally thank them for their business
or even coming to your location, even if there was no purchase?
There is a mass of gray average out there. Those are the people
who do nothing to increase consumer confidence. Decide for
yourself, and for your business, if you want to be in that mass of
gray average or if you'd like to raise the bar and be an island of
excellence in an ocean of mediocrity. The more we can increase
consumer confidence, the better off we will be!
Nancy Friedman, "The Telephone Doctor," has spoken at the
past four consecutive National Association of Mortgage Brokers
Annual Conventions and is president of Telephone Doctor Customer
Service Training in St. Louis, Mo. Nancy is a frequent speaker at
meetings and conferences worldwide. She may be reached at (314)
291-1012 or visit www.telephonedoctor.com.