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If your life is anything like mine, you spend waste at least an hour every week, sometimes more, on a customer service issue involving some third party vendor who claims to be in business to enhance your personal or professional life. Comcast, Verizon, First Energy and all health insurance providers top this list. I’m not sure why these companies still bother using the word “service.” CHR or Customer Hindrance Representative would be more accurate.

These calls usually begin by pressing lots of buttons, entering many codes and personal information, and then being put on hold due to “heavy call volume” while being told the “call is important to us.” Often, before the offshore CHR picks up, the call is disconnected, and the process must be repeated. The latest “innovation” is notification that the call is being recorded. For whose benefit is that? One can only guess.

Who remembers when customer service meant something? When customers came before profits, calls were answered by an actual living being who had at least an elementary command of the English language, and who hadn’t been handed a robotic script to answer questions? It wasn’t really that long ago. But apparently now companies think they can save redirect money by hiring minimum wage, offshore CHRs and then, in the name of “training” hand them a list of responses that were certainly written by the legal department, and from which they cannot deviate. Not only are these companies sending a message that they do not trust their employees, apparently they also have little regard for their customers. The term “I apologize” is #1 on this script and so companies have taken two sacred words and devalued them into meaningless drivel that is supposed to solve all customer issues, regardless of the problem.

Is it any wonder why consumers have so little regard for the companies with which they do are forced to do business? Is it any wonder why trust in business continues to decline? Is it any wonder that more than 70% of employees are disengaged at work?

Who decided this was a “better way?” How did this happen? Is there a solution?

I propose a simple experiment.

  • Put every manager on phone duty for one week. Heck, call it “The Golden Rule” CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) program and kill two birds with one stone.
  • Send the entire legal department on vacation during this same time period.
  • Replace the script with these 7 words: Let me see what I can do.

Barbara Brooks Kimmel is the CEO & Co-founder of Trust Across America-Trust Around the World . Established in 2008, the program’s mission is simply to provide tools and assistance to organizations interested in building stakeholder trust. Barbara runs the world’s largest organizational trust membership program. She is also the editor of the award winning TRUST INC. book series and the Executive Editor of TRUST! Magazine. In 2012 Barbara was named “One of 25 Women Changing the World” by Good Business International.

Barbara is an award-winning communications executive and former consultant to McKinsey who has run her own firm, Next Decade, Inc., that has been unraveling and simplifying complex subjects for over twenty years. She holds a BA in International Affairs from Lafayette College and an MBA from Baruch at the City University of NY.

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One Response to “The 7 Most Important Words”

  1. August 25th, 2015 at 10:25 | #1

    Love the words for customer service: “Let me see what I can do.”

    Other short and powerful phrases I have discivered and use to empower people (a slightly different subject) are:
    “I believe in you.”
    “I trust you.”
    “I’ve got your back.”

    In my experience, using short phrases like these is powerful.

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