Average Talk Time and The Emperor’s New Clothes


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In Hans Christian Andersen’s short tale of The Emperor’s New Clothes, a vain Emperor who cares for nothing but his appearance and attire hires two tailors, who are really swindlers, who promise him the finest, best suit of clothes from a fabric invisible to anyone who is unfit for his position or “just hopelessly stupid”. The Emperor cannot see the cloth himself, but pretends that he can for fear of appearing unfit for his position; his ministers do the same. When the swindlers report that the suit is finished, they mime dressing him and the Emperor then marches in procession before his subjects, who play along with the pretense. Suddenly, a child in the crowd, too young to understand the desirability of keeping up the pretense, blurts out that the Emperor is wearing nothing at all and the cry is taken up by others. The Emperor cringes, suspecting the assertion is true, but holds himself up proudly and continues the procession, deciding never to be so vain again and to take his position more seriously.*

What does this have to do with “average talk time?” Everything! It is just as ludicrous to build a customer experience environment based on time to talk, rather than how long it takes to create a customer relationship, help the customer as best you can and leave them with a feeling that you appreciate their business and want to hear from them again. No representative, whether it’s face-to-face, telephone or email, should be evaluated on “talk time.” Instead, how effective a job they do should be measured by the creation of life long customers.

In many businesses, customers may only walk into your establishment by chance, call your company once to order a product or click a mouse when they see something of interest. Companies need to realize that while focusing on “talk time” may reduce expenses in the short term, educating and encouraging your representatives to create long lasting relationships will increase your long term ROI.

Senior executives develop strategies to increase sales and profits by creating products and services that customers want, building a better mouse-trap than their competitors and keeping costs contained. Reducing talk time is not the way to grow your business. Customers can see right through that strategy and will run to do business with your nearest competitor who focuses on making them feel welcomed, important, appreciated and valued. Make sure you don’t have an Emperor running your department, who is more interested in how costs look, rather than how relationships are built.

*synopsis of plot from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Emperor%27s_New_Clothes

Image Courtesy of: http://library.sc.edu/spcoll/kidlit/andersen/opt/emper-cvr.jpg

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Richard Shapiro
Richard R. Shapiro is Founder and President of The Center For Client Retention (TCFCR) and a leading authority in the area of customer satisfaction and loyalty. For 28 years, Richard has spearheaded the research conducted with thousands of customers from Fortune 100 and 500 companies compiling the ingredients of customer loyalty and what drives repeat business. His first book was The Welcomer Edge: Unlocking the Secrets to Repeat Business and The Endangered Customer: 8 Steps to Guarantee Repeat Business was released February, 2016.


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