Service On The Front Lines?


In the past week I had two interesting experiences with the same national company from which I purchase several services. The first was a phone call from a nice, energetic man who was very keen to tell me about a new subscription service plan. As these calls go, it was difficult to get a word in. But, when he paused for a breath, I was able to inform him that, in fact, I was already a subscriber to all the services he was offering.

“Oh?” was the response with a mix of surprise and confusion. He quickly ended the conversation, no doubt moving on to the next auto-dialed number and hoping to reach a better recipient of his sales pitch.

The next experience was in response to a service upgrade, communicated with fanfare in a personalize email. In fact, the day’s newspaper was also full of ads teasing us about the new technological advancement.

I was off to the storefront to find out more. Was this product what I wanted or needed?

Who knows? It turned out the new equipment arrived in the store just hours before my visit and the clerk had no clue how it worked. She made an attempt at guessing its virtues, but she wasn’t convincing anyone, including herself most likely.

I probably can’t begin to imagine the time, money and intelligence that are poured into new technology and immense marketing and telemarketing campaigns. But does it not all come to a screeching halt when the people on the front lines, the customer service providers, have been left out of the communication loop?

It seems so painfully obvious that we should turn our front line people into our advocates for every product, service, and initiative, and yet it is the obvious that is, sadly, so often missed.

This disjunct also suggests our service providers are not part of the process of refining and developing new ideas to entice people into our theatre seats.

Perhaps that should change. Not only will the front line service providers be more knowledgeable and stronger advocates, but we also stand to learn something from their experiences.

After all, the people on the front lines probably know a thing or two about the customers.