Are Your Customers Hearing Voices?


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Regular readers of this blog know that I’m a big fan of Vanguard, the mutual fund provider. How they articulate and fulfill their brand purpose offers a great model to others.

But on a call with Vanguard yesterday, I was reminded of another way that the company “quietly” differentiates its customer experience.

When you call many 800-lines, there’s so much extraneous noise in the call center that it sounds like there are fifty chatty people huddled around the service representative to whom you’re speaking. Consumers have become accustomed to this 800-line chatter because they hear it so often.

Which is precisely why my experience with Vanguard was so striking. The person I spoke with sounded like they were in either a hermetically sealed room or a high-end spa. There was absolute quiet on the other end of the line. No chatter. No extraneous voices.

That made for a better caller experience, and not just because it was easier to hear the Vanguard representative. Without all the background chatter, the experience actually felt more like a personal call, and less like a cattle call. Instead of seeming to compete for the representative’s attention against a cacophony of other voices, I felt like he was singularly focused on me and my needs.

Like many experience enhancers, the quiet on the line was a subtle but powerful influence on the whole interaction. However Vanguard accomplished this (via cubicle design, soundproofing, noise canceling headsets, etc.), it’s a great example of a company appreciating – and actively shaping – every facet of a customer interaction.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Jon Picoult
As Founder of Watermark Consulting, Jon Picoult helps companies impress customers and inspire employees. An acclaimed keynote speaker, Jon’s been featured by dozens of media outlets, including The Wall St Journal and The New York Times. He’s worked with some of the world’s foremost brands, personally advising CEOs and executive teams.Learn more at or follow Jon on Twitter.


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