From the Peak Your Profits!® newspaper column by:
Jeff Blackman, J.D., CSP, CPAE
Business-Growth Specialist

© Blackman & Associates, LLC

This is a customer service story. About the phone company. Yep, I know what you’re already thinking. You’re bracing yourself for a horror story. Another example of mediocrity in motion. Ineptitude personified. Stupidity glorified.

It’s unfortunate, yet it’s reality, that our previous experiences with a company and its personnel, usually, define our future expectations. Well, guess what, not this time!

I know. Amazing, yet true. In January, 2005, SBC (AT&T) earned my kudos and confidence. Here’s how.

On January 5th and 6th, Chicago and its suburbs were blanketed by snow. Our backyard was quickly transformed into a winter wonderland with ten inches of snow piled high.

The combination of snow, wind and moisture knocked-out one of our phone lines. Not a major problem, merely an inconvenience. However, I was ready for the real hassle to start, dealing with the phone company.

At 4:01 p.m., on Wednesday, January 5th, I called the 611 repair number. A recorded message told me there was a new toll free number to dial. Which I did. Although the new number wasn’t answered by a “real person.”

Instead, the “automated attendant” asked me a series of quick questions requiring touch-tone responses. Within three minutes, my new best “electronic friend” assured me he had all the required information. And my line would be fixed by 8:00 p.m. on January 6th.

On Thursday morning at 9:51 a.m., an SBC white van magically appeared at our home. Emerging from it, there appeared to be a large, menacing creature. Its head was big and furry. It had a shimmering blue skin, impervious to the snow that continued to fall. Water and wind were its enemies, as it took long, lumbering steps toward our front door.

When Big Foot landed upon our stoop, I was ready to call the police or Air National Guard. But then, this long hand extended itself toward me, (in some type of primitive greeting), and then I heard some low, guttural rumbling.

It sounded like, “Hi, I’m Al, your SBC repairman. And I’m here to fix your phone!”

Whoa! This had to be an alien creature. Despite the inclement conditions, this was a friendly, helpful phone repairman, focused on results!

At 10:25 a.m. Al re-emerged and said, “It’s all fixed. Here’s a copy of your work order. Have a happy new year. And if we can be of any help in the future, just shout!”

Then, that afternoon at 1:31 p.m., I received an automated phone call. It said:

“This is an SBC courtesy call. Your repair request has been completed. If you need further assistance, please call us at… Or visit our website at… Thank you for choosing SBC Illinois for all your communication needs. We value your business and look forward to serving you.”

Okay, this must be the pilot for some new reality TV show. Service like this doesn’t traditionally happen. Especially from the phone company!

Nine lessons:

  1. give customers quick and easy access to communicate a problem
  2. state a deadline that the problem will be fixed by
  3. don’t let obstacles impede your progress
  4. when fixing the problem, be cheerful, (view it as an opportunity, not an inconvenience)
  5. fix the problem, long before the deadline
  6. communicate the problem has been fixed
  7. provide multiple ways to communicate with you
  8. let customers know you value the relationship and their business
  9. plant the seeds for future business

NEGOTIATIONS: Two Dozen and Two!

Byline: Jeff Blackman

Jeff is a Hall of Fame speaker, best selling author, success coach, broadcaster and lawyer. His clients call him a “business-growth specialist.” If you hire speakers, please contact Sheryl Kantor at: 847.998.0688 or [email protected]. And visit to learn more about his other business-growth tools and to subscribe to Jeff’s FREE e-letter, The Results Report. Jeff’s Amazon bestselling books include; Stop Whining! Start Selling!, the 5th edition of Peak Your Profits and the recently published, (December, 2022), BULLSEYE! Hitting Your Targets at Home and at Work, which became a best seller within four days of its release. You can also stay connected with Jeff via Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter: @BlackmanResults