July 8, 2010

I just spent hours trying to simply get AT&T Internet Service to change a credit card number so I could pay my account. It was one of the worst experiences I’ve had, the challenge? Every prompt in their automated phone system was based on your phone number, and I don’t have AT&T phone service. Therefore, the system just didn’t know what to do with me.  So off I went on a phone journey to Texas, India, the Philippines and back several times before finally resolving the issue.  

My experience makes me question a recent Wall St. Journal story I read that reported that many companies were “shifting more resources to customer service.” According to the June WSJ story, a survey of 1,405 firms by Accenture in 2009 indicated that 25% said that customer service was going to be their first investment as the economy was turning. I guess that implies that three out of four businesses are perfectly happy with their customer service.

Are you listening small business?  With their voice activated phone systems (in my book I call it ‘phone jail”  www.powershiftmarketingbook.com ) and off shore call centers, most big businesses simply can’t complete with a business that features a real live customer service person. As a small business you have a fantastic opportunity to go after big business customers. Don’t wait, pull your staff together and make sure you are focusing more on the quality of call handling, instead of productivity (how many calls a person handles).  Putting money into staffing and training will pay big dividends. While it may be too late for AT&T, for small businesses it’s your secret PowerShift marketing weapon.

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