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Sales Prevention Departments… How is Your Phone Answered?

Customer Service and Sales PreventionHow is your telephone answered?  Are you using a real person or an automated attendant with voice prompts?

Either way, I’d encourage you to “mystery shop” your own company. Mystery shopping is the process of pretending to be a prospect and calling, e-mailing, or visiting your business to see how well customer service is handled.

What I’m focusing on here are your phones… I hate it when I call my bank, get forced to go through all sorts of prompts, only to sit on hold forever before being transferred to a rep who doesn’t speak English fluently and who can’t help anyway. So many reps these days seem completely untrained, unempowered, and inept — it amazes me.  Then there are the voice-automated attendants that if not configured properly send you to “voice-mail hell” where you’ll freeze over before you get any help.

Let’s talk for example about Bank of America.  Soon to be my “old” bank.  I’ve been with them for years, and moved millions through their bank, yet I cannot call the local branch and it takes an act of congress just to get a trained person to respond with professional and helpful answers.

I don’t have a problem moving customer service call centers to India or even Mars, but the staff should be trained how to properly answer and route calls.  What good is it to call a department “customer service” when in reality, there’s no “service” involved?

When I tried asking for Bank of America’s Sales and New Accounts it was the same issues and lack of service.  I don’t believe they have a sales department… they have a Sales “Prevention” department.

I don’t know how many millions Bank of America spends in advertising to attract new clients, but I’m sure it’s a big number.  I wonder if their marketing department ever looks at their attrition rate to see how many customers they lose just from poor customer service (I’m certain it’s a big number too!).  What good is it to get a customer and then irritate them with lackluster service and support?

If you’re going to work hard to get your prospects, clients, and customers to come to YOUR business, shouldn’t you make sure you take care of them once they’re there?  It’s been proven that it’s easier, faster, and less expensive to sell to an existing customer than it is to find new ones.

Action Items:

1. Mystery shop your own phones.

2. Listen to your voice-mail greetings and options.

3. Do you mention your website on your voice-mail greeting?

4. Are your people doing a great job? If not, take action to improve it!

Have more tips? Feel free to share them below!

Author Byline: Ford Saeks, Business Growth Specialist, Keynote Speaker, Author and Consultant. Helping you find, attract, and keep your customers.

March 18, 2008 Posted By : Ford Saeks


  1. Bron Greenfeather

    I just had one of those telephone calls! 90 minutes later I still had no answers and no one could help me. I agree with you 100%–customer service cannot be farmed out to someone else because you get what you pay for and if your reps come cheap what can you expect from them? They don’t work for you, they don’t know you customers and they have no loyalty…

  2. customer service measurement

    I agree with every comment made in this article. I also hate to be put through an automated system that most of the time does not give the option I need and does not give me a clear option to select a real live person. It also really irritates me when I get a foreign person who I spend half the conversation saying things like, “Excuse me?” or “Could you repeat that.” With the economy the way it is, companies need to really focus on customer service if they want to keep there customers and remain open for business.


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