How a call from Orange made me see red

(Phone call from Orange, the telecoms company)

I was not asked if it was a convenient time for me to talk, before the young woman launched into her spiel.

“Did you know Orange (rapid speech)….to EE?”

“Yes, but I’m actually doing some work right now.  I only answered the phone because…”

“…You’ve got X plan…Are you happy with your broadband?

Did she hear me?  I’m being pushed to answer, aren’t I?

“No it cuts out a lot even with a new router.”

She spoke very fast. When I mentioned that I wasn’t happy with my deal as it was too expensive and I was about to change it, either with Orange or another provider, she instantly dived into something about a deal where you get phone line, unlimited landline calls… Too fast to really follow.  (About £3-4 cheaper than my current deal?)  This didn’t sound revolutionary to me. I replied that I’d had other much cheaper quotes.

Her “What are they? Who with?” (Not politely.)

I declined to tell her but mentioned £10 – 14. Instant snap back: “Landlines are £14 (something) so it can’t have been that price”

Oh brilliant, now she’s inferring I’m stupid.  She’s really winning me over.

Me “Can you send me this in writing?”

Her “No, we can’t do that.  But you can look on our website”

I expect that suits them better, even if it doesn’t me, the customer whom Orange is in danger of losing.

Me “I’m in the middle of some work so I don’t really want to go into this more now…”

Don’t know what she answered, except that it was very fast.

How we respond to being pushed

When I put the phone down I considered how I was now feeling.  Look at it this way: how would I have responded to a sales assistant in a shop rushing up to me, barging into a conversation perhaps, and trying to bulldoze me into some deal – even if they thought it was a better one for me?  Would this have been either socially acceptable or likely to persuade me to buy their product?

Communication is not about throwing out information and opinions and expecting other people to enjoy the experience.  Successful selling is not simply telling people something is good or better for them.  (Why did this operator use this technique? Who trained her? Can somebody help her please.  She may be a great salesperson with a bit of guidance.)  

Really effective sales people suggest, listen, and don’t try to get the better of their customers.  They react, they build rapport and they try to find suitable solutions.  Just as other good communicators do.

There’s a lesson here for presenters too.  When we’re sitting in an audience, do we want people spitting out facts, telling us what’s good for us and contradicting us if we express an opinion? Are your listeners more, or less, inclined to listen to you with interest if you behave as this call centre operator did?

In my view, communication between people involves the exchange of (appropriate) emotions.  For example, the subtext – or the emotional content – beneath a bright: “You look really nice!” might be ‘I want you to feel self-confident and happy’. We say something and we have the opportunity to make the other person or people feel what we want them to feel, or we don’t think about it, say what we think and leave it to chance.  I know which I think is more effective.

What did I feel at the end of that phone call?   What I feel is going to influence what I do.  If I hear a terrific appeal for a charity I might well feel moved to give something to them.  If someone insults me then they probably won’t stay on my Christmas card list.

Do you think I’m more, or less,  inclined to stay with Orange after this call?

Photo montages by Bob May

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