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The Problem Didn't Start When Your Customer Told You About it

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Broken Fridge

The phone rings. A customer service representative answers the phone and hears about a problem a customer is having.

It may be the first time the company hears about this particular problem, but it isn’t when the problem occurred. It occurred before the customer called. The big question is… how long before the customer called did the problem occur? Maybe it happened two minutes ago—or maybe it was two days ago. Regardless, the customer called at that moment and the customer service rep has no idea, unless they ask, when the problem occurred. This gap in time is out of the company’s control—it is the customer’s decision when to reach out.

If a customer is upset about the problem, regardless of how recent it is, you must immediately eliminate the customer’s pain from the moment they attempt to make contact with you. That was a big point my friend, Ralph Dandrea of ITX, asked me to address in my recent speech at his companywide meeting. It’s not that he has a problem with customer service. On the contrary, ITX prides itself on its excellent service. He wanted to remind his team how important it is to recognize this customer pain point. By the way, that’s what great companies do. The reason they are great is because they work hard to stay great. It’s not a destination, it’s a journey. But I digress.

So, what can cause additional friction and pain to the customer? Here are some examples:

  • Difficult-to-find customer support contact info. Some customer support numbers appear buried to the point that customers wonder if the company really wants them to reach out.
  • A laborious Interactive Voice Response system (IVR). Push one of these five options… then push one of these three… then push one of these six…. You get the idea.
  • Long hold times. How long is too long? Even if you tell the customer how long the wait will be or offer to call the customer back (which does reduce friction—something customers appreciate), that’s still more time the customer has to deal with the problem.
  • The transfer. How many people does the customer have to repeat their story to before they get the resolution they need? The idea of “first call resolution” with “one transfer” at most is not the norm.

Not one customer that I’ve ever interviewed has said they like waiting on hold, getting transferred numerous times and repeating their story. There’s no reason to cause any more pain. On the contrary, the support call should go so well that you train your customers to want to call you when they have a problem—because they know they can count on you.

It doesn’t matter whether your customer reaches out to a traditional contact center or to anyone else in the company. The customer’s pain from a problem started before they reached out to you! It is in your best interest to ease their pain as quickly and efficiently as you possibly can. Then your customers will have no doubts about whether or not they can count on you in a crisis. That is how you create customer amazement!

Shep Hyken is a customer service expert, keynote speaker, and New York Times bestselling business author. For information, contact 314-692-2200 or www.hyken.com. For information on The Customer Focus™ customer service training programs, go to www.thecustomerfocus.com. Follow on Twitter: @Hyken

(Copyright © MMXX, Shep Hyken)

Keywords

Customer, Service