In my Daily Dose video series, I explore the topics that chief customer officers must grapple with on a daily basis. Join me as I discuss what I’ve learned over the course of my 35-year career, so that you can more effectively do the work that needs to be done.
The following is a lightly edited transcript of the video below.
When we need help, time is compressed. We need help now. When that help comes swiftly, wrapped in a caring voice, whether it’s over the phone, social service, chat, or face to face, and with real help, we feel a little saved. We can get back to what we were supposed to be doing before our lives were interrupted.
There’s a huge opportunity here and now to rescue customers, to nurture customer rescue artists, who are available. Oh, but the tussle we go through at times on our way to getting help. Susan was directed to an 800 number to get an authorization for a prescription for her son. She had 15 minutes between meetings, so thought she’d make the call. When the phone rang immediately, she was relieved. Susan was then greeted with an automated phone tree asking her to input her insurance information and her name, and choose from a tree of seven options and the reason she was calling.
Don’t Put Your Customers Through the Phone Tree
Susan was then passed on to another operator who asked her to repeat the same information that she had just punched in, then verified her information, and then placed her on hold for six minutes to review her account. Would you want your mom to go through your phone tree? Would you pass her to three people before solving her problem? When Susan’s operator returned back to the line, she was asked for four more pieces of information. Then she was put on hold for four minutes. Each time she was on hold, Susan heard ads for the company’s products and services.
When the operator returned, she said that she needed to hand Susan’s case now over to a specialist. Six more minutes on hold, Susan was put into an automated phone tree asking her to input all of the information that she had originally entered. Susan now knew that she’d miss her next meeting but she didn’t want to begin again. When that specialist finally answered four minutes later, she asked the same information, but then she placed Susan on hold for seven more minutes, and finally returned with an approval.
Does any of this sound familiar? Of the 45% of consumers who initiated a purchase over the phone last year, 70% of them were put on hold. The number one phrase that makes all of us crazy is this doozy, I’m sure you’ve heard it, “Your call is very important to us, please continue to hold.” Well, why am I on hold if it was that important? Isn’t that what we always ask ourselves? This is your chance to hire, develop, and nurture people who are available to customers, who rescue them.
Let Your Availability Reflect How Much You Care
“I’m getting old while I’m waiting on hold,” it feels oh so true. But this is not just about being on hold, think about it as availability, flexibility in how customers can reach out, and your swiftness of care. Most importantly, with the increasing number of customers opting for self-service, when customers do reach you for help, it’s never been more important to be available. Let your availability reflect how much you care.
The Make Mom Proud companies adapt their availability to fit their customers’ needs and their customers lives. They’re flexible, available, offer swift human care when desired, and provide the right resources for customers who need them. Offering many versions of availability is what sets these companies apart.
At Bonobos, the clothing retailer, when call volumes spike, people all around the company are trained as white belt ninjas, different from their regular full-time customer ninjas, and they engage with customers swiftly. They kick in.
Hyatt Hotels, for example, invested two years to speed up their ability to take care of customers and be available to their needs. Discover card, for example, recently enabled customers to reach service agents via real-time texting, and eliminating the need to stay logged into the Discover App to receive assistance. Agents also have access to the customer’s full messaging history.
Create the “We are Here for You” Feeling
Are you ready to make available synonymous with how you care to your customers? Think of your customers working that phone tree, on hold, listening to music or ads, waiting for chat to start, or watching their phone for your Twitter response. Build your version of available care fueled by customer rescue artists who help you earn the right to growth.
In every type of business vertical, the Make Mom Proud companies create the feeling for customers. We are here for you.
HOW WOULD YOUR COMPANY ACT IF EVERY CUSTOMER WERE YOUR MOM?
How do we cut through the rigmarole of business to give customers the treatment they desire, and employees the ability to deliver it?
In her latest book, customer experience expert Jeanne Bliss recommends making business personal to get the traction you need by focusing on one deceptively simple question: “Would you do that to your mother?”