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December 29, 2013

Everyone Hates Phone Trees

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“I really appreciate Company X’s large confusing phone tree!”

– said no one ever.

We all know the drill – we need something from Company X, but Company X can’t afford to staff an army to answer phones, so they wave the magic “phone tree” wand, spin us in a few circles, and hope that somehow we will be happy with that.

For me this translates into one single mode of operation when dealing with companies: try to avoid – at all costs – having to call them. I don’t want to listen to their menus. I don’t want to be put on hold. I don’t want to enter my account information multiple times because your magic phone tree isn’t powerful enough to remember it.

The funny part to me is that the money-saving phone tree systems typically cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. I didn’t go to “Enterprise Business School”, but I’m pretty sure spending that much money to irritate your customers is bad for business. Especially when there are significantly cheaper better options available.

Not every automated phone system is terrible. I once called Comcast and was pleasantly surprised to hear something like the following (I’m paraphrasing here):

“Hi Jeremy, thanks for calling customer support. We’re pretty busy right now, so would you like us to call you back when someone’s available?”

Yes, yes, a thousand times yes! They know who I am without me entering some 20 digit account number! They know I want to talk to someone! They don’t want to waste my time!

Of course, this kind of “custom” solution costs a fortune and requires an entire team of consultants and developers, right? Nope. There are solutions out there, including OneReach, that are affordable and can be set up by anyone with basic computer skills.

Consider this your customer support PSA: don’t go chasing after those “cost effective” phone tree systems just so you can give your customer’s the run-around. Find a better solution, one that treats customers like people.

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