If the employees who answer your company’s phone can’t help, don’t let them pretend that they can.

Seth Godin recently delineated 6 rules for treating inbound customer calls with respect.

It’s delightful reading, especially his idea to “have a bright red light flash on the CEO’s desk whenever anyone, anywhere, is on hold for more than 5 minutes. If it gets to seven, have the call automatically route to the mobile phone of the CEO’s spouse.”

Tell me that wouldn’t get a customer’s attention.

But my favorite of his rules is to train your front line people never to pretend they can help, when they can’t. Instead, make it clear from the start that the customer will be connected to someone who can. Apple service is brilliant at this. Although I do have to explain my problem to the person who answers the phone at Apple, I know immediately that I will be routed to the department who is prepared to assist. There is never a pretense that the first contact will solve my problem. No long or frustrating conversations with the operator.

Your call is very important to us. Really? Show me how.

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