If you’ve ever struggled with how to effectively manage relationships with your vendors, following are some tips learned from the trenches of cataloging.
Complaints About the Call Center
The second hand on my watch swept past 12 ... again. I’d been on hold for 10 long minutes. Another music-on-hold tune began, and I realized I’d heard it already. I’d been on hold so long, the tape loop was repeating!
As I listened, I imagined all the customers who had viewed my beautiful catalog, read my great copy, found a product they really loved, called—and now were hanging up in disgust at the endless wait.
The second hand on my watch was approaching 12 again—11 minutes on hold, and still counting!
At some point in their careers, most catalogers find themselves struggling with a call center that won’t answer the phones quickly enough. Causes for these delays include: phone-line problems that block calls before they reach the call center; phone center software that can’t route calls to operators; call-center managers who can’t match operators with peak load times; and operators who are overwhelmed because the call center has taken on more business than it can handle.
Unfortunately, once these problems begin, they tend to become worse. Long hold times for inbound callers lead to increased call-abandonment rates, repeat calls and irate customer service calls—all of which further burden the call-center operation.
How can you cope? Following are some tips:
Detect the problem early. Place routine test calls to your catalog’s 800 number. Don’t rely on vendor-generated reports of abandon percentages and average times on hold. Many problems won’t show up in those reports.
For example, one cataloger’s phone company scrambled the lines so that about 20 percent of inbound callers got a phone company-generated message that the 800 number had been disconnected. These calls never showed up in phone center reports since they never reached the phone center.