Charles Dunstone, CEO, The Carphone Warehouse Group

Having had two underwhelming customer experiences at Carphone Warehouse, I was prepared to dislike Dunstone.

by Khalid Aziz is chairman of spoken communications specialist the Aziz Corporation - www.azizcorp.com
Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

Why, when I'd registered complaints on post-sale questionnaires, had no-one called me?

Within a few moments of speaking at the European Conference on Customer Management, Dunstone took the wind out of my sails. This was no slick used-car salesman. His style was almost bumbling. He was also very candid.

'I am daunted to be here in the company of professionals. I am no more than an enthusiastic amateur. What I am about to say is more about what we aspire to. I appreciate we don't always deliver our goals.'

This was not a speech written by corporate affairs. These were his own words, haltingly delivered, but expressing his own views. You felt he was genuine and there was no false modesty when he confided: 'There's a lot of post-event rationalisation when I try to analyse how we got to be where we were. I am not sure how it all happened. After all, we were just a few kids with £6,000 and an idea.'

He was under no illusions about timing, either. 'It helps to be in the right place at the right time. One of my best friends says I'm the luckiest guy since Ringo Starr!' The audience loved him. It wasn't just style; content was there too and ideas you could take home.

Key moment: The disclosure that Carphone Warehouse repairs 900,000 mobiles (not all their own) every year, they lose money doing it and don't know what to do about it.

Key lesson: Your own words win over someone else's script every time.

Silver tongue or foot in mouth? ... Silver tongue.

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