It might have been a rude customer service rep, a long hold time, or someone who just didn’t know what they were talking about. Either way, it’s a customer burned.
While you may be shaking your head at these blundering saps, the truth is that most businesses make call answering and waiting mistakes more often than you’d wish to know. And those slip-ups can be costly indeed.
Not convinced? Check out ten of the most common call waiting mistakes businesses make so you can teach your team how important it is to pay attention to the small details and get it right the first time around:
Call Waiting Faux Pas #1: Forgetting to put them on hold
Probably the most classic call waiting mistake businesses make is not actually putting the caller on hold. You go on to complain about how asinine their questions are or to continue that hilarious story that happened last night with your boyfriend. Meanwhile, the customer is sitting on the line, hearing every word...and is not impressed.
- How to avoid: Most VoIP phones come with a clear indicator on the phone when you’ve put someone on hold. For business’ sake, make sure that indicator light is flashing before you start your personal dialogue!
Call Waiting Faux Pas #2: Forgetting you’ve put them on hold!
On the other side of the spectrum, there’s an entirely different problem call centers face. Sometimes, businesses will put someone on hold...and forget all about them. We get it. The store gets busy; you are waiting on a superior for an answer, that Instagram post is too good to put down. But the customer is always right, so avoid this fatal error in business phone call protocol.
- How to avoid: Use that same indicator light to remind yourself that there’s someone waiting (im)patiently for you to attend to them.
Call Waiting Faux Pas #3: Not asking permission
“Can I put you on hold, dear?” is a common enough line from call centers to receptionists and all our favorite sitcoms. The problem comes when the one fielding the call doesn’t bother waiting around for a response. What if I just want to know when you’re closing? Or if you do online orders? Or if this is even the right store?! “Can I put you on hold?” when it’s a statement rather than a question, is a serious error that you need to train your employees to stop making now.
- How to avoid: Train the employees who will answer the phone to be more present. Teach them how to actually listen to the conversation at hand, note what the caller is saying, and respond accordingly to the person on the other end of the line. I.e., don’t just go according to the script...which leads us to the next common mistake...
Call Waiting Faux Pas #4: Informally Yours
Another mistake businesses often make is being too casual with their callers. Customers expect a certain level of professionalism from stores and services they want to patronize, and using an informal tone can be a real turn-off.
- How to avoid: Create a call protocol that all customer service personnel need to follow. Include things like avoiding nicknames for customers, using a professional greeting and mannerism throughout the call, maintaining a respectful tone, and never answering calls on speaker.
Call Waiting Faux Pas #5: Not having a script
First impressions are important, so you’d better make a good one. When you start off the conversation poorly, the entire call is doomed. Whether it’s a rushed initial greeting (yes?) or a complete lack of ability to direct the conversation properly, this can amount to some seriously negative customer experience points.
- How to avoid: Have a script agents can use to answer the phone with. Start with a professional and friendly greeting, and then continue with short, relevant, and courteous information that will be helpful for the caller and will let them know you’re interested in helping them. Also, have scripts for common questions that come up so your agents will sound professional and be able to answer immediately, providing a helpful and efficient customer experience.
Call Waiting Faux Pas #6: Going on autopilot
Of course, you don’t want the entire experience to be read off a paper. This often happens with new call agents, but it can happen to anyone who isn’t really present during the call. A customer calls with a question or issue, and rather than addressing what the caller said; the agent simply spews a generic response from a script. This type of autopilot mode makes customers want to pull their hair out and hang up on the spot, and rightly so. Don’t do this to anyone. Ever.
- How to avoid: Stick to the script...unless it doesn’t fit. Once again, you’ll need to be present and actually listen to what the caller is saying in order to respond with an appropriate response.
Call Waiting Faux Pas #7: Script stuffing
Once again, you don’t want to overload your agents or customers with TMI (too much information). Long scripts generally launch agents into autopilot mode. But callers want a quick relevant answer. So avoid overstuffing those scripts. KISS.
Call Waiting Faux Pas #8: Not having information accessible to the call agents
You can’t possibly script every situation. So what’s a body to do when they are faced with a question that they don’t know the answer to immediately? Well, if you’re making common call waiting business mistakes, then your staff member is probably going to put the customer on hold, do a cursory search through the database, fiddle around with their phones, turn around to ask the guy behind him if they know the answer, and come back to the caller (hopefully!) with a negative on that request. So long wait time and no answer=poor customer experience.
- How to avoid: When agents have to go off-script, it’s important that they have the information they need readily accessible so they can provide a quick and comprehensive answer. Make sure your agents have the necessary information to hand, including product and customer information and details.
Call Waiting Faux Pas #9: Maintaining radio silence
Ever called a business only to be put on hold and met with dead silence. Hello? Am I still on hold? Or did you just hang up on me? What’s going on here? Silence is eerie, unsettling, and let’s face it, just downright boring. So why would your customers want to stay on the line when there’s dead air on the other side?
- How to avoid: By all means, please put some noise in the background. Ideally, this should be some sort of advertisement for the other types of services you offer, friendly greetings from your members, or other interesting and/or important information your customers will appreciate hearing. If not, at least have some light, inoffensive, and easygoing music to play as a background while they wait.
Call Waiting Faux Pas #10: No follow-up
Finally, one of the worst things you can do as a business is to tell a customer that you’ll get back to them...and then not. A customer is waiting for a response. They have questions and want answers. What’s more, you’ve given them your word. And you’re just going to drop the conversation? Another type of missed follow-up situation is if a customer calls with a complaint or an issue. Not following up even if you’ve resolved the situation is a missed opportunity in customer-business relations. This is a sure fail when it comes to building bridges and solid relationships with your customers. What a loss!
- How to avoid: If a customer calls with a question you don’t have an immediate answer to, by all means, tell them you’ll be happy to get back to them with an answer. There’s nothing wrong with not having all the answers on the spot. But for the love of all things good, follow up on that conversation. Your reputation as a business depends on it. And if a customer has an issue or complaint, even if you’ve resolved it, a friendly follow-up email or message checking to make sure everything is alright is a great way to show your customers you really care.