Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Return to Rule No. 1

Both presidential candidates have suggested solutions for the continuing jobs crisis. We have a suggestion, too: Hire more people to do the jobs that are begging to be filled.

Rule No. 1 in business is “Never make it hard for people to give you money.” In the name of “productivity,” what we now see are customers cooling their heels, waiting for someone to answer their questions, waiting to tell someone what they need, waiting for someone to take their money.

On the phone is the worst. How many transactions require going through automated receptionist hell? How much time is spent listening to a recorded voice saying, “Listen closely as our options have changed?” Why do we have to punch two, five, 10 numbers only to discover that a connection has “timed out” or the computers are down? Every phone message now starts out begging you to go “online,” apparently in the hope that all transactions can be handled without human contact.

This pervasive lack of human interaction seldom works to anyone’s benefit. Not all customers have Internet connectivity nor can they spare an entire day working their way through touch-tone systems or poorly trained call center agents. And business done this way does not generate loyal customers who come back to spend again.

What we seem to have now are more customers ready to spend their money than there are employees ready to take it. It is far past time for companies to hire and train more people to answer questions, solve problems, take our money and end the jobs crisis.

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