As promised, here’s a quote from a long letter I’m working on to business that encountered me as a cranky, unhappy customer.
Your phone tree, like that in many businesses, is a service nightmare. If I want technical support, it tells me to hang up and call another number. Then when I call that number, I get transferred back to the original number that can’t help me. If your system can transfer me from the second number to the first, why did I have to hang up and redial to get from the first to the second?
I will tell you that if I had tried to order the product by phone rather than the Web, I would have hung up and taken my business elsewhere. Your phone tree isn’t saving you money, it’s costing you sales.
When I finally reached an employee, he didn’t know the answer so he transferred me back into the phone tree. An employee should never transfer a customer into another phone tree. Customers need to be transferred to people who can answer questions.
The next employee I finally managed to talk with gave me a rushed, brusque answer. It was incorrect. More of my time wasted.
I’m convinced that American businesses flush more money down the toilet with bad phone practices than in any other way.
You say you want to build a relationship with customers. If that’s true, and not lip service, you need to be calling your own phone number every week. Better yet, get a relative to do it, or someone else who’s not too familiar with the systems you have set up.
Watch over her shoulder while she tries to figure out what button to push to answer her question. Listen to the frustration build in her voice as she just tries to reach a human being. And monitor the conversations she has to find out how your employees are treating people who call.
Stay tuned for next week’s installment, Your Customer Does Not Live in New York. I think you’ll like it even if you do, in fact, live in New York.