Can a bad day influence a caller’s behaviour? Personal experience should tell all of us that it can. Surely we’ve all made that phone call to a provider when we’re agitated. Maybe we’re expecting bad news, maybe we think we deserve better service than we’re getting. Maybe the cat’s been ill on the new carpet (a glimpse there into how my day’s going). Notably, long waits, especially if we’re busy, can really grind our gears, and some people, we must also remember, find just picking up the phone is way outside their comfort zone.
When human beings are in these situations, we default to what Physiologist Walter Bradford Cannon popularised as ‘fight-or-flight’. We perceive a ‘threat’. Blood flows to the muscles and away from the brain. Our thinking is more basic and instinctive. It can be triggered in social situations because back in the mists of time, loss of status was a real and present danger. Ostracism from the social group meant you were on your own and solo humans had a higher risk of becoming dinner for a sabre tooth.
The felines we usually interact with are bit less worrying these days, but these powerful instincts around social stress are still with us. When we’re forced to face any uncomfortable situation our fear triggers can activate, often causing us to make bad or irrational decisions and losing our usual social graces and ability to process the grey areas in any situation.
All of this could mean your unsuspecting agent will be facing a trickier call than they’re expecting or deserve. As a business, if you can understand the state of mind of your customers and take actions from the start of the caller journey, your agents will have a head start in avoiding or defusing a difficult emotional state. Here are three things to consider:
For starters, tackling the long wait can reduce irritation and stress for callers. Tactful deflection, that gives callers the ability to help themselves can be empowering for customers, relieving stress and the need to speak to an agent at all. Be careful though in your wording, some callers have already tried your website or portal and THEN made their call. Even by simply giving your callers a choice you can significantly improve their unconscious state of mind. If it’s a long wait, then at least it’s because they’ve chosen to wait, instead of using that other option.
Don’t ‘front-load’ your IVR with information. There’s a whole other blog on this you could read, but put simply, the start of the caller journey is not where your caller wants to hear several long or complex messages. They want the options, they want to pick the right one, it’s stressful and they’re mission-focused. Front-loading will trigger those button mashers, which sees callers reaching the wrong agent, adding to frustration, pushing closer to fight-or-flight and wasting your team’s time with transfers and irritated customers.
Finally, know and utilise the capabilities of your telephony system. If it can send callers a text message, use it! Got a callback option? Use it! Even the basics can often be better – re-examine your call flow, streamline and simplify, because The easier you can make a caller’s journey, the happier they will be, and the better it is for your customers and your agents.
Good CX is all about state of mind, affect it positively and you’re more likely to have a customer for life.