5 Ways to Help Customers During a Major System Outage - Talkdesk - ContactCenterWorld.com Blog
Recently, two large airline carriers experienced major system outages that resulted in the delay or cancellation of thousands of flights. With millions of stranded travelers seeking resolutions, each company’s customer service line wait times surged, resulting in even greater customer frustration.
For companies of all sizes, technology systems can sometimes malfunction and interrupt or suspend day-to-day operations. A company’s call center becomes the front line to respond to an influx of calls from customers in need. Here are five ways to help those customers when things go wrong:
1. Use Call Center Software Features to Reduce Wait Times
When a call center experiences a high volume of calls, the wait times can be painful for customers. Advanced call center software can help eliminate some of this pain by giving customers the option to receive a callback once an agent becomes available. This helps to minimize actual wait times and can also help to decrease call abandon rates when a company’s service is down.
2. Validate Customers’ Concerns
Every customer has a story – travelers may be anticipating a long-awaited vacation, an important business trip or a visit with family. Customer service professionals hear these stories on a daily basis, but a major influx of calls can mean many more personal stories than in an average work day. Personal brand strategist Raoul Davis says, “When a customer is unhappy, the most important thing is for them to know they were heard.” Customer service representatives can help their clients to feel validated and potentially complete calls faster by first acknowledging the customer’s concerns, even when calls are coming in at a much higher than usual volume.
3. Provide Clear Answers about the Problem
Help Scout reports that consumers say customer service agents fail to answer their questions 50% of the time. Especially in a time of high volume calls during a system outage, customer service teams can be prepared by having clear answers about what they can say – and can’t say – about the issue. Customers are more likely to be more understanding about a major service disruption if they have some understanding of what caused it.
4. Be Clear about the Resolution
Customers who are upset over a major service disruption may ask for more than a company is willing to offer (ex: a full refund plus free flights for a year) or may just be unclear about what kind of resolution they are seeking. With an influx of calls, customer service teams can complete calls quickly by being clear and proactive in describing what the company is offering as a resolution to the problem, as well as what is outside of the realm of possibility.
Listening to the customer’s issues first can help to soften the blow if the customer’s request is more than the company can offer and may ultimately save time in the call overall. Customer service manager Jae Alexis Lee says, “If you don’t understand the customer… and if you can’t empathize with their feelings on the issue then they won’t listen to you when you tell them no.”
5. Have a Plan B
President John F. Kennedy once said, “The time to repair the roof is when the sun is shining.” Planning in advance how to handle a major service disruption can make a world of difference during a crisis. In November 2015, Slack experienced a major system outage that disrupted service for their 1+ million daily users. Their team immediately took to Twitter to announce the outage and began responding, personally and individually, to tweets coming in about the issue. Having a Plan B to reach customers during a major system disruption allowed Slack to mobilize their team to personally address many of their customers on Twitter. Doing so even gained them some new followers: 3,300 new ones the day of the outage.
Your business can prepare for major system outages and subsequent high call volumes by having a clear plan of action, utilizing the tools available in the software and listening, validating, and providing clear responses to frustrated customers. Major service disruptions can occur for companies of all sizes, but preparing in advance can help you make the best of a difficult situation. In the process, you may even gain some new customers who appreciate the way you handled the crisis.
Amy is an Account Manager at Talkdesk. When she's not busy at work, she enjoys cooking, browsing bookstores and going on hikes around the Bay Area.
Publish Date: August 23, 2016 5:00 AM
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