Sunday, April 12, 2015

Call Me Maybe

We found a cell phone in our yard the other day. It wouldn't turn on and it used a proprietary plug we didn't have.  It had a cell phone company's logo on it, but not a company we're currently customers of.  I went to their website and poked around until I found a phone number. I navigated a lengthy phone tree before hitting a point where, without a valid account number, it thanked me for my call and disconnected.

I tried again using the number on the phone itself.  I recognized the phone tree as being the second half of the phone tree from the first call, but this time, I dialed more wisely until I finally got a human. I explained that I had found a phone in my yard and could he look it up and call them (if they had another phone on file) and let them know we'd found it.

He seemed to vaguely understand what I wanted and then started asking for a particular number by some acronym.  None of the numbers on the sticker were prefaced with anything so I didn't know what he wanted.  After several tries, I was able to successfully relay two of the three rows to him and after quite some time, he was able to find the phone but there was no record of ownership and the phone was not active.  So I said that I'd safely recycle it and he launched into a spiel about their buyback program and how I could apply it towards a new phone if it was in good connection.  I said no, the screen was cracked and it looked like it had been run over and the antenna was all chewed.  (At this precise moment I realized it been handed down and was a child's toy.)  But by this point, he was already telling me that even if they couldn't buy it back, that I could activate it and start new service with them. Really, dude? 

(I'm intentionally leaving out the company's name.  This was a weird experience but it's not about this one company.)

Your company has far more non-customers than customers.  Let's be optimistic and call them future customers.

When was the last time you personally approached your company from the perspective of a non-customer? What happens to edge cases? Is it endless phone trees designed to limit human contact, or is it a place where you'll make a great first impression?  A great first impression may lead to a sale today, a sale in the future, or some great word-of-mouth.

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