An idea popped into my head after my Symantec “customer service” phone ordeal earlier today. Instead of making customers wait in a call queue for minutes (or hours) on end, why not let them wait for a short time – maybe five minutes. If they still haven’t been passed to a real human being by that point, just have them punch in their phone number on the keypad. Then, when a support rep is finally available, have their system automatically dial up the customer’s number.
I think this would do a couple of things. First, it would remove the frustration that grows with every minute you’re on hold. That in itself would make the support calls more productive for both parties. Second, it shows a lot of respect for the customer. Instead of treating them like cattle by keeping them on hold, they get to go back to their regular job until they get the call.
This idea can’t be unique – some company out there has to be doing something like this already. The question to ask then, is why aren’t most companies doing it?
Sadly, I believe the answer is that most big companies just don’t care about their customers. Their “customers” are a mass of faceless and nameless people that are interchangeable and replaceable. Usually, you get lots of attention from sales while they “court” you, but if you ever decide to sign an agreement with them, you’re screwed. Support is an afterthought, and you’re looked at as an expense instead of being treated the way a customer really should. That’s why phone support is so often outsourced to call centers in India with employees who have no investment in a company, but read from a script instead.
That’s why I feel small businesses can really exploit this current state. They’re filled with people who still care, and there’s a very good chance the support person is also the sales person and the person providing the product or service. They’re also a thousand times faster than corporations, and can change their sales pitch or the product itself the day they learn of an issue from a customer, instead of having to go through layer after layer of bureaucracy.
Like I’ve said before, doing the right thing usually isn’t any harder than doing the “easy” thing. It means thinking a little differently and focusing your energy in a different place. But it also means caring – something a corporation is incapable of doing.