World-Class Service: When You Have to Call Them Back

While one-call resolution is consistently revealed through research as a key-driver of customer satisfaction, our client research has frequently shown that satisfaction doesn’t begin to seriously erode until the 2nd or 3rd contact. [see chart – keep in mind each company’s customers can have varying expectations]. When you can’t resolve the issue on the first call, it’s important to manage the customer experience.

  • Apologize. It may not be your fault that you can’t resolve it on that phone call, but you should convey empathy and concern for the customer’s situation and the frustration of having to wait for an answer.
  • Take ownership. A statement such as “I’m going to take care of this for you”, “I’ll get to the bottom of this”, “I will get an answer for you” can considerably boost the customer’s confidence.
  • Give a time frame for getting back to the customer. Here’s where the old principle of “under promise and over deliver” comes into play. The more specific you can be, the better – but a general time frame is better than nothing. The key is to frame the customer’s expectations. If you say, “I’ll get back to you in a while” you’ve left the interpretation of “in a while” completely to the customer’s imagination. You may know that it will be the next morning before you get an answer,  but the customer may have interpreted “in a while” to mean within the hour. You lose.
  • Provide the caller with your name and, if possible, number/extension. Providing your name and number is like putting a signature on your service. It tells the customer that you are more than paying lip service – you are staking your name and reputation on it.


  7 comments for “World-Class Service: When You Have to Call Them Back

  1. May 16, 2006 at 11:06 am

    Tom, very useful data here – I’m certainly going to pass it along to my staff. Follow-up is so important in all phases of of both employee-customer and manager-employee relationships. Do it well (especially with the personalization you note), and you build bonds of trust with everyone that are very strong. Do it poorly, and you can collapse the trust like a house of cards. Thanks.

  2. May 16, 2006 at 11:25 am

    You’re welcome, and thanks for the comment. I hope that it will be practical and helpful information for your staff. Good follow-through can be a giant building block in customer loyalty!

  3. May 16, 2006 at 7:06 pm

    “Take ownership.”
    What a great concept.
    While I may enjoy anonymity on the web, the call center is no place for it, at least if you want to serve the customer.
    I’ve found that not only giving them your extension, but your last name give people such confidence.
    It also puts you in a situation where your name is riding on your service. You are not just operator 3456-you are your own personal name. Old school values mean that your name represents your character-when people hear your last name-it has this effect of making them want to trust you, unless you are a weasel…
    But taking ownership of a problem, even if you can’t fix it, thats still so important to really personalizing service-whether you succeed or fail, customers still appreciate it when they know that someone has taken responsibility for their service, and not just thrown a control number at them and told them to call back later for a status update. I have had to call customers back and explain that I tried to do what they wanted, but it could not be done, and they were still grateful,(not ecstatic-but still grateful).
    Call centers are by nature cold and impersonal places. Any time someone can make a real connection with a real person, the customer will feel that they have a relationship with that business-and real relationships are what makes a successful business.

  4. May 16, 2006 at 9:52 pm

    Yes! I agree. Your name represents your character and values. I used to love the old Paul Harvey ads about Cooper Tires, where everyone on the line at the factory signed their name to the inside of the tire. There is something tangible that happens when you “sign your name” to your service. Great comment.

  5. May 17, 2006 at 12:45 pm

    Very useful article for call center workers. Right now, Bhutan is trying to be successful in the field of Call Center. I wish Bhutanese Officials could find your article and learn from it. Thanks again for the nice article.

  6. May 17, 2006 at 12:56 pm

    Thanks for stopping by and leaving your comment, Razib. I hope that my post will, at least, provide call center managers and officials with food for thought!

  7. January 4, 2007 at 5:28 am

    Www Cooper Tires Com

    2 cooper Tires P205/75R15 MS 2 Cooper Tires P205/75R15 M/S Call 953-5688 Edmonton Com

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