Don’t do the call centre shuffle

taskmasterEarlier today, Old Taskmaster called the power company to resolve what should have been, in theory, a reasonably simple question about a gas and electricity bill.

 

More than an hour later, Old Taskmaster is still being tortured by the on-hold music, which consists solely of Feelings by Morris Albert. On a loop.

 

Of course, they don’t even have the courtesy to at least go with the unbearably cheesy ‘70s easy listening original. No, it’s a muzak cover that was quite possibly originally recorded for use as a torture device for Guantanamo Bay detainees.

 

This interminable loop of “feelings-whoa-feelings-whoa-feelings… trying to forget my/feelings of love” is sporadically punctuated by a robot saying “your call is important to us” “all our staff are currently busy” and “try our new ‘super-saver’ program”.

 

At this point, any feelings of love towards the power company have well and truly been forgotten.

 

Upon finally reaching a humanoid and explaining for the fourth time that I just want to give them money, I’m duly informed: “Sorry, you’ve been put through to the wrong area. This is residential billing and you’re after business billing. Just hold on the line and I’ll put you through to them now.” This phrase is promptly followed by another half hour of Feelings.

 

By the sixth or seventh time Old Taskmaster is shuffled to yet another call centre, only to be informed that this is “really an enquiry about an electricity account and you’ve been put through to new building connections”, there are distinct feelings other than love.

 

The most frustrating thing about the whole power company experience is the knowledge that it is almost certainly the product of byzantine bureaucracies, managerial fiefdoms and a management team who have obviously never been forced to phone their own call centres.

 

Even for the smallest start-ups, the lessons from the power company are simple: Do the opposite.

 

Create a single point of contact for phone enquiries to your business instead of transferring calls around your company. Also, make sure you’re familiar with the customer contact experience of your business: If you wouldn’t feel happy listening to muzak on a loop, your customers won’t be either.

 

Get it done – today!

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