My wife and I recently needed to renew our mortgage for another term. The last time our mortgage was due, our bank called several months in advance and offered a good interest rate so we automatically renewed with them. This year, however, was a bit different. We decided to do a bit of homework before speaking to our bank so that we would be in a better position to negotiate a better interest rate. We did some research and found a lender who offered an extremely attractive interest rate—almost two full percentage points below the posted rate of our bank.

Armed with this information, my wife called our bank directly but was transferred to a call centre. Here’s a summary of the telephone conversation.

Call Centre Agent (CCA): Hi, may I help you?

My wife: Yes, our mortgage is coming up for renewal and the last time our mortgage was due someone contacted us several months beforehand but we haven’t heard anything from you yet.

CCA: No problem. What branch do you bank with? I’ll contact someone there and they can probably renew your mortgage over the telephone.

MY wife waited several minutes until the agent came back on the line.

CCA: I’m sorry ma’am. They don’t want to talk to you. Your mortgage isn’t due for six weeks so we can’t renew it right now.

Wife: I don’t want renew it yet. I just want to get some information.

CCA: There’s nothing they can do—it’s too early.

Wife: So no one will talk to me about this?

CCA: No ma’am.

Wife: My husband and I have received a quote from another mortgage company and they’re offering a good interest rate. Are you saying that we should go with them?

CCA: I guess so.

Wife: You really want us to transfer our mortgage?

CCA: There’s nothing we can do.

Wife: So you’re saying that you have no interest in keeping our business and renewing our mortgage?

CCA: I guess so.

Wife: Okay, I guess we’ll take our business somewhere else.

My wife and I were somewhat flabbergasted when she hung up the telephone. In my opinion, it was evident that no one had taught this particular call centre agent how to effectively deal with this type of situation. He clearly had no idea that his actions were costing his employers thousands of dollars. Or, perhaps that was what he had been taught to do. This may have been an isolated incident but I highly doubt it. Needless to say we started the process to transfer our mortgage to another lender.

I realize that banks make the bulk of their money in the first half of a mortgage. However, it still blew me away that they were willing to give their competition our business so easily. Most large lending companies invest millions of dollars in advertising in an attempt to attract and draw new customers. What if they took a portion of this money and taught their call centre agents how to properly deal with every type of situation? Imagine the money they could save.

So, how does this affect you?

If you run a business and rely on other people in the organization to make contact with your customers, you could be losing business due to their actions and behaviour. Invest the time and resources teaching your team exactly how they should behave, what they should say, and how they should respond to specific situations. A ‘throw away’ comment made by an untrained employee can cost you hundreds or thousands of dollars in sales depending on what you sell.

If you are a sales rep, think of how your actions and behaviour could cost your employer money in the form of lost sales and market share. And every sale they lose costs you job security.

By the way, we did eventually receive a call from our bank—four weeks later. It went something like this.
“Hi Mr. and Mrs. Robertson. It’s Debbie calling from your bank. I’m calling to remind you that your mortgage is coming up for renewal and I’d like to talk to you about the options you have.”

Obviously, the conversation we had with that call centre rep was not forwarded to the actual mortgage person at our bank. And once we told her about that conversation her shock, frustration and concern was quickly apparent. I’m sure she makes a commission or is responsible for achieving sales targets each month and the actions of her colleague in the call center cost her business.

Don’t let this happen to you! If you rely on other people to help you reach your sales targets, take the time to coach and show them exactly how to do it. Don’t let other people cost you money!

© 2006 Kelley Robertson, All rights reserved.

Author's Bio: 

Kelley Robertson is a professional speaker and trainer on sales, negotiating, customer service, and employee motivation. Visit He is also the author of “The Secrets of Power Selling” and “Stop, Ask & Listen-Proven Sales Techniques to turn Browsers into Buyers.” Receive a FREE copy of “100 Ways to Increase Your Sales” by subscribing to his free newsletter available at his website.