The dastardly dangers in hiring Order Takers

Guess what order takers do? If your answer is the obvious, ‘Take orders,’ sorry, but you’re at least partially wrong. Order takers undermine your business in more ways than one, and that’s sadly their biggest talent. While they are generally cheap to hire, they upset customers and render a non-thinking perimeter atmosphere. In short, they stupefy your workplace, which rains negativity down upon the minds of employees and customers alike.

Let’s take a brief look at the two primary types of Order Takers:

Type 1 Order Taker
The first kind of order taker, as you may have guessed, takes orders. That means they type an order into the blanks on a computer screen, or write it down on a sheet of paper. If you sell a product which requires absolutely no customers service ever, a Type 1 Order Taker may serve you well. That type of product comprises approximately .5% of all products (that’s point five, or one half, in case you missed the decimal).

Type 1’s are incapable of helping customers do anything other than placing an order. If a question is asked of them, there is a great chance their response will lose the customer, because these order takers are extremely adept at turning off their thinking brain cells (or they simply do not care to use them), while leaving their angry brain cells live with a direct feed from the phone receiver. They are more focused on their own agenda than the customer’s, and they will boldly speak right over the customer’s voice. They do not investigate, and are not problem solvers. If a customer should ask a question not directly related to the order process, Type 1 Order Takers will instantly let the customer know their inherent irritation is far more important than said customer’s need.

In summary, Type 1 Order Takers are just there to do their time, as if they are in prison, and collect a paycheck. They hurt your business, (and you may be wise to shift them into assembly line work [no disrespect to assembly line workers], but only if it requires zero thought).

Type 2 Order Taker
The other type of order taker is even more dangerous because they take the boss’s orders and follow them to the letter. Like Type 1 Order Takers, Type 2’s are incapable of thinking. They simply do what they are told. They cannot interpret, correct, improvise or take initiative to do something better. If you accidentally feed them incorrect information, they will inevitably produce an incorrect product, even if they know it’s wrong. There’s a problem with this because the more Type 2 Order Takers you hire, the dumber your staff will be (sorry).

There’s another problem too. Type 2 Order Taking is a contagious disease, and good people – the non-order takers, a.k.a. ‘thinkers’ and ‘doers,’ in your organization – are susceptible to the disease. Once they see that Type 2 Order Takers can earn just as much money with little to no effort as their thinking counterparts, others will adopt Type 2 behavior. That’s when the entire organization becomes a poison nest of brain rot, and customers inevitably will take notice, leave with their money, and likely never return.

In summary, Type 2 Order Takers are faithful to the cause and hard-working, but they have a singular focus on following orders to the letter, which can result in finger-pointing, a contagious lack of intelligent thought, disappointed customers, loss of business, and long-term organizational stupidity.

The Good and Bad News
The bad news is that hiring order takers has become the corporate America norm. In an economic downturn, the need for cheap staff is seemingly paramount, but the reality is the opposite. It’s quite like cutting your marketing team during a downturn, which in and of itself is like cutting off your head to feed to your body. (It will never work out.)

The good news is hiring thinkers and doers will far outweigh the cost of higher salaries when you consider process efficiency, launching initiatives, customer retention and overall sales volume. And as a lovely bonus, you can hire less people to boot, because thinkers and doers will outperform order takers any day of the week.

Hiring thinkers and doers is smart business. It’s working better, smarter and faster, and will show the powers that be at your organization that you are valuable. Perhaps most importantly, thinkers and doers will keep customers happier every time.

Kelly Hobkirk - teaching marketers how to harness strategy, goals, reality, and purpose to connect and do better work.


Kelly Hobkirk has been helping companies succeed in creative ways for nearly 25 years. His work has been featured in Time Magazine, and books by Rockport and Rotovision. Get exclusive articles when you sign up for his monthly newsletter.

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