Imagine going through all the misery of
"Hi, you have reached the Big Beautiful Company!
-- If you'd like to learn about our products, please press 1.
-- For address and hours of operation, please press 2.
-- If you'd like to report an issue, please press 3.
-- If you'd like to talk to a customer service representative, please press 4.
-- To repeat this menu, please press #"
Followed by countless
"All our representatives are currently busy with other calls. Please stay on the line, and one of our representatives will answer you as soon as possible"
Just to say:
"Hi! I'm calling to let you know I'm extremely happy with the Big Beatiful Company's product. I only expected it to warm up my toast, but it also is flies me to space. This search bar you added is amazing, and exceeds any limits of my imagination for terrific products. Wow. Just wow! Thank you, guys, for all the excellent work you're doing!"
Chances are you hear "It breaks! It breaks, breaks, breaks!!!! Do something!" much more often than "I love your product and you in particular, have a nice day and beatiful life!".
People don't call customer service when things go right, they call customer service when things go wrong. Good news is that if you do get those those calls, you are increadibly lucky. I wish I was joking.
Calling customer service is unpleasant.
It is very true, and it is true for different reasons. Off top of my head:
#1: You have a problem with a product to begin with, you'd much rather be in a place (time?) where you don't have the problem;
#2: You have to hear "Your call is important to us..." over and over again, and you'd bet it is, in fact, not. Your call is not important, otherwise somebody would have already picked up the phone;
#3: You work 9 to 5. And so do customer support agents. Calling after work is much more likely to result in "We'll call you back tomorrow, when the specialist is here", and "tomorrow" you may be in the middle of a meeting when they call you back;
#4: Even if you do go through all that fun, nothing guarantees you're going to get your issue resolved
Feel free to continue the list - if you are older than 16, I simply don't believe you've never enjoyed spending a few hours chained to a phone, waiting for somebody to finally stop "assisting other customers". In fact, 80% of Americans claim they would rather not call a business. Just think about it, people who reached your call center cared enough about your product to call, even though they really (often, REALLY) didn't want to.
So, what makes people call customer service anyway?
Unfortunately (to us), most people need a very good reason to contact you. They won't spend an hour on the phone for the sake of figuring out why this button is not working, they'll stop using the product. They won't spend days waitng for your email - another company is already there offering their services.
They'll call you if:
They are angry, and they want a real person to hear them out
Sometimes, half of a problem can be resolved by simple "I understand how you feel". You know that better than me. However, if not a phone call, the only alternative your customers have to reach you is email. And it would definitely do the trick 15 years ago, when people weren't getting 100+ emails daily. It's never been easier to send an email, but it also brought it bad reputation. Whenever you email business, you're almost guaranteed to receive at least one automated reply, and nobody likes talking to a robot.
They want their issue resolved, and they want to feel in control
When you're on the phone with an agent, you know your problem is being fixed (or, at least, attempted to be fixed), because it is happening in real time. You're there, you're participating, you're observing the progress. Emails don't give the same level of control, you never know if the issue has even been looked at, or maybe, you're talking to a stupid robot again.
The real question is how can we convice those 80% to let us not they are not entirely happy?
By making customer service easy to reach.
#1: Instead of placing calls on hold, offer a call-back
Simple "Leave your phone number, we'll call you back" will let the caller hang up, and use their time for something more enjoyable. 15 minutes spent on hold can be a real deal breaker for the attitude they will have by the time they reach the agent. As long as you do return the call, and do so in a timely manner, the only downside is that this call may happen when it is not exactly convenient for them to be on the phone.
#2: Replace voice menu with written instructions
Not only voice menus take forever to listen, they are also hard to remember. By the time I'm done "listening carefully to the following options", I'm not even entirely sure what my name is. The University of Iowa study shows that people are much better at rememebring what they see than what they hear. So, instead of putting them through misery of "Should I press 4 to talk to a real person? Or was it 6?", simply write the options down. Put them on your "Contact Us" page, include them in your emails, send a bunch of postal pigeons.
#3: Use live chat software
Somewhere in between intrusive phone calls and impersonal emails lives a wonderfull creature called a live chat. "Ahhh, that's what all the fuss about! That's what you're selling!" you'll think. Nope. Not even close. Live chats really are convenient. The conversation happens in real time, you get a decent level of control over situation, at the same time, you are not tied to the phone, and can freely do other things. The only reason live chats haven't taken over the world yet, is that the moment you close the live chat tab (even accidently), the conversation is lost, and you have to start over. And overuse of automated replies, of course.
#4: Have multiple channels to reach you
Those who would't call you, could email you. Those who wouldn't want to wait for emails to go though, could use a live chat. Those who don't like any of the above, could... text you. Text messaging hasn't been spoiled by spamming practices yet, it is less time consuming than phone calls, doesn't require internet access, and is a preferred method of communication for 65% people. It can be difficult to handle high volumes of text messages through a cell phone, but luckily we live in the 21st century, and there is software for anything.
#5: Avoid templating
People feel when it's personal, and they'll gladly pay you back with their loyalty (and, eventually, their money) for all the time you spent tailoring a message to their specific request. If a question is common, answer is on your website. There is nothing more annoying than getting a completely irrelevant answer to your question copied and pasted from FAQ and prepended with your name. People are not looking for a reason to contact you, they are looking for a reason not to. If they are messaging you, chances are that is because they didn't find the answer they were looking.
-- For business hours, please press 1
-- For address and directions, please press 2
-- For shipping and receiving, please press 3
-- To make sure you never hear the option you're looking for, press 9
-- To learn about AVETTY, text messaging software for business, press here
-- To return to the previous menu, please press #