It's good to talk... on the phone!

I love talking to my customers and potential customers on the phone but sadly that happens less and less these days. Our website is getting busier all the time but therein lies the problem... let me explain.

Life is a very busy whirl these days for all of us, so many things to do and remember without the extra pressure of a forgotten birthday or a new born baby arriving into your circle. So the last thing you want to do is pick up the phone and talk, that's just going to waste some more of the time that you already don't have enough of - right? NO wrong.

  • How can you hear me smile on an email?
  • How can I tell you aren't being rude by your curt email, you are simply on the train home and you need to send a question while you remember!
This classic BT adverts sums up how a phone call can really make a difference....

  • How do you know my company is real? Trust me, if the website doesnt have a phone number big and bold on the home page, customer service won't be a priority!
  • How can I help you choose the right gift or suggest an alternative that might be more suitable - lets face it, you wont have looked at all 400 toys on the website because you don't have time...
I get why you won't make that call though, you are so used to getting through to a faceless phone system with a whole series of horrible menus asking you to 'push 1 to raise your stress level' 'push 2 to go round in a loop', or you might just want a question answered but you are so untrusting. The person might try and sell me something I don't want to buy!

It doesnt help that 'customer service' in the UK, is no longer about proactively helping a find the right gift for a 4 year old nephew who you only see a few times a year, it has turned into the 'sorting customer complaints' department and the poor souls that answer the phones have had the crap metaphorically kicked out of them so many times, their spark has simply fizzled out.

So, its easier to email - right? NO wrong again.

I read a blog from a lovely blogger called Heidi at Him, Me and Three last week talking about the responses she received from Debenhams Online to a complain she had made by email. Heidi seemed pleased that Debenhams had responded but disapointed they hadn't covered any of the points in her email... this bit may shock you but in huge organisations, the emails are received and read, but not by somebody with compassion and a beating heart but by a state of the art piece of software that was able to pick out keywords and decipher the email and select an auto response that is carefully worded not to leave the company exposed or admitting liability for any problems that may have occured. If you read Heidi's blog, you can see that she then goes on to recieve conflicting emails because the system can't cope with logic!

Welcome to Customer Service 2011 - right? NO wrong again

Just because the company spends millions to put themselves in the front of your mind, generally the opposite happens when it comes to you and you become just a customer order number, on a database somewhere. This is where the small independants can not only fight back but behave in ways that the big boys could not begin to comprehend.

At When I Was a Kid we have installed a phone system that has no menus, the person answering the phone has touched and played with every single product on our website and in many cases, they have helped carefully selected that product to feature as part of the range. We are a family owned toy shop and as a Daddy of 2 girls, I get the importance of providing a great service and delivering on time so you arent left looking like a gooseberry when the christening day comes and you have no present.

We treat you like we would want to be treated and trust me, I set my standards very high!

So next time your browsing, instead of sending a faceless, toneless message or just moving onto the next website, why not pick up the phone. You will be able to tell in a few seconds if it's a company you feel you want to buy from and after all it has to be better to spend 10 minutes talking and sorting everything in one hit that spending 5 days having a snatched conversations on email with various toy websites then running out of time and ending up buying the first toy you see from the local supermarket...

So, it's good to talk - right? YES, it's bloody good to talk... 01933 426365