Human interactions can be face to face or on the phone. Customer frustrations during phone calls are common. The voicemail prompts are endless and often one is connected with an employee who can’t solve the problem. This can result in a loss of repeat business.
Some of the worst offenders fall into several categories:
- COMPUTER HARDWARE AND SOFTWARE: Many companies use offshore call centers to resolve problems. Most of the people who answer are excellent and can resolve your issue. However, different dialects often inhibit effective communication. Research lists this as a common complaint.
- BANKING and HEALTHCARE: Getting through the prompts is tedious and once you select you often get the wrong department. Companies in these categories may get away with poor customer service. It is time consuming to change your bank, doctor or insurance company. But would you recommend a company that frustrated you to a friend? Word of mouth is an extremely powerful marketing tool….for better or worse.
- MEDIA: Many local media outlets have eliminated operators. You are connected with the newsroom. If you have a question about an entertainment program or commercial it is highly unlikely that whoever answers the phone can give you meaningful information. Even worse, newsroom employees are multi-tasking. This means they want you to go away as soon as possible. Some viewers do….permanently.
All of these phone issues waste the customers’ time and test their patience.
Face to face interaction with a consumer can either cement a relationship or break it. A consumer’s view of your brand can shift based on ANY unexpected treatment from ANY member of your team in ANY environment. Read what one grocery store chain promises:
“We go to extraordinary lengths to satisfy, delight and nourish our customers. We want to meet or exceed their expectations on every shopping trip. …We want to serve our customers competently, efficiently, knowledgeably and with flair.”
This chain is very successful and well run. Now, imagine what happens when ONE customer questions the quality of obviously bruised lemons and ONE employee’s response is, “What is wrong with them?” All puns intended, the customer sours on his or her shopping experience.
Building a positive relationship with a consumer takes a long time. It may take less than a minute or two to destroy it. How much attention do you pay to the employees who deal with your customers every day? The people who stock shelves and answer phones are just as important as the people who design your marketing campaign. In some respects they are more important because they will make an immediate impression on those who buy your product or service. Train and treat them well. They are on the front line in the battle to win consumers’ loyalty.