Why Customer Service needs a make over

It’s estimated that in 2014 most American consumers spent an average of 13 hours on hold during calls to customer service reps. This means that, quite literally, millions of hours are lost every year due to customer service calls being put on hold — and the total economic burden that results from these call holds must be enormous. Web chat seemed to alleviate the pain to some extent but similar problems still persist with this channel as well.

Limited support hours, holding for agents to start conversation, repeated questions on account or personal identification etc. etc. We’ve all experienced nightmares in customer service. From rude, listless, and unhelpful customer service reps to holding times that seem to go on forever, customer service can be a minor annoyance at best or a gargantuan frustration at worst. Indeed, the web is rife with harrowing horror stories of poor customer service (five transfers and a call to nowhere is often just the beginning), and for a good reason: despite the advance of technology, customer service is still an underdeveloped department in many companies. Indeed, customer service often seems to exacerbate the exasperation of an already frustrated and confused consumer.

Do any of these customer service problems sound familiar to you?

  • “Please hold while I check your file. ” A minute passes by. The company has thoughtfully regaled you with smooth jazz music in the background (or something like that), intermittently interrupted by a canned ad about some new product or service. “We care about your call. Please stay on hold,” comes a scripted voice. Five minutes — maybe ten — have ticked by. Your blood pressure mounts steadily, and just as it reaches a crescendo, you suddenly experience a series of joyful palpitations as the voice of the customer service rep breaks through the banal background music. Moral of the story: a call that is put on hold often ends up sucking your precious time — time that could be used more productively and efficiently.
  • “How do I even get customer service from this business?” Finding contact information for customer service shouldn’t be hard. But often it is. You have a problem with a product — or maybe just an innocent question — and you go to the company’s website to search for a way to get in touch with customer service. No such contact info is on the homepage. Hmm. You search through a maze of pages, and finally you find it in some obscure part of the website. Don’t we love that experience?

Or consider the following problems with present-day customer service:

  • Different businesses have different support channels. There’s no one unified, standardized way to get customer service. Thus, while a call may be best for Company A, it might be the worst option for Company B, which responds most effectively via email. How are you supposed to know which route to take? Yet another business might expect you to visit their website to start a web chat. Lost in this perplexing labyrinth, you end up losing time (and patience).
  • Customer service reps that don’t have the right knowledge. And sometimes they don’t really care about you, either. It’s not like they need to babysit you, but a little empathy goes a long ways — but it’s often sorely lacking in customer service reps (many of you customer service reps are great at what you do, and for this we thank you). As a consequence, you actually don’t get the help you needed — or maybe you do, but it’s only after you’ve been slightly shaken by a disgruntled customer service rep.
  • You get bounced around — a lot. Customer service shouldn’t be a game of ping pong. Nevertheless, it’s a frequent (and frustrating) occurrence that your call gets transferred to another rep, who transfers you elsewhere, and it becomes an endless circle of phone calls going nowhere. Maybe, just maybe, you finally get to speak to an executive or higher-up — but only after you’ve spent an hour or two trying to get somewhere.

It might be a stretch to expect support communication to be as simple as you walking into a store and start a conversation but it can definitely be made simpler. Combining the ubiquitous mobile messaging with ease of digitally storing customer information all in one place. seeking support can be as simple as a walk in the park. And the biggest advantage — NO HOLDING anymore.

It’s time customer support experience gets a make over. It’s time for phone and chat channels to move aside, and usher in messaging.

My startup, , SnapSolv, is a bold attempt in this direction. We are pioneering the shift to messaging based support communication, by making helpful customer service a whole lot easier