"We are not entirely certain why it went down, but what we saw in our numbers is that right after the merger was announced, it dropped, then bounced back up in pretty short order," he says. "Our best guess is that what was happening is that they were getting a lot of calls from customers asking about the merger, and the context was something the customer service reps were not prepared for. They weren't prepared for the volume, and they weren't prepared to answer the questions."
By contrast, Verizon saw an uptick that coincided with its offering of the iPhone and the relative simplicity of that product.
What about banks?
Banks have a unique set of challenges, in that they need to strike a balance between offloading routine inquiries to an automated system and providing on-demand assistance.
"I think people are generally less forgiving when their money is involved," Leppik says. "There is a certain amount of urgency. There are a lot of routine transactions that are very easy to self-serve, then, every now and then, you have something which, at least in the customer's mind, is a real crisis.
"There is a myth in the customer-service business that there are some customers who are only going to be happy if they can deal with a person," he adds. "I think online banking is a great example of how that is really not true. For basic transactions -- checking your account balance, finding out if a check has cleared, that sort of thing -- people really do prefer an online channel. It is easier, quicker and you don't have to wait to talk to somebody."
The point of failure is when banks get "into the mindset that when a customer picks up a phone and calls them, they need to try to keep them away from a live agent," he explains, adding that this backfires when a customer has already had a service failure and needs to escalate to live assistance.
Bank of America and Wells Fargo had better phone-based customer service than Chase and Citi, according to an October survey by Vocalabs. In telephone interviews conducted immediately after a customer-service call, 68% of Bank of America customers surveyed were "very satisfied" with the experience, while 63% of Wells Fargo customers gave the experience their top rating. This compares with the 56% of Chase and 52% of Citi customers who were similarly satisfied.
Problem resolution is an issue industrywide, the study found. Bank of America, Chase and Wells Fargo were statistically tied, with 64%, 66% and 64%, respectively, of customers' problems resolved on the customer-service call, while 57% of Citi customers surveyed reported their problems were solved.
"Even among routine transactions like checking account balances, over 30% of the customers we interviewed did not get what they wanted on the customer-service call," Leppik says. "Our survey shows that problem resolution is a major driver of business goals like customer loyalty. It also costs a lot of money to serve customers who call back multiple times.
"Many companies have this mistaken notion that providing good customer service is necessarily more expensive than what they are doing today," he says of call center service in general. "We find there are a lot of companies who are providing very inefficient customer service. They end up spending too much money to provide a poor level of service. The key really is to pay attention to the right things, to incentivize the right things, and they can often provide better customer service for comparable amounts of money."
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I will NOT apologize for refusing to deal with customer service if they have an "accent". I am an Engilsh speaking person, in AMERICA looking for help for my American service or product. If I was in India or China, it would be fine of course to get someone from there. In America it is not.
I want an American and that is final. And I should not have to put up with a person who doesn't get my problem. They give flat responses, have no clue of my frustration enough to try and offer any real help, and no matter what, all they do is just repeat flatly the same sentences. And if numbers are involved....forget it. I can't understand them.
And don't forget the American company is saving big bucks using customer service outsourced to India or whereever. They really aren't saving much anymore because we are on the phone longer with these people and we drop the company in question if the frustration gets high. I do. 2 of my business contacts promised us no outsourced customer service, the sales lady said she had trouble with them too. LOL
So I think outsourced customer service is terrible. Thank you
As a former customer service rep in a call center, I have admittedly provided exceptional service, terrible service, and acted like a robotic drone on the phone. Here are my tips for getting exceptional service when you successfully reach a live person:
1. Before calling, write down what you want to achieve. If it's lodging a complaint, note what was dissappointing, why it was, and what you would like for reparation - BE REASONABLE about what you expect. CSR's will try really hard to reach what you genuinely want. Eg: removing an incorrect fee is reasonable. Removing a fee plus getting a month's of free service is usually not. If you take the time first to understand what you're trying to achieve, the entire conversation will be faster and easier. So many people call wanting to yell, but they can't tell me what was wrong or what will make them happy. Or, they'll call and tell me the problem over and over and over and over, and don't realize I'm offering possible solutions and asking what would help them.
2. When speaking to the CSR, remember that we have probably answered the same question 1000 times. Yes, it is our job to try to treat each person/situation as new and different, but we're human and get frustrated too. If we come across as frustrated at first, try being very pleasant back. It usually resolves our issues. If we get impatient or rude, then ask to speak to someone else.
3. If you are a manager or company owner and have CSR's - remember, proper training is essential. Don't just throw your employees in. If they have a problem, be supportive, try to understand why the CSR had a problem, and look to ways to help that CSR in the future. Sometimes it really is as simple as teaching them to slow down in their day.
