Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Don't Lose Your Customers Before They Hear Your Voice

by: Brooks Webb

What happens when a customer dials your Support number?  Do they get someone right away or do they go through several minutes of phone menus?  I can tell you from experience that the answer to that question can have a huge impact on the customer experience, as well as the customer's attitude.

I recently called a store to determine whether or not they were open.  The store is part of a fairly large chain of stores, and it was a holiday, so I wanted to be sure before I headed in that direction.  I first get a phone menu which was no big deal.  It tells me to select 1 for store hours.  I press the number 1, and it takes me back to the beginning of the phone menu.  I give them the benefit of the doubt and assume that I made a mistake. So I listen to the phone options again.  Again, I press the number 1...and I'm taken back to the beginning of the phone menu again.   At this point, I'm getting irritated.  Even though it's only taken a minute or so, I am frustrated due to the fact that the menu options aren't working.  At that point, I listen to the menu again for the number to speak with a representative.  I select the right option and hear a ring on the other end.  After what seemed like an eternity, I got my answer.  No one was answering, so I assumed the store was closed.

How often does this happen with customers who call your Support line?  Do you have an IVR that asks for loads of information? Once they finally reach a Support agent, is that information provided automatically?  These are questions to ask yourself and your front-line agents.  If you've made the decision to provide multiple menu options, your Support agents can probably tell you how effective they are based on the tone of the customer's voice.  If your agents are constantly having to win customers over, you might need to rethink your decision.  

Use this as an opportunity to empower your agents by asking a few of them to call the Support number and give you feedback on how the menu options work.  The Support agent is going to know better than most whether or not there's room for improvement.  This has the ability to make your customers happier, which in turn is going to keep your agents happier.  

Brooks Webb is the Manager of the Premier Support team at iContact, where his team handles all second level support inquiries, including Billing Support, Level 2 Technical Support, and Support for all Top Level Managed Accounts. Follow Brooks on Twitter @WBrooksWebb

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