By Nancy Friedman, Telephone Doctor

There are, of course, many ways to sabotage your business. And, chances are, your staff is doing some of these now, without you even knowing it. And worse yet, you’ve probably even heard some of this yourself (ouch!). That’s the bad news.

The good news is, through our many Telephone Doctor surveys we’re able to bring to you the top five sabotage practices and then show you how to neutralize the effects. So, get ready. You and your staff are about to be in a much better position to handle: The Five Top Ways to Sabotage Your Business Today:

  • It’s Not Our Policy  

This, unfortunately, is used more as an excuse than anything else. It’s a sure thing that the employee has not been shown how to explain a policy to someone. This phrase is used more as something to say when the employee doesn’t know what to say. The customer then calls that an “excuse.”

When the customer hears “it’s not our policy,” they immediately respond (usually silently) with, “WHO CARES?” What a business needs to understand is no one but the management and staff cares about your policies. Do you really think the customer says to himself or herself as they enter or call your place of business, “Gee, I wonder what their policy is on this issue?”

All this being said, there are companies who do have policies that make it more difficult to work with them than with others. So here’s a suggestion: Decide on your policy, then work as a team with your staff to find a positive way to explain it to the customer and move around the ‘policy.’ It can be done. Otherwise, it’ll be the customer’s policy not to do business with you!

  • It’s Not My Department  

Well then, whose is it? Let’s remember one of the Telephone Doctor mottos: Tell the customer what you do, not what you DON’T do. If someone mistakenly gets to your extension and asks for something that you don’t handle, the following is far more effective: “Hi, I work in the paint department. Let me get you to someone in the area you need.” This is far more effective than telling someone it’s not your department. (And please don’t say: “YOU have the wrong department.” Take full responsibility with the “I” statement.)

  • My Computer’s Down  

Yeah, yeah, yeah. We’ve all heard that one. And ouch! That one hurts because there are still many customers who remember the days BEFORE the computer. My goodness, how did we ever survive? Sure it’s easier to have the computer but, believe it or not, millions of businesses were launched and operated on 3 x 5 cards or some other type of manual database.

When your computer crashes, this sounds so much better: “I’ll be delighted to help you. It may take a little longer as I’ll need to do things by hand. Our computers are currently down.” Or ask a benign question that will let the caller talk. This way you’ve still explained what happened and they’ll have a little more compassion as you’ve offered assistance and didn’t simply blame the computer for your inability to help.

  1. I Wasn’t Here That Day (or I was on vacation when that happened)

This one really makes me laugh. Does that excuse the company? I don’t remember asking them if they were there that day. Do you really think the customer cares if you weren’t there when their problem happened? Honestly, they don’t, so that’s not even an issue to discuss. Just hit the problem head on. Apologize without telling them where you were or weren’t. Remember, you ARE the company whether you were at work or on vacation when the issue occurred.

  • I’m NEW  

One of the absolute WORST. OK, so you’re new. Now what? Does being “new” allow you to be anything but super to the customer? When the customer hears this sabotaging statement, do you really think they say: “Oh, so you’re new? Well, ok then, so that’s why I’m getting bad service? Well, then that’s okay. You’re new. Now I understand.”

Yes, even if you are new, the customer honestly believes you should know everything about your job.

Here’s the Telephone Doctor method on this one. You can tell the customer, “Please bear with me, I’ve only been here a few weeks.” That will buy you time. For whatever reason, hearing the short LENGTH of time you are with the company means more to the customer than, “I’m new.” Again, it’s more of an “excuse.” Remember to state the length of time. It’s a creditability enhancement. “I’m NEW” is a creditability buster. 

Good luck! 

Nancy Friedman

Nancy Friedman

Communication and customer service expert Nancy Friedman, The Telephone Doctor, founder and chairman of Telephone Doctor Customer Service Training, is back in the saddle again. Well, back into live onsite programs, and still offering her ZOOM programs, in a cost saving manner. Whichever you choose, onsite or Zoom, you’ll be glad you did. The reviews are excellent, and audiences have loudly applauded her in either area. Sales, customer service and communication skills are her area of expertise, and she welcomes calls, texts, or emails. You can reach her directly at; through the website at, where you can sign up for her newsletters; or call/text directly at 314-276-1012 central time. Bring it on. Whether you need a keynote speaker or workshop/breakout speaker on customer service and communication skills, you’ll make a great choice.