Our office receives dozens of calls a day. My partners and I are old school in the fact that we would like those calls answered by a cheerful human being. That is not to discredit anyone who has chosen the automated answering route; it’s just not in line with our service objectives. One day a caller specifically requested a voicemail, at which jokingly he was told “I am the voicemail.” He proceeded to ask, “What kind of company doesn’t have a voicemail?” along with some other unflattering remarks. This conversation was brought to my attention and upon hearing it, I began to question all of our phone procedures. Perhaps we should reconsider automated phone systems? But after much further investigation, it turns out this particular caller has never called without a cutting remark about something, and this particular day the voicemail seemed to be an easy target. Dozens of happy callers every day appreciate speaking to a live human being, but one complaint can make you question everything.
Thought 1: Take George W. Bush’s advice and “Don’t let the loud voices get to you.” Make sure one complaint doesn’t change policy unless ample time and thought prove necessary.
On the flipside, Main Street Muffins was a $100,000 a year storefront business in Akron, Ohio, when a local restaurateur asked the owners to sell him frozen muffin batter rather than just fresh muffins. Boom! – an additional wholesale business was born. This initiative about sank both businesses until they got focused and dropped the retail side. Now they do $100 million a year in sales.
Thought 2: Be sensitive to the demand, but specific with the plan. If it’s off mission, it should be off the table, unless you change the mission.
What say you?