How “Your Call Is Important To Us” Can Be Improved
“Your Call Is Important To Us,” Says The Recorded Phone Message And You Know They Really Don’t Care A Bit About Your Call. So How Can Companies Show They Care?
“Your Call Is Important To Us” Messages Annoy Millions of Callers Each Year. And since the Pandemic its only got worse.
It wouldn’t be so bad if the “Your Call Is Important To Us” only happened once in a while. But it seems a permanent feature with some companies. Every single call meets the same response and we feel like screaming back that you know they really don’t care at all. You know its now the default setting on so many call centre phone systems.
Our research shows that its not only the fact that the same Your Call Is Important To Us is repeated every single time you call. People tell us that their annoyance levels are reinforced by the fact it’s often taken so long to get to this point. They’ve already gone through multiple levels of previous messages and button-pushing. Then they are left in limbo, waiting to be answered .. sometime in the next day or two.
Call Centre Cynicism
The problem with cal centre messages such as this one is that whereas the call might be important to the company, as it often means they can make a sale to you, you are actually a number and YOU aren’t important.
And callers believe they are even less important if the button they have pushed is not for an income-generating dept such as sales. Press the button for complaints and your call might be said to be important, but the reality is that they really don’t want to hear you complaining.
The wording of these robot-generated and operated phrases is so annoying that they have become the butt of comedic jokes. Comedians use them as part of their standup act and we are so frustrated with these calls, they are so embedded in our psyche, that we laugh in pure frustration.
And the dictionaries are also in on the act. They now include this phrase with explanations such as …
“Perhaps the biggest bit of corporate and public-sector BS ever foisted upon us as middle- and lower-economic class people. Usually indicates that you’ll have to endure ten to thirty minutes of bland wallpaper music or loops of repeated advertisements before a real human voice gets on the phone.”
Sadly the bit about adverts is seen as true. People actually believe the call queue is artificial, created so they can further indoctrinate you with their inane advertising.
Research Indicates That Many Business Intentionally Make It Hard to Contact Them
Surely not I hear you say. Why would a business try to upset customers?
Yi Zhu, an associate marketing professor at the Carlson School of Management and co-author of a report on customer service frustrations explains it like this. “There may be profitable advantages for the firm to induce customer hassles.”
Yi Zhu further commented, at the time airlines and holiday companies were refusing to make post-Covid refunds, “If they refund everything, they’re going to lose money.”
On researching various call centres Zhu determined that companies inflict long drawn out, inefficient multistep processes and poor call centres to discourage people making claims. And it had an added benefit for them as the fewer staff they employ to take calls the cheaper it is for them. Call centre staff may burn out but when one leaves its easy to employ another person desperate for a job, any job.
Zhu, and co-researcher Anthony dukes from the University of Southern California, determined what they called a “unit hassle cost” which they define as being the level of frustration and annoyance someone experiences when being given BS and inconvenienced. They use the unit hassle cost to screen out people that don’t have time or inclination to wait for a long period.
The result is “Customer Rage” which is also the title of another piece of research. Customer Rage was conducted in 2017 by Arizona State University and discovered that 8 out of 10 complainants weren’t happy with the way it was handled.
Brand Values & Call Handling
It seems amazing that companies talk on one hand about building their brand whilst at the same time cynically mishandling calls to prevent complaints and refunds.
There is no doubt that any business that uses trite phrases in their call messages are likely to damage their brand. Brands take years to establish but can be destroyed in minutes … often the same number of minutes people are left hanging on the phone.
Start-Ups Don’t Use Phrases Like Your Call Is Important to Us. They live the importance they attribute to your call. Successful start-ups are often disruptive. It’s their disruptive side that makes them successful. It’s what helps them beat the established companies. Disruptive businesses give people what they want. For example, the highly successful fintech companies have beaten the established banks in many cases. They do it because they treat their customers as people and not numbers. Their systems are more robust, it’s possible to get more answers online and that means fewer people call with problems. And with fewer calls, they don’t have to have long call queues and strategies to deny customers the chance to speak with a human.
Disruptive Brands That Changed The Marketplace
Think about the brands that have disrupted the existing market and grabbed market share. Companies like Airbnb, Tesla, Uber, BrewDog, Netflix, Apple, Aldi, Innocent don’t have reputations for bad call centre practices or similar tactics. They either deal via merchants and retailers or, avoid the phone totally.
If you want an Uber you use an app. If you want a place to stay you use the Airbnb app. These companies don’t rely on call centres, they don’t make us queue to do business with them. They don’t have trite phrases, designed to deny you access, in their lexicon.
Of course, it’s easy to say that their businesses don’t need phones so they obviously don’t get involved in the phone queue fiasco. But there’s more to it than that.
Phone Queue Mindsets
The trite phrases I’m writing about in this article didn’t get written in the boardroom. they were designed in the call centres or operations room. But that’s not to say they didn’t emanate from the boardroom. You are important to us is part of a mindset that stems from the top. Where the board are more interested in numbers than customers there is a malaise that permeates a whole company. The chair and board use a style of language that sets a tone. Where it’s about profit and not people that’s the toe that settles through the whole fabric of the company. Everyone is tainted and everyone treats the customers in the same way.
Start to use the right language and grow positive attitudes in the boardroom and you slowly see trite terms disappear. It’s not the only solution, but it’s the best starting point. And there are more solutions below.
“Your Call Is Important To Us” Solutions
We asked people what would improve the situation. Here’s what they said.
- “Your Call Is Important To Us” should be the exception and not a default setting.
- Companies know when to expect busy times. They can plan for high call volumes and recruit/staff accordingly. Put enough staff on duty when call volumes are expected to be high.
- If you have to use the “Your Call Is Important ….” message then give callers an idea of when they can expect to be answered. For example, tell them what position in the queue they are or how long the wait might be. Give them some alternative ways to get their calls answered.
- Use Call Back service Tell them that if they hang up you will call back later is a service that can work very well. However, call back needs to be prompt. Calling back in two or three days isn’t a great way to keep customers happy.
- Callers told us that being told that the business was very busy isn’t what they want to hear. The most frequent response to this answer is .. and you think I’m not busy?
- Being told that your call is important is one of those inane comments up there with the Victorian “I remain, sir, your humble and obedient servant“. People simply know neither of these comments is sincere.