A Timely Phone Call Can Make All the Difference

By Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD

Recently I experienced poor customer service and great customer service. Both happened the same day; both came from the same organization.

By choice I bank locally. My bank has a main office and two branches. For twelve years, I’ve always used the same branch. When I make a deposit, I prefer the lobby.

Author Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD

This isn’t because I have an aversion to drive-through convenience, but because face-to-face is more personal. I want to know those who handle my money and, more importantly, I want them to know me.

When I needed to check on a transaction last week, I went online – or at least I attempted to. My login was denied. Next, I tried bank-by-phone. Invalid password. Then I called the main office, where they keep all the records.

Training Shortfall

Though the woman understood my request, she took a long time to find the information I needed. Lengthy hold times were part of the process.

Once accomplished, she was about to hang up when I stopped her. “I can’t log in to online banking or bank-by-phone.” I gave her the details. Once she realized I wished to resolve these issues, she put me on hold again.

It’s Your Fault

She returned, telling me what to do when I’ve forgotten my password. “I didn’t forget it,” I clarified; “it’s just not working.” She did some typing and conferred with her coworker, this time without putting me on hold.

She was confused. She instructed me to try again. When that didn’t work, she said the system locked me out because of too many failed login attempts. Gee, I was just doing what you told me to do.

You Have To

There was more conferring with her coworker. Her next words jarred me. “To reset your password, you have to fax in written authorization.” She wouldn’t help me until I did.

“That is most disappointing,” I replied. We ended the call.

This was not my first customer service issue of the day, and I began griping to myself. I don’t have to do anything. It’ll be faster to cancel my accounts than to fax in my request. However, even though switching banks might have been emotionally satisfying, it was not practical.

Making It Right

I was still stewing when the phone rang. It was the manager at my local branch; we’re on a first-name basis. She apologized for her coworker’s miscommunication.

For security purposes, the bank recently required every customer to change their passwords; we would be locked out until we did. Apparently, they quickly hired the person I talked with to address the deluge of phone calls that resulted.

In the time it took to explain this, the manager had reset my password, and soon I could log in. We would deal with the paperwork later. The manager’s exemplary response overcame the disappointing shortcomings of her coworker. It was a stellar example of customer service recovery.

A timely placed phone call can make all the difference. Who do you need to contact? Reach out today.

Customer Service Success Tip: A timely placed phone call can make all the difference between losing and keeping a customer. Encourage your staff to pass on the names of customers who might need a follow-up call. Thank the employee for the information and don’t punish them. Then call that customer.

Read more in Peter Lyle DeHaan’s Sticky Series books, including Sticky Customer Service and Sticky Sales and Marketing, featuring his compelling story-driven insights and tips.

Peter Lyle DeHaan is an entrepreneur and businessman who has managed, owned, and started multiple businesses over his career. Common themes at every turn have included customer service, sales and marketing, and leadership and management.

He shares his lifetime of business experience and personal insights through his books to encourage, inspire, and occasionally entertain.

By Peter Lyle DeHaan

Author Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, publishes books about business, customer service, the call center industry, and business and writing.