Have you ever considered the emotional response of your customers during a customer service interaction? As both a customer and a customer experience practitioner, I thought I would share a recent experience from both perspectives. I’ve also included some tips for how the missteps that occurred during the scenario could have been prevented.
It was 10:35 p.m. on a Tuesday when I noticed a bill from my credit card company, which also happens to be my primary bank. I opened it to find that it never received my last payment and had assessed a late fee, an interest penalty and was demanding immediate payment in full. This stirred the first of three emotional responses (disbelief), as I began to assess my course of action. I decided to call the bank since they advertise 24/7 customer service and I thought they would be able to help me resolve this quickly. I was wrong.
Upon dialing the toll-free customer service number, I experienced the second emotional response (frustration) as I was forced to sit through a rather lengthy message that addressed the recent credit card fraud issue caused by a breach of security involving one or more major retailers. This issue didn’t affect my credit card.
Tip to Bank: Focus your messaging on the caller. I did not need to hear about the credit card fraud since it did not affect me.
I was given a lengthy menu of interactive voice response (IVR) choices and was posed with the dilemma of figuring out if my problem was related to my checking or credit card account. I opted for the credit card account and was subsequently put in queue for 23 minutes. A customer service representative (CSR) finally picked up my call and asked me for some basic information, which also included information I had already entered via the IVR.
Tip to Bank: Staff your contact center so callers are not waiting 20 plus minutes on hold. Also, consider technology that records and reports data gathered from the IVR system into your customer relationship management (CRM) system.
After the CSR did some research, she promptly responded that the information I shared with her did not match the owner of the credit card account and she could not provide any details or assist me. (By the way, the credit card is issued to my son under a sub-account specifically marketed for college students.) After a lengthy negotiation, I convinced her to conference in my son to alleviate this objection, which she did but then dropped the call.
Tip to Bank: Implement a callback process when customers are disconnected.
At this point, the third emotional response (helplessness) began to set in. I called back and 27 minutes later, I was connected to a CSR again. I interrupted her routine request for more information to share my last interaction to try and expedite the resolution as it was now 11:50 p.m. She politely listened to my explanation and then simply asked if the payment had been deducted from my checking account. I confirmed that it had. She put me on hold to call the checking account department to confirm so she could take the next steps to resolve the issue. A few minutes later, she came back on the line with additional questions and put me on hold again. About 10 seconds later, she returned to notify me that the checking account department had just closed, since it was now midnight. I asked to speak to her supervisor and she said that they had all gone home. I hung up.
Tip to Bank: Don’t close your business units or send your supervisors home until the phones are clear.
In my next post, I will share the final outcome of this interaction and some additional recommendations to the customer service team.
John Butson – An imperfect customer expecting more