July 30, 2012

Save Your Customers from Voice Mail Hell

By Patrick Mahan

Quick rant... 

If you own a business and like having customers, then STOP subjecting them to an automated answering machine. Especially one with a million menu options.

Remember the golden rule? Do Unto Others... I'm sure you hate it when YOU call a business and a machine makes you jump through a hundred hoops before you can talk to a real person. So why would you ever put your customers through this?

EVERYONE hates it. And EVERYONE wants to speak to a real person.

I guess the rationalization is... it saves money. Maybe? Maybe not? Staying in business and GROWING your business is all about creating a remarkable, amazing EXPERIENCE for each and every customer.

"Voice Mail Hell" is NOT a remarkable, amazing experience. It is hell. Especially when you select the wrong menu option and have to start over.

If you think this type of system saves money, then think about this... Your customers (aka the key to your survival) are getting restless. In today's world, competition is more fierce than ever before. And you are one of a million options. Customers can and will leave you if you do ANYTHING to frustrate them or make them feel anything less than the most important person in the world.

You may think you're saving money, but how much is it costing you? Because as soon as your competitor wakes up and pays a little extra to have a real person answer the phone, then your customers will gladly jump ship. And pay a little extra themselves to get real customer service.

If you want to be remarkable and if you want to distinguish yourself from your competitors, then answer your phone.

If you agree with this, then Press 1 for English. Press 2 for Spanish. If you do NOT agree and enjoy automated menus, Press 3. Now enter your account number, followed by the pound key. And then—after wasting 20 minutes of your life—when a real person FINALLY answers the phone... you get to repeat all of this again!

Does your company use an automated answering machine with menus? Please tell me why. I'm genuinely interested.

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  1. I love this and could not agree with you more. Now our Tax Department has an automated service too which is insane and they wonder why they are losing the battle on tax!

    1. Hi Sonia! Thanks for the comment. Whenever I call a company and get an automated menu, I find myself making the selections with my middle finger!

      It's amazing... companies spend millions on advertising in an effort to "get people into the funnel", but then totally blow it when a computer answers the phone. The smart companies are the ones who are making investments in improving the *Customer Experience*.

      I shared this same blog post on Facebook and one of the comments I received was: "Unfortunately, this is the norm."

      Yes it is. And that's sad because companies are missing a huge opportunity to leap frog the competition by being *abnormal*. Southwest Airlines has done this well... when everyone else is charging baggage fees (and upsetting their customers), Southwest looks like a hero by NOT charging baggage fees.

      When I call a company and a real person answers, it's a breath of fresh air. My loyalty to that company increases and I'm very likely to recommend them to friends and family. And... I'm much more forgiving if they happen to slip up and make a mistake.

      When businesses begin looking at call centers as a marketing investment rather than an expense we will all win.


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