Did you know that there is no market research out there that concluded that consumers were sick and tired of talking to real people and would rather be presented with a recorded menu of options that would ultimately lead them to being put on hold and in some cases dumped into a voicemail box where they could just leave a message and hope and pray that a live person will care enough to actually listen to it and call them back? Really. No market research anywhere that says that’s good service.

So why do most companies use an automated attendant now? Simple. Cuz they can. Or as Ken Blanchard said, “The only reason your customers are satisfied is because their expectations are so low, and because nobody else is doing any better.”

Well, my friends at Knoxville Post Office Credit Union have decided that enough is enough. They are answering the phone!!! It started as an experiment. You see, they don’t have a formal call center yet. They have their incoming calls routed to the staff (with front-line picking up many of them). This is AFTER the members listen to the usual litany of “press one for this” and “two for that…..”

They weren’t sure why members were even calling so for one week decided to turn off the recording, get the member live and log the nature of the calls.

On Monday (btw, they picked a theme song to start each day – played in the branches to get people revved up – “I just called to say I love you…..” was Monday’s song) anyway – members were blown away when they got a live person. Some thought they’d dialed the wrong number. The CEO and all VPs rotated time on the phone. Imagine a member’s surprise (and delight) when they called in with a question only to have the CEO answer them directly and immediately.

Linda Childs, CEO has decided that this is no longer an experiment but rather a great way to differentiate themselves from their competition.

By making it fun (and throwing in a little competition) they actually had employees fighting to answer phones. One employee even figured out a way to answer the phone first every time – she never put the receiver back in the cradle. Kept her finger on the phone….it’s good stuff.

The goal now is to reduce the number of calls that get transfered. They are embarking on a company-wide cross-training program to really serve the members as quickly and smoothly as possible.

Kudos to KPOCU for questioning everything, having fun and making their members day – week – month – and now relationship the best ever!