If you’ve ever taken a finance course, you’ve probably heard the phrase “time value of money.” Basically, this is the idea that a dollar received today is worth more than a dollar in the future because of its interest and earning potential. That same concept can be applied to your customers – that by valuing their time today you can increase customer retention and revenue tomorrow.
The Most Important Thing for Great Customer Service
In their report on customer service trends of the future, Forrester found that 73% of online consumers cite valuing their time as the most important thing a company can do to provide good service. Often, though, customer service centers may be undermining that notion without even realizing it.
Take first call resolution (FCR), for instance. The goal is, of course, to resolve the customer’s need on that first touch and eliminate any follow-up. If, however, the activities that go into getting that problem resolved necessitate two transfers and lengthy hold times, you may want to rethink if an FCR focus is the best approach.
Just a couple weeks ago I took my husband’s watch in for repair. The store was well intentioned trying to fix it while I waited… “this shouldn’t take long at all.” Unfortunately, after waiting nearly an hour, they apologetically told me it might now be best if I come back in 2 days rather than continue to wait. Argh. I wish they would have said that when I first walked in the door.
3 Culprits That Slow You Down
Here are some of the offenders that cause well-intentioned customer care organizations to waste their clients’ time.
Slow, Incapable Systems
When customers interact with you, they want to do so at a time that’s convenient for them and in a manner they prefer. This is the new reality driven by millennials and their always connected arsenal of tools and applications. According to Frost & Sullivan’s “Enterprise Priorities in North America,” less than one-third of small and mid-sized contact centers have the capability to integrate across channels or business function. And those that don’t will find themselves in trouble as this generation makes up more and more of the customer base and workforce. If this is your situation, it may be time to reinvest in the systems that directly impact your customers. It will more than pay off in the long run.
Lack of Access to the Right Person
Whether you’re a small business or a larger enterprise, it’s nearly impossible for your call center agents to know everything. Ideally, there’s an easy way to get either your employee or customer quickly connected to a subject matter expert (SME) in your company who can best assist. To do this, agents need at their fingertips:
- Search capability into every employee’s skills, department, specialization and certifications
- Access to real-time status (available, at lunch, in a meeting, etc.)
- Ability to reach out in the most optimal way—chat, phone, video or conference
Knowing that an SME is available and ready for the transfer it a perfect way to assure you’re making the most of your customer’s time.
Not Keeping Customer Experience Top-of-Mind
We all have customer experience horror stories – on hold for hours, transferred 27 times, unhelpful agents, etc. but there are also stories that don’t get as much news play. Think of the times that have been bad enough to annoy you but not enough to make you angry. These are often caused by well-intended systems that lack necessary efficiency. Here are a few examples:
- The caring IVR that repeatedly tells you “you’re so important” and that they “value your business.” Perhaps so, but they don’t seem to value your time.
- The service call to your internet provider, that forces you to listen to an advertisement for the upcoming Pay-per-View series. Then near the end of your call (and before your problem is fully resolved), the agent who spends time talking through all the services they want to upsell.
- The well-intended training that misses the mark. A while ago, I had called our insurance company to report a fender bender. The agent asked if everyone was OK, then said she was sorry to hear it happened, which was appreciated. Throughout the call, however, she kept stating over and over how sorry she was. “Good grief” I thought – can we just get this call over with? (I assume she was coached to show empathy, but it came across as both insincere and a waste of my time after a stressful afternoon.)
Time to Reexamine Your Customer Service
If any of these are familiar to how you’re operating today, it may be time to reexamine your customer experience strategy and tactics.
- Take the time to act like a customer – call your phone systems and take each different call tree scenario. Send an email, start a chat, and walk through their treatment, all the while asking if you’re making the best use of your customer’s time.
- Take a fresh look at your policies and procedures as they pertain to first call resolution and make sure you’re not taking more steps than necessary when the customer is on the line.
- Play recorded calls and listen to see where the wait times occur.
- Determine a baseline average handle time (AHT) for your primary call types/reasons – then determine if there’s a way to streamline each.
Looking at it holistically, it’s a win-win when you take the approach of valuing your customers’ time. They win having gotten what they needed in a timely manner – you win with better customer satisfaction. And who knows, all those happy customers may be left with enough time to tell their friends and colleagues how much they enjoy doing business with you.