Last week, Google made a surprise announcement introducing Google Instant, an enhancement to their core search offering that displays search results on the page as you type. Some people have found the "psychic" nature of Google Instant to be creepy, while others simply love it.
Whether or not you find this feature to be valuable, it points to a continuing trend in our society - instant information gratification. In Google's case, web surfers can get their information fix before they even finish typing the phrase.
This is not a new trend. The movement toward instant gratification has been a source of hand-wringing for decades. Since before the invention of the fast-food "drive-thru" (did we really have to shorten that word?), doomsayers have predicted the decline of society because we want it all and we want it now!
In recent years, the mobile phone has reinforced the trend by making the entire Internet available to practically anyone, anytime, anywhere.
So what does instant information gratification mean for customer service? First, I find myself getting more and more perturbed not only by long queue times, but by any queue time. In every other area of my life, I get what I need fast. On the web, I don't have to wait. So... why do I have to wait on hold again?
Let me clarify. I understand the challenges and costs faced by contact center managers of staffing for unpredictable call volumes, but callers don't.
From the caller's point of view, it's an unnecessary wait. It's also a wait that I'm less and less accustomed to in other areas of my life. So, therein lies the challenge for the contact center - managing the expectations of an instant information gratification society.
So what can be done? To start, let your callers know the expected wait at the start of the call. They won't be happy to hear that there is a 10 minute wait, but at least they can make an informed decision.
Next, look at providing more web and voice self-service options. Given the choice between waiting and self-serving, many of us would gladly choose self-service.
Having said that - make the information provided by self-service both useful and relevant. Many people check the website for order status, but still want to speak to a representative. Why? Because I don't care when my order shipped, I want to know when it will arrive.
I called into a contact center this week and was astounded to hear a message that I was "calling during peak calling periods" and that I should call back during off-peak hours, otherwise I might experience a very long wait.
Don't they know that I want my information and I want it now?
09-15-2010 1:04 PM
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