“Your call is important to us”

It’s clear this phrase needs an addition: “… but not important enough!”

You know, I understand that call volume is variable. I think if customers and their calls were actually important, staffing in the call center would be such that you almost never hit this message. The fact that you have to reassure your customers that you actually care is evidence that you expect your customers to believe otherwise. I wonder if anyone has done studies to determine if this kind of message is at all effective?

How could this hollow message be avoided?

  • Obviously, the call center could staff for peak traffic. This wouldn’t have to be wasteful. You could arrange shift changes to overlap during peak times. You could have employees doing non-call work (e.g. training, online tickets, knowledge base / docs…) during non-peak times.
  • Your automated phone system could be asking questions while waiting in the queue – the same questions that the representative would be asking anyway – and just connect you to the representative when one becomes available, passing on all data yet received. This way the customer would at least feel like they’re accomplishing something rather than pointlessly waiting. I know, having a representative actually receive the information you enter instead of having to re-request it seems like a novel idea, but I have actually seen it done. It is possible.

By the way, Bank of America, screw you and your crappy service. Cold-transferring customers to someone with no idea of who I am or what just happened with the previous representative is no way to run a decent operation. I am so sorry I ever did business with you.

Actual technical question: when calling 1-800 numbers, I like to save minutes and use Skype. Whenever I call e.g. conference numbers at work, my connection always seem fine. Whenever I call customer service numbers, I can hear them fine but they can’t hear me well at all. Is there some technical reason for that? It seems universal, not just like one customer service organization is giving me the shaft.

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One Response

  1. The annoying thing about phone trees that ask you for information while you wait for a human contact, at least in my usual experience, is that after you provide the information, the first thing the human contact asks is the same data you just provided the automated system. The one exception to that, and it has been consistently this way whenever I contact them, is USAA.

    “Cold-transferring customers to someone with no idea of who I am or what just happened with the previous representative is no way to run a decent operation.” Indeed. USAA representatives log their contact with you so the ‘next person’ they transfer you to has a meaningful record of what you’ve been discussing, and why you have been put in touch with them. It’s really pleasant to work with them!

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