Sales and Sales Management Blog

August 16, 2011

“Your Call Is Very Important to Us” and Other Lies

The automated call answering machine has certainly changed the nature of interacting with companies.  Whereas in the past when calling a company you might get a surly representative, now you often get an automated lie.

How often do you call a company and once given any option other than “sales” are immediately put on hold (funny how you can almost always get immediately through to the sales department isn’t it)?  If your calls are anything like mine, and I’m sure they are, you experience this on a far too regular basis. 

Once on hold you can predict with almost certainty what will come next—that all too familiar phrase, “Your call is very important to us.”  Of course after being on hold for a few minutes and having heard that message three or four times, you can’t help but think that your call is obviously not important enough to answer.

Our first contact with the company is a lie.  Nice going company.

Oh, but that is hardly the only lie we so often encounter before we even speak to a company representative.  Many times that initial lie assuring us our call is very important is followed up with another standard lie–that the company is currently experiencing unusually high call volume.  With many companies you’ll hear this message every time you call–no matter the time of day or night or the day of the week the call is made.

So our first contact with the company is greeted with two lies before we even speak with a human.

Do you feel wanted and appreciated yet?  Do you feel that your business is important and valued?  Do you feel that you are anything more to the company than a checking account?

And once we reach a human what happens?

In many cases the same type of standardized lie continues.

Have a complaint?  “We’ll investigate and get back to you.”  Often nothing but a stall hoping you’ll just go away.

Want to speak to a manager?  “I’m sorry, he/she is unavailable but if you’ll give me the details of what this is about I’ll have him/her return your call as soon as possible.”  Many times this is nothing but an attempt to keep you from speaking to a manager or is designed to give the manager the call details so they can decide whether they want to return your call or not.

My personal favorite, when asking for the name of a manager, an address to send a complaint to, or a phone number to the corporate office the response is, “I’m sorry, we are not allowed to give out that information.”  This may not be a lie—it may simply be company policy not to have actual lowly customers bothering those important people in the company who are far too busy and too important to be bothered with customers.

Of course it isn’t a lie every time we encounter these statements, but many times, probably more often than we care to know, these are simply lies designed to get rid of us or to block us from getting the resolution we desire.

It has gotten to the point that most of us expect to encounter some or all of this BS from many of the major companies we deal with.  We have come to accept the idea that many companies couldn’t care less about their customers despite their protestations and claims to the contrary.

I’m concerned that I’m noticing many of these same tactics that allow major companies to save big dollars by purposely under staffing or avoiding customer service issues being adopted by more and more small companies.

Large companies may be able to survive and even thrive based on sheer size and marketing ability, but small companies cannot afford to alienate and drive away their customer base.

Although virtually all of us will put up with automated answering machines, most of us prefer to speak to a human.  Few of us are willing to accept the impersonal and often downright rude behavior we get from major companies when dealing with smaller companies.  Many times we have chosen a small company specifically because we expect more personal and professional treatment.

Small can outwork, outperform, outsell, and out service big—but not by mimicking the most egregious mistakes and outrageous behavior large companies commit.

Many customers will stay on hold for 10, 20, even 30 minutes waiting to speak to someone at a big company while few would ever consider doing so when calling a small company.

Some will accept the response that the individual can’t give out the name of a manager or the address of the office when dealing with a major company but would never put up with that when dealing with a small company.

Many customers will resign themselves to having to invest large amounts of time and energy to resolve an issue with a large company but expect—demand—immediate resolution when dealing with a small company.

Selling small’s biggest asset is its ability to connect with prospects and clients on a truly personal level.  That is something that is very difficult for large companies to do because they usually have so many points within the company that touch the customer that it is very difficult to keep all of those touch points personal and in alignment with customer wants and needs. 

Add that difficulty with the large company’s desire to keep costs to a minimum by maintaining insufficient staff levels and you have a great opportunity for a small company to compete very successfully—as long as that small company avoids those large company mistakes and issues.

Personal relationships and service sells, and mega-company indifference is a perfect weak spot for small companies to capitalize on.

Are you taking advantage of the lies and indifference of your big competitors? 

Or are you one of the growing numbers of small companies mimicking those lies and the indifference, trying to cut a couple bucks of costs? If you are, you’re giving up one of your major advantages over your big competitors—and you probably won’t have to worry about saving those couple of bucks very long because your big competitors will drive you out of business.

Embrace your big advantage—your ability to get personal, to react quickly, to make the customer experience one they enjoy instead of one they just have to put up with.



  1. Another great post, Paul. Thanks for this one! It recalls an episode of Seinfeld where Jerry asks a telemarketer for her home number so he can call her when it’s more convenient for him. When she refuses, Jerry responds, “I guess you don’t want strangers calling you at home…Well, now you know how I feel.”

    Comment by JebBrooks — August 16, 2011 @ 2:21 pm | Reply

  2. Great observation about the first contact with the organization is a lie. How sad and yet how true.

    People buy from people, not from robots. I wonder what so called smart people did not get that memo?

    Leanne Hoagland-Smith
    Author of Be the Red jacket in a sea of gray suits

    Comment by Leanne HoaglandSmith — August 16, 2011 @ 3:14 pm | Reply

  3. This is the truth but the truth. Big companies are no longer treating customers fairly.

    Comment by Casper Sithole — August 16, 2011 @ 3:53 pm | Reply

  4. […] finished reading a great blog post by Paul McCord, “Your Call is Very Important to Us and Other Lies.”  I highly recommend it–very good advice.  The gist is that big companies may get […]

    Pingback by How to Offend Your Newest Customer | The Whale Hunters Blog - Sales Articles and Tips — August 22, 2011 @ 5:27 am | Reply

  5. Paul, we are on your bus. One of team members is collecting information for a blog post on how well technology companies (our target market) service inbound sales calls. In an effort to assist, yesterday as I was randomly making calls I hit the press #2 to be connected to sales button twice….both times I was put into voice mail. In both instances no message was left providing either a cell number or another contact to call. Obviously not statistically valid but still… not great service. What are these companies thinking????

    Comment by trish bertuzzi — August 24, 2011 @ 6:26 am | Reply

  6. […] finished reading a great blog post by Paul McCord, “Your Call is Very Important to Us and Other Lies.”  I highly recommend it–very good advice.  The gist is that big companies may get […]

    Pingback by How to Offend Your Newest Customer | Bigger Customers — September 12, 2012 @ 5:28 pm | Reply

  7. […] finished reading a great blog post by Paul McCord, “Your Call is Very Important to Us and Other Lies.”  I highly recommend it–very good advice.  The gist is that big companies may get […]

    Pingback by How to Offend Your Newest Customer | The Whale Hunters — July 16, 2013 @ 9:09 am | Reply

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