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

February 18, 2019 | 4 minute read
Karl Helfner
Senior Manager of ISV Partners for Oracle CX
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We’ve all called a customer service line and been placed on hold for 10 minutes or longer. Then, 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're never at blame. It’s always the other person's fault—even if it really is our own. 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're incensed when we get dead air or a different human.

Companies can’t defend themselves.

Those who get blamed are usually the ones who can’t defend themselves. It’s a fact of life. A company can be 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 a few things companies can do to fix it.

1. Empower your customer service 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 right in front of them. 

If you don’t, you simply 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. When a customer feels they're being helped, there's a positive emotional response. A real partnership is being 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've essentially failed.

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

5. Be your own customer.

Test your processes and agent training. Make sure 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. And neither will you.

Your customer experience IQ, and how you deliver the CX promise your brand promotes, is the real game changer. Once you address that, your business will be better 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 and find out how you compare to your peers on your current proficiency and your preparedness for the future of customer experience.

Karl Helfner

Senior Manager of ISV Partners for Oracle CX

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