Messages from the Masters
All Our Representatives Are Busy Now, Get in Line by Jeffrey Gitomer

Lousy service. We all get it, and get mad. The real question is -- are you giving it? "Of course not," you say. "Not our company, we give great service." My answer is two words -- "wanna bet?"

Making customer service "real" is the challenge of this decade.

Corporate America spends billions of dollars to train employees in "customer service" -- the problem is that the lesson gets lost somewhere between the training room and the on-the-job execution. It's not that people who serve don't know what to do -- they just don't know how to do it. 

As I travel the country, I'm exposed to all kinds of businesses every day. For the most part I find service to be average or below. Excellent service is rare. 

Automatic voice attendants are the scourge of American business -- most lead you to infinite hold -- and every single person (customer) who has to endure it, hates it -- and the company it's attached to.

It's actually a good thing this crap exists, because it gives small entrepreneurs a chance to nibble some business away from the big boys -- and they do.

In my business experience, I've encountered hundreds of horrible episodes (that turn into tales) from enterprises that deal in -- directory assistance, on-line computer services, any airline, pizza delivery, major hotel chains, airport car rentals, power company "customer service" departments, the phone company, "service departments" at automobile dealers, and so on into the night. Bad service knows no bounds.

I'm not talking little problems -- I'm talking full blown problems caused by people who have a chip on their shoulder, and get indignant when a customer gets mad. I love when they say, "They don't pay me enough to listen to this." They don't get the fact that if it wasn't for customers, there would be no pay.

I've also had great experiences -- lots of them. But mostly from small companies. Like the owner of Telephone Answering Service (my answering service in Charlotte), J.W. Lee called me personally last week at my hotel in Toronto, to tell me my messages couldn't be paged to Canada -- and asked me how I'd like them handled until I returned. WOW. That's service.

It's not the employees' fault, it's the companies' fault for poor training, dumb management decisions that reduce service levels for the sake of profit they were unable to make elsewhere (I wonder why), failure to understand what customers want, and failure to hire happy people.

Now there are exceptions. But if you're reading this and think it's not you -- you're dead wrong. Poor service is everywhere. Good service is so rare that books are written telling of isolated instances of memorable service and they sell millions of copies.

The words "your call will be answered in the order it was received" are the biggest insult you can give to a customer. The translation is "get in line like everyone else, pal -- we'll answer it when we get around to it."

Walk into a bank, hotel, or anyplace you stand on line waiting to be served, and the clerk (who is often representing a multi-billion dollar company) greets you (his life's blood) with the friendly "NEXT" or "who's next" or "over here." 

I love checking into a hotel after a three hour plane delay in the rain, and the front desk clerk greets me with their new slogan -- "I'll be with you in just a second." Man, that's what I call a greeting.

When this happens to you -- don't shoot the messenger. Shoot the person who trained the messenger.

What's the solution? Stay tuned for tomorrow...

Jeffrey Gitomer is the author of The Sales Bible, Knock Your Socks Off Selling and Customer Satisfaction is Worthless; Customer Loyalty is Priceless. To order Jeffrey's many books and/or audios and videos, go to  (c) 1999 All Rights Reserved.

Provided courtesy of  Jim Rohn International