There has always been a debate on whether customer service scripting will make customer service representatives sound too mechanical and less spontaneous. A recent interaction with a credit card representative highlights exactly why scripting at least as a guide is necessary.
My daughter was about to travel out of state and had lost her debit card. I had an extra card on my business card with her name on it since she sometimes does work for me. I told her she could use it on her trip and made a call to the credit card company to make sure the card was still valid since it had not been used in a long time. I was assured all was good to go. A few days later, I was called by my daughter who told me that charges were being denied. (Now we won’t even get into why she was charging $3 and $5 items to my gold card!?)
called the card company and they transferred me to the fraud protection unit who lifted the hold on the card and said she should have no further problems using the card. Fast forward 24 hours and again I get a call from my daughter saying that again charges were being denied.
At this point I am a bit ticked off. I had spent a good twenty minutes the previous day clearing up the matter and since on vacation did not look forward to going through it all again. When I realized that they were going through the exact same process that had failed the day prior, I asked to speak to a supervisor. It was a Saturday evening at 5pm. I was told that the supervisor was in a meeting and would not be out for over an hour. ‘On a Saturday night your supervisors are in a meeting?’ I was a bit skeptical about there being a meeting of supervisors at 5pm on Saturday. ‘Surely you have some supervisor who can talk to me… you are a big company!’ She put me on hold and came back and said that no supervisor could talk to me. I then asked her how SHE could explain that after I had approved all future charges on this card in a specific location by my daughter, WHY this happened again. Her reply?
“Ma’am I’m sorry but our system is beyond our control.”
Seriously? This is what this well known organization wants to convey to me when I am upset… that their system is out of control?
I was promised a call back by a supervisor. Big surprise – that call never came. So Lynn RVPG… (that was her rep number given to me when asked) maybe you never told the supervisor I was upset? Not a good call! If you did tell a supervisor and they never called back, even worse!
Lessons we can all take from this customer service close encounter?
- Review possible scenarios that will cause customer conflict and angst
- Determine causes of customer conflict and customer complaints to avoid such scenarios
- When service failure occurs, have a scripted explanation that builds confidence in your company – not destroys it
- Have supervisors available at all times if possible; Sometimes your customer just needs to talk to a voice of higher authority
- If a supervisor is not available and a front line rep gives a promise of a call back, make sure it happens
- One final thought: what are the expectations of the level of service provided by your firm or organization. In this case we were talking about a very reputable company, so my expectations were pretty high. When you market based on an expectation of a high level of service, you are in greater danger of a higher level of dissatisfaction when service failure occurs!
Your customer service image should never be ‘out of your control’. Customer service training for customer confict and customer complaint scenarios will go a long way to protect and build your brand. Customer service scripts should not make your customer service reps sound like robots but it can protect your from an out of control image!
Hi Teresa! Great read on the importance of building trust with your customers. That is a very frustrating situation you explained, especially when the charges were approved and the card was yet again denied. Especially when the rep said it was “out of their control.” That is never an appropriate answer and would make a customer reluctant to continue business with them. As you discussed having pre-determined responses are essential to give a consistent customer service question, especially in those times when many customers may come across similar issues. Great article!