Call centers don’t want your support; they can’t handle it

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Call centers don’t want your support; they can’t handle it

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We’re taught from a young age to ‘love thy neighbor’, to be a conscientious citizen, to do  the right thing.  But often what we find is that some call centers aren’t equipped to deal with help from customers.  They have a very strong culture overly focused on cost reduction (speed) and have processes to follow, and if there is no process for your request…they’re lost.

For instance, I recently received a call from a colleague who had phoned his local electric company about a severed wire he saw dangling over his neighbor’s house.  He said he called for three days in a row to try and get someone from the electric company to come out to deal with the wire.  The agents told him, they were clueless as to what to do or who to transfer him to since the problem wasn’t specific to his property.  Did he have an account or claim number?  No.  Was the electric out in his own house? No.  But the message he received was very clear; agents are doing what they are told to do and when a concerned neighbor or customer calls in with something out of the ordinary that is beyond their regular scripts and call topics, they freeze.

customers-grade-the-callsThe eyes and ears and the value of these concerned customers can easily be lost  if it’s not officially captured or processed with CRM, quality monitoring, speech analytics or a customer experience program.  Appears they have multiple breakdowns?  Eventually my colleague said the wire was fixed, but what if he had been deterred after the first call?  Or the second? Here are a few other customer comments of when Call Centers can’t handle a customer’s help:

“I called in because you keep sending me my neighbor’s bank statements because you have her house number wrong.  Every month I have to walk over to her house and deliver her statements.  What if I was nosier and chose to read them?  Why can you get this fixed?”

“Your workers continue to litter on the job site and all the cigarette butts and trash end up in my son’s school parking lot.  I’ve called three times about this!”

“I had such a positive experience during my surgery at your hospital I wanted to give a positive testimonial.  I asked four different employees who I should talk to and no one could tell me.”

About Dr. Jodie Monger

Jodie Monger, Ph.D. is the president of Customer Relationship Metrics and a pioneer in voice of the customer research for the contact center industry. Before creating CRMetrics, she was the founding associate director of Purdue University’s Center for Customer-Driven Quality.

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  • Chuck Udzinski

    Ever see those toll free numbers on the back of commercial vehicles asking you to answer the question, “How am I driving?” Just try calling to report and unsafe practice. With only one exception the agents universally act as if I was accusing one of their own of a capital offense. They also impart a feeling that what I’m saying is not really being collected nor will it be followed up on.

    As in Jodie’s electric company example the risk of failure in these situations is very high. What if the wire fell and injured someone? What if the commercial driver goes on to have an accident? The cost of putting safeguards in place, even if its nothing more than training agents to say, “I don’t know the answer but if you’ll hold on I’ll get the answer or I can call you back,” is pocket change when compared to the cost of a liability lawsuit.