Phone Rage or . . . Customer Delight?

In July a few years ago, I received an email that caught my attention.

“For a limited time, reserve your official Commemorative Jacket for the Chicago Marathon. Pre-ordered jackets will be shipped in September. Why wait until October—reserve yours today.”  (The power of email marketing!)

Dan-marathon-tnSince my son Dan ran in the Chicago Marathon for four years in a row, I decided to order a jacket.  (In the photo to the left, Dan is the guy in the blue hat running in the Grand Rapids Marathon.)

I began to order on the website, but had a question about the jacket. I called the customer service number listed on the website and was surprised when someone (a live human—NOT an automated message) answered after the second ring. The customer service person was knowledgeable, helpful and friendly.  This person,  and this company’s service resulted in a sale and Customer Delight.

I began to think about how rare it is that when we call a business—any type of business—we can speak with someone immediately, without first listening to recorded voice prompts.

More and more companies use automated systems that take the caller through several—sometimes many—automated voice prompts. It can be frustrating. Like the bank: “Touch two for checking information, touch three for savings information, touch four for money market accounts,” and on and on.

Phone Rage

Customers can become angry and even desperate, after listening to a dozen or so automated messages. You have heard about “road rage” and “air rage,”  but phone rage really does exist.

Last summer, the Future Foundation announced the result of its astonishing research: centralized call centers now rate above rush-hour traffic and delayed trains as the UK’s most stressful daily experience.

Any Live Humans There?

If your company is one of the few left where a customer’s call can be answered by a real, live human being immediately, that is a big benefit for your customers. If this is the case (lucky you!), be sure to use this fact among your list of benefits in your advertising campaigns, direct-mail letters and conversations with prospects.

Now, large corporations are beginning to realize they need to get the word out to customers to help them bypass automated voice prompts.  Recently I saw a CitiCard television commercial with the message: “When you call our Customer Service Department, just touch zero to speak to someone.”

If your clients do need to listen to an automated message when they call your company before speaking with someone, how can you make their calling experience easier?

Put yourself in your customers’ shoes: Do you really want them to have to listen to a long, automated message before speaking with a person?  Especially if they have questions that need to be answered?  Or an order that needs to be placed?

I do have an online coaching and sales training course, but for now I want to share these tips with you:

Three Tips to Make Your Clients’ Calling Experience Easier

If callers to your company hear a recorded message when they call, be sure to let them know in advance that they will reach an automated message first. Then:

1. If your company uses a series of three or more automated voice prompts and choices, let customers know how they can bypass the messages. In many cases, when a caller touches zero (0), they will be connected to a receptionist.

2. Always give customers your extension number. If you have a direct line, that will make life easier for buyers.

3. If you are going to give your cell phone number to customers, be sure to check frequently for voice mail messages and return calls as soon as possible.

If you follow these tips, you won’t have angry customers who may turn to your competition for help.

Instead of angry customers you will have delighted customers, who will probably tell friends and associates about their good experience with your company.

Get useful and creative marketing tips here.