Short Message Service (SMS)
Beyond First Call Resolution
Group Editorial Director, Technology Mareting Corp
As I pored over this year’s applications for our MVP Quality Awards – the winners are named in this issue – several common ideals became evident, ideals that are the hallmark of any successful organization and allow businesses
to excel even in the most challenging of environments
“Approach every customer as if they are your only customer.”
“Treat every call like it’s the only one you will take today.”
“Never leave a customer stranded.”
“Quality is not just a process, it’s a way of life.”
Some may cast these aside as trite clichés – in some respects, they may be – but, though idealistic and almost certainly not original, these values are what distinguish the most successful customer service groups and organizations from the masses.
Of course, the key consideration in most cases is whether you hang up the phone with a favorable resolution – first call resolution remains a key measure of success in most contact centers. The fact is, though, there isn’t always a feasible means of resolving every situation immediately. That, however, does not mean the customer has to go away unsatisfied.
Last month, I mentioned Cablevision’s mandatory call to customer service to activate a new set-top box – the rationale for which I still fail to understand. So, I made the call, and when the box had been activated, found the DVR capability not functioning properly.
The agent, as he had been instructed, ran through a prescribed set of actions to remedy the situation, to no avail, at which point the agent politely told me there was nothing more he could do and a technician would have to be called out. My
frustration grew. However, I also recognized the fact that the first level of CSRs are trained to handle the most common and most easily remedied situations in most cases, and asked to speak to his supervisor.
The supervisor ran through much of the same detail the rep had – and though I had anticipated that, it certainly didn’t
help my frustration level. He then moved to a new series of tests and operations, which still failed to resolve the issue. At
that point, I was told that there were a few other diagnostics that could be run, but they would take some time, and most likely would still result in a technician having to be sent to physically inspect the hardware.
Needless to say, I was less than pleased that the next available appointment was two days later – though from an employee satisfaction standpoint, knowing we were expecting a heavy winter storm within 18 hours, I also recognized that Cablevision had a responsibility to look out for the safety of its workforce. It also would do little in terms of customer satisfaction to have to cancel a scheduled appointment due to weather conditions.
So, despite understanding the challenges with technology, and with Mother Nature, I was hardly a satisfied customer. But, I did not anticipate what transpired over the next few hours to change my attitude.
The supervisor reiterated there were some additional tests he could run, but rather than keep me on the phone, asked if
he could call me back to determined if the service had been repaired. I will admit that I was less than optimistic about getting a call back, let alone the problem being resolved, but had little choice but to accept the offer (I suspected the issue was with the hardware, which would need to be replaced).
To my surprise, a little more than an hour later, the phone rang, and the supervisor asked me to turn on the box to test the DVR functionality, though to no avail. He said he would run one final set of test that was available to him and would call back again, which he did, though the DVR still was not functioning, and we scheduled a technician to come out two evenings later to replace the unit.
Ultimately, the scenario played out just as the original agent has indicated. But, because his supervisor had taken the time
to go into greater detail about the problem, explained the scheduling constraints and, most importantly, because he had
followed through on his promise to call me back – not once, but twice – I hung up the phone much less likely to cancel
my service the next day.
Admittedly, I have no way of knowing how many tests were actually conducted, if any, but customer service is largely a matter of perception. I am not Cablevision’s only customer (if I were, I would be paying much more than my already exorbitant rates), and mine was certainly not the only call the agent or supervisor had taken that day. But, the attentiveness and personalized level of service that I experienced almost made it seem so.
So, while the trite clichés that were abundant in this year’s applications may cause you to roll your eyes, they, nevertheless,
offer a valuable lesson in quality customer service. You know you won’t be able to solve every issue immediately, but you can ensure you have a strategy for leaving your customers satisfied with what you are able to offer until a resolution can be found. That’s the difference between customer service MVPs and the rest of the field.
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