Treating the customer as The EnemyHave you recently tried to order a product from a large company using your telephone?
Has a recording answered your call by stating “due to an unusually high call volume, we are unable to take your call at this time so please call back later” ...click...dial tone? This happens just as often at midday as after regular hours. Or you may hear “if you wish to place an order, please visit us on our Internet website at bla, bla.com.” They apparently are unaware that 30 percent of American households still do not have Internet access in their homes.
For my own information, whenever I get a real live person on the telephone line, I ask what state they are in. Lately they refuse to give me that information. So I ask which time zone are they in (i.e. Eastern, etc.) That doesn’t work if they are located in India or more recently in the Philippines. I have found that the foreign order-takers are usually nicer and even smarter and perhaps just better trained that the average American-born representative.
How about the endless telephone menus asking questions you probably can’t answer like “if you know your party’s extension...” If you make up an extension number, you will be greeted with a nasty lady’s recorded voice stating that “you have dialed an invalid extension.”
“Geez, I’m so sorry,” I silently reply. No longer can you simply press “0” and get a live operator. That, too, is invalid.
The general impression you get is “go away, we don’t want you bothering us.” They seem to see the potential customer as THE ENEMY. Why is that? One answer is that management refuses to hire enough people to take phone orders for their products. When their sales volume drops, they just fire more order takers. This is laissez-faire capitalism run amok.
It appears that management is more concerned with getting enormous raises. They only see the company’s future in the next three months (a financial quarter). If they ever get fired, they feel they can go out and get another big job at a different company. Sadly, at least lately, this is true.
Another unpleasant development is “voice mail.” If you leave a question or special request, you may or may not get your call returned. Too many executives now follow the practice of never answering their own telephones. And of course most secretaries have long ago been eliminated. But the worst practice of all is intentionally keeping a voice mailbox “full” so your comments cannot be accepted.
Then “if you wish to make a call please hang up and...”
Much of the American economic system is based on companies making and selling goods and services in return for cash or credit card dollars. American consumers provide the majority of purchases in our country. Why dump them?
I am sending a warning to American industry! Remember what happened to the dot.com businesses in the early 2000s. They based their business plans on the concept that they never needed to show a profit. They would make their fortune eventually by selling to a bigger organization. Most, ultimately, ended in bankruptcy. As it was said, “the bubble burst.”
I fear that treating customers as enemies is ultimately courting disaster. “Don’t keep biting the hand that feeds you.”