Seventy-one percent of customers say that valuing their time is the number one thing a company can do to improve their customer support. The longer they wait on hold and the longer it takes to get their issue resolved the more frustrated they become. And frustrated customers are only a small step away from being angry customers that leave your company for the competition. And while you may think that ending a call quickly is the best way forward, if that customer has to call back 3 times to actually resolve the issue you’ve only made things worse. So how can you do your best to ensure that customer frustration in your contact center is kept to a minimum and issues are actually resolved?
1. Empower your agents.
Put yourself in your customer’s shoes: if you were getting bounced around from agent to agent because no one had the authority to actually help you, how long would you put up with that? It’s not the transferring itself that frustrates customers, but rather the transferring with no resolution that ruins the customer experience. In fact, 91% of UK callers would LIKE to be transferred if the person they speak to next is better able to help them. Give your agents the power to actually HELP your customers; give them the ability to process refunds, resend lost orders, reschedule appointments and so forth without having to clear every step of the process. At Zappos, for instance, call center employees are given no time limits for their calls and are encouraged to “use their personal, emotional connection on every call.” Whatever it takes for an agent to resolve a problem is okayed and their customers love them for it (this sentence is a little awkward – is it a continuation of the At Zappos sentence?)! Take a look at your own policies and regulations; how good can your customer service be if your agents have to work with one hand tied behind their back?
And if they do come against a problem they can’t solve, make sure they know WHO they should transfer that customer to so the next agent on the line can resolve the issue.
2. Shorten re-verification steps as much as possible.
While protecting customer data is incredibly important (and the lasting effects of a data breach are well known), you don’t want to force your customers to retell their life story every time they call your contact center or speak with a new agent. Verify they are who they say they are, but then move on to the real issue! For instance, I was traveling overseas and wanted to notify my credit card company in advance so they wouldn’t shut down my card. Somehow I got stuck on a 25 minute security verification call where I was asked for my PREVIOUS zip code, the city where I opened the card, my verbal pass code, last 4 digits of my social security number and a dozen other insane questions I was left scrambling to answer. All to tell THEM I was traveling overseas! The woman I was speaking with couldn’t tell me why she needed to know all these things, and 25 minutes later I wasn’t just annoyed, I was downright mad.
This is why it’s so important your customer profiles are as accurate and up-to-date as possible. Missing information is only going to make it that much harder for the next agent talking to that customer.
3. Promote other channels.
Is the voice channel really the only way your company has to connect with customers? If call volume skyrockets than call wait time is also going to jump and most customers aren’t willing to sit on hold for 45 minutes when they have a relatively simple question. Keep your customers happy (and your agents sane!) by promoting other customer service channels like live chat, email, social media, web forums, SMS and more. These channels give customers more options and chances to have their issue resolved quickly, making your customer service team the hero instead of the time-stealing villain! While most customers still choose the voice channel as their primary form of contact, having the other options available and publicized gives customers the power to hang up and skip the 45 minute wait in favor of an alternative.
At the end of the day, the most important metric is customer satisfaction. Yes, reducing wait time, improving first call resolution and other key metrics tie into and influence that, but a customer could willingly spend an hour on the phone with your agent if they actually get the job done! Frustration comes more from feeling stuck rather than the time spent itself.