Dear Bell,

It’s commonly assumed that small businesses can benefit by modelling themselves after big business practices. I’m not sure about the origins of this—it may stem from an assumption that bigger businesses with their greater resources, are more sophisticated in their practices. Well, I’ve just come across one aspect of your business that could benefit from knowing something that a lot of small businesses already know, namely, that everyone in the business is a salesperson, and if not a salesperson, then at least an ambassador.

In your case I’m referring to the technician I found placing a ladder against a pole this morning. Just days ago I’d had a visit from a Bell Assistant Field Manager who tried to persuade me to switch our Wi-Fi service to your “superior fiber optic technology”. But she seemed uncertain about some of the technical details of bringing the cable to my house in the rural area in which I live. So this is why I was pleased to see your technician in the area this morning.

He completely ignored my initial greeting. At the second attempt he warned me to keep 20 feet away from him for “safety” reasons (he had a 20 ft ladder). Since I showed no signs of going away, he eventually asked what I wanted to know. I asked if the cable was fiber optic. He said I’d have to call “our salepeople” to discuss it. I asked why, since he was working on the cable, he couldn’t just tell me whether it was a fiber optic cable. It made no sense that I would have to make a phone call when he was right there with the answer. So then he confirmed that it was a fiber optic cable but repeated that if I wanted to know anything else I should call “our salespeople.”

Wouldn’t it have made more business sense if, first of all, he were pleasant, and secondly, if he’d handed me a business card or a pamphlet with the contact information I needed? Wouldn’t it make business sense for someone like him to take 30 seconds to tell me that if I wanted your “superior fiber optic technology” it could be done, but that you’d probably have to string a cable from the pole to my house? This guy’s on the front line with the public just like the janitors at Disneyland who are trained to answer visitor’s questions because they’re visible and therefore likely to be approached.

My current Wi-Fi may not be coming in on “superior fiber optic technology” but it works just fine. However, with better customer engagement I may have been persuaded to switch. Not so much now.