Who doesn’t love call-ahead seating at restaurants to guarantee immediate seating upon arrival? The concept that restaurants created a service allowing me to be expected at the hostess station and be quickly taken to a table tells me that the restaurant understands the value of a dining experience and, by proxy, that they value my business. A true enhancement to the customer experience! Living my life in the call center space is a customer-service-oriented blessing (or curse depending on the day) that directs me to appreciate gestures that value me as a customer. A fundamental principle that makes me use this service is rooted in the fact that I trust it to work. I trust that when I make the call and then drive to the location, I will be on the list.
So, when I was sitting in a recent meeting with a business partner listening to a discussion about the implementation of virtual queuing (also known as automated callback service), I was reminded of my call-ahead seating option. The call center management team had many reasons to be interested in virtual queues, from enhancing the customer experience to making more effective use of their human capital. They took the time to present each reason during the meeting (with supporting charts).
The consumer behaviorist in me seeks to understand how customers perceive every detail of the experience. While the call center management team stated their virtual queue case, I heard the general statistics on the percentage of callers who accept the offer of a call back from the virtual queue. What I did not hear was any discussion about how the expected percentage of acceptance will be affected by the customers’ trust in this company.
I propose that the success of virtual queues is predicated on the health of the relationship between the customer and the company. If you think about the importance of trust to a relationship as being emotional and logical, success of virtual queue acceptance can be better predicted. The emotion of trust is believing that your openness in the relationship will not be abused. Logically you have calculated that the other party’s behavior is predictable with an outcome that does not cause harm to you. As it relates to virtual queuing, you are placing trust in the organization that they will in fact do as they say and call you back. Not calling would be extremely damaging not only to the customer experience but to the foundation of trust and the overall relationship with the company.
I do trust my favorite restaurant with my place in line. I do not equally trust all companies to save my place in the line of calls. A promise to call me back by a company I do not trust is not an option I will select. If you are using virtual queuing or have been tapped to make the case, it follows that the good health of the customer relationship will contribute to its success.
What’s your take? Are there some companies you would trust to hold your place in line and others whom you would rather remain on hold for because the relationship is not at all healthy? Do you know how much you are trusted by your customers? How do you leverage that information to improve the success of virtual queuing?
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