Looking for new ways to eliminate customers’ stress while they wait for customer service? Try reducing the wait—or at least giving the impression you’re reducing it, a new study of customer psychology suggests.
A study written by three marketing professors and reported in MediaPost found that people often feel more time-pressed than they really are when they are facing multiple goals that conflict with each other. For instance, a working mother who’s also taking care of an aging parent is more likely to feel stressed at work even on a day when juggling children, parent and work is all going well, just because in the back of her mind she has conflicting roles to play.
How does this affect customer service? Well, any customer facing multiple goals or feeling conflict is going to be more sensitive to wait times. For instance, a customer calling customer service on her 15-minute break feels stressed about getting back to work on time. A customer who’s already had bad experiences with customer service about an unresolved issue will be extra-sensitive to wait times as he tries (again) to resolve it.
So how can you lessen wait times, or at least make them less onerous? Here are some tactics businesses are using successfully.
- Provide as many self-serve options as you can. Your website can feature FAQs, clear directions, community forums and other information to guide customers without having to talk to an agent.
- Identify peak call times and staff appropriately. The more agents available, the more manageable wait times will be.
- Offer to call customers back. Providing an option to call customers back at a time and number they specify is a less stressful alternative to waiting on hold.
- Don’t leave them in a vacuum. Stress increases when customers have no idea how long they’ll be on hold. Have your hold message identify projected wait times (pad them a bit so customers will be pleased when they get helped “early”).
- Give customer service agents access to a detailed and updated knowledge base so they can quickly get answers without having to find a supervisor or other agent to help.
- Measure your call metrics. Set goals and benchmarks such as average time on hold, average time to resolve an issue, how many calls one agent can handle at a time before service starts to suffer, average numbers of transfers during one call and average number of times customers are put on hold during one call. By measuring these numbers, you’ll be able to identify bottlenecks slowing service and resolve them.