Have you ever had to hold the line when calling an 800 number for help? I’m sure at some point we’ve all had to do this. While waiting for a representative to pick up, we listen endlessly to elevator music with brief interruptions from an operator telling us “Your call will be answered in the order it was received.” The clock continues to tick away precious minutes as we think of the many other things we would like to be doing with our time.
Sometimes you’re holding when you shouldn’t be. If the call center isn’t properly managed or staffed, you will find yourself waiting…and waiting… and waiting some more, almost any time you call. That can be infuriating when you are having a problem and need help, and it’s a big source of dissatisfaction for customers. That’s why, as a manager of one of our call centers at ZCorum, it’s my daily goal to keep customer hold time to a minimum (on average, our hold time is less than 30 seconds). I would like to give you some insight on what may be happening in our call center if, on occasion, you’re holding longer than 30 seconds. Take this visual trip with me on a hypothetical scenario.
It’s 11am Monday morning. This is generally our peak call time, so we’re already heavily staffed. We see on our monitoring system that one of the service providers we do broadband support for has had an unexpected outage, and that becomes even more apparent as a number of additional calls simultaneously hit their queue. I check to ensure that my technicians are prepared to take the calls. Whew…we have enough coverage for the moment, but I quickly assign my floor supervisors to begin taking live calls to so we can maintain our hold time standards. Even though we have cool hold music, customers probably don’t want to hear it for an extended time.
Phones are still ringing and the outage continues, so of course, we need all the manpower we can get. I think about a couple of employees that were scheduled to work but had to call in sick. Luckily, we have an internal process in place that allows our part-time employees to stagger in at different times to make-up for any unplanned absences.
The phones are starting to blare now. I need to know what types of issues the technicians have on the phone. I walk through the aisles of the call center listening intently to the conversations. The technicians know that I’m on the prowl to ensure that they are maintaining excellent customer service and getting calls answered in a timely manner even though it’s crunch time. I make the announcement, “I need everyone handling issues quickly and efficiently and progressing to the next caller.” To keep up the pace, I have several calls transferred to advanced technicians that can better assist with certain issues, which frees up others to take more calls.
Finally, we receive notice that the outage is resolved and the calls start to diminish, although the peak time crowd is hanging in there. Strategic planning, an excellent support staff and sheer determination have held this place together. Crisis averted.
The most important goal for me and my staff is to provide uncompromising customer service, whether it’s a normal day with normal call volumes or one of those Monday mornings when things don’t go as expected.