If I had a nickel for every time someone told me, “You should call ‘so and so.’ Their customer service is terrible. They could use your help,” I might not be rich, but it would definitely pay for a great vacation or two at a customer-focused resort. Seriously, many people share their customer service horror stories. Most of the time, it is an indifferent or bad attitude from an employee that causes the customer service snafu. However, my friend Victor Cohen recently told me a story that is worth sharing. It wasn’t the attitude of the employee that caused his problem. It was the company’s system and guidelines.
All Victor wanted to do is watch the hockey game. It was the final game of the Stanley Cup and he knew it was being televised on a major network. He rushed home to watch the last part of the game, but couldn’t find it. He went to the “guide” that the cable company provided on screen and it wasn’t there. The reason, by the way, was that the game went into overtime and the originally scheduled shows were showing up on the on-screen guide instead of the game. But, that’s not where the real problem was.
Victor decided to call the cable company. After holding for few minutes and being reminded that his “call was very important,” a customer service agent finally came on. All Victor needed to know was what channel the Stanley Cup Final game was on. It was a simple question.
Instead of a simple answer, the customer service agent had to follow the script and started asking his own questions that started with Victor’s account number, billing address and more. Victor said he didn’t have his account number handy, and couldn’t see how that had anything to do with what channel was showing the hockey game. Couldn’t this rep just look it up? Other than the city, the account number and other requested information was unnecessary.
After fifteen minutes of wasted effort on the phone and a little channel surfing, Victor found the channel. But it was too late. The final goal in overtime had already been scored. Game over.
This disappointing story can, unfortunately, be told in many different ways with many different companies. It may not be a hockey game or even a cable TV company. It’s simply a customer calling in for information or help, usually with a simple question that doesn’t require knowing the customer’s account number, billing address, mother-in-law’s maiden name, etc. But no, the policy or “system” can get in the way of creating an easy and simple customer service experience.
Now, in all fairness to support centers around the world, I understand the need to have a customer’s information to link a customer to an issue. However, there may be times when it really isn’t necessary. That’s where other options, such as a website with frequently asked questions, self-help options, YouTube how-to videos and other ways the customer can access information on their own come into play. Or, the customer service agent can just share the information without asking any other questions. The bottom line… Be easy to do business with!
Shep Hyken is a customer service expert, professional speaker and New York Times bestselling business author. For information contact (314)692-2200 or www.hyken.com. For information on The Customer Focus™ customer service training programs go to http://www.thecustomerfocus.com. Follow on Twitter: @Hyken
(Copyright ©MMXIV, Shep Hyken)