Your Call is Important to Us…Well, Not Really…

Customer waiting is inevitable.  Customers wait in line at the grocery store.  Customers wait in queue for their call to be answered.  Customers wait for callbacks.

We can never eliminate 100% of wait time for our customers.  What we can do is to make sure that our technology supports providing a great customer experience and coach our Agents how to interact appropriately with customers who have to wait for our service.

Waiting in the phone queue

When I’m waiting for an agent to take my call, I praise the inventors of speakerphones and headsets, which both allow me to do other work while I wait.  Some customers aren’t lucky enough to have the option of doing work or better yet, doing fun things while they wait.  The most fun some folks may be having is listening to your really bad on-hold music selections or commercials from you telling them why they must buy something you sell or why you are so great to work with.

When the call is finally answered, it can be a real challenge for the agents who are faced with complaints from your customers about the wait time before they can even assist the caller with the real reason for their call.  Our best agents understand how to answer with a pleasant welcoming tone, allow the customers to vent about the wait, and then apologize for their inconvenience with sincerity.

Some agents aren’t very empathetic by nature so coaching using role play and side by side skill demonstrations can really help them learn how to handle the wait complaints with empathy first rather then starting with process focused questions.

Waiting for a call back

A recent personal call back failure story occurred with my local bank.  I had a question regarding something that had happened with my checking account and rather than call into the huge 800 number call center, I called the local branch I dealt with for what I hoped would be some great “personal” service.

I spoke with a friendly CSR who promised to research the issue and call me back later that same day.  I thanked her and confirmed where I could be reached.

Late in the afternoon, I realized that I had not received the promised callback from the CSR.  I called the branch and was told that Susie had “left for the day”.  I asked if anyone knew if she had completed the research for me.  I was told no, they had no idea what she had done or not done, and did not offered an apology or further assistance.  She simply said that Susie would be in tomorrow so I could call her them.

Unfortunately, we will disappoint our customers at times

There will be mistakes made or delays that upset customers.  What matters is how we handle these mistakes.

We need to admit our mistakes, empathize, apologize and earn back their trust.  Your frontline agents are the best ones to do this so train, coach and reward them for helping make the waits less painful for your customers.

We need to stop saying, “Your call is important” unless we back those words with actions that show that we really do care.


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