I have over 40 years of customer service skills - and have always been exemplary at my job - and often complimented by customer or earned bonus for top skills and putting the customer first. Companies want to hire the younger worker (or the foreign worker) and I like others in "baby boomer status" came from an era when customer service was really about the customer. I woud be one of your better cs employees - how sad this country only looks at the physical and not the experience gained over a lifetime
I am a Customer Service Manager over 10 furniture stores. On the whole most people are nice, but some people are rude, arrogant and just plain nasty. Instead of waiting for you to assist them within the perimeters of store and manufacturing policy, they start screaming their demands and get annoyed when 1 out of 10 demands are not met. They threaten you with stop payment, Better Business Bureau and Internet blogs. They tell their stories over and over like your stupid or didn't hear it the first time. I can understand their frustration if something is damaged, but they should keep calm and treat everyone with respect. A lot of people look down on Customer Service Reps. They don't realize that every time we pick up the phone IT'S A PROBLEM and all parties should stay calm
instead of getting agitated and everything can be resolved. We are not on the battlefield.
The CSR is only as good as the company they work for. How many of us can name the CEO of a company? However, we remember the name of the agent who helped us. Until "Heads" realize customer service and the first point of contact is their most important asset, it won't change. CEO's make thousand's of dollars a year, your average agent makes about $9.00 an hour. That is 9 dollars they need to feed their family and pay their bills. Companies, require agents to upsell products or you job is in jeopardy. None can afford to lose a job right now. Just remember, that person you're taking your frustration out on and yelling at, is usually doing that the company is telling them they are required to do. Agents, are required to sale, have a time, meet quota or lose their job. My suggestion, put the wonderful CEO's and VP's on the phones for awhile, let them see how it is and maybe it will change.
The best advice I can offer anyone calling a CSR is to treat them like a person too. I can't tell you how many times I've gone past my call time with someone just screaming at me, refusing to even tell me the problem. That does no good at all, because it makes them not want to help you.
Just a little insight from a customer service rep...
Many have already sited some perspectives from the other side of that phone line.
Yes, there is a time limit reps are supposed to meet or exceed. For the company I work for it is 53 seconds. we are supposed to be able to diagnose the issue and forward the call accordingly. It is a global company and we are to try and make our way through with several foreign languages. You would NOT believe how many people in the United States do not speak English or are very very poor at it.
We in the United States are only hired for the very basic, first interaction when you call. The calls that are forwarded are sent outside the country. I bet you can guess where.
Most customer service reps have a script they HAVE to read from, or are written up for not doing so. My suggestions, when you call for customer service are:
1. Keep in mind that person on the phone is working under timed constraints. Your issue does not need to begin with the day you were born. You will just have to repeat it all over again when transferred. Yes, the rep you are speaking to when you initially call this company speaks English, but they can NOT do anything about the fact that the person you have to explain your technical issue may not. Spending your time venting your frustration does nothing but have a rep sitting there watching the seconds tick by. Their goal has now moved from helping you to getting you off the line as quickly as possible. Your three minutes of ranting just sent their average handle time skyrocketing. They will now have to rush some calls to get it back down. Accuracy is now sacrificed for speed.
2. Starting your call screaming at the top of your lungs and using every swear word you know is NOT going to help you much. To all you white collar males that think all they have to do is ask for the CEO or be put with someone immediately...get over yourselves. When you call, you are no different than anyone else.
3. The best calls are the ones when the customer says "I am not sure, what do you need to know ?" The script (the one mentioned above) helps get right to the point. A lot of effort and expense has gone into the development of those scripts to nail down the issue immediately.
Personally, I am absolutely amazed at what has come to pass for customer service. It feels like the big businesses have a captured audience and no longer have to treat people as individuals and as human beings. This goes for customers as well as the employees. They feel the customer has very few alternatives and most of the time the switching costs are greater than the issue they may be experiencing at the time.
To those customers that make a service call and it sounds like the rep is incapable...try to understand that they may have just had their 250th call (in 2 1/2 hours) with people who barely speak English, they have been yelled at, cussed out, sometimes threatened, are not allowed to go to the bathroom when there is a queue. They have listened to people's whole lives, had gone through the two crystal balls trying to figure out what the heck you are saying, worn out several pairs of pliers trying to pry the necessary information from the caller, and the worst is...knowing there is not single thing we can do to make it better for the caller when the hardware and software that are being used is malfunctioning. People, those reps do care! We just can't do anything about it. True customer service is a dying art and a dying concern for the big businesses.
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