When customers call a company, they deserve the best treatment. However many organizations continue to annoy their customers with poorly thought out phone handling. The guilty companies range for the largest to the smallest. The reality is many of those companies do not want the calls. Their desire is that the customer checks the website first, to engage in live chart or communicate via social media. Most customers have tried one of those options and as a last resort pick up the phone. So when the experience is daunting, customers get even more frustrated.
It is time to review what customers go through when calling. I recommend a small team, including a director level person, to check your roadblocks and make the needed changes. Here’s where to get started:
1. Act as if you are the customer. Listen closely and experience the call process. I know you have done this before – do it again.
2. Remove the instructions that inform the customer, “Listen carefully as our menu has changed.” Most of your customers do not call you often enough to have the menu memorized. We don’t know or care that it has changed. Just give us the choices, the fewer the better. Also give us the one chosen most frequently upfront, like press 1 not 6. For example, physicians’ offices are the worst offenders of this one – “to make an appointment press 5”. I don’t think pharmacies call more often than patients, yet that option is always stated before the patient focused ones.
3. Stop telling the customer, “Your call is very important to us, the next available representative will be with you soon.” Say it once. The more you repeat the same script the more it angers the customer. Change up the recording – some script, some music, some information about products and services. And please don’t tell the customer to go to the website, it is very likely they’ve tried it already and are even on it while listening to the recording.
4. Listen to the customer representative scripts. Is it time to let the team be more respectful and engaging? Customers are exhausted with the programmed scripts. They do not create a real conversation. The customer called to speak to a real live person – not one with a script and limited options. Remember the customer thinks their situation is unique, so listen well and engage them.Customers will love you when you hire smarter, train better and coach often. Your team will love working for you and in an empowered environment. You will get loyalty from customers and employees. Your phone handling is part of the customer experience. If the customer has to call you, give them what they deserve – easy to access real people with real answers.