Don’t Pull the Football Away! Keep Your Customer Service Promise

When customer service is done right, a problem gets resolved and the customer walks away happy, even relieved. 

When it is done wrong, the customer is left feeling stuck and helplessly infuriated. 

An acquaintance of mine recently experienced the latter with a financial company that shall remain nameless to protect the guilty.  My acquaintance, who will be referred to as X, had an urgent question and complaint over the weekend, but the financial company had no avenue of contact for weekend questions via e-mail, chat, or phone and no self service center. So X waited until Monday afternoon. 

She called the toll-free number given but it was all automated and there was no option to talk to a live person, which was not going to be helpful due to the nature of her question.  So X spent a good half hour trying to find a way to get her question to a real person

She finally found a phone number that led to a live agent and of course there was a long wait.  When is the wait ever short?  However, the company offered a call back option so she didn’t need to be tied to her phone.  She was rather pleased with that option and took it, but kept the phone tied to her hip just in the unlikely case they called back early. 

She got the call back a half hour later and what does she find?  An agent who’s accent is almost impossible to understand and the service system is down.  So, X could wait another two hours and call back, start the process all over and waste a perfectly good evening, or call tomorrow. 

“You’ve got to be kidding me,” she said in frustration to the agent.  Such a comment is rhetorical and does not require an answer; yet the agent who obviously didn’t understand what a rhetorical comment is, responded anyway without sympathy and without apology. 

Remember Charlie Brown and his efforts to finally kick the football Lucy was holding for him? Every year she would hold the football, and every year she would pull the ball away and Charlie Brown landed right on his back. If Charlie Brown expressed some scepticism with the arrangement, Lucy would make all sorts of promises and Charlie Brown would run up to kick the ball and Lucy would (wait for it) pull it away, leaving Charlie Brown on his back.

X felt like Charlie Brown. They both received promises they thought would be honored.  They both thought that finally, they were going to achieve their goal. But no, those promises were broken in short order. Lucy snatched the football away. Again.

The moral of that story is:  don’t leave your customers feeling like Charlie Brown.  Don’t give the promise of customer service with no follow-through.  Have multiple avenues for a customer to use.  Make those options simple. 

Self-service centers are great because the customer can get to them at any time, day or night; but make sure there is substance to it.  Cover every possible question or concern, and for those complaints you can’t cover, have a way to contact an actual agent. Live Chat is one way. Email with autoresponse and autoalert is another. And of course, there is the good old telephone. 

Visit PhaseWare’s Home Page. We have an entire arsenal of customer service software that makes answering questions and fixing problems easy on the customer and on you.  So help Charlie Brown’s aching back and head. Let PhaseWare hold the football.

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