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MARKETING 101: Everyone Is Empowered.
A discussion of customer service.

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MARKETING 101: Everyone Is Empowered

         In Business Management, the concept of "Empowerment" is a stated policy which allows rank and file employees to make critical decisions without first asking permission. The policy is intended to cover those moments in business when management is unavailable or when following normal channels would be too time consuming . For instance, when a customer is angry and is demanding an immediate solution, an "empowered" employee can do what is necessary to make the customer happy without adding fuel to the fire.

          For thirty years, I have been a loyal customer of FAT&T. There was a time when FAT&T was the only phone company and everyone had to use their services. Despite the growth of hundreds of competing telephone companies, I had always used the services of FAT&T. My thinking was that they invented the telephone, they had been in business the longest and they owned most of the telephone lines in the nation. Therefore, I rationalized, FAT&T must be the best.

          Yesterday, I dialed FAT&T to add a feature to my local service plan. I dialed the toll free number made famous by a television ad blitz 1-800 CALL FAT&T . After working through all the options, I finally got to speak with a lady named Theresa.

          When I explained that I wanted to make a change to my local FAT&T calling, Theresa coldly asked, "Why, Sir, would you call 1-800 CALL FAT&T to make changes to your local plan? This is the FAT&T long distance office…"

          I replied that I wanted to call FAT&T and dialing 1-800 CALL FAT&T seemed to be a natural choice.

          "No, Sir, you will have to call the office that handles local service", Theresa stated flatly.

          "Well, then, can you transfer me to that office?", I asked.

          The answer surprised me: "NO".   "

          Then , can you give me the number?", I asked. Theresa quickly spouted an 800 number and hung up. She did not ask me if I got the number. She did not ask me if there was anything else I needed. She did not say "Good Bye". She did not say "Thank you for using FAT&T". She simply hung up. Click. To boot, the office that handled local service was closed for the weekend.

          I am a large powder keg connected to a long fuse. Theresa quickly burned through much of my fuse but it still took about an hour of replaying the conversation in my mind to fully ignite the charge. Calling FAT&T back would be futile so I called a different phone company. I got right through to an effervescent account manager named Mary.

          Mary effortlessly handled the transfer of all my local phone services as well as long distance; chatting and joking the whole time. When the process was finished, Mary asked if I had any other concerns and I asked about wireless plans. Mary replied that wireless was in a different office but she would transfer my call. And...guess what?...That office was open!

          An international corporation the size of FAT&T won’t miss my $100 per month. Theresa will never know what became of me.

           But can any business truly afford to lose ANY customer?

          Whether or not it is by corporate policy, every person in every business everywhere is always "empowered" to either keep or lose customers.


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