The Phone is Part of Your Brand

How employees behave on the telephone is, or at least should be, a vital component of every company’s branding, of their “personality”.  Why?

Because every time we interact with a customer or prospect we are influencing their decision to stay or become our customer. Whether a phone call is placed to accounts payable, or shipping, or main reception, our clients should always experience our best.

This past week I experienced what happens to customer satisfaction when telephone behaviour doesn’t match the brand.

First I’ll share with you that I’m not a shopper. I used to be, when I did all of my shopping on store-lined streets, but bigger stores have made me increasingly adverse to buying things. I don’t enjoy the experience so I procrastinate, creating a time crunch when I need to find something.

This was the situation on Thursday evening. With a business trip just days away, I realized I needed a protective case for my new iPad and a stylus for my note-taking application. My husband and I headed off to Bayer’s Lake, me thinking we’d be able to accomplish this task very quickly. I was wrong.

Four stores in and I hadn’t found something at a reasonable price that would provide good protection, was well-made and wasn’t …hmm … ugly. At 8:45 pm I was ready to move this errand on to the “to do” list for this week when my husband (good, kind, patient man that he is) suggested we give Best Buy a try since we drive past it on the way home.

In seconds, he had it in his hands  – a bright orange neoprene case at, compared to everything else we’d seen, a very good price. Hopeful that the end of shopping was in sight,  I went to a nearby rack and grabbed a stylus … only to realize that, compared to everywhere else we’d been, the stylus was $2 more expensive. Sigh!

This is when James arrived in our lives. He exemplified all that Best Buy invests in training for their sales associates. He was full of energy, courteous, obviously ready and willing to provide us with excellent customer service. He checked the price of the stylus at competitor websites and charged me a wee bit less. He rang in both purchases, all the while engaging me in humour-filled conversation. He definitely created a perfect Best Buy experience.

Given that is it my job to notice customer service, I waited a few moments at the store and spoke to the manager, Aaron, letting him know that James had done a great job. Aaron informed me that comments like mine are shared with everyone at Sunday sales meeting. Would I take a few minutes when I got home to go to the website, enter the codes on my receipt, and enter my comments? It could mean some great “swag” for James.

James was pretty excited by the fact that I’d waited to talk to his manager so I knew that comments at a sales meeting would be appreciated –  and I know that “swag” can matter – so I promised I’d go to the website … and this is where the great experience began to fall apart.

For me, like many of you, the only way I get these kinds of things done is if I do them right away. So as soon as I returned home, still feeling very good about my 15 minutes at Best Buy, I went to my computer and entered the codes on my receipt. The website wouldn’t accept the numbers. I tried several times, carefully proofread the numbers, but couldn’t get to the customer satisfaction survey.

I think it is important to note here that I’d already gone far beyond what most satisfied customers would do – I’ve told James he was wonderful and thanked him, I waited 5 minutes and spoke to the manager about the great service and now I’d spent 5 minutes entering codes that didn’t work. I’m pretty sure that most of people would “walk away” at this point.

But I’d made a promise to James, so the next day I phoned the store. This was a terrible experience.

I asked for manager Aaron, hoping he would remember me and the call would be quick. But it was his day off so I was put through to Bunti (I’m not sure of the spelling here), or at least the staff tried to put me through to Bunti. Turned out he had left his phone somewhere so another staff member answered for him and then, without putting me on hold (and maybe it wasn’t possible) yelled into the store for Bunti to come and get his phone.

Bunti’s tone of voice immediately let me know that he was not interested in speaking with me or helping me. Even when I explained that I was calling to talk about a great experience at his store … he wasn’t interested. As soon as I mentioned that I’d had trouble with the codes at the website, he said one of the “girls” could help me (I do hate the use of the word “girl” in this context – he would never have said one of the “boys” could help me!).

Fortunately he handed the phone to Rachael (not sure of the spelling here either) and she was wonderful. She realized that I’d gone to the website too soon, that my purchase and the codes attached to it hadn’t been registered yet. (While I understand this, very few customers would make the effort to try again the next day!)  I was able to get online and submit my comments about James. And I hope he got his “swag” on Sunday.

But the care and diligence present in the store was certainly not carried through onto the phone. So that warm, fuzzy, almost loyalty feeling I was fostering for Best Buy? Gone. Because if as a customer I am only important when I’m in front of you and not when I’m speaking with you on the phone, well … .



“Communication is a skill that you can learn. It’s like riding a bicycle or typing. If you’re willing to work at it, you can rapidly improve the quality of every part of your life.”— Brian Tracy, Author










Closing a sale is the natural outcome of inspiring great conversations and listening intently to our potential customers.

This natural approach still involves a process – a plan that moves potential customers through a journey of discovery with you. So ... what's your process? And am I the right sales coach for you? Let's find out.

0 thoughts on “The Phone is Part of Your Brand”

  1. Great story! So often a brand experience has to do with one person’s attitude and skill and I’ve been disappointed to find it sometimes doesn’t extend beyond that. And then sometimes it’s that one person that can turn a bad experience around. Consistency would be way better.

  2. I have had many wonderful experiences at Best Buy also. I now almost always go there first and am not sure if I have ever come away from the store without what I was looking for. Well priced, great staff, great selection. I love the store. If you do a little research into the company you will find they pride themselves on training and doing it right. I know one bad experience can mar a relationship, but give it a chance, 9 more good ones will make you forget about the bad one, or so it has been said.


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