Sales Moves: ‘Your call is important to us …’

Ever hear this? "Thank you for calling (fill in the name of any big company). All of our people are busy now. Your call is important to us. Please stay on the line, and your call will be answered in the order it was received."

If my call is so important, how come you don’t hire more people to answer the phone?

I am often asked the question, "How is service in America?"

I travel 250 days a year.

I stay in 150 different hotels a year.

I fly more than 200 times a year.

I eat out at least 750 meals a year.

My reply is, "Service is somewhere between medium and poor. And getting worse."


1. Corporate cutbacks.

2. Automated attendants.

3. Call routing.

3.5 Poorly trained people on the front lines.

"To serve you better, please select from among the following eight options…"

To serve me better? I believe the TRUTH is, "To save us money…"

If you don’t have your account number, your tracking number, your claim number, your file number, your invoice number, your credit card number or the last four digits of your Social Security number, you’re dead meat. And you better have the answers to a bunch of "security questions," that are asked of you "for your protection," or you will not get the service you need. Sorry, that’s our policy.

As a customer, I have a list of a few things you can do in the heat of the moment:

Be friendly and polite at first.

Be firm.

Don’t swear.

Be clear and prepared.

Stick to your objective no matter what roadblock they throw at you.

The closer you get to their emotion, the better chance you have at getting your way.

As a business customer or personal consumer, here’s what you can do if your frustration reaches a high level: Climb the ladder. Ask for a supervisor. The service person responds, "He’s in a meeting." "No problem," you respond. Let me speak to his boss. Be firm, and you will be AMAZED at how quickly the supervisors "meeting" ends and he picks up the phone.

Hint: No one wants to have their boss be told they did a lousy job of serving.

OK, I have a few answers.

If you’re the company or the employee on the receiving end of the call or complaint, here’s your "to do" list:

1. Be more friendly. It costs no extra money to be friendly.

2. Be more empathetic. The customer wants to know you care.

3. Be more flexible. The customer wants options and choices.

4. Be more responsive. We live in an instant world, take me off hold.

5. Be more helpful. Make sure you understand my needs.

6. Be more truthful. Tell me what is likely to happen.

6.5 If you can’t help me, give me someone who can.

Major service clues: Don’t tell me you’re doing the best you can – tell me what you can do, not what you can’t. You see, just because you can’t do it, does not mean I no longer want it or need it. Make me feel like a person, not a number.

Here are 5.5 big picture things you (or your company) should be doing:

1. Less automation. Have two options: If you want an automated menu, press one. If you want a live person to help you, press two. No one will press one.

2. Faster response times. Serve everyone in a minute or less.

3. More people to serve customer needs. This may cost you in the short run, but will earn you millions in the long run.

4. Better personal development training. Teach positive attitude before job skills.

5. More realistic answers to real world questions.

5.5 Specific training about the things your customer wants or needs the most.


I saved my best recommendation for last. I recommend you call the experts that made your business a successful enterprise. You may know them as your customers. And I assure you, they hold the key to loyalty, and have all the answers you need.


Jeffrey Gitomer is the author of "The Little Red Book of Selling" and "The Little Red Book of Sales Answers." President of Charlotte-based Buy Gitomer, he gives seminars, runs annual sales meetings, and conducts Internet training programs on sales and customer service at He can be reached at (704) 333-1112 or e-mail to

(c) 2007 All Rights Reserved – Don’t even think about reproducing this document without written

permission from Jeffrey H. Gitomer and Buy Gitomer . 704/333-1112


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