Happy to help? Enterprises need new IVRs

Infotech Lead India: Service providers, please take note. Most people only use the customer care or technical support helpline as the last resort. Most of us try to troubleshoot or even put up with an issue as long as we can stall making that dreaded phone call to customer care or technical support to ask for help.

Why is it that most of us prefer to avoid calling any customer care number, irrespective of whether it’s for technical support, online shopping or for banking? I did a little survey to find out what irks us most. After all, it can’t be that we have had a poor experience with calling customer service across all service providers, right? Surprisingly, the survey revealed that the reputation of customer service in India is generally in bad shape.

To understand the needs of professionals, who use customer care services, InfotechLead.com, an IT portal for enterprises, conducted a random survey last month.

500 professionals between the ages of 20 and 43 – in India’s 4 cities – Delhi, Mumbai, Delhi and Chennai — answered questions about how often they call customer care, what type of service provider they call most, what they like most about the service they receive on a call, what they find irritating and what would turn around their experience so far.

Banking customer care help lines topped the list of most called customer care service, while phone service providers were the second most contacted category, for reasons ranging from billing queries or disputes to activation and deactivation of value added services.

When asked about the factors that make calling customer care numbers a stressful experience, seventy three percent responded that they were most put off by wait times, followed by complicated IVRs and being transferred from one department to another.

Notably, respondents specified that being asked to repeat their issue and verify themselves again when they were transferred from one department to another was the single most irritating factor that made inter-department transfers annoying.

The common sentiment was that departments within a company should co-ordinate amongst themselves to avoid putting the customer through the inconvenience of having to verifying himself and describing the issue repeatedly to every new advisor he speaks with.

Respondents also found it annoying that once they report an issue, they had to call back several times to check the status of the complaint. Very few service providers ever called back to keep a complainant updated about the progress of the issue they reported.

It was also noted that on follow up calls, instead of checking notes about the customer’s previous interactions with the company, advisors chose to make the customer to repeat the entire issue all over again.

Respondents found that in case of complicated issues that needed to be escalated, advisors usually assumed an air of nonchalance instead of owning the customer’s issue and assuring them that their complaint will be taken care of. Sixty percent of those who were asked whether their service providers resolved issues within the time frame that they initially promised replied in the negative.

Ninety three percent of the respondents agreed that when they wanted to cancel a service, their service providers gave them a hard time – irrespective of whether it was a banking service or an internet service provider.

On being asked what changes would make calling customer care a more pleasant experience, respondents had varied responses. In summary, service providers would do well to train their advisors to read previous interactions on a customer’s records and provide more responsible and personalized assistance in case of a repeat complaint call.

When a complaint cannot be resolved on the same call, it would help if the onus to follow up on the issue would not be on the customer. If the customer is given a timeframe, the company should be able to resolve the issue within the stipulated timeframe. If the company is unable to resolve the issue within the timeframe promised, the customer needs to be kept informed about the same.

Respondents listed being on long hold, complicated IVRs and being transferred amongst different departments as other irritants that made calling customer service an ordeal. Forty three percent of the respondents said that they have experienced being hung up on, when they asked for a supervisor to escalate their complaint.

Eighty six percent of the respondents replied that they would switch service providers due to poor customer service.

There is no dearth of service providers and consumers are spoilt for choice today. There are very few differences in the pricing structure or the products and services offered by each service provider. Eventually the only thing that will draw new consumers to a service provider and ensure brand loyalty is impeccable customer service.

Picture source:.fbcdn.net

Sangeeta Sudhakaran
[email protected]