Call Assessment: The Faucet Call

We’re adding showers in a couple of bathrooms at good ol’ Vander Well Manor. The new tub/shower faucet  in the master bath was professionally installed, but when you turn it on the water shoots out of the tub faucet in three or four streams going different directions. It’s definitely not the nice flow of water you expect coming out of the tub faucet. I asked the plumber about it and he told me the shower mechanism (the little doo-hickey you pull up to send water to the shower head) is "in the way" and when the flow of water hits it, it sends the water out of the faucet in several different streams and directions. I felt up inside the faucet and, sure enough, the mechanism seems to clearly block the flow of water. He told me to check with the manufacturer.

So, I went to the manufacturer’s website where I read:

We want you to be completely satisfied with your
purchase. If you need immediate assistance, please call our New Product
Support Hot Line…

So, I did. After navigating the phone menu (which was refreshingly simple – good for them), I was placed on hold. I heard the phone ring and then there was silence…for a long time. I wasn’t disconnected, so I don’t know if the phone switch sent me into no-man’s land or if a CSR answered and immediately put me on hold before going on a smoke break. Nevertheless, when the total call time reached seven minutes, I hung up.

If you care to hear me whistling into the dead air, feel free:  Download faucetcall1.mp3

I called again, navigated the menu and, after a short time in queue, was greeting by a nice CSR. I explained the problem I’d had on the previous call and then explained my problem with my faucet. The call resulted in the CSR arranging to send me a new tub faucet, though I’m still not sure that the problem was correctly diagnosed or resolved.

Here’s the call for your listening pleasure: Download faucetcall2.mp3

I analyzed this call using one of our Service Quality Assessment (SQA) scales. Each scale we develop and use is client-specific, but I used a scale we built for a team who provides similar parts support calls.

The Overall Service score for this call ended up at 48.7 out of a possible 100 points, which is pretty low. To put the score into context, we consider "World-class" calls to be those that score above 95. "Average" customer service would score 85-90. Anything below 80 generally means that there is something that stuck out negatively in the customer’s mind after the calls was over.

There is a veritable plethora of issues with this call that I could address. Let me just give you the tip of the iceberg and cover some main points we’d address if we were coaching this CSR:

Postives (you can usually find a few positives in every call)

  • The CSR genuinely sounded like a nice person who was trying to do a good job. She seemed personable and I think she has the ability to be a World-class CSR.
  • Part of what made the call "personable" was that she conversationally used my name several times, especially towards the close. I didn’t feel like it was forced.
  • Her greeting and closing were both very courteous and professional

Opportunities for Improvement

  • There was no clearly communicated answer (e.g. "I’m sorry, Mr. Vander Well, but our faucets should never spray like that. Based on what you’re telling me, I believe you received a defective tub faucet, so I’m going to send another one right out to you."). I had to guess what the CSR was thinking and doing and I still question if she understood the problem and addressed it appropriately.
  • There was no acknowledgment or empathy with either problem – the previous call or the faucet. An immediate "I’m sorry you’re had that problem" followed by a commitment to resolve the issue – "Let’s get to the bottom of this and get it figured out for you" – would have made me feel like she cared and was taking ownership of my issue. I ended up feeling like she took the path of least resistence and had no concern for my problem.
  • There were obviously long periods of dead air. I don’t think I was placed on hold because there was no music and sometimes there was noise in the background. This led me to seriously question if the CSR knew what she was doing. What was taking so long? She should have either placed me on hold – or offered to call me back (if she knew she needed to investigate the problem further).

For Management Consideration

  • I would recommend checking the phone switch to make sure that calls, like my first one, aren’t getting sent into dead-end ACDs or routed inappropriately.
  • Do you have hold music when CSRs place the customer on hold or are the CSRs just using "mute"? If not currently using available technology, I’d upgrade to make sure customers hear music while on hold and hold  CSRs accountable for using the hold button.
  • Do CSRs have the necessary information to correctly and appropriately diagnose a customer’s problem? This CSR seemed to spend a lot of time looking for answers, leading me to wonder if the information was readily accessible.
  • Was my problem correctly addressed? The CSR seemed to jump (albeit after long periods of silence) from "I’ve never heard that one" to "I’m sending you a new…(faucet – yes, it’s called a faucet)". There were no diagnostic questions – no "let’s eliminate some of the possible problems". I’m anticipating getting another faucet that will have the same problem. As a manager, I’d be concerned that CSRs are spending money indiscriminately sending out replacement parts. As a customer, if I wait a week only to get a part that has the same problem – I’m going to be more frustrated and less confident that the company can and will address the real issue.
  • This call could have provided a much better impression of the company had the CSR been trained in some basic phone skills. Is there a QA or coaching program in place to help her succeed?

NOTE: This is only one call and one customer experience. My comments are intended to be a general analysis of this interaction alone, understanding that it may not be representative of the company’s overall service delivery. Nevertheless, this is an actual service experience and, as such, it left an impression of the company on me – the customer.

  2 comments for “Call Assessment: The Faucet Call

  1. July 26, 2006 at 8:26 pm

    Interesting call(s). The dead time is a real experience killer. Even a “…still checking…” would have improved the score, no?

  2. August 2, 2006 at 9:45 pm

    The dead air was the most obvious problem. There are several things that the CSR could have done to diminish or eliminate the dead air. The longer the dead air went on, it had a “domino effect” (diminished confidence, hesitation in providing an answer, etc). Several times during the call I just wanted her to take my number, research the issue and call me back once she had a handle on the issue and the appropriate response.

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