Why are you keeping your customers waiting?

“How much of human life is lost in waiting?” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

We all know and have experienced the ‘pain’ of waiting. No one likes it and takes up a lot of time. In the realm of customer service it is probably one of the worst kinds of service to make your customers wait. Customers are quite clear and vocal about they feel when they have been made to wait. The less irate ones convey this through customer feedback surveys while the highly vexed customers let everyone know via social media posts. As a company are you keeping your customers waiting? Do they need to struggle with to get a piece of information or even an iota of service? Well, if the answer is yes, you can be sure that these customers will not stay with you for long. Keeping your customers waiting is a big problem as studies have shown that one of the sure shot ways to delight customers is providing them with efficient and timely service.

Not waiting on your customers and not keeping them informed are clear indications to them that your customer service is below par. Keeping your customers waiting features very high on the ‘hate’ list of customers and easily antagonizes them to the extent of walking away for good. All of us have been a customer at some point and we know the difference in the feeling when our issue has been dealt with immediately and when we have been subject to an incessant wait even to be acknowledged.

Have you as a company determined why you are keeping your customers waiting?

– Ascertain if you have an adequate number of staff available to manage your customers. Queries and problems tend to rise during a new product launch or a promotional campaign and these are the times that the number of staff may be insufficient to handle the surge. Additionally, if there is an event that has given rise to a product failure, customer complaints and ire rises and inadequate staff may prove to be a bigger problem as customers would be left waiting. Companies must be able to proactively assess these situations and make requisite internal changes – put the information on their website, post messages on social media, send out e-mailers and change the IVR message to reflect the change. Customers would be at ease knowing that someone is looking at the issue and will address it. Without these changes all customers can see is that your company is complacent enough to keep them waiting. Customer satisfaction levels will drop dramatically.

– Keeping your customers waiting is often also a result of companies having an imbalanced ratio of experienced versus not experienced staff in customer service. The inexperienced staff would not be equipped to deal with sudden rise in demand thereby increasing the amount of time spent on each customer interaction. As a result the wait time for customers keeps increasing and this leads to frustration. Inadequately trained staff is also unable to meet customer needs since they would not know how to deal with the sudden rise in customer calls especially impatient and even irate ones. Customers that are forced in to wait mode are already unhappy. If they land up with having to speak with inefficient and fumbling service agents, the result is not hard to guess. Companies must ensure that the agents that service their customers during ‘peak’ times must have knowledge, experience, the right attitude and an ability to deal with stress. Efficient staff leads to satisfied customers. Keeping your customers waiting is not a good idea anymore.

– Customers now have the latest gadgets and technology to go with them. Companies must introduce self-help options as far as possible since it provides customers the independence of solving their issues at their own pace and in the time suitable to them. They would rather use the self-help options rather than having to ‘wait in line’ to be served by an agent, who may or may not be helpful. Companies must understand that customers will remain with them only till such time that they are looked after especially by way of prompt and efficient service. Providing self-help options on their website and or social media pages, live-chats round the clock and the likes are methods that can be introduced to make it easier on customers to self-help.

The amount of money you need to spend now on promotions, upgrading technology and their web pages, advertising and other ways to attract customers, it would seem like a huge waste if after all this you are keeping your customers waiting and proves to be the reason they leave. Repeated and long period of wait time does a lot more damage to a company’s goodwill and repute than realized. It is in your best interest to service the customer and expecting them to wait for something that is your duty, cannot be good customer service. Keeping your customers waiting will very quickly diminish the reputation you have built and even if you have great products and or services, customers are unlikely to linger around.

Companies defend themselves on this count saying that it is not always possible to be on time and is actually quite a challenge. Being in business means that these challenges must be accepted and handled rather than offered as excuses for how it cannot be done. We have discussed and know from personal experience that customers do not wait now since there are so many options in the market and companies are actually falling over each other trying to get the customer’s attention. Imagine a situation where a company does not have self-help options and or the capability of handling problems remotely. If for example a customer’s laptop were to shut-down in the middle of an important assignment and the excuse given by the company is that they do not have anyone right now to come over, or the person is stuck in traffic or the person who attends to these issues is on leave. All the customer can hear is excuses and that your company is keeping them waiting and this is reason enough to move on to a company that will service them in time.

The fact is that making things happen on time for the customer are not a fluke or an accident. Companies that are truly committed to keeping things smooth for customers ensure that they have the right processes in place to not just manage customer expectations but also exceed them. So what are some companies doing right as compared to others who are still lagging behind?

– Planning ahead and constantly improving on these plans ensures that companies are able to adjust more quickly and take informed decisions in times of unexpected incidents. It is about understanding that keeping your customers waiting just means that you are pushing them out the door and straight to competition. The planning stage also takes in to consideration the fact that keeping a customer and satisfying their demands is simpler than salvaging reputation and attracting new customers.

– Managing and defining roles for the current resources at their disposal is another way to ensure that customers do not need to wait. It is not always possible to immediately set up a new posse of staff and or upgrade technology, but it is always manageable to keep the current staff trained and coached to use what they have to service customers. Customers are able to easily differentiate between genuine efforts of service and customer service that is merely a set of excuses and reasons for what cannot be done.

– Ensure that your customers are constantly informed. Keep lines of communication open via all channels available. When customers know what to expect it is easier for them to give companies that wait time since they are in the loop and can see that the company is actively involved in resolving the issue. Where possible contact individual customers starting with the ones who have probably already been waiting is a great way to keep customers engaged and at ease.

The best of the best companies may also fail at delivering timely customer service. However, managing this failure successfully retains the customer’s confidence and trust in your company. Keeping your customers waiting will damage the company’s reputation and cause more harm than thought possible. Keep your customers informed and salvage situations quickly to ensure they return to you again and again.

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