Automation Vs. Live Reception | Who Do You Want to Talk To?
An article in the April 2011 edition of Reader's Digest addressed the phrases that Canadians find most annoying. These included a blend of overused lines that get underneath our skin as categorized by business/client service, family/friends, and relationships. At the top of the list was the phrase “Your call is important to us”.
So why are we so annoyed when we hear this? Is it overused? You bet! Do we believe the sincerity of the message? No way! Is it because we have probably experienced situations when we have been put on hold for extended periods of time, expect this message to be followed up with numerous prompts, or where we have gotten caught in an endless voice mail loop because we pressed the wrong key? Absolutely! And how about those systems that tell you how much longer you can expect to hold? I guess we can understand why we're annoyed. We feel that our call is not important to them. Instead, we feel like we're a nuisance.
A number of years ago our company purchased a new phone system. The vendor came in proudly, ready to show off the bells and whistles of the auto features, voice mail, etc. Surely they thought a progressive company like ours was ready to embrace all that technology had to offer. To his amazement, he was met with a request from the company's owner to “make it simple”. Seems absurd. Why wouldn't we take advantage of all that was available to reduce costs and automate the process? This is the 21st century, right?
As a service based company, he wanted to make sure that incoming callers would be attended to efficiently and promptly. To him, this meant that incoming callers would be greeted by a live person, given the attention and courtesy that they deserve, and then directly connected to the person to whom they were calling. That's right, the ability to speak to a human being at any time — 24/7, 365 days a year.
So why are we aggravated when our call is answered by an auto-attendant and we hear these trite expressions of insincerity?
Before email became more popular, often you would call someone to leave them a brief message or pass along some quick information. Now we email or text. Let's be honest, the main reason we pick up the phone today and call is...are you ready for this, it's really simple...we want to speak to a live person!
If you think about it, most of the time you need some kind of client support and you're often not sure who to speak to or which department could help you; it's a situation that's a bit more complex than trying to choose a service option. Additionally, as is often the case in our business of Customs clearance and freight forwarding, the caller needs immediate assistance. That means now, not in four hours.
It seems like the tide might be turning. You've probably seen ads for live support from some of the larger telecom companies. Personally, I cannot vouch for their service, however, after the beating that the public has meted out to telecom companies over client service issues over the years, it is intriguing that some of them have chosen to go this route. I'm sure it will bode well for them.
The decision our company made has been reconfirmed back to us many times. Yes, much of our communication, just like yours, is electronic. Email works very well. But when someone needs help, we have a live person ready to help them.
By the way... your call is important to us!