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Thursday, April 5, 2018

2 Minute Warning

A few weeks ago, I had an issue with my smart phone. 

It was not accessing any cellular service.  This was my business phone, it had been two days, and no phone service means no business.  This was bad. 

I tried the chat function.  After 20 minutes of the employee trying to troubleshoot, I was advised to call the 800 number with my ticket number.  So I called, for the first of 5 conversations and 3 chats, over the next three days, with no company representative of competent skill to solve the issue. 

There is a lot to dissect about this disaster of a customer service experience, but I want to focus on one.
“May I place you on a brief hold?”

What is considered brief in 2018? The issue took many employees to try to solve.  Inevitably, they would get stuck and ask, “May I place on you a brief 2 MINUTE (my emphasis) hold?”  In my mind I was thinking, “Is 2 minutes brief?”

When I started training customer service, we taught 30 seconds was the absolute length of a hold.  We would turn off the room’s lights, and stay in silence, for employees to understand how long 30 seconds felt to a customer.  At about second 15, employees would start shifting in their seats.  It was uncomfortable, and it emphasized the point.

As service has evolved, and products have become more complicated, did we default to 2 minutes and no one told me?  If you are watching a You Tube video, and see it is longer than 2 minutes, do you still watch it?   Hmmm…

What made this particularly annoying is the agent was attempting to contact the next tier support. So every two minutes he returned to say, “We are experiencing high call volumes, and I cannot reach technical support.  Do you mind if I place you on another brief 2 minute hold?”

This went on for an hour; the agent came back to me approximately 30 times! Yikes!  

The Gurus Solutions

  1. The Easy Fix 1 – If it the agent knows it will take more than 5 minutes to reach the next tier of support, or to research the issue, then train them to be honest with the customer.   Let the customer make the decision if they have time to wait.  Customers are calling on lunch breaks, late at night, or through the other busyness of life.   This is an inconvenience to call.  Be compassionate and realistic about time expectations.
  2. The Easy Fix 2 – If it is going to be a long wait, train agents to tell the customer, “It will take at least ten minutes to reach the next support team.  I will come back every five minutes to check on you, or if you like, I won’t come back until I have them on the line.  Which works better for you?”   This sets better expectations, and is kind to your customers.   They will appreciate it.  This works better if there is music on your hold function, so customers know they are still on the line.
  3. The Longer Fix - As I have worked in call centers, I know many times, “We are experiencing higher call volumes” translates to “We are not adequately staffed.”  If long waits of 10 minutes are more the norm than the exception, take a look at your staffing or workforce planning.   Adequate staffing increases customer service  satisfaction and employee engagement.  It is worth the investment.

The Resolution

No one at the company was able to solve my issue.  My husband finally solved it by googling the problem, and found other users had the same issue with the fix.  That is a topic for another blog. 😊

Be compassionate out there!