You Have 17 Seconds

Making customer interaction successful

What makes a customer interaction successful … the first 17 seconds.

I called a wireless phone company yesterday about my cell phone. Seems the phone is eating up battery life in about 8 hours, when it initially took 3-4 days to deplete it. When the support person took the call, they listened briefly, then said … “with the credits I see on your account and a rebate we could get you into a new phone right now for only $19.95, which one would you like?”

Did I ask for a new phone? No. Do I want a new phone? No.

I had asked to get my old one fixed. His response made me mad at him, mad at the company, mad at the phone and certainly mad at the people who drive while talking on their cell phones. Heck, I’m even looking at changing phone companies now.

… a prime example of not connecting to a client in the first 17 seconds of the call.

When it works right

Contrast that with a call where someone immediately hears your issue, empathizes with your problem, and then begins to probe exactly where they should? It doesn’t happen often, but when it does the feeling of good customer service is there, in an instant.

The magic is in the first 17 seconds. During that brief period frontline personnel need to listen to all the clues and then respond. Is the client upset? Are they technical? Is the problem a usage related one? Is the product able to do what they are asking of it? If we can listen for some or all of those clues, then the response will be aimed at the right level.

But if the client is misunderstood, then trouble is about to start.

It is hard … call after call

After your 89th call of the day it is hard to listen to the client with the right perspective. Calls get smeared together, details get lost, and the emotion from one call bleeds into another … try this … put a post-it note on your computer that says … “No matter the call volume, this is THEIR ONLY CALL – make it a good one.”