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Can anyone tell me why a customer at the end of the phone is more important than the customer actually there in person?

What is it about the phone that makes people cast aside common courtesy, and abandon any semblance of commercial wisdom the moment they hear it ring? Is it Pavlovian conditioning? Does free will desert them?

Let me explain what I mean.

After traveling halfway across the States, I finally reached my hotel tired, hungry, and longing to get to my room. I handed over the booking confirmation, slapped my credit card down for extras, filled in a form – vehicle reg, blah, blah – and just as I was about to be given my key, the phone rang.

Wham. I disappeared – in a flash – under Harry Potter’s invisibility cloak, while the customer on the phone zoomed down the line in true Matrix fashion to push right to the front of the queue.

In those first few minutes at Reception, I should have felt the full force of sublime customer service, distilled into an exquisitely crafted procedure, by an emotionally astute Receptionist, leaving me staggered by its quality and originality.

Moments of face-to-face interaction are fleeting and precious these days. It only takes a second to leave an impression that lasts a lifetime. Reputation, credibility are on the line, time after time.

Think I’m teaching my Grandmother to suck eggs? Not so.

Why on earth was the customer on the phone given preference, while the paying customer (who was on the spot) was left hanging – abandoned, ignored, feeling second rate?

Front line staff always go for the phone. Always.

Dr Valerie Bram is a Director at T2 –


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