How to De-Energize a Customer


"IT” starts in Gary, Indiana at US Steel’s immense integrated mill (the largest of its kind in the Northern Hemisphere). “IT” continues in Orlando with the United States Postal Service and Hurricane Irene. And “IT doesn’t stop until long after I return home to Southern California and a 7.0 earthquake. The “IT” is a laptop malfunction—the unnatural calamity created when technology and a virus meet.


First, installing the software challenges a neophyte. What the heck is a “keyring”? Why are the gauges literally written in Greek? Forbid I should call the support line. The posted hours in the manual are from 9am to 6pm Pacific Standard Time. Does a TON of good when you’re perched in the Midwest!


Next, wait until the appointed hour and try placing a toll call from an airport location. Voice mail hell reigns supreme. A garbled voice mumbles some unintelligible phrase and directs me to call another number. Seems that what is printed in the “quick start guide” of this newest edition is wrong. Dial the new toll call number. A recorded voice directs me to redial the very number that had just proved wrong. At no time am I even given the option to speak to a REAL person.


At the next location I try again, dialing any number that is printed. One works—for a product OTHER than the one I purchased. I seem to be put into a line for service. Elevator-type music plays and at no time am I told what the wait will be or if—ever—I can be helped.


Finally, when I get home, I dial a 900-number to get help and jump all over the poor technician who answered. (To his credit, he agreed not to charge me for the call.)

Angry. You bet. So here are the lessons you can use if you wish to turn away customers:


  1. Respond to calls only at your convenience. Forbid anyone from working hours that match the work hours of the majority of your clients.

  2. Never read your marketing material for errors.

  3. Make sure you never allow a customer to find a human for assistance.

  4. Have a customer go through many steps in order to find you. Reward only the most persistent. Make sure you waste a TON of their time.

  5. Never call back an angry customer and thank them for pointing out the errors in your system.


Here’s the deal. If you’re as big as this software company, hundreds of people must have been getting this lack of response. How long does it take them to fix it?


Please help my small company.  If our voice mail system goes down, please e-mail or text us so we can get it right. Text is 949-637-4233.  Let me publicly thank Esther Eagles from Eagles Talent Agency for getting mad enough to continually call my office. We wondered why our phones were so quiet that day.  Sure enough. There was a glitch.

Stuff happens.  But we want to make it right. ASAP. Naturally. And so do you.

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The Energizer:

Resilient Insights for Work & Life

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