Humor: A worker at a car dealership was juggling 12 different tasks when a customer phoned. "Parts department. Can you hold please?" he said. The person on the other end obviously couldn't, because the next thing heard was, "Then could you call back when you can hold?" Reader's Digest
Life: Pradhan Balter, an attendee at a train-the-trainer session for our customer service training program, had a problem with his car and took it to a garage a few blocks away to have repairs made. During the lunch break, he called to inquire about the progress of the repairs and was asked to hold. After being on hold for an annoyingly long period of time, he decided to walk over to the garage to see what was taking so long. Cell phone to ear, he approached the counter where the mechanic had just finished up with a customer. "You know that guy you have on hold?" Pradhan said. "That's me." Pradhan hung up; the mechanic didn't blink.
Have you called your own customer service line? If not, call and find out what's happening. Do your customer service reps give you a curt, "Hold, please," put you on hold, and leave you there while they research a problem? Monitor some calls. Do customers get annoyed with long hold times?
A quick fix is to train your customer service reps to use this four-step approach:
- Explain why they need to put the caller on hold.
- Ask permission.
- Check back every 30–45 seconds.
- Thank the caller for holding when they return to the call.
A longer-term, yet important fix is to find out why customer service reps need to place callers on hold in the first place, and then remedy those situations. Do your reps need more training? Do they need better resources? Do you need to improve processes or procedures? Ask your customer service reps what they think, watch them do their job, then make the changes necessary for them to be able to quickly resolve the caller's issue. Mom was right. Actions do speak louder than words. So if you want high customer satisfaction, you need to treat your customers like their call is important to you, not just tell them that it is.