I was talking with a call center manager who made a startling comment: “We have some problems with our website. But we deliberately don’t fix them. That way, our customers call us and we can fix their problems and delight them.”
Wow. This was one of those situations where I wasn’t really sure how to react. Who really believes that’s a good thing?
The myth of the Service Recovery Paradox is apparently alive and well. This is the belief that when you do a great job fixing customer problems, they become more loyal than they were before they called. It’s a reassuring belief. At call centers we spend so much time resolving problems that we want to believe that we’re building loyalty. But maybe a better way to view it is that we’re saving loyalty.
Research from CEB makes it pretty clear. When a customer calls, you are 3.93 times more likely to cause DISloyalty than loyalty. This is especially true for little problems, where customers feel like they shouldn’t have to call – activities like inquiring about a specific charge to your credit card, changing levels of service or returning a product. Requiring customers to call in for these minor activities adds no value, and is a sure way to cause frustration. In these situations, we’re lucky if we can hold serve. More often than not, we unknowingly add to customer frustration, and that leads to disloyalty.
Dealing with these smalls problems is no fun for your employees, either. The CEB also estimates that 58% of customers calling into your call center started on your website first, and 57% of those are frustrated when they end up calling. By failing to offer effective self-service, approximately 1/3 of your contact center callers start out as annoyed – not by your product, but by your level of service.
It’s a toxic mix. If, as the CEB estimates, about 1/3 of your callers begin the call as frustrated because they couldn’t serve themselves, then you have a clear call to action. Find ways to automate the little items. Keep these little calls from coming in in the first place and you’ll keep from irritating both your customers and your teams.
This will save your best staff for the challenging problems. Customers faced with more complicated issues understand they have to call, and will not have an issue. Troubleshooting a battery that dies quickly, configuring a new application, or customizing unique application settings are all activities where customers expect to have to contact you. Callers will be less frustrated, and your good reps enjoy sinking their teeth into these more challenging issues. Here’s where they have the chance to build loyalty. Your customer expects to call – and when that call is managed well and successfully resolves the issue, THAT’S when you create loyalty.
And who knows? By better automating the easy fixes and focusing your most precious resources on helping customers through really tough situations, you may find that the service recovery paradox may actually come true!