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Entrepreneur

“Our Menu Options Have Changed”

By Tom Irmen

We’ve all heard this recording when calling the vast majority of companies today: “Please listen carefully as our menu options have recently changed.” Translation? That’s corporate speak for “I hope you’ll accept this poor substitute for customer service.”

I’m all for saving money and creating efficiencies, but when saving money ends up costing you money, that’s just insane. All of us are attempting to deploy our limited resources in the most productive manner possible, but hopefully not at the risk of compromising the personal relationships that are at the very foundation of the success of so many of our small businesses.

I guess I’m no longer surprised when I receive these pre-recorded messages or the seemingly endless cycle of options we are asked to select from, which leads to the next list of options, and on… and on… and on. But what does surprise me today is when a real person answers the phone. Hey, all things being equal, I’ll go with the products and services being offered by the small business that employs people and not pre-recorded messages.

Ever since my mega-bank in Chicago, 15 years ago, began charging me $3 to speak to a human teller rather than use their automated tellers, I have observed a growing number of companies attempting to substitute automation at the expense of genuine customer service. Am I just old-fashioned? Perhaps a guy who wishes things could return to the way they were?

Relationships build long-term loyalty and trust, which are difficult to overcome when your competition is attempting to gain a foothold into your client’s business. In the absence of a business relationship, clients will throw you over for a dime in savings. What do they have to lose?

Oh, and here’s a tip. Would you like to talk to a human the next time you need to call customer service? Just tell them you no longer wish to purchase their product or service. You’ll miraculously be transferred to a human.

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