Why aren’t more executives curious about what it’s like to be their customer?

call is important to usWhen you ring ‘customer service’ at my home internet/TV/phone provider, you have to navigate the usual menu system. Okay – I’m used to that, and some people – like Direct Line, and Companies House, have fast and easy systems that work well.

Not so with my home entertainment provider. You are greeted by a female voice artist performing the style of a radio advert for a nightclub – all sensationalist inflection and innuendo. And this is while you are being told that Option 1 is to report a fault, Option 2 is to enquire about your bill and so on. If you do wish to report a fault, she then purrs a seductive “Let’s get you some help…”. It’s so annoying because ‘the voice’ clearly doesn’t care, real people never talk like that, and the whole thing is verbose and time-consuming. Call me old-fashioned, but I’ve never thought that winding up callers is a good customer service approach.

Is it just me? Maybe I’m just being grumpy. Maybe, sad to say, I am no longer the target demographic (even though I pay for a premium bundle….). Perhaps if I were in my twenties, I would think that voice was ‘cool’. Wouldn’t I?

Actually, no.

Last time I called, having finally reached a very helpful human operator who I am guessing was in her twenties, I concluded the call as follows: “You have been very helpful, and the following comment is not a criticism of you in any way. But your menu system is very annoying – it’s that voice! In the unlikely event that your managers ever ask for feedback, would you be so good as to relay that to them?”

The operator in question replied that she has to go through the same menu system when transferring calls, and she found it equally irritating and time-wasting.

She added that managers were indeed unlikely to request or attend to such feedback.

I’ve asked it before. Do senior executives ever call their own inbound call-centres? The cheapest, easiest and arguably best information a leader can get is available by shopping at their own business. A surprising number seem more interested in doing deals and restructuring their balance sheets, and show a remarkable lack of curiosity about what it’s like to be a customer, or indeed a customer-service employee.

Maybe insights gained by being a bit more curious would translate into higher retained earnings on said balance sheets?