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How Do You Sound?

Originally published: 02.01.20 by Tom Merriott

If you’re a general manager or an owner, it’s your responsibility to know how your company sounds 24 hours a day. This is shocking news to some, but knowing how you sound is vital to the continued success of your organization.

And before you stop reading this article because you walk through your call center “all the time” and “everyone sounds great,” I need you to realize that drive-by, one-sided listening is unacceptable. The only way to truly know how you are interacting with your customer base is through recorded calls or live mystery calling./p>

First, let’s talk about recorded calls. I need you to make sure that you’re listening from a customer’s perspective, not that of a manager or owner.

This will be tough, because your instinct will be to focus on the things that your people should be doing and not how the consumer is reacting. Listening from the customer’s perspective will take your focus away from the “procedural aspect” of the call and allow you to hear those things that matter to the people who pay for your services.

Take note of the little things, like if your people are listening to what the customer is saying, rather than “half-hearing” while they wait to fill in another line in your software.

Maybe while your team member is giving half his ear, the customer disclosed something recent that happened at their home that’s turned their world upside down. The customer is scared because they have no idea if the problem can be fixed, how soon it can be fixed, and — most frightening of all — how much it will cost to fix.

You might hear the anxiety in their voice as they discuss this terrible turn of events, but then the response they hear back on your company’s end is, “Could I get your address to see if you’re in our system?”

This exact scenario is the reason why you need to pay special attention to the voice and tone of your call center staff. Regular listening from a customer’s perspective will help you pick up on things like a lack of empathy from your people and will make you better at discovering coaching opportunities for the team.

A quick word of caution about any recorded or mystery call interactions with your team: resist the urge to overreact. You may find this to be hard to do, especially if you haven’t done it before.

My best advice is to give yourself a day to cool off before you address any issues. This can be quite the challenge for most entrepreneurs.

Mystery calls are best done from a number not associated with you or your business. I always use my wife’s phone, or borrow one from a friend if my system populates caller ID.

Before you make the call, you should have an address and a scenario ready to go. You need to shift your mindset to that of someone with a problem who needs an expert to make things right.

Again, take yourself out of the role of the boss and try to listen for those things that make you feel good when you call other services in your life.

Was your staff friendly? Did it seem like they genuinely enjoyed working for your company? Did they make you feel like you would be a part of something special? If you answer no to any of these questions, then make some coaching notes and ask yourself if you have been clear with your expectations.

You should repeat this process throughout the day. You should even try calling in the middle of the night to see how your company sounds under the command of those who don’t think anyone is paying attention.

I cannot overstate the importance of how your company sounds. Take action today to develop a more empathetic and customer-centric company voice.


About Tom Merriott

Tom Merriott, a business coach at Nexstar who focuses on call-center, dispatch and contractor communication process excellence, brings years of call center and management experience from independent HVAC, plumbing and electrical contractors. For additional information, visit

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