Phoenix, AZ, Dec. 12, 2005 — At some point, most utility customers end up waiting, whether they’re on hold with a customer service representative or waiting to be served in a customer service area. That can lead to boredom and annoyance, the last thing any utility wants.
“When utilities make their customers wait and wait, they’re stealing precious time from them,” says David Saxby, president of Phoenix-based Measure-X, a company that specializes in helping utilities improve their customer service and sales. “That being said, most people don’t mind waiting as long as they don’t ‘feel’ like they’re waiting.”
Saxby recommends utilities conduct a customer waiting “checkup” by evaluating the following items:
1. What is the average hold time for a customer before he or she can speak with a customer service representative on the telephone?
2. If the customer is on hold, is there a prerecorded message playing?
3. Does the recorded information they hear on the telephone provide valuable or interesting information?
4. If a prerecorded message is playing on the phone, is the volume too loud?
5. Some businesses have a talk radio program on the line. Do you? This is a dangerous practice because of the offensive style of many talk radio hosts or the nature of the topics being discussed.
6. How long are customers waiting in the waiting room of your customer service area?
7. Do your customers have something to do while they’re waiting?
8. Do you observe customers glancing at their watches while they wait? This is a major clue that they’re bored.
9. Is there a place for your customers to sit or do they have to stand? Boredom and annoyance settle in quicker when people have to stand for a long period of time.
10. Do you apologize if your customer encounters a lengthy delay, whether that is on the phone or in person?
“Here is the most important question of all,” Saxby says. “Is the service you deliver to your customers worth the wait?”