Lose Some “Wait”

Nothing says “DISRESPECT” quite like forcing someone else to wait. And yet, that is exactly what so many brands do daily to the very customers they claim to value!

It’s conventionally accepted that the customer (who NEEDS something) should be willing wait for the service provider (who HAS what they NEED.) However, somewhere along the way, many brands forgot that they NEED customers to stay in business!

Consider the medical appointment model for preventative care: The patient is given a very specific time to arrive and then forced to wait while the service provider bounces from patient to patient.

The message? The doctor’s time is MUCH more valuable than the patient’s time.

Consider the retail experience when an in-store customer is unfortunate enough to be with the cashier when the telephone rings: The retail employee often “pauses” the in-store transaction in order to answer the call.

The message? We have YOUR business already: Sit tight while we get MORE customers.

Consider traditional call-center telephone support: The caller is greeted by either a robot or a hold message and then expected to remain on the line patiently until an agent is available.

The message? The agent’s time is MUCH more valuable than the caller’s time.

Because my work experience is with technical contact centers, I thought I’d imagine a 2011 in which these centers operated as though they NEEDED their customers! I was inspired to envision a Customer Service model in which customers are viewed as PEOPLE, with genuine demands on their time. This visionary contact center, which deeply respects a customers’ time:

  1. Delivers search-optimized web HowTo topics, allowing customers to find answers on their own.
  2. Continually tests content, to ensure all modern browsers and endpoint devices are supported.
  3. Pushes “top issues” to the front of the search results, to guide customer’s toward answers.
  4. Makes their 800 number AMAZINGLY easy to find, rather than hiding it in some miniscule font.
  5. Authenticates a caller ONCE and retains the tokens through EVERY transfer or escalation.
  6. Trains agents to listen to the caller FIRST, rather than launching into a script
  7. Provides online interaction access, with clear SLAs, for customers who prefer digital support.
  8. Only asks for feedback if they intend use it to improve business operations.

How beautiful would it be if Customer Service organizations resolved to Lose some “Wait?” Is this an “impossible dream?”. Are there ways you can think of in which your center can lose the “wait” in 2011?

Originally published as a guest-post on the Zendesk blog.

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