I had a flight cancelled the other day on a major airline carrier stranding me in Pennsylvania. The folks at the airline counter could not book me on a return flight to Chicago for two more days. Rebooking wasn’t an option so I decided that renting a car and driving home would be a better idea. I asked for a refund and they directed me to call their toll free number…
Have you ever found yourself yelling into your mobile phone trying to get to a customer service agent? The voice control system can’t understand you half the time because the mobile connection is horrible and the logic programmed into the interactive voice response for “self service” is so draconian that you have to go through several minutes of dead end choices before you get a chance to speak to someone that can actually help.
Self Service Tools Must Work and Be Easy to Use or They Can Damage Your Brand
When the system asked me what I wanted I said “refund” – no joy there. I said “agent”. No luck. What I did get is a lot of “I am sorry, I didn’t get that. Would you like help with a reservation? You can say common commands like…”
Enough already. Self service phone support shouldn’t be so hard. So here is a bit of advice to anyone involved in marketing, contact center management, customer support or customer experience:
Make Contacting a Representative Easier
It would be unfair to criticize without offering a solution so here are a few:
- Limit Phone Menu Choices to No More than 4 – If your company offers customer service by phone, limit the IVR menus to the bare minimum and offer from the beginning the ability to speak with a person that can help or find you one that can. Don’t commit callers to voicemail jail, always offer a “zero out” option. Natural language self help is a wonderful technology, but we live in a mobile society and mobile phone clarity is just not sufficient to always work well especially for customers on the go. People in cabs, noisy airports, on the street, on hands free devices or bluetooth headsets are going to have audio challenges, so be sure to accommodate them.
- Include In App Chat for Mobile Apps – If you have a mobile self service app – offer in app chat so that you can text with a live person. Instead of just publishing a toll free number, put in an Icon that says “Live Chat” and enable secure texting from within the app. Offer email as well, not every problem requires an immediate answer and email can offload the costs of expensive and high skilled agents to lesser expensive backroom associates. Doesn’t that seem like a good idea?
- Offer Live Chat on Your Website – If you have a website (and who doesn’t) offer live chat from the website so people can get to a live person when the self-serve tools fail them. Oh and please code the website to be responsive so it works on a mobile phone. If you have to pinch to expand the screen you lose over 1/2 your visitors.
Your brand is the sum of all the impressions your company makes with its customers and prospects. One of the most powerful impression is the interaction that takes place between the customer and the customer service representative. Make it count.