We are Experiencing Higher than Normal Call Volume at this Time!

You know that when you call a business and you hear those words, you might as well get a cup of coffee and sit down with a magazine with your phone on speaker phone, for you will be waiting quite awhile for a live person to answer.  Your only hope is that you have the time to wait, and that the music being blasted while you wait is your genre!  I have called several businesses lately, and have been on hold for an average of 15 minutes each time.  I am amazed that companies allow this customer service nightmare to exist, and that it is many companies, not just an occasional one.  There are simple solutions to this problem, but obviously many companies are not aware of the solutions, or think they are saving money by not employing these solutions. 

The first, most important, and obvious solution is to have enough staff to answer the customers’ calls.  Surely management knows that people do not have the time to call unless they really need something, and that most people can’t or won’t stay on the line for 15 plus minuets to have their issue addressed.  Do decision makers of these companies not know that the customer can take her business elsewhere, and that it is easier to keep loyal customers loyal than it is to get or keep new customers?  If so, why would they not hire enough staff to nurture their customers?  After all, telephone customer service reps are some of the lower paid staff of any business, which is not necessarily what should be, for these are the people that can turn around an angry customer, solve their problem, and keep them loyal.  That is a small price to pay for loyalty.  And do I need to point out that if the customer service rep has a comparable language and overall attitude to that of the majority of the company’s customers, that this is preferable to having those calls outsourced to another country?!  Please tell me that this is obvious!

Another obvious solution is to have the technology that routes the calls to the most appropriate person efficiently, including having a voice mail system that works for those customers willing to leave a message and have their calls returned. The outbound message on the voice mail should clearly state when the caller can expect the call to be returned, and the next business day (or later!) isn’t acceptable to most people.  Again, remember, people do not call unless they need something, and they are usually not wanting to wait more than a few minutes to talk to a live person.  When calls are not returned in a timey manner, the trust of the customer is damaged, and they will not easily leave messages again. 

Another obvious solution to this problem is to make less mistakes and make sure your written communication is clear, so customers do not need to call you!  And do not misinterpret this as forcing or even encouraging the customer to go on line to record their problem, for a large percentage of customers do not want to do that and will not.  And yes, I know the Millennials may prefer to do their business on line instead of calling, but they are not the only customers!  Is it not obvious that when you have a live and friendly person to solve your problem, that such is often preferable to a machine?  Has high tech/high touch been totally forgotten?  In case it has, what high tech/high touch means is that with greater technology, there is a greater need for human connection.  Why waste those opportunities?

On a positive note, while on hold yesterday for 20 minutes, (when calling a doctor’s office, of all places!) the voice prompt did give the option to mute the music.  Thank goodness!  That is the first and only time I have been given that option, and I loved it!


About Patti Fralix

Patti Fralix inspires positive change in work, life, and family through Speaking, Consulting, and Coaching in three specialty areas: Leadership, Managing Differences, and Customer Service. Her leadership firm, The Fralix Group, Inc., has been helping clients achieve practical and tangible results for twenty-two years.
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