It is exciting to own a business that is growing, to face the challenges and decisions that come with that growth. Two weeks ago I realized that The Phone Lady’s growth meant I couldn’t avoid it any longer … I had to get a Blackberry or IPhone or whatever … I needed easier access to email more often. So I called my cellphone provider, a company I’ve been with since 2003 and that positions itself as wanting to work more closely with entrepreneurs – Rogers. When the young man in the sales department answered the phone I said “This is going to be an easy call for you. My company is growing and I need better technology. I’m calling to organize a new contract.” On the other end he clicked away, entering my account number, last name, etc. Then, to my amazement, he said “Sorry, I can’t organize that for you. Your current contract doesn’t expire until August 6 so there’s nothing I can do.” I was flabbergasted (not a word that gets much use because it really doesn’t happen very often). “I’m sorry,” I said. “I am on the phone ready to sign a new three-year contract and you can’t let me because there are 90 days left on my existing contract?” “That’s right,” he said. “There’s nothing I can do.” Even as I write this I’m amazed! Imagine for a moment picking up your phone today and finding a customer in need on the other end, one that is willing to start paying immediately for additional services from you. Now, imagine saying “Sorry, I can’t help you.” Isn’t that nuts! Without getting into a lot of details, I did pursue this with Rogers a bit further, by email, and received a similar answer, sent to me after midnight and full of official sounding language. Oh my! I’ll admit that my head starts feeling like a rat’s nest when I try to figure out all the specifics of cellphone communication but I will figure it out and then I’ll say “goodbye” to Rogers.. But how did we get here – here where customer service is actually a misnomer because all it has become is customer contact? I contact you, you tell me you can’t help and we’re done. It is this, this existence of corporate disregard for excellent telephone communication that inspired The Phone Lady in the first place. When a customer picks up the phone and speaks to you, you need to listen, hear what they’re saying, do your best to fulfill their request. That’s customer service and its got nothing to do with following rules or reading scripts. Make sure you keep the “service” in customer service no matter how big your company grows because if you don’t you can be sure some customers will be saying “goodbye”.