From the consumer’s perspective, the best possible result of calling customer service is a short conversation that resolves the issue. From a business’s standpoint, preventing that call in the first place is the ultimate goal.
Of course, no product or service is perfect, so customer service will always be a part of a business model. Improving that experience is key to satisfying and retaining customers. The goal, it seems, would be to make customer service efficient and responsive.
In our just-released white paper, we look at ways the U.S. Postal Service could boost customer satisfaction by improving its customer care centers (CCCs). In fiscal year 2017, these call centers handled nearly 61 million calls. Of that total, 40 million callers used the automated system known as Interactive Voice Response (IVR) and didn’t proceed to a customer service agent.
Our review of customer survey responses found only 60 percent of IVR users were satisfied with the experience. A key complaint was having to repeat the options or selections on the automated system.
Of the callers directed to a customer service agent, 8 million disconnected before they got to speak to an agent and only 11.5 million successfully got through, our research found. While customers praised agents once they eventually spoke to them, a third were not satisfied with the overall experience. Among the complaints were long wait times and agents’ inability to solve the problem.
We analyzed customer surveys and interviewed postal officials and CCC agents to generate ways the Postal Service could improve the customer experience. Some of our ideas include:
- Fix underlying issues that drive people to call in the first place. For example, improving scan accuracy would likely decrease the number of calls about domestic tracking issues around packages.
- Make it easier for customers to help themselves with more robust, online self-service options.
- Keep it simple for customers. If they do have to turn to CCCs, improve the automated system they first encounter to decrease frustration. If they need to speak to an agent, shorten the waiting time or offer a call-back option.
- Improve agents’ abilities to solve problems on the spot by giving them tools — and organizational support — they need.
Our paper also notes that call volume is likely to increase with parcel growth. Without fixes to the current system, wait times and other problems could get worse.
Have you received exceptional service from a call center recently? What made that service stand out?