As a technologist there is nothing that I hate more than technology when I am having a problem. Specifically I am talking about voice mail and auto-responders from help desk or other impersonal systems. Do you feel that impersonal voice mail and the instant response acknowledging that I have a problem is good enough? Does this really show that you value me as a customer?
Some businesses that I have consulted with feel that the instant gratification of these systems is actually disconnecting you from your customers. It is convenience at the expense of real connection. Bottom line, your bottom line will eventually suffer because your connection to the customer is impersonal and automated. Get back to personal and make sure that your company is Easy To Do Business With or ETDBW.
I have heard the arguments, the complaints that costs are rising for employees and ‘automation really should be able to handle’ the basic needs of routing calls and auto-responding to customer emails. I agree costs are rising, and so is competition. When times get tougher people want to cut back, my feelings mirror those of Former CEO Jack Miller who founded Quill (Worlds largest stationary store – sold to Staples) who said that he would cut costs as long as it did not impact the quality of his product or his customers experience. So the message is do cut so deep that it impacts who you are to your customers. Turn off lights, stop providing free coffee, do anything before you impact your customers.
Frustration Sets In
Just think of the last time you send an email, got the auto-responder saying that your issue would be handled and a few days later you had not heard a thing?! You then pick up the phone and wind up in voice mail routing hell, and you never really get to speak to someone that can answer your questions!
YOUR CUSTOMER ARE LOOKING FOR BUSINESSES that are ETDBW and voice mails, impersonal invoices and blind auto-responders are a sure sign that there is trouble looming. Next time try pressing ‘0’ to see if you actually get a live person.
Get Some Curve Appeal
Fix these issues with a trend that I affectionately call chick it up to give your company some curve appeal. Studies have shown that customers relate well to real people or even the perception of a REAL person helping them who can be accountable is a huge booster in confidence and satisfaction. In your business it does not have to really be an individual but it can be a team, but for heavens sake don’t have your trouble tickets, or invoices signed off:
Thank you, Support Department or Customer Care or Accounting Group 1-800-555-1212
Think of how much more appealing the same auto-responder would be if it were signed:
Thanks, Heather Customer Advocate Call me at: 800.555.1212 if you need personal attention.
Looking for Heather
When someone calls looking for Heather, tell them that she is on the other line but you would be HAPPY TO PERSONALLY HELP THEM OUT WITH THE ISSUE. At this point reconnect with the customer and find out how you can HELP! Think Customer focus, customer satisfaction. Oh and by the way, customers are more likely to be respond appropriately when they feel that there is a PERSON on the other end of the email and not just some huge company robot that grinds up their requests. Make it personal, chick it up
It’s the phone. Stupid.
My other suggestion for voicemail hell is a real live receptionist. Someone that picks up the phone in one or two rings, says hello and asks the customer who they would like to speak with. I know we have moved away from this and no company really wants the overhead of call routing. Having a live person taking that initial call from a customer is priceless in terms of value and costs less than $2.00 per minute to have it handled professionally. A dynamic company called Ruby Receptionistshandles your incoming call routing professionally and with a script that you provide on how to greet and handle your customers as well as how to route your calls.
Better than Machines
Ruby works with organizations to answer and route their phone calls with a live receptionist that picks up in about two rings. You provide a script and an escalation tree heck even if the call gets routed to your support queue or to voicemail, at lease it was picked up by a real live person, who cares.
I have three clients who could not be happier with Ruby, it gives them an edge on the competitors and MOST importantly it gives their customers a friendly voice and a bit of curve appeal.
Give it to me Baby
Give your customers what they want. Your company provides an excellent product with a good value and NOW you can provide that extra personal attention. Start updating your impersonal and automated emails like billing notices, support requests, product auto-responders to have an individual appeal. Then take a look at your voice mail system and make sure that you are ETDBW.