As the country digs its way out of the Great Recession, you’d think that businesses would be making great strides in their customer service endeavors. Most do, I’m sure. But on occasion we encounter a firm that could use a refresher in how to provide quality customer service.
I recently needed to call my bank to inquire about changing the signatures on a checking account. Normally, I’d meet at a branch with the other person to sign the signature card. Our schedules don’t mesh, however, so I needed to know what my options were. That’s when the “fun” began.
I called their customer service number two times in as many days. In each case I was on hold for at least 10 minutes. It would’ve been longer, but I hung up. Couldn’t take it any longer. (In fairness to the bank, I was told–by an automated voice–that “due to high call volume, you’re expected wait time is 15 minutes.”) Why the high call volume? This institution, like others in the financial world, routes calls to a central office. That may be good in theory, but it can have serious consequences. As in my recent instance.
One advantage to this arrangement is that it takes pressure off the branches. That allows the business to adjust staff levels.
Consistency and uniformity of information is another distinct advantage. Having worked in the customer service area of a bank, I know how branch personnel can err when answering questions.
The trade off, ironically, comes at the expense of customer service. Too often callers are stuck on the line waiting for an answer. During the wait we are reminded by the voice message that “many questions can be answered on our website. Go to….” I know that. Problem is, my question isn’t addressed in the FAQ section.
In the email I eventually sent to this bank, I pointed out my frustration of waiting on hold. Will I close the account? Doubtful; this wasn’t that serious of an issue. But I’ll remember the incident.
How about your firm? Do you use a centralized office for customer service calls? Test it. Call at various times of the day and on different days of the week. How long are you put on hold? If you’re not happy with the results, imagine how your customers and prospects feel.
For related reading, see “Good customer service starts with the incoming call” and “Start off with good customer service.”
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