During my travels I have seen several stores that still only use “voice calls” as the primary way to communicate with their customers. In this day and age I have found it harder and harder to answer my incoming phone calls. If someone calls and I cannot answer the phone, they may or may not leave a message. I wonder how much business or useful information I have lost because I was unable to answer a call.
When booking travel I always use the internet. I am no computer genius, but I do prefer to book all my travel online. I avoid dealing with the airlines over the phone at all costs. It is a waste of my time. Here is an example. A few weeks ago I was traveling from Baltimore to Birmingham. I was scheduled for a four-hour layover in Atlanta. The airline had an earlier flight that I could make but could not change online. I called the carrier thirty minutes before taking off from Baltimore only to hear, “Your call is very important to us but due to the volume of calls your wait time will be approximately thirty five minutes.” I was thinking to myself, “I paid way too much money to be put on hold; this is unacceptable.” I held for thirty minutes until the door was closed on the aircraft and was told to turn off my phone.
When landing in Atlanta I called again to change my flight. Yes, I received the same message. “Your call is very important to us, but due to the high volume of calls, our current wait time is forty-five minutes.” After holding a total of one hour and fifteen minutes I was told it would cost the full price of the flight–$431. At this point they could have told me it was going to be $1.00 and it would have been too much. I explained in a very nice way that I had made two phone calls and had been on hold for over one hour “REALLY! YOU ARE GOING TO CHARGE ME FOR THE FULL TICKET? COME ON, REALLY!” The flight is twenty-seven minutes long and that would be about $15.96 per minute, space shuttle rates! I ask to talk to a manager and she explained she was the manager and there was no one else I could talk to. “We’ll see about that!” I thought. I thanked her for doing nothing and letting me wait four hours for my flight.
In Atlanta I found a representative to help me face-to-face and was booked on the earlier flight. After all my time, and the airline’s time on the phone, there must be a better way to stay in touch with customers and not get them fired up with wait times. Calling multiple times to satisfy a simple request is unacceptable. I am now looking to use another carrier because the process is broken! Everyone did what they thought was their job, but lost the customer because of the process. Sound familiar?
Most managers and advisors I talk to do not like to text or email customers. Well, if you want to get hold of a young professional, you had better have a current way to communicate, using a “voice calls” as a last resort. They are the ones we need to survive long term. They find a company that will meet their needs and usually it’s not about price. It’s about how easy it is to set an appointment, get updated on status, make changes, and be notified when the vehicle is complete.
During the appointment or write up, do we ask “Can I update you with a text message on the status of your vehicle?” After receiving authorization this is a real time saver compared to phone calls. Pictures or estimates can be sent from anywhere (not just the advisor’s desk). This is a quick way to reach out to the customer, putting them at ease. No information causes the customer to become angry. If thirty percent of the customers agree to text, just imagine how many phone calls into the dealership could be avoided.
I understand that some of the older clients do not text, but make no mistake–the younger clients are on their phones all the time but not to answer it, to text from it. Search your app store. There are many free apps that will allow you to text for free without giving out personal phone numbers. Your competitors are using it. Why shouldn’t we?
Written by: Joe Carroll
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