I love technology and automation; I am a fan of things that help streamline our work lives and processes. I admire the concept of a paperless office. I like all of these things until they lead to poor customer service.

Most of our businesses answer the phone with a greeting, followed by some version of “How can I help?” This is the point where most customers will tell us the reason that they called. If your system or software will not let you start typing notes on that information, then I am begging you to have a piece of paper and a writing utensil close at hand. I realize that this is the opposite of paperless, but we need some method of capturing what the customer is telling us. Paper is better than nothing.

Use the paper to jot down a couple quick notes that you can refer to later in the call. Writing, “Mrs. Smith down unit,” will allow you to sound like you were paying attention later in the call when you need more detail. “OK Mrs. Smith, how long has the unit been down?” sounds so much better than “What was going on at your house again?” When you have to ask what a customer has already told you, confidence in your company is lowered. Our job as customer service representatives is to set technicians up for success.

That pen isn’t just for customers trying to book a call. A customer could want to talk to a manager — unless we write down the person’s name, we will likely forget it while we are checking to see if anyone is available. This kind of thing just doesn’t represent your business as a professional organization.

Notepads aren’t bad. You can even recycle: Some people use scratch paper that is the back side of other printed material. I’m not looking to take your company back to the Stone Age, I just want to make sure you are always prepared to deliver excellent customer service. Make sure the call center is equipped with whatever tools are necessary to do this — even if it means using the classic paper and pen.