The Things that Unite Us: Part 2

Ten phone calls made. Three voice mail messages left. Over the three days from Monday to Wednesday, I figure I’ve done my bit to make an appointment with my hearing aid clinic after receiving their message to do so. And what have they done in response? Nothing. Nada. Zip. Zero pick-ups, zero callbacks.

But on Thursday I call again, get their voice mail again, hang up without leaving another message, and calmly dial the number of the same clinic’s downtown location, even though I know each office is a stand-alone franchise operation. Their voice mail informs me that they’re closed for two days. “Yankee Thanksgiving?” I wonder, a bit puzzled. Whatever. At least I stop making phone calls.

A week to the day after I’d started, I call my clinic again.

Hi. You’ve reached the west-end office of XXX.
If you want the downtown office, hang up and call this number: YYY-TTT-LLLL.
I’m either on the phone or busy with a customer,
so please leave your name and number and I’ll get back to you.

Not gonna do it.

Fool me once? Shame on you.
Fool me twice? Shame on me.
Fool me thrice? Not so nice.
Fool me four times? Nope.

I calmly call the downtown office. Again.

Hi. This is Mary. How can I help you?

Thank God: a live human, and one who takes on my problem, promising to look into it. Will wonders never cease? By noon, I have an appointment scheduled with my clinic. I do not have an acknowledgement of the problem, much less any apology.

This little customer-service breakdown made me cranky, but it didn’t make me crazy. I had full agency, as they say, or I would as soon as I’d retrieved my sent-for-repair hearing aids. After all, I could leave that clinic and go to another location.

Hi, Mary. My name is Isabel and I’m your new client.

I could even start all over with another hearing-aid business altogether.

Monopolies create unwilling commitment. The customer is trapped.
Seth’s Blog

I was not, and am not, trapped, at least when it comes to hearing aids. I. Have. Options.

Leaving (and the perceived threat of leaving) is a powerful negotiation tactic.
When the customer/partner/citizen could bolt at any moment, we act differently.
Seth’s Blog, 10 Dec 2019

Well, we should act differently.

And commitment is a powerful creation tactic.
When the parties involved know that they’re committed to a future together,
it makes it more likely that they’ll produce a positive new version of how that future can look.

The jury is still out on whether I’ll commit to a future with my west-end hearing-aid clinic, and it seems that the jury is still out on whether Canadians will commit to a future together. (What are the odds? I finish a piece on the things that unite us, and the next day Seth Godin writes about that same general topic.)

Nations are now discovering that shifts in loyalty
and the transferability of assets are a real issue going forward.
One option is to make secession more difficult,
the other is to increase the likelihood of individuals choosing to commit.

I don’t think anyone in the Federal Government is looking for my advice, but I’ll just say two things. (Just one more voice-mail message sent into the ether to be disregarded? Maybe. Hey, I’m in practice.)

First, regardless of what you think, Westerners seem to think that they have options.

Second, if you decide you want to increase the likelihood of individuals choosing to commit, I have a hiring suggestion for you.

Hi. This is Mary. How can I help you?



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4 Responses to The Things that Unite Us: Part 2

  1. Tom Watson says:

    “Hi, Isabel, this is Tom. … Sorry, what was that you said, again? … Care to repeat it? … Sorry, we’re apparently not hearing you well. … Ok, please call back after hours and leave a message. We’ll be sure to listen to it.”


  2. Barbara Carlson says:

    With this disregard, I add them to my feeling that as I age I am being put out on a communications ice floe and given a push.

    Despite all the ways to communicate we are doing so less and less, and with more frustration. Now, even some companies are eliminating their email options.

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Barbara – Yes, I know what you mean. I had a hell of a time even *finding* the Contact Us page/section on a corporate website recently. It was like, “Don’t call us, we’ll call you. At suppertime.”

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