What to do When a Customer is Ready to Break Up With You Before a Conversation Has Even Started

By Elaina Ransford

As technology becomes more and more adept at ticket deflection, a crucial aspect of any customer service manager’s job is preparing agents for what to do in the event that ticket deflection only serves to make a customer angrier than before. While 91 percentof customers say they would use an online knowledge base if it were available and tailored to their needs, that still leaves nine percent of customers who don’t necessarily want to self-serve. And when these people are routed through self-service options that they don’t want, they can end up frustrated and impatient before they’ve even begun talking with an agent.

This will occur with increasing frequency this year as end-to-end customer interactions are operated through rules-based robots, with humans only handling exceptions. In fact, Forrester predicts that increasingly, “software robots [will] perform routine business processes and make simple decisions by mimicking the way that agents interact with applications through a user interface.”

For the vast majority of customers, this will be a welcomed change. Even as early as 2013, chat had already edged out phone and email with the highest customer satisfaction, and 55 percent of consumers say they would welcome the idea of having chatbots involved in the customer support process. But for those who just want to talk to a good old fashioned human, there needs to be a route offering the best possible customer experience for them as well.

How To Implement Scalable Action Plans For Backfiring Ticket Deflection

As Forrester noted, “today’s customers reward or punish companies based on a single experience — a single moment in time. This behavior was once a Millennial trademark, but it’s now in play for older generations. It has become normal.” Ensure that even customers who prefer not to self-serve don’t have a negative experience by following these steps.

1. Immediately Solve The Customer’s Problem

73 percent of U.S. customers say that valuing their time is the most important thing a company can do to provide them with good online customer service. When an angry customer reaches your agent, focus on solving the problem immediately. Agents should have notes on the customer’s request from their interaction with an information collection bot, and should be able to immediately identify the problem and offer a solution, or a promise that a rapid solution is forthcoming.

2. Offer Recompense For The Customer’s Time

Demonstrate to your customers that you value their time by offering a gift or refund to make up for the time they spent trying to get in contact with an agent. Whether this be a $10 gift card, virtual currency, or a percentage off their next purchase, demonstrate that your customers are worth a lot to your company, and you value keeping them.

3. Make An Internal Agent Note On The Customer

This is the most crucial aspect of ensuring loyalty: don’t make the same mistake twice. Make an internal note on these customers, saying that they appreciate human-human contact and do not want to self-serve. This note should trigger future self-service circumvention.

4. Automatically Route That Customer To A Live Agent For Future Transactions

While ticket deflection is a crucial component of scaling any customer service program, customers who have indicated a preference for live communication should be put on a different routing track — particularly VIP customers. As processes become increasingly automated, tagging customer preference for a live agent can be that special touch that keeps customers coming back.

Not All Customers Are Created Equal

A crucial component in developing automated processes in customer service will be the ability to customize service routes based on customer preferences. There is no one-size-fits-all in any people-facing role. If Gartner’s prediction—that by 2020 customers will manage 85 percent of the relationship with an enterprise without interacting with a human—comes true, then businesses will need to figure out how to customize and personalize these automated interactions so that all types of customers have positive experiences.

While most customers will appreciate the speed and ease of chatbot interactions and self-service, there will still be a minority— at least for the foreseeable future— of those who do not understand or do not like automated processes. These customers, like all others, deserve the best possible care you can give them.

It’s never too late to say sorry; just make sure you don’t have to say it twice.

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