Is it time to axe the apology?

In customer service it seems we spend a lot of time problem solving, putting out fires and apologizing to customers. It’s a natural and necessary part of customer support but when it comes to our messaging is it time to put our apologies on hold?

Specifically we’re talking about the common habit of inserting apology messages into a holding guests wait time. You know the ones:
‘Your call is important to us, we apologize for keeping you on hold, our phone operators are on other calls but we will be with you as soon as we can.’
Companies think they are doing the right thing by acknowledging their customers frustration on hold, but what some studies now show – is that it’s making it worse.

But why?
Humans don’t like to wait; it’s hardwired in all of us. So the last thing anyone needs is to be reminded that they are waiting, especially if they are in the flow of good music. Often a caller will be happy enough humming away to a good tune until sudden the messaging pops in to remind them ‘Hey! You’re waiting!’

Even worse is if that messages only purpose is to remind them they are waiting with no other helpful information.
It’s like having your car stuck in the mud on a remote road, waiting for hours and finally another car pulls up, the driver winds down the window and says ‘So, you’re stuck in the mud eh?’
Then he quickly winds up the window and drives off into the sunset.
Annoying, frustrating and no help whatsoever.

So how can you do messaging without the apologies? Try to create positive energy in your holding system while minimizing the negative.

  • Use great music. Picking something your client base will love is key to keeping them entertained. Something that can be sung along to and creates a good feeling. When choosing always keep in mind who your core audience is to guide style.
  • Consider letting songs run full length before playing messaging. Too long? Use shorter edited versions for the same effect but more messaging time.
  • Only give quality information. Target it to your market and speak in a conversational tone.
  • Short and sweet. Keep those messages simple and tight, there’s only so much a caller can take in.
  • Instead of apologizing be helpful – if a common problem calling issue can be sorted by directing them to your website be sure to tell them. If a large number of calls are enquiring about opening hours, get that information into the initial greeting message.

Put your apologies on hold for happier customers!

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