Amaze Your Customers

By Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD

Peter DeHaan, Publisher and Editor of Connections MagazineAfter a recent online purchase, I was given the projected delivery date. The package arrived a day before it was promised. I was impressed. However, two hours after it arrived, I received an automated phone call from the shipper telling me the delivery would be tomorrow. The message came too late.

A week later another shipment arrived, and the next day I received the same phone call. This time the message was two days late. Their intent was laudable, but their execution was laughable. Instead of wowing me, they irritated me. Consider this when implementing call center technology:

Estimated wait time: Informing callers of the expected time before an agent will be available is an appreciated gesture. Usually the estimate is reliable, and often the agent answers sooner – but not always. My worst experience was being “next in line,” a promise that repeated every fifteen seconds. After thirty minutes, I placed the call on hold and left for dinner. I returned to hear the same announcement and waited another two hours. I put the call on hold again and when to bed. After fourteen hours, I was still “next in line.” I placed a second simultaneous call and that one was also “next in line.” I disconnected both calls and redialed; I was still “next in line.” After waiting another two hours of being “next in line,” someone responded to one of my many email pleas for help. It was the president of the company, and he was not pleased to hear about my ordeal.

Schedule a callback: Having the choice to be called back instead of waiting on hold is a nice option – provided the company follows through as requested. I’ve only tried this three times. Once it worked exactly as promised, but another time no one ever called back. The third time, I received a callback but on a different number and on a different day than what I requested.

Interactive Voice Response: IVR is great if it actually speeds up my call, but I have my doubts. Once I made repeated tech support calls, each time navigating through seven levels of prompts, taking almost two minutes per call, but the person who eventually answered could never help me and would transfer me to someone else. Worse are endless IVR loops, forcing me to hang up or make a wrong selection to escape. In addition, pressing zero for an agent should always be an option but many times isn’t.

Entering information: Often I must enter information before being connected to a person, but then need to repeat it to the agent. This is exasperating, and it’s poor customer service.

Your number, please: I expect call centers to know my number and display it to agents, but this commonsense feature is too often lacking. Don’t ask me for what you should know.

Does your call center technology amaze or annoy customers?

Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is the publisher and editor-in-chief of  Connections Magazine. He’s a passionate wordsmith whose goal is to change the world one word at a time.

[From Connection Magazine November 2012]

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