Never forget . . . customer service begins with that very first phone call!

IBy Steve Moran

I couldn’t sleep and was wandering my way through my LinkedIn feed. I came across this posting by Nick Jones:

WOW, I’m not making any more calls to Senior Living communities in Portland, Oregon and now I’m not even sure I will visit the town and perform my show!  I know it’s a Saturday morning, but I’ve NEVER spoken to so many rude individuals!  

The last phone call I made was to a community and when I asked the receptionist if the activities director was in she said in a very rude voice (keep in mind that this was only the receptionist) “there is absolutely no reason for my activity director to be in on a Saturday, but I’ll transfer you to her voicemail and you can leave a message!”

Before hanging up, I said, “no thanks and that was very rude of you to speak to me like that!”  

About 2 calls before that a receptionist told me that July was a long way away and that I should call back as it gets closer (keep in mind AGAIN this was the receptionist, not even the person who schedules the activities, LOL)!  

Before hanging up, I said, “First of all, you have no idea that it doesn’t work that way and that was very rude of you to speak to me like that.”  SO, no more calls to Portland, Oregon! And I only mentioned the best 2 out of 19 calls this morning, LOL!!!

I thought . . . “A teachable moment.”  

Some Background

I reached out to Nick and asked if he would be willing to chat with me by phone about this experience. It turns out that Nick is my kind of guy; someone who eats, drinks, sleeps and sings the senior living business. Nick has been an activity director at several senior living communities in Visalia and Fresno over the last 17 years. During his time off; he puts on a “tribute to country music” show — mostly at senior living communities. You can also check out his Facebook Page where he has some videos.  

He was planning to go to Portland in July; therefore, on Saturday, he started making calls. Most of the time when he reaches the activity directors directly and asks if they are interested in having him perform — he ends up being booked solid.  


Two positives:

  1. He had some success in calling. It was not all negative. However, how rude the receptionists at some communities were was unusual.

  2. His post was read and responded to by a number of senior living folks in the pacific northwest, who were very, very concerned that it might be their community where this happened.

Mostly though it is a reminder how hard this customer service thing can be. I have no idea the specific communities or companies, but I do know I have encountered similar experiences. Sometimes it is with companies where I am convinced leadership really didn’t get it; yet, other times it happened where I knew leadership well enough to know they would be horrified.  

It could just as easily be someone who was looking for senior living, or a family member, or a referral source. These kinds of failures have the potential to be very, very expensive.

This would be a great story to share with your teams and a reminder of how quickly something can go wrong.