Merge's Blog

Why it’s so important to return phone calls

Recently, a colleague suggested I contact a specific company because she’d been made aware that they were seeking leadership development training for their people.  Given what I do, it seemed like a perfect fit.  While my colleague couldn’t direct me to a specific person, she was quite familiar with the company and so was able to direct me to the right department.  I called and spoke to their receptionist, who promptly transferred me to the appropriate manager, who I’ll call Kara Close.  I left a voice mail for Kara, explaining who I was and why I was calling.  I acknowledged that she may not be the right contact for this particular matter, or the company may have already met their requirements through alternate means, but asked her to call me back to let me know or to direct me elsewhere.  I also gave her my email address.  That was two weeks ago.  I’m still waiting for a response.

Now I know all the likely reasons Kara Close didn’t call me back – she probably gets hundreds of phone calls from potential vendors, the company doesn’t need my services, I called the wrong person, she is too busy.  But here’s why she SHOULD have responded to me.  This company is a well-known corporation in the cruise industry.  And so I am not only a potential vendor, but I am ALSO a prospective customer.  Kara Close’s lack of response to me as a possible vendor is ALSO a very visible indicator of what kind of customer service I might expect from this organization as a consumer.  The cruise industry is fiercely competitive with many top-notch lines aggressively battling to get vacation dollars.  So, the next time I plan a cruise holiday, how high on my list do you think this company is going to be?

Kara Close may not have the words “Customer Service” in her job title, but she is definitely (not) a customer relationship ambassador.  It doesn’t matter what jobs your employees do, they are always representing your company, your brand and your organization’s values.  By not responding to my call, Kara Close gave me an unexpected insight into this organization’s values and culture, and in the process, did her company a great disservice.

So what do you think?  Am I right?  Or am I being too sensitive?


  • Merge

    I work as the HR manager, one of two people taking care of HR in a company of almost 500 employees. I get many calls from people who have applied for jobs, or want questions asked before they apply for jobs, etc.
    I am not able to call back each person, simply because of all the other higher priority things that need to be done in a day.

    Now, your point is that many callers are also potential customers. Perhaps I can take a moment to forward that information to someone who can help, rather than leaving them with no contact.

  • Patsy, despite the additional work this would create, I really think what you’re considering is a good idea. When I was still actively involved in university recruiting at a large oil and gas company, we had a staff member who sent out “rejection” letters to those who didn’t get past the application stage. But for those who made it to an interview with me, I always made it a point to call each one, even if it was a rejection. I left a voice mail if necessary. I just felt that if they had given up their time to come to see me, then I could give up a few minutes of my time to say “no thanks”. And at the back of my mind, I always knew that each one of these people would buy gas for their cars for the rest of their lives, so each one was also a potential customer.


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