There is a whole series of common sense actions to avoid or practice that can lead to a significantly better customer experience. The become especially important when you consider my research for the White House from the 1980s that is still proven to be true today – it costs at least five times as much to get a new customer as to keep an existing one. Review the following checklist of dos and don’ts.

Don’t spook or drive away your customer by pouring gasoline on the fire:

1.     Don’t omit the 800-number when inviting contact – many companies think if they don’t provide the 800-number customers will just email. If I have an unpleasant surprise from self-service, I’ll work to find the 800-number, but I’ll be much more upset if I had to look hard to find it.

2.     Don’t subject your customers to long holds, e.g. over 90 seconds – there is no need with virtual queue. At the same time, don’t kill yourself attempting to answer all calls in 20 seconds; our data shows you can keep most customers in queue for at least 45 seconds with no discernible impact on satisfaction — if you fully answer the questions when you do answer the call.

3.     Do not EVER tell them their call is important – the fact that they have waited long enough on hold to hear the message confirms that their call is NOT all that important

4.     Don’t make your customers wait – email often takes too long – millennials want immediate gratification via chat. Chat is now becoming expected.

5.     Do not tell them to go to the website to get faster service- the fact that they are calling implies that they probably have not found what they wanted on your website. At least 65 percent of callers have already been to your website – often 80 percent. An exercise: Ask the next 100 callers if they have been to the website and, if so, what did they not find?.

6.     Don’t ever allow your staff to use the word “inconvenience.” In every case, from the customer’s perspective, the problem is more than an inconvenience. If that is all it was, they would not have contacted you.

Do the following to dazzle and retain your customers – while cutting costs

1.     Provide a “call me” button on your website, on every page in the same location. In many cases, a phone call is cheaper than email because emails often require 3 or 4 interactions, while a phone call can bring about immediate resolution along with preventive education and emotional connection. Remember, every five calls you do NOT get from unhappy customers is at least one lost customer.

2.     Offer virtual queue – the technology is available in the cloud and almost completely eliminates dissatisfaction with wait time. People are happy to get a cup of coffee and be called back in 3 minutes vs. sitting on hold for three minutes – which seems like an eternity. Further, virtual hold allows you to better manage transient peaks and shave a little staff cost.

3.     Set proper expectations – publish your service standards on the website and wherever you publish the 800-number and email address. If email response standards are 24 hours, let customers know, but be aware that most customers now expect a response in 4-6 business hours. Another innovative approach is to ask the customer how soon they need a reply – companies are afraid to ask but it is better to know. Then you can either put demanding customers at the top of the queue or auto-acknowledge with a statement of when a reply will be forthcoming.

4.     Use auto-acknowledge for email – surprisingly, half of all clients I visit STILL do not use auto-acknowledge for email.

5.     Answer the top five issues customers are calling about on the home page. You will immediately see those top issues decline as most callers go to the website first and only call if they cannot find the answer.

6.     Offer chat but make sure you can initiate conversations within a minute. To achieve this, your chat channel must be integrated into your call flow channel and treated like a phone call.

7.     Provide monthly feedback to both customers and employees on what you have done with their feedback. Most customers are very cynical about completing surveys because they appear to go into a black hole. Likewise, employees seldom hear how feedback is used. Innovative companies both types of feedback, e.g. here are actions and improvements we’ve made based on your input, on both the public and employee websites. The reaction will be, “Wow! You’re really paying attention.” Supplement the feedback to employees with printed newsletters posted in the bathrooms – where everyone must go several times a day. One company calls this newsletter, “Flush Facts.”

Stay Tuned, CCMC’s 2015 National Rage Study Results Come Early Next Month

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