In the world of customer service, not everything can go right all the time. Sometimes, there are lapses in communication, the wrong information is presented, or someone just makes a mistake. What happens after is what leaves your client with a lasting impression and what can be interpreted as an "excellent customer experience."
Here are some experiences that the Holdcom staff has had as customers, how you can apply these lessons to your own service initiatives, and how to use these experiences to communicate more effectively on hold.
Customer Service: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly
Donna and the Deli Counter
Donna goes to the deli counter when she's on her weekly shopping trip. This week, she needed to pick up three things, including potato salad. Usually, the service is excellent, but this week, the salesperson seemed distracted: she was chatting with her colleagues and absentmindedly filling containers. Donna noticed that the woman wasn't scooping potatoe salad, but vegetable salad. Donna pointed this out to the woman behind the counter, who promptly brushed off her concerns.
Later, when Donna looked at her receipt, she noticed she was charged for the more expensive vegetable salad, even though her container held potato salad. Noticing the discrepancy, Donna called the store manager who told her to come in with her receipt. When she got to the store, instead of refunding the difference between the two salads, the store actually gave her a complete refund and apologized for the bad experience. Due to this action, the Deli maintained their relationship with Donna, strengthening her customer loyalty.
Cable TV Providers and...everyone.
I think most people dread calling their cable/internet provider. When I call mine, they have three telephone menu options, and I never know which to pick. Do I want to report an outage, or do I need tech support? And before I can actually talk to anyone, their system reads me the details of my current bill whether or not it's due yet. Needless to say, they don't start off on a good note with most people. When you finally get through to a representative, the results are frequently less than stellar.
Donna gave her cable company a call because her box wasn't working for On-Demand shows. There was a high call volume, so she requested a call back the next evening. Instead of calling her home at night, they called her at the office. She asked them to call her back that night, and they assured her they would. She got no call that night, but was called the next day -- guess where? -- at the office. She explained to them that she would need to be called at night, and the representative told her he might not be able to. Ultimately, she was able to resolve her problem, but was disappointed that the company was not sensitive to her needs and willing to work with her. Her trust in the company's problem solving was diminished, as is the chance of recommending this cable provider to friends or family.
Software Bugs and Lack of Feedback
Lately, I've been experiencing a lot of bugs with one of the software programs I use in the office. Thankfully, there's a great team at the company that fixes bugs. Well, usually great. Lately, I've been suffering from a lack of follow up. Currently, I have three open bugs and the only time I get a status update is if I call to check on it. They say "no news is good news," but when a customer is trying to get issues resolved, "no news' leaves you feeling unimportant, and over time, forgotten. Despite promises from a few representatives to follow up , my concerns have largely been left unaddressed.
Customer experience takeaways from these real-world anecdotes
Listen to your customers. When you're on the phone with a client, hearing them is easy. Listening is hard. Listening is a conscious activity. You have to think about what someone is saying, comprehend it, and assess what it means. A good way to make sure you're listening is to repeat the problem back to the client. If your caller knows you're listening to their concerns, he or she is more likely to stay calm and collected. For your Message On Hold program, pay close attention to callers who criticize or commend your hold music. If they're not happy with what you're playing, change it!
Take ownership. If you make a mistake, admit it. If someone else made this mistake, don't dismiss the customer. If you cant resolve the problem while the customer is on the phone, follow up with him or her after the call. If possible, send the customer a follow up email right away, briefly recapping the issue and assuring the customer that you will keep him or her updated. If the issue isn't resolved within a few days, check in again via email or a phone call so the client knows you haven't forgotten. When the issue is resolved, call to let the customer know everything should be working. If it's not, repeat this process.
Keep your word. And if not, be honest about it. It can be embarrassing to admit you've done something incorrectly, but saying so will save you a lot of grief.
Have a sense of humor. As an individual, it can be hard to work with corporate rules and regulations and still be able to laugh with a customer. As a brand, it's important to give service representatives the ability to be authentic. If they feel like they have to be serious all the time, caller satisfaction will suffer. I'm not saying your reps should be joking with customers every chance they get, but if a client cracks a joke, they should be able to laugh.
Empower Representatives to Exceed Expectations. This is a tip for brands. If your employees don't feel like they're allowed to do whatever it takes to create a satisfied customer, then they certainly won't do it. Empowered employees will help you improve the service experience and create brand loyalty...from both parties. While your customer service representatives might not be in control of the content playing on your phone system, they are on the front lines of customer communication. If they feel empowered to report complaints about details like on hold program or confusing voice prompt menu options, the overall experience will improve.
Remember this: customers will remember service experiences for one of two reasons: it was exceptional or it was terrible. How do you want your brand to be remembered?