When people find out what I do for a living they inevitably tell me about some awful customer experience they’ve had and ask if I can ‘fix that company’. From my perspective as a consumer, I can certainly empathize with their bad customer experience, but as a call center professional I understand the common missteps call centers make that unknowingly lead to these negative customer experiences.
Imagine that you want to purchase a home theater projector online. You review the choices, pick it out, put everything you need into your cart and when you try to place the order, your credit card is declined. Now you call customer service hoping to save all of the work you just invested. The big help is that declines are usually due to daily credit card spending limitations, and to call the issuing bank. After clearing up the confusion with the bank and calling customer service again to place the order, the operator tells you all the sales reps are busy, and you need to call back to process the order. When you ask the operator why she can’t place the order for you, you are told that she does not have access to the necessary screens to key in the order. Insert your screaming or crying here because we consumers can only take so much frustration. Do they win when they break our spirit?
These common problems are painful to both sides. Customer effort shoots through the roof they are forced to jump through hoop after hoop just to spend their money with you. It’s too easy to abandon the sale. You know what’s next: jilted customers voice their frustrations through social media and publicly share their negative customer experience with your brand, swaying potential customers to your competitors. On the other side, the agents are heavily rooted in siloed call center processes and are incapable of resolving simple customer issues because of lack of access to necessary knowledge or software. Guess what? The agents leave you too.
You hear about these issues over and over again, and we all know that the solution is far more complicated than merely cross-training your agents or relaxing the call center processes. Many of the processes that raise the customer effort come from outside of the call center.
“Your ad says to ‘call to speak to a knowledgeable agent’, but the person that answered the phone had no idea what they were talking about and let me sit on hold for 10 minutes.”
“Why do we have to get three calls from you in response to the required written documentation that I mailed to you to verify the information about changing our address? You called my husband at work three times wanting him to verify that the info should be updated but you wouldn’t do it because he couldn’t tell you the account number. He knows none of our account numbers but he sure as heck knows our address. I hate you. It would be easier for us to open new accounts with some other bank and just start them with our new address.”
“I tried to redeem my airplane miles and book a flight over the phone. It took more than 45 minutes to book the flight because the agent couldn’t see the same flights I was able to look up online and they had to keep waiting for their screen to refresh with the flights that I was actually able to pick from. It was such a complete hassle.”
“How many call center agents does it take to place an order? I had to talk to three different departments just to place this order. Ridiculous.”
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