By Shep Hyken
In the world of show business and live entertainment, every act has an “opening.”
Most people think it’s the first words that come out of the actors’ mouths, but it’s more than that. It’s the moment the audience sees the actors walking onto the stage. It’s how they are dressed, how they make eye contact with the audience, the anticipation they create, and more. So, when the actors speak their opening lines, it is actually the end of the opening.
It’s the same in business. You call the customer service hotline. A pleasant customer support agent picks up the phone and enthusiastically greets you, ready to help resolve your problem or answer your question. This is who you want taking care of you. Isn’t that the way it should always be?
But that’s not the opening. Consider this. The friendly voice comes on after you, the customer, may have already spent 30 minutes holding. The hold time consists of music interrupted by the occasional recording that claims, “Your call is very important to us. Due to heavy call volume, you may experience longer than usual wait times. The next available agent will be with you shortly.”
Now, how long is “shortly?” Two minutes? Five minutes? Or fifty-five minutes?
So, this isn’t to complain as much as to make you aware. The friendly greeting to the customer comes after the customer has experienced a problem. That problem may have just happened, or maybe it happened a week ago and the customer is finally able to find time to call about it.
For the sake of simplicity, let’s say the problem just happened and the customer immediately phones the company. Still, the friendly greeting from your amazing people comes after whatever you put in front of the live interaction. That could be a brief intro leading to an almost immediate connection with the employee. Or, it could come after a series of menu prompts and hold time. I think we know which scenario our customers would prefer … give the customer a fast and quick way to the agent – with as little friction as possible!
Here’s the short version of this lesson. When customers have problems or questions, connect them with your amazing employees as quickly as possible, with little or no friction. The employee’s opening lines, similar to a stage performer, are not the opening. They are the end of the opening and the beginning of their “show.”