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The Customer Service Experience Pet Peeves

4 min read

We have all experience calling a customer service line and being placed on hold for 10+ minutes. When we finally hear the voice of a living human, the line is disconnected. Did you just hang up on me?

Today was my day.

Why does this drive us crazy? And why is this one of the worst things you can do to your customer?

To start, there are 1,000 reasons why I was hung up on, and many of them could be my own fault. I won’t list them all, but unless I’m 100% sure it was my own fault, I’m instantly pissed. The hang-up experience affects my relationship with your company. Here’s why:

The power of a hang-up: Our emotions will get the better of us

Most of us have had a lifetime of dealing with an angry exchange in person, and stormed off in a huff. This is no different except in the digital (and sometimes analog) universe:

Slamming the phone down (if you remember the old 2503-II-BAC) comes with a feeling of closure, and one that has a seriously negative connotation.

It’s a feeling of instant anger, not so much for the act of hanging up, but in the decision to hang up. We feel it when we are on the other end of it, regardless of it being done in anger or by accident.

We see ourselves blameless

In the “me first” society which we surround ourselves in (intentionally or not), we are never at fault, it’s always the other person\place\thing.

Even if it’s our own fault I often hear people say “well they should know who I am and call me back.”

My time is more valuable than anyone else’s

I often find myself saying “my time is worth more than this.” When it comes to a hang-up, we get pissed off that our time has been wasted. Oddly if we get a human in under a minute and get disconnected we don’t care all that much. But if we wait on hold for a while, or if we’ve been transferred to the void, we feel that our time has been wasted and thus we are incensed when we get the dead air or a different human.

Companies can’t defend themselves

The one who gets blamed is the one who can’t defend him or herself. It’s a fact of life, and a convenient punching bag for the masses when things don’t go correctly.

It takes you back to point 3 when you want to blame the world on the other end of a dead line.

I deserve a better customer experience

We live in a world where experience is paramount. We expect that every experience we have in a day should be excellent, and if our expectations aren’t met to our satisfaction we feel that we have been taken advantage of.

The dreaded hang-up isn’t as simple as the “cost of doing business.” It’s an experience that needs to be proactively resolved. Here are a few things companies can do to fix it.

Empower your agents:

If your agent gets disconnected mid call, empower them to call back.

  • Sounds simple and logical. Stand out from your competitors by showing your customers that you care enough about them to call them back. Instill the importance of customer/agent continuity with your employees.
  • Make sure your agents take advantage of my customer data they have showing and call me back.
  • If you don’t, you just perpetuate the problem. Your customer will once again wait on hold and rehash the same information all over again with another agent in customer experience hell.

Practice and Cultivate Empathy:

  • Your agents are people and customers, as well as company representatives. They have the same feelings and reactions and they know their job is to help their customers.
  • Are your customers infallible? No, but it also doesn’t mean that agents can’t be recruited and trained to be empathetic to a customer. Empathy goes a LONG way when you feel it coming from your agent. When you feel it, you have an emotional response, you know you are being helped, you react to it, and you start a kind of partnership on the call.

Invest in your technology:

  • Is a technology investment more or less important than the experience to the customer? That’s for your business to decide. Just don’t be penny wise and pound foolish.
  • Technology exists to make the dreaded hang-up less of an impact, if you are using state-of-the-art tech in your contact centers you have the ability to reconnect the agent with the customer.
  • Analyze your contact center strategy. Look to see if alternate channels– especially those with a higher fault tolerance for a drop calls could be better utilized. Those channels could include web self-service, chat, or instant messaging platforms.

Read The Evolving Customer Contact Experience – Cost or Investment

Listen to your agents:

  • Your agents touch your customer more than anyone else in a day. The instant you dismiss them, their thoughts, and their ideas on how to provide a great customer experience, you have essentially failed.
  • Agents can tell you the issues you have with your products, your sales cycles, and your services. They hear every complaint, every issue, and they know more than you do. If you’re not an advocate for your agents you should find another line of work.
  • Even if you are the CEO, the agents in your contact center(s) know way more about your customer experience than you do, accept it, and learn to listen to them.

Be your own customer:

  • If you want to know how good or bad your customer experience is, go be a customer.
  • Test your process and agent training. Make sure that the failure points are places where you can make a difference. If not, learn to find new ways to approach the problems.
  • Share the customer experience with your peers. Point out how your experience as a customer directly correlates to the way you run your business. I never once had an executive yell at me for telling them what I, as a customer felt like with my experiences. Neither will you, at least not a rational one.

I’m taking a pretty hard stand here, and that’s because I can. I care about my experience as a customer, because my experience dictates who I do business with.

It’s rare to have a business that is a monopoly, and if you think you aren’t a commoditized product–you are probably wrong. What you call a product differentiator is more likely a product feature, and it’s no match for customer experience (CX).

Your CX IQ, and how you deliver the CX promise your brand promotes is the real game changer. As soon as you address that, your business will be positioned to deal with the dreaded hang-up.


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