Your Automated Phone System Is KILLING Your Retention

Automating your phone system poorly and calling it a day will not retain your customers

Adam Fout
September 05 2019

Sorry to be the one to tell you, but your automated phone system sucks, and it’s absolute murder on your retention rates.

But why am I even talking about phone service? We’re in the modern era-it’s all about mobile marketing, omnichannel, SEO, or email. Right?

Nope. Regardless of these new innovations, in the modern world, you’re simply never going to get away from phone systems. So many issues still require an actual human speaking to your customer to be solved. If email wasn’t enough to kill off the phone call, texting or any other technology coming down the pipeline won’t either (chatbots for sure won’t do it—most are dumber than a box of rocks).

Automating your phone system poorly and calling it a day is like saying, “Leave the desktop version of the site alone! The mobile version is all that matters,” while ignoring the fact that 40% of traffic is still coming from desktop.

More from PostFunnel on customer service:
These Modern Brands Prioritizing Customer Service Above All Else
Brands Raising the Bar: 4 Examples of Outstanding Customer Experience
How Companies Can Embrace Customer Centricity

Still don’t believe me? Let me give you some stats:

  • 75% of people described the experience of waiting to talk to a person on the phone as “highly annoying”
  • 57% said that they got so frustrated they hung up the phone before resolving their problem
  • 80% of callers said they prefer above all else to call companies when they have an issue or a question
  • 8 in 10 customers said they would switch to a competitor due to poor customer service

The takeaway from these alarming stats may not be immediately obvious, but crucial for your customer experience:

  1. Many of your customers are calling you only when they’re already in a bad mood because something is wrong
  2. You’re likely losing a lot of customers without ever speaking a single word to them

And it’s all thanks to that cost-saving technology—your automated phone system.

The Plight of the Call Tree!

Let me share a story with you.

One day, I was robbed (digitally).

I checked my bank account before paying my rent, only to find that my rent money (and all my other money for that matter) had been shanghai’d.

This was on a Sunday.

Rent would technically be late the next day.

I rushed to call my credit union. The first thing I tried to do was use the automated system to cancel the card that I suspected had been copied/duplicated/stolen.

But the automated phone system didn’t work.

I tried many times. Frustration built. Finally, I gave up, my anxiety shooting through the roof (my card was still open for more theft). I decided I just needed to try to get through to someone and find some way of reporting this emergency.

Strike two on my credit union—I could not make sense of the convoluted phone tree they’d set up.

At this point, I’ve essentially lost my mind to rage and fear.

I finally get on Facebook and reach some poor contractor who refers me to someone who can finally shut down my card.

Here’s the takeaway—by the time I talked to a rep on Monday and got it sorted out, even though all my money was returned, I was done with that credit union.

Loyal Customers Deserve Better

Most firms work hard to boost the loyalty of their customers with a wide variety of incentives. They pour money into retention efforts and completely ignore the most critical moments in the customer experience—those moments when everything breaks down and they just want someone to help.

If you are there for your customers not just when they’re making a purchase, and not just by giving them some cool gift for being loyal, but you’re there for them when your product/service fails them and they need help, then you’ve not only retained them, but you’ve built loyalty of a deeper sort.

A free gift or bonus point can’t build loyalty nearly as well as saving someone’s behind.

When my money was on the line, all my credit union had to do was pick up the damn phone and help me. That’s it. They couldn’t do that. And it hurt them.

To learn more about how to retain customers by being there for them when they’re in an crisis, read this incredible article on Emotional Intelligence by the Awesome Aaron Orendorff.

And good luck out there, marketer.

Customer marketing challenges and opportunities

Adam Fout

Adam Fout, resident content and brand sorcerer at BlueSteelSolutions, guides brands through the mystical process of creating website and blog content that enchants customers and entices leads. He also writes fiction in his free time at My Website

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