The power of a real human voice is huge for addressing customer service issues and closing sales.
You’ve been double-charged for an item you bought online and now you’re on hold while trying to get one of those charges reversed. An automated voice has given you several options, but none that you’ve explored has brought you to the live voice you’re seeking. Angrily you push “0” as a last resort, but the automated voice you’ve grown to hate these past 10 minutes tells you that’s not an appropriate response. You then give the voice a verbal response that is even less appropriate and hang up, vowing to never purchase another item from this company again.
Or how about this one…
You’ve seen or heard an advertisement for a product in which you are interested. You’ve done your research and are just about to make the purchase decision, assuming you can get one final question answered about the product. You call the number on the ad, but can’t get a live voice no matter which button you push. You find another phone number for the company, but once again your call ends up in a black hole where only automated voices can survive and from which there is no escape.
What do these companies have in common? The first company lost a current customer who may have made repeated purchases through the years and referred the company to friends, family, neighbors and co-workers. The second company lost a potential customer who may have made repeated purchases through the years and referred the company to friends, family, neighbors and co-workers. Why did this happen? In both cases, the company did not feel it was important enough to pay real people with real voices to take calls from current and prospective customers.
In all my years in the business world, this is perhaps the most short-sighted decision I have ever seen companies make. I personally made this mistake with 4Patriots when we 1st started the company. I thought web-based support would be sufficient, and boy was I wrong.
We weren’t alone — it’s a very common error among start-ups. In fact, it happens all the time, as we have seen through our own experiences as customers. It’s the equivalent of saving a penny and losing a dollar.
Disgruntled customers wish to have their voices heard by a real person, not a machine. Companies that provide those real voices are able to resolve the vast majority of disputes to the customers’ satisfaction and, most important, keep those customers. Companies that don’t provide live voices frequently lose those customers, who then share their negative experiences with others…sometimes with many others over social media.
Curious customers who think highly enough of a company’s product ad to explore making a purchase sometimes wish to connect with a live voice that can answer the one or two questions they still have. Companies that provide those real voices can usually not only close the sale – the conversion rate on inbound calls is 10 times that of online transactions – but can also frequently convert the call to an additional sale. Not to mention the fact that the company now has happy customers who are likely to share their experiences with others…sometimes with many others over social media.
Your inbound call center can make a real difference in your bottom line. You’ll deliver better customer service and you’ll make more sales.
Allen Baler is a leading entrepreneur and Harvard grad. Allen Baler is a Partner in 4Patriots LLC, based in Nashville.
Disclaimer: This blog post is not a substitute for the sound advice of a business professional with expertise in the subject matter discussed. Please seek appropriate counsel on what strategies make sense for your business.