Operator, can you help me place this call?

This March, I took an unexpected trip to Budapest, Hungary. Our son Loren was there coordinating stunts on a movie production project. We stayed in the marvelous Corinthia Hotel Budapest & Spa. The morning breakfast buffet was fantastic! It ran the full gamut from “high-touch” to “high-tech.” I had a custom-made salmon omelet with baked beans and potato cakes every morning. The professional chef flipped the omelet with flair, throwing it high in the air. Custom-made, personalized, this is “high-touch.”

Next to the “high- touch” omelet station was a “high-tech” mechanical pancake maker. At the press of a button, you watch the batter drop onto a conveyor belt. In a matter of moments, four perfectly round, fluffy, buttermilk pancakes, land in a stack on your plate. All you have to do is add butter and syrup! The novelty of the pancake maker increases value by adding entertainment. I’ve never seen the contrast between high-tech and high touch more dramatically illustrated.

We live in a high-tech world! As an example: having a human answer the phone. Banks, insurance companies, doctor’s offices, and many other businesses have automated systems answering their calls. First, you are placed in a phone tree, given three or more options to choose from. Often, after you make your first choice, you are directed to still another branch where you are given three more choices. Home Depot and other stores have more self-checkouts than cashiers! After ordering at a kiosk at restaurants like McDonald’s or Burger King, we can be reduced to a number, waiting for ours to be called.

Automating can speed up service, reduce operational costs, and give your customer more value for their dollar. Still, you must always remain customer focused, ultimately, the customer decides if your services meet their demanding standards.

The day of the personal operator is gone forever. So, when you do come on the phone or greet your customer live, be sure from that point on, you are “high-touch,” informed, professional, and sincere. Your smile, your bubble, addressing all your customer’s concerns, must be at the highest level possible.

Your first human touch with the customers must be warm and friendly, making your customer feel special. All you do must be aimed at, tailored to satisfy your customers.

Are you keeping track of how long your customers must wait on the phone before they are greeted? How many people are waiting in the queue? Are you training, monitoring your speed and quality of service? Do you know the questions your customers ask that require them to wait for an informed answer? Look into it. You may find a way, today, to provide higher levels of service while lowering your costs.

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