Bad Customer Service is Profitable

… but the main reason you have any long wait times is that they don’t want to pay to shorten your wait time. To be fair, there are several reasons why they can’t or won’t pay to reduce your wait time, but it almost always comes down to money.

The sun looked almost orange like it was mad at us. We were in the pacific northwest, and the temperature was 104, but my client insisted on having the meeting outdoors. I was there on their campus for one reason—to fix the customer experience. I’d be meeting with Terry one-on-one to preview the report of my findings before I shared it with the rest of the team.

He wiped the sweat off his brow and asked, “How bad is it?” in his Texan drawl.

I said, “Do you want the bad news or the worse news?”

He was a bottom-line guy, so I skipped the preamble and flipped to the page with the key data. I said that, on average, his customers would want to wait 52 seconds when they called his store, but it was currently averaging 619 seconds. I then gave him three options, and this is where you, the consumer, need to pay attention.

He could hire more people to respond to customers and lower the wait time, or he could use technology to reduce the wait time by moving customers towards options that wouldn’t require a person, or he could do a hybrid of both. Each of these three options has some cost associated with it, but the human option is always the most expensive.

Terry leaned in and said, “I think option 2 is a no-brainer. These are low-value inquiries; we just need to automate them. Or do you think I’m crazy?”

I made a mental calculation every person in my profession has made many times. Do I tell him the truth, or do I need another check from him?

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