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Blake Dowling: A sense of balance in customer service goes far

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Last week, I chatted with legal ace and contributor Florence Snyder.

We discussed what happens when technology and innovation in business stop assisting the process and becomes a nuisance (or worse).

One example is when a security company calls you during the day, you see the name pop up on your phone; you panic, thinking you are being robbed or your house is on fire.

You quickly answer to learn it’s only a short, automated survey.

How about texts with updates? I love getting texts from Haute Headz (haircut spot in Tallahassee) about an upcoming appointment; it’s a great reminder. I do not love a text from Walgreens telling me that my prescription is read and, when I arrive, they never heard of me. This happened again just yesterday.

Figure it out, already.

Obviously, a sense of balance is just as important in business as it is in life. Finding the perfect mix of tech to give harmony versus hysterics (or hostility).

At our firm, we offer a web portal where clients can access all things via an intranet. Even then, I make sure to give out my cell number also to each organization we serve; sometimes, you just need someone to answer the phone.

I am certainly not claiming anything near perfection, but we strike a good balance.

My grandfather’s father’s store, he was in the mule business.

I recall a few years ago when my grandfather JD — who was well into his 90s — received a call from J.C. Penney about a past-due account. He politely told them it was not, but they insisted, informing him they were going to put a negative mark on his credit. This got JD fired up. He then unloaded a barrage of colorful language on that J.C. Penney rep (it would have made Andrew Dice Clay blush).

Bottom line is this: JD was a client for 60 years, and should have been treated with more courtesy. Right or wrong.

JC Penny would have been lucky if their problems stopped with my grandfather, but they certainly have not.

Florence shared another very personal story from 10 years ago involving her mother’s Book of the Month Club package, which arrived three days after she died. She called the company’s 800 number.

Florence, who had not slept in days, was crying.

I could almost hear the operator tapping keys as she expressed condolences while searching for the obit.

Seconds later, the operator said: “I’ve canceled your mom’s membership. Keep the books and do not worry about the bill. It’s taken care of. I am so sorry for your loss.”

That’s how you do it. Balance, email alerts, mobile apps, texting, websites with good ol’ fashioned face-to-face customer service.

Thanks to Florence for sharing her experiences with me (and us); I look forward to our next dialogue.

See you out there.


Blake Dowling is CEO of Aegis Business Technologies. He can be reached at [email protected].

Blake Dowling is chief business development officer at Aegis Business Technologies. His technology columns are published by several organizations. Contact him at [email protected] or at

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