I just had a crazy experience. Well, it wasn’t crazy in the mind bending, are you insane way… but it blew me away.
The Dreaded Call to Customer Service
I called my electric company, and once I got through the absolutely obnoxious automated system, I was placed on hold. Now, when you call an electric company, it’s very rarely to tell them what a great job they’re doing with your electric service, so chances are that when you call, you’re already a bit upset.
Have you ever noticed that while you’re on hold, your blood pressure tends to rise as you think about how irritated you are that you’re already irritated and you’re being placed on hold and given time to stew in your irritation? It magnifies and multiplies as the minutes tick by. And with the birth of cell phones, came a to-the-second counter to tell you EXACTLY how much of your life was being wasted on hold.
The Prerecorded Message
So here comes the crazy part. I was sitting there listening to annoying hold music, when the prerecorded message started. And instead of hearing the obnoxious “Your business is important to us… blah blah blah” that makes my skin crawl and my temper flare even more when I’m on hold, I heard, “Your wait time is currently 16-26 minutes.” I immediately got even MORE frustrated, then came the magic. “If you would like to remain on hold, do nothing. If you would like to hang up and receive a call back from a customer service representative, press 1. You will not lose your place in line.” That last line was the key.
The Words That Completely Changed My Experience: You Will Not Lose Your Place In Line
I’ve been given the option to hang up and have a call back before, but have never done it because I figured you get sent into some deep dark abyss reserved for people who companies assume must be patient. (I am admittedly not a member of that category of people.) Knowing that I’d get to keep my place in line made an absolutely enormous difference.
Get Out of Town
“I do NOT have to sit here and listen to horribly obnoxious hold music and lose 26 minutes of my life that I’ll never get back, you say? What is this magic?!”
So I decided to give it a shot. From a UX perspective the system was great. I followed the super simple instructions (enter your phone number and say your name) and I hung up the phone, hoping that this wasn’t some evil corporate trick to get me to forget I’d called.
I got distracted working on a project, the phone rang, and you know what? It was the electric company. And you know what else? My blood pressure was at a totally normal level. All my frustration and anger had dissipated and I was able to have a nice calm conversation about my issue, with an extra nice customer service guy.
Brilliant Strategy + Proper Wording = Extremely Positive Customer Experience
This type of over the phone customer service is brilliant. I mean, sure the BEST scenario would be having someone pick up the phone immediately with zero wait time, but that isn’t always possible.
I just want to say “Bravo” to West Penn Power for making my over the phone customer service experience not horrific, and in fact, pretty painless! Well done! 🙂 You should also probably give the person who scripted your “Would you like a call back” message a raise. It was very well executed, informative and reassuring. And, it made the difference between me being a frustrated angry mess losing 26 minutes of my life, and me being a calm relaxed customer who was so pleased by her experience that she blogged about it.