By Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD
I’ve been thinking about self-service lately. Self-service works nicely when I want general information. But when I seek to resolve an issue with a product, service, or bill, online self-service is more likely to frustrate than help. In those cases, a phone number is what I want – a phone number answered by trained agents available 24/7.
Often these phone numbers are hard to find. When I do uncover one, I’m more likely dismayed than delighted. It might be that I’m calling outside of regular business hours, or maybe they are “experiencing a high volume of calls.” Often none of the IVR options applies. Somehow the message that “your call is important” – repeated at fifteen-second intervals – fails to comfort me. Maybe the hold music is distorted, too loud, or just plain grating. What if they disconnect me while on hold? What if I can’t understand the agent or visa-versa? And what if the rep doesn’t help me?
It doesn’t have to be that way. Customer service by phone can work. Call centers can answer the phone quickly, IVR can help, clear connections are possible, agents can use understandable English, and the right answers are attainable.
There are call centers that delight me with stellar phone support. Yes, I still sometimes attempt self-service, but calling is quicker and more satisfying – just as phone support should be.
Does your call center really serve callers, or does it push them to self-service?