Don’t Keep Your Customers Waiting

January 13, 2011

Nothing says “DISRESPECT” quite like forcing someone else to wait. And yet, that is exactly what so many brands do daily to the very customers they claim to value!

It’s conventionally accepted that the customer (who needs something) should be willing to wait for the service provider (who has what they need). However, somewhere along the way, many brands forgot that they need customers to stay in business.

Consider the medical appointment model for preventative care: The patient is given a very specific time to arrive and then forced to wait while the service provider bounces from patient to patient.

The message? The doctor’s time is MUCH more valuable than the patient’s time.

Consider the retail experience when an in-store customer is unfortunate enough to be with the cashier when the telephone rings: The retail employee often pauses the in-store transaction in order to answer the call.

The message? We have YOUR business already, so you can just sit tight while I get more customers.

Consider traditional call-center telephone support: The caller is greeted by either a robot or a hold message and then expected to remain on the line patiently until an agent is available.

The message? The agent’s time is MUCH more valuable than the caller’s time.

Because my work experience is with technical contact centers, I thought I’d imagine a 2011 in which these centers operated as though they needed their customers!

I was inspired to envision a customer service model in which customers are viewed as PEOPLE, with genuine demands on their time.

This visionary contact center, which deeply respects a customers’ time will do the following:

  1. Deliver a robust set of Search Engine Optimized (SEO) Knowledge Base (KB) topics, so that customers can find their answer without ever having to contact the brand.
  2. Continually tune the KB to ensure that all modern browsers and endpoint devices are supported.
  3. Push “top issues” to the front of the search result set, to quickly guide customers toward answers.
  4. Make the 800 number AMAZINGLY easy to find, rather than hiding it in some miniscule font.
  5. Authenticate a caller at the top of the call and retain the tokens through EVERY SINGLE transfer or escalation.
  6. Train agents to listen to the caller FIRST, rather than launching into a script, and respond using their surname.
  7. Provide a means of online interaction, with a posted SLA, customers who prefer social support or chat.
  8. Only ask for feedback if they intend to acknowledge receiving it and use it to improve business operations.

How beautiful would it be if, in 2011, customer service organizations made a New Year’s Resolution to lose the wait? Is this an “impossible dream?

Are there ways you can think of in which your center can lose the wait in 2011?

Tristan Bishop (@KnowledgeBishop) drives teams toward efficient delivery of effective content. At his current digital strategy role at the world’s leading security company (Symantec), Tristan has consistently increased customer access to key content. By integrating technical publishing best practices with web delivery innovation, Tristan forges solutions that optimize customer experience, improving the corporate/customer relationship.