I've had lots of bad experiences (and a few great ones) this HolidaySeason with automated phone systems and customer service centers. I will not name the poor company experiences here...tis the holiday Season :) However, if you want a great experience... call Zappos.com with a customer service problem...and listen to the magic. According to a recent survey of 8,880 consumers across 16 countries, poor customer service cost an aggregate of $338.5 billion per year, the average value of each lost relationship across all countries surveyed costing $243. 2009 (Survey by Greenfield Online and Ovum).
It's hard enough to find a customer service phone number on a customer website. However, when you make the call, the experience should not make the situation even worse.
Phone System Best Practices
I thought I would share some Phone System Best Practice Reminders for Small Businesses:
- Don't transfer the customer to a non-working phone extension (or busy signal)
- Don't trap a customer in your automated self-service (so you need to hang up, re-dial and start again)
- Always have the option to press "O" to get to a live operator at any time (only the better companies do this)
- Don't make the customer wait too long before reaching a live rep (especially during the Holidays)
- Don't require customers to repeat themselves to several Representatives
- Don't be cheap on continuous Representatives skills training on how to answer inquiries
- Don't forget to train outsourced Reps on US (or any host country) Culture and Thinking
- Offer to send an email confirmation of the conversation (Great way to collect customer email addresses)
- Always put your phone number on your "Contact Us" web page.
- Don't forget to Thank the Customer for their Business
You may want to complete a quick audit of your customer service and phone system NOW to fix any short-term major issues. However, plan on a more formal review and repair of your phone system, customer policies and call center procedures in Q1 2010. If you are concerned about the cost, review the costs of lost business at the beginning of this article.
Important 2010 Tip
Don't forget to budget time and money for adding and expanding Social Networking Programs. It's NOT an option anymore...but a "requirement" for high customer satisfaction.
Feel free to add comments on your own Holiday Customer Service Experiences... any great company customer service experiences out there?