Click-to-Call Is A Valuable Customer Service Tool. Sometimes.

A few years back, I was attempting to book a flight to Portland, Oregon through the American Airlines web site. At a certain point, I became confused over seating options or somesuch. Almost immediately, I was overcome with dread at the thought of calling customer service. OH NO!

Noticing the click-to-call button and feeling experimental, I clicked to call. Less than 20 seconds later, my phone rang, a real live customer service representative answered my questions, and guided me quickly through completing my reservation. Hot dog!

While click-to-call and click-to-chat may not make sense for every customer service organization, in a competitive industry like airline travel, these little things can make all the difference. In my example, had I not used click-to-call, I most likely would have tried another airline before actually calling American Airlines.

Perhaps not everyone is as averse to phone-based customer service as I am, but I know lots of people who share my trepidation. While customer service by phone often leads to the most direct solution, the process of mucking through phone menus and explaining your situation to one or more people often isn’t worth it.

With American Airlines click-to-call, the customer service representative was immediately aware of my exact position in the booking process, could quickly identify my issue, and actually expedited the entire reservation process. From my point of view, it was a total success. I was able to get the person-to-person interaction I wanted without the extraneous hassles. “Double fist pump!” as I like to say.

As with any customer service channel, or channel enhancement such as click-to-call, there is always a downside. And this comes to mind because of a story I recently heard from a friend.

Mired in a bout of insomnia, my friend decided to do a little online shopping with Pottery Barn. Apparently, one of her acquaintances had a wedding registry with the upscale home goods retailer. My friend found the item she wished to purchase, and proceeded to check out. As a frequent Pottery Barn shopper, she already had an online account that should have included up-to-date payment information.

Upon checking out, my friend received an error message indicating an issue with her credit card. She verified the credit card information, but still could not check out. At this point, she decided to use the click-to-call option to solicit a little help with her purchase.

On the first attempt, she received a call, but instead of getting a customer service representative on the line, she was connected to another person’s conversation. She could overhear a Pottery Barn customer service rep discussing items from the catalogue with another customer. They could not hear her.

So, she hung up and tried again. This time, she was greeted by an actual customer service rep ready to engage her in conversation. So, my friend explains her issue only to be told, “I’m sorry, I can’t help with this issue. You’ll have to try placing your order again in 24 hours.” Without explanation of why, Pottery Barn simply shut her down. Sorry, better luck next time.

Needless to say, this is crap customer service any time of day, but I just don’t see the point of having customer service enhancements if you’re not going to put any effort into making them work. So, if you’re considering click-to-call or click-to-chat, think American Airlines rather than Pottery Barn. Effort and strategy make all the difference.



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