Don’t Call Us, We Will Call You: When Customer Care Does Not Call Back

It has happened to everyone: Someone promises to return your call or email. While waiting in vain for them to get back to you, you get the sinking feeling that maybe this is not as important to them as it is to you.

Customer service organizations commonly receive comments about failed call backs and broken promises in Voice-of-the-Customer feedback from across customer care touchpoints.

While call back-related complaints may appear on the surface to be less important than the initial problem, they often prove to be more of a threat to the business-customer relationship. Whatever the reason to contact customer care in the first place, most of us realize that things happen and if they can be resolved without expending too much time and energy, everything will be fine.

This is where the human factor comes in. Technical problems and unfavourable company policies can be excused, but insufficient (or lacking) agent effort cannot. Having to call customer care again only magnifies customer dissatisfaction. Comments such as, “Lady said she would definitely call back in one hour to fix the issue and its now 28 hours later and still she hasn’t called!” (sic) are often followed by “Terrible service that makes me want to leave X”.

So why does this happen? The reasons can be split into employeeand operational constraints.

Employee constraints are under the agent’s control and include:

  • A reluctance to deal with an annoyed customer or complicated issue – customers tend to assume this is the reason for all such cases.
  • Forget about calling back – this has been known to happen even if there is a system that logs issues requiring follow up.
  • Unable to reach the customer on the first attempt and gives up.

Operational constraints are out of the agent’s hands and include:

  • Lack of bandwidth – having too many incoming calls to field, which leaves no time to return to earlier issues.
  • Escalation process – agents may not have the authority or expertise to make a decision or take action. Escalating to a manager or a more experienced colleague carries the risk of the issue slipping through the cracks.
  • The call comes in at the end of shift – this one may fall under either category. Where an agent cannot call back, a process should be in place to ensure someone else will.

It may be the case that call center personnel don’t realize the importance of following up diligently. Therefore, it is important that follow up processes are clear, agents are well-trained, and employee performance is monitored to guarantee that customer care is seen by the customer base as a company asset, not a liability.

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