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How Dare You Hang Up on Me!!! - My #1 Customer Experience Pet Peeve

Karl Helfner
Senior Manager of ISV Partners for Oracle CX
We’ve all called a customer service line and been placed on hold for 10+ minutes or longer. When we finally hear the voice of a living human, the line is disconnected. Infuriating, right?  It happened to me. 

Why does this drive us crazy with rage? And why is this one of the worst things you can do to your customer?

Whatever the reasons, I’m frustrated and angry. Hanging up on me instantly affects my relationship with your company. Here’s why.

The power of a hang-up triggers us emotionally.   

We’ve all had angry exchanges with someone and stormed off in a huff. The digital universe is no different.

Slamming down the phone down comes with a feeling of closure, but it also has a seriously negative connotation.  It’s a feeling of instant anger, not so much for the act of hanging up, but in the decision to hang up. We feel it when we are on the other end of it, regardless of it being done in anger or by accident.

We see ourselves as blameless.

In the “me first” society, we are never at blame. It’s always the other person's fault.  Even if it really is our own fault, I often hear people say “well, they should know who I am and call me back.”

My time is more valuable than anyone else’s.

If we’re hung up on, we’re mad that our time has been wasted. Oddly, if we get a human in under a minute and get disconnected, we don’t care all that much. But, if we waited on hold for a while or if we’ve been transferred to the void, we feel that our time has been wasted. Thus, we are incensed when we get dead air or a different human.

Companies can’t defend themselves.

The one who gets blamed is the one who can’t defend himself or herself. It’s a fact of life. He or she is a convenient punching bag for the masses when things don’t go correctly.

I deserve a better experience.

We expect that every experience we have should be excellent. If our expectations aren’t satisfied, we feel taken advantage of.

The dreaded hang-up isn’t just a simple ‘cost of doing business.’ It’s an experience that needs to be proactively resolved. Here are some things companies can do to fix it.

1)   Empower your agents:.

If a customer gets disconnected mid call, your agent should be able to call him back. Sounds simple and logical, right? Stand out from your competitors and instill the importance of customer/agent continuity with your employees.  Agents should have customer data in front of them. 

If you don’t, you just perpetuate the problem. Your customer will once again wait on hold and rehash the same information again with another agent in customer experience hell.

2)     Practice and Cultivate Empathy.

Training agents to empathize with customers goes a long way toward building trust with your customers. When a customer feels they are being helped, there is a positive emotional response and a partnership is forged on the call.

3)     Invest in your technology.

Don’t be penny wise and pound foolish. If you’re using state-of-the-art tech in your contact centers, you have the ability to reconnect the agent with the customer.

Analyze your contact center strategy. See if alternate channels with a higher fault tolerance for dropped calls could be better utilized. Those channels could include web self-service, chat, or instant messaging platforms.

4)     Listen to your agents.

Your agents touch your customers more than anyone else in a day. If you dismiss their knowledge and ideas on how to provide a great customer experience, you have essentially failed.

Agents know the issues your customer have with your products, your sales cycles, and your services. They hear every complaint, every issue, and they know more than you do. If you’re not an advocate for your agents, you should find another line of work.

Even if you’re the CEO, the agents in your contact center know way more about your customer experience than you do.  Deal with it and learn to listen to them.

5)     Be your own customer.

Test your processes and agent training. Make sure that the failure points are places where you can make a difference. If you can’t, learn to find new ways to approach the problems.

Share the customer experience with your peers. Point out how your experience as a customer directly correlates to how you run your business. I never once had an executive yell at me for telling them what I, as a customer, felt like with my experiences. Neither will you.

Your CX IQ, and how you deliver the CX promise your brand promotes is the real game changer. As soon as you address that, your business will be positioned to deal with the dreaded hang-up.

What are you doing today to make your customer service experience better?

How does your CX stack up?  Click here to take this one minute assessment to find out how you compare to your peers on current proficiency in and preparedness for the future of customer experience. You’ll be scored against hundreds of CX professionals to see where you stand and get an exclusive copy of the 2018 Smarter CX Insights Report.


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Comments ( 1 )
  • Philip Enders Arden Thursday, February 28, 2019
    What a powerful point. The emotional impact of a lost call can have a huge toll on a business relationship!
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