Nancy Friedman

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Nancy J. Friedman
Occupation Customer service consultant
Years active 1982–present
Organization Telephone Doctor
Known for Telephone skills training
Home town St. Louis, Missouri
Spouse(s) Dick Friedman
Children David, Linda

Nancy J. Friedman (known in her business persona as the "Telephone Doctor")[1] is an American customer service and telephone skills consultant.[1]

Telephone Doctor[edit]

Nancy Friedman is founder and president of Telephone Doctor, an international[where?] customer-service training company in St. Louis, Missouri.[2][3] She also appears as spokesperson in the company's video training programs.[4] Friedman controls the registered trademark and dotcom domain for "Telephone Doctor".[4]

Friedman speaks widely [weasel words] in corporate seminars in the U.S.[4][5][6] She has been a keynote speaker at Fortune 500 and other corporate and association meetings.[4][7] Her practices were recommended by Bear Stearns chairman Alan C. Greenberg for implementation by all employees.[6]

By 1994, Telephone Doctor employed 23 staff members and had annual worldwide sales of $2 million.[8][9]

Friedman's desire to teach businesses how to make better use of the telephone rather than to take it for granted[5] has been called a "crusade" and a "quest to stamp out phone rudeness".[6] She explains that bad customer service translates into lower sales and lost business of hundreds of millions of dollars.[3][8]


In 1982, after being treated rudely in a routine call to her insurance agent, Friedman both canceled her policies and started the "desk drawer" one-woman business Telephone Doctor to train employees in telephone etiquette.[8][9] The insurer company asked "how it should be done" and invited Friedman to demonstrate polite customer service to its representatives, leading to Friedman providing customer-service seminars to other corporations and associations.[7][10] Friedman's first seminar earned 38 cents in profit.[8][9] "Telephone Doctor" was named by Friedman's second client, a Midwestern city newspaper editor.[7]

Telephone Doctor sought to fill a 1980s void in specialist training assistance for business managers[11] with its customer service training.


Some of Friedman's typical phone etiquette recommendations include:

  • Smiling before answering the phone (even forced smiling) improves voice quality and energy:[5] to prevent emotional leakage, "A phony smile is better than a real frown."[6]
  • Negative audibles like the "big sigh" are the first step toward poor customer service.[4]
  • Let customers know that you are "delighted" to help them first, to set the stage, before telling them negatives.[4]
  • Keep office etiquette even when using a cell phone.[2]
  • Never hang up on a customer.[3]

Recommendations for business owners include:

  • Have a new-employee orientation program on customer service and phone skills.[4][7]
  • Call your company repeatedly as if a customer, and ask for yourself or your service or product.[4]
  • Treat your internal calls as effectively and politely as external calls.[4]

Forbidden phrases[edit]

Friedman's 1987 training video, "Five Forbidden Phrases",[12] has advocated for the ban of five phrases,[6][7] suggesting replacing them with alternatives such as those suggested in the following table:

"Forbidden Phrase" Recommended Alternative
I don't know. That's a good question. Let me check ...
We can't do that. That's a tough one. Let's see ...
You'll have to ... Here's how we can help ...
Hang on. Are you able to hold?
No, ... (beginning any sentence) We can ... (or any positive response)[1][10]


"WACTEO", an acronym meaning "We Are Customers To Each Other", is Friedman's slogan to improve communication with both customers and coworkers. Some of the ground rules for WACTEO include understanding one's role, respecting the differences and the personal needs of other employees, working to resolve conflicts, and especially showing appreciation for others.[13]


Nancy Friedman is married to Dick Friedman, founder of Weatherline, Inc. Dick and Nancy have two children, David and Linda, who work at Weatherline and Telephone Doctor.[7]


  • Customer Service Nightmares: 100 Tales of the Worst Experiences Possible, and how They Could Have Been Fixed (1998)
  • Telephone Skills from A to Z: The Telephone Doctor Phone Book (2000)
  • Telemarketing Tips from A to Z: How to Make Every Call a Winner! (2001)
  • Excuses, Excuses, Excuses ... (2001)
  • Fifty Little Tips that Make a Big Difference (2005)
  • How to Get Your Customers Swearing by You, Not at You: Telephone Doctor's Guide to Customer Service Training (2008)
  • 54 Golden Nuggets: Quick Tips to Cure Your Business Communication Ills (2011)


  1. ^ a b c Performance Research Associates (29 Oct 2011). Delivering Knock Your Socks Off Service. American Management Association. pp. 73–74. Retrieved 24 May 2014. 
  2. ^ a b Davies, Kent R. (October 2000). "Mobile Manners". Database. Rotarian. p. 16. Retrieved 8 May 2012. 
  3. ^ a b c Enbysk, Monte (ed.). Fifteen Customer Service No-Noes.  In Hammond, James (3 Mar 2011). "Talking the Walk". Branding Your Business. Kogan Page Publishers. pp. 115–117. ISBN 9780749463021. Retrieved 8 May 2012. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i Doane, Darryl S.; Sloat, Rose D (1 Sep 2003). 50 Activities for Achieving Excellent Customer Service. pp. 6, 24, 85. ISBN 9780874257373. Retrieved 8 May 2012. 
  5. ^ a b c Applegate, Jane (8 Apr 2011). "Great Idea 175: Listen to the Telephone Doctor". 201 Great Ideas for Your Small Business (3rd ed.). John Wiley & Sons. p. 248. ISBN 9781118067697. Retrieved 8 May 2012. 
  6. ^ a b c d e Richards, Cindy. "'Phone doctor' has an Rx for telerudeness". Chicago Sun-Times.  In Greenberg, Alan C. (1 Mar 1996). "Phone Manner". Memos from the Chairman. Workman Publishing. p. 45. ISBN 9780761103462. Retrieved 8 May 2012. 
  7. ^ a b c d e f Friedman, Nancy (1 Jun 2001). Customer Service Training: How to Create Your Own Program. pp. vii–xi. ISBN 9780874256239. Retrieved 8 May 2012. 
  8. ^ a b c d Jarvis, Cheryl (May 1994). "Prescribing Good Manners". Nation's Business. 82 (5): 18. Retrieved 24 May 2014. 
  9. ^ a b c 强华·张, 安才·侯, 琳·王 (2005). 清华大学出版社有限公司. p. 15. Retrieved 24 May 2014. 
  10. ^ a b Skaer, Mark (26 Apr 2004). "The Telephone Doctor Dispenses Advice". Air Conditioning Heating & Refrigeration News. 221 (17): 51. Retrieved 25 May 2014. 
  11. ^ Van Vechten, Lee R. (1 Mar 1999). The Successful Sales Manager's Guide to Business-to-Business Telephone Sales: Everything You Need to Start, Reposition and Manage a Telesales Department. Business By Phone, Inc. pp. 167, 194–195, 293. Retrieved 24 May 2014. 
  12. ^ Catalog of Audiovisual Media Programs. The Center. 1992. p. 70. Retrieved 24 May 2014. 
  13. ^ Feiertag, Howard (21 Dec 2012). "Sales Clinic: In hotel sales, we are customers to each other". Hotel and Motel Management. 228 (1): 12. ISSN 2158-2122. Retrieved 25 May 2014. 

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