Streamlining customer service to eliminate wasted time on hold

Customer service: woman outdoors with phone to her ear

Collective sighs from being left on hold to customer service are reverberating around the world—especially in Australia. Research from ServiceNow revealed Australians wasted 89.5 million hours on hold trying to resolve complaints in the past 18 months. That’s an average of seven hours per person.

The seven-hour experience is a wave of emotions—from tolerance while listening to hold music to joy when finally getting through to an operator, to frustration at having to explain your situation another time, only to be placed on hold again. In a world with technology at our fingertips, there has to be an easier way.

Room for improvement

Yet, many Australians believe the situation is getting worse. More than half (53%) of survey respondents said the average time they spent on hold increased during the pandemic. A third said it increased “a lot.”  

Although consumer use of technology has evolved, businesses haven’t kept pace. They must address the “great hold” by balancing a seamless shopping experience with effective complaint management.

Many businesses admit they could do better. According to the research, 40% of chief customer care officers know the importance of focusing on creating positive customer experiences. And a third of chief operating officers want to better integrate risk and compliance controls into their customer service processes.

The telecommunications and government industries performed poorest when it came to resolving issues, according to the survey. The common frustration lies in inefficiency and repetition. Australians cited long response times, having to repeat their issue to multiple people, hours on hold trying to resolve a problem, and being passed around internal departments as their biggest irritations.

High expectations

Today’s Australian consumers expect more from organizations than ever before. More than a third (36%) of survey respondents said their expectations rose during the pandemic. They have limited patience to deal with shortcomings. They want quick, reliable service—every time.

Rightly so. It’s 2022. The pandemic has sped up the evolution of digitization, particularly around e-commerce and how consumers interact with big business. If we can use QR codes to purchase items and check in to venues, use apps to order the delivery of everything from groceries to medicine, and store critical vaccine information on our phones, why can’t we resolve an issue with the touch of a button?

53% of survey respondents said the average time they spent on hold increased during the pandemic. A third said it increased “a lot.”

Reimagining the customer experience

Moving forward, the customer experience will be critical to business success, requiring organizations to streamline their complaint resolution processes for a frictionless, fast, and fail-proof approach.

The days of waiting on hold are numbered. Customers want to feel seen, heard, and valued, and have their issues taken seriously. Businesses need to act fast to fix the problem.

As consumers insist on convenience, efficiency, and ease when resolving problems, organizations will need to focus on issue management processes. A top-notch complaint resolution system will become as important as the overall shopping experience, particularly in retaining customers and driving repeat business.

In a hyper-competitive marketplace, organizations will need to find ways to ditch customer waiting. According to the 2021 Global Contact Center Survey by Deloitte Digital, companies leading the way in customer service post-pandemic are the ones accelerating their digital transformation efforts and reimagining their mix of service channels.

Striving for greatness in customer service should be a core strategic focus for every business. Companies need to pinpoint the obstacles to a best-practice customer dispute resolution process and then restructure accordingly.

The priority should be on automation—streamlining processes and removing bottlenecks by creating a self-service platform that reduces or eliminates hold times, diverts calls to email or instant chat, or uses autofill forms to filter issues and direct customers to the most appropriate place to resolve their problem.

Find out how Customer Service Management can help.

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