Call Center in Mexico Customers today are passionate fans of properly designed self-service. In response, I’ve developed specific, reliable rules, based on customer experience design principles, customer service best practices and good old common sense, for making it possible for consumers to serve themselves successfully, by which I mean in a way that brings customers closer to your business rather than irritating them or, ultimately, driving them away.
These are the principles I share–as a customer service consultant and customer experience designer–with my client companies when constructing or revamping their customer experiences. Let me share these principles, adapted from one of my books on the subject (there are two free chapters for you at that link), and I hope you find them useful in your own situation.
1. Customers need a choice of channels. A choice means they choose, and you respect their decision. Customers shouldn’t be calling your business on the phone only to have you tell them, ‘‘You should go to the website to find that out.’’ (Incredibly, this happens all the time.) There’s a reason they called you on the phone, so talk to them!
For example, there’s a hotel chain that continuously—and I mean, continuously—urges its customers to use its automated kiosk at check-in. These hotels send emails to arriving guests every time a guest is about to visit one of their properties, urging them to use their new machines (and, presumably, help justify the chain’s kiosk investment). If you try, as a guest, to ignore the pressure and go up to the front desk to try to get human assistance instead, you’ll be told, ‘‘You know, you didn’t have to come up here. You could have used the kiosk.’’ But what if you want to be checked in by a human? What if that human-delivered service feels like a central part of the hospitality experience to you? The choice, as a customer, should be yours.
2. Self-service needs to have escape hatches. Here are two examples:
• Automated confirmation letters need to come from, or at least prominently feature, a reply-to address. When companies send confirmations that end with ‘‘Please do not reply,’’ it’s a kiss-off that can lead customers to desperation. The asymmetry defies our human desire for reciprocity: The company is sending you a letter, but prohibiting you from writing back!
• When you end your FAQs and similar self-help postings with ‘‘Did this answer your question?’’ contemplate what should happen if the customer’s response is ‘‘No, it didn’t answer my question.’’ First, consider what this customer response means: The customer has tried to do your company’s work for you—honestly tried—and failed, which means you have failed. Here’s what should follow: An ‘‘I’m so sorry, we obviously have room for improvement; click here and a live human being will assist you.’’ Or ‘‘If you would like a phone call from a human, please enter your number here. When we call, our humans will have a complete record of your query/issue and its failed resolution, and we will make it right.’’
3. Usability is a science that needs to be respected. Reinventing the wheel as far as usability is self-defeating: Usability is a well-developed science, yet people keep trying to wing it. For example, why do people hate—truly love to hate—IVRs (telephone interactive voice response)? Although some of these systems are designed with elegance and intelligence, and with humanity in mind, in even more instances, systems designers (or their client companies) ignore or try end runs around the rules of usability for such systems.
For example, most people can’t retain in memory more than thirty seconds of information at a time, so an IVR with more than thirty seconds of options or information is just going to confuse customers. There are similar hard-and-fast rules about how many menu items a customer can remember, yet some companies mangle their application of this rule by loading up each option with sub-options: ‘‘For Office A, Office B, or Office C, press 1.’’ That single sub-option actually demands that the customer remember four things: three departments and the menu number. In addition to the limits of human memory, there are conventions to adhere to in order to keep your customers comfortable: For example, ‘‘0’’ on a telephone menu should take you to a human, and the search bar on a web page should be exactly where customers expect it: right at the top of the page.
4. Customers need to be able to shift lanes. No matter what channel your customer enters through—your website, a phone line, an email, etc.—it should be a seamless and cohesive process. It shouldn’t feel like an entirely different experience in each area, and it shouldn’t make customers start from scratch if they’ve already shared information with your company in another channel.
5. Self-service can’t be set and then forgotten. It’s always a work in progress. It’s not like those ads you used to see in the back of entrepreneurial magazines that promise an easy living owning vending machines: set them up, ignore them, come back once in a while to check on them like a trap you set in the woods, and see all the money you’ve caught. Modern self-service isn’t like that. It has to be monitored and reviewed regularly. Specifically, every time you set up a process, you need to monitor it.
Self-service isn’t just the wave of the future; it’s the reality of the present. Embrace it—your customers already have.
Keywords: Call Center in Mexico