Society is in a hurry, people are impatient, and as a result customers are ever more demanding. Is good customer service still able to satisfy them? Jean-Luc Geha, director of the HEC Montreal Sales Institute and a specialist in customer experience, shares some ideas.
“Accustomed by the instantaneous pace of information transfer, people now expect that the line will not only be picked up more quickly, but that it is immediately the right person at the end of the line,” says Jean-Luc Geha.
18 seconds or three rings: this is the maximum time a customer can wait before feeling that his valuable time is being wasted. In order to meet this time limit, companies are almost all equipped with an interactive voice response system, which also lets them distribute the calls better. Not all of them use it in a way that favours their customers’ experience, however. “Customer service should never offer more than three options, which can be refined into three sub-questions. This is the 3 by 3 principle. More than that, and the customer becomes impatient waiting for the right option… and he will in any case have forgotten the choices that were initially proposed to him.”
Available and competent advisers
Finally, talking to a human is not enough. This person must demonstrate good listening skills and empathy, and especially not paying lip service with “I don’t know”. “No one wants to talk to someone who is useless. Call centre employees have to be able to take action. If a customer needs a refund for example as a result of an error, the advisor must be able to grant it, without having to go through a superior. And if the advisor does not know the solution to the problem, he must be able to find it by himself, with the technological tools at his disposal,” explains the director of the HEC Montreal Sales Institute.
And if the customer’s situation requires being transferred to a colleague, simple telephone redirection is unacceptable in 2019. The next person at the end of the line must have in front of him all the details that have already been shared with the company. “We are talking about a warm transfer,” explains Jean-Luc Geha. “A customer who has to start the process all over again and repeat his problem to another adviser will see it more than a setback: he will perceive it as serious disrespect.”
In 2019, companies and their employees fortunately have access to technological solutions that can help them provide a good customer experience. For example, more and more companies are managing the issue of 24/7 availability, highly valued by customers, by having a complete website through which the customer can easily find his answers. “Artificial intelligence is also beginning to prove itself in chat bots. It can be thought that its use on the phone is not futuristic,” says the customer experience professor.