I’m on hold right now waiting for a customer service rep — to investigate a serious problem that I neither caused nor asked for. I’d give up, except that resolving this is crucial to my future. And it’s hell.
If the experience of calling your call center is a hellscape, your customer experience is terrible. It doesn’t matter if your product is awesome, if your features are incredible, or your price is the lowest. It doesn’t matter how friendly your salespeople are or how innovative your product development is. Customer service is your chance to shine . . . or show us how much contempt you actually have for customers. Contempt is a poor marketing strategy.
When somebody calls for help, in that moment, you succeed or fail.
A few things that should be obvious but aren’t.
- If your call center is always “experiencing higher than normal call volume,” then you have not staffed it properly. And that means you are lying to customers, which is always a sin.
- If your hold music is filled with static, that’s part of your customer experience. Fix it. (Why does this always happen?)
- If your hold music is jazzy and fun, you should burn in hellfire forever. A 15-minute wait with music that’s upbeat and impossible to ignore counts as a 45-minute wait. While we wait, we’re doing other things — so don’t use music that makes that impossible and causes us to contemplate suicide or homicide. Something quiet and soothing is a much better choice.
- If you offer a “call you back without losing your place in line” option, and then never call back, then you are a liar. And as I said and you ought to remember by now, lying to customers is bad.
- If your reps do not speak English well enough to be understood, you’ve cut costs too low. The number of people who will then hate you is a cost you have failed to account for. And if they go on social media and complain, then that cost multiplies.
- If your reps are working at home during the pandemic, fine. But you need to do quality control on their phone and internet connections. If their cordless phone or headset doesn’t work right, that’s on you.
- If your phone menus take people in a loop — if they hear the same message or menus more than once — you did it wrong. Fix it.
- If your customer service systems — you know, the ones your own reps use — are slow and clunky, then the reps cannot do the job right. You are abusing them, and they are in turn abusing us, if we’re sitting on the line while they say, “I’m waiting for the system to respond with that information, it’s very slow right now.”
- If you try to sell me stuff while abusing my time on hold, your marketers should burn in hellfire alongside your customer service executives.
Either I’m the unluckiest customer in the universe, or this is happening to everyone. I think it’s the latter.
Customer service is marketing. A high marketing investment while call center costs are cut to the bone is a stupid decision. If you made this decision, your boss should fire you.
Go finish your day. I’ll be back after I feed some broken glass to the people who are tormenting me. (And yes, I’ve been on hold the whole time it took me to write this.)