The customer services function of any business, especially those in the utilities sector, is a critical success factor in determining the overall brand experience and ultimately reputation that your business will have in the marketplace. In fact, more than 60% of customers choose a new brand based on its customer service reputation, so it’s not an area to be overlooked, understaffed or under-valued.
In this blog, we look at the frustrations that people report when contacting customer services departments and how to avoid them.
- AUTOMATED TELEPHONE SYSTEMS
Ever called a customer services line and after selecting “option 2”, you’re then presented with another menu, and again another, until you end up back at the beginning pulling your hair out? Unfortunately, this is a common problem and it rates as one of the highest customer frustrations of all time.
It’s ok to try to direct your customers to the relevant department, but putting them in a constant cycle of phone menus could land you in hot bother, especially if they hang up and take to social media to vent their frustrations.
Try to build telephone systems that get your customer to their destination in as few steps as possible and try to stick to as few menu options as possible. Invest the time in ensuring that your customers services staff have the ability to adapt to the needs of multiple types of customer queries.
It’s also worth adding the option of “hold to speak to a person” at the end of every menu so that in the event that the customer has a query that doesn’t fit into your pre-selected topics, they can quickly get through to someone who can point them in the right direction.
2. WAIT TIMES AND “ON HOLD” MUSIC
On hold time is right up there with the highest rated customer frustrations. There’s nothing worse than fighting your way through endless multiple-choice menus, only to find you’re sat in no man’s land listening to Chris de Burgh for 20 minutes!
At this point, a frustrated customer may very well become an angry customer, and again, this is not someone you want taking to social media or business review and comparison sites.
Keeping customer wait times to a minimum (less than a minute) is essential and while you may experience times that are busier than others, it’s more than possible to predict and plan for these, increasing resources when applicable.
3. REPEAT CALLS AND FOLLOW-UP
Not all customer services queries can be resolved on the first call. Some issues may need further investigation, or someone in a position of authority to weigh in or make a decision.
A sure way to frustrate your customers is to fail to follow up in the manner that you promised and within the timescales you committed to. Once you’ve let the customer down, you’re only compounding the problem if they then have to repeatedly call customer services back about the same issue, especially if every time they do so, they have to once again tackle endless multiple-choice menus to get through to someone.
The overall message that you’re sending out is “we don’t care about your issue, nor do we care about your valuable time” – is that really the impression you want customers to have of your business?
4. STICKING TO A SCRIPT
Scripts can be helpful – as a way to guide your staff, prompt them to use statements and messages that are “on brand” and create consistency in the way the team handles customer queries. However, when a script becomes a crutch that customer services staff use to read straight from, they cause multiple issues. Here’s how:
- The agent sounds like a robot: unless your agent is highly experienced or is an amateur actor in their spare time, reading verbatim from a script is unlikely to ever sound natural.
- The art of “scripting” means making assumptions about the nature of enquiries and putting issues in boxes that might not necessarily fit the customer query. There’s nothing more exacerbating than someone who repeats the same answer thinking they’ve fixed your problem when they actually haven’t.
While scripts can be helpful, over reliance on them can create a negative customer experience. Only investment in training and on-going development of your customer service agents will negate this issue.
5. TRYING TO PUSH A SALE
When customers call you with a query the very last thing they want or expect is to be sold to, and unfortunately this is becoming increasingly common. There’s nothing wrong with having a process that follows up with a sales approach, but it’s imperative to make sure you’ve satisfactorily dealt with their issue first and given them the chance to take a breath – they’ll just feel exploited if you don’t.
Ultimately, customers will get frustrated with you from time to time. However, businesses can do a great deal to limit this frustration. After all, these are your customers – the people who have already bought into your brand and product or service. They are the people ultimately responsible for your business’ profitability and should be valued accordingly.
Is it not in your best interests to invest in the best possible customer service experience to keep customers happy, brand ambassadors and promoters? We certainly think so