Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Don't Throw The Book At 'em!

There are three things that come to mind when I hear the word "book."

1) That it's been said that elite units within our armed forces can kill a man with a book without leaving any marks.

2) That I learned the art (trick) of how to tear a telephone book in half when I was younger.

3) That too many times people, who haven't been properly trained or empowered, hide behind them.

That's the one I want to focus on right now.

Yesterday I had the (unpleasant) experience of trying to have a civil, common-sense conversation with my cable/phone/internet company (think Nike check mark, but in red). It was evident that they knew books well, as the were obviously reading from one. And while they acknowledged what concerned me (at least they repeated what I said, prefaced by "I'm sorry to hear that ..."), the fact they immediately changed gears right back to the script left me feeling they were less than genuine. To their credit, I suppose if I listened to complaints for eight hours a day I'd find it hard to be creative after the one hundred seventy-eighth one.

Eventually I decided to put both of us out of our misery and said "Ma'am ... I know a monolithic company like yours has rules and rule books. And I know that your responsibility is to do it by the book. But can you just please put the big red book down for a minute so we can talk?" Silence. Then I swore I heard her flipping pages, trying to find where it said how to respond.

I say all this to make a point. People calling into your business or practice expect the same. Do you want to know how to make your business or practice stand heads-and-shoulders above the rest? Teach those who communicate with your customers, clients or patients to sit "the book" down and simply talk. Talk and listen. Actually role play how you would like to have your company or practice represented when dealing with customer service issues.

Continued success.

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