The Telephone Customer Experience: Undercover Boss Style!

The Telephone Customer Experience: Undercover Boss Style!


Our company belongs to several business networking groups in order to network with other professionals and gain potential prospects. Pretty standard stuff! You introduce yourself, explain what your business does, have some food and drink, etc.

I sat at a roundtable discussion with numerous business owners and the topic came up about customer service and the customer experience. Everyone gave their story and opinion about what it meant, and how they were doing it at their company. I can tell you nobody stood up and said “our service could be better, or we need to improve upon the customer experience”. In fact most owners thought these areas were being handled effectively at their business.

This lead me to beg the question of what these businesses were doing about the telephone customer experience. I had asked if they’ve ever called into their own business to see exactly what the telephone customer service and experience was like. Not a single one raised their hand!

So, I decided to stir up the pot a bit. I joked about the hit reality tv series Undercover Boss, where executives slip anonymously into the rank-and-file of their own organizations to scout out how their companies are actually performing. I also posed a challenge. I invited several business owners to visit our company, and we would anonymously call their business during peak times, so they could see first-hand exactly what that experience was like. We would record the calls, and then play them back at the next meeting to see what we discovered.

Let me tell you, we discovered plenty! One owner who was game for the challenge was shocked to find that when he called into his business, the hold music had extreme profanity.


We’ve removed the company’s name, but here are the actual calls:

This brand sounds out of tune


The black hole on hold


Warning this call contains extreme profanity


I don’t even know what you would call this?


Needless to say what we uncovered was some pretty bad caller on hold experiences. Some which would leave callers feeling forgotten, some leaving them frustrated and others that would seem offensive, etc. None of which pass the litmus test with these owners. To dig a little deeper, we had these same business owners survey their callers about their telephone customer experience, and the results were obviously less than stellar.

We then provided them with a custom on hold messaging solution, and once again had them survey callers about the experience. Hands down, callers were impressed and reported having a positive telephone experience.

Now if you call that hotel who had profanity playing on hold without realizing it, and get placed on hold you’ll hear their professional music and message on hold.


Music and engaging messages enhance brand image, improve customer service and the caller on hold experience. Now, we’ll pose the same challenge to you. When was the last time you phoned your own business to see what the experience is like? Or, perhaps if you have ever done it all? As with these business owners, you may be very surprised at what you find!

Take the Undercover challenge (without having to wear a disguise). Call your business, and be honest with yourself. Is the telephone customer experience as it good as it should be? If not, then try our risk-free custom on hold message demo and if you don’t absolutely love it — you pay nothing!


Share this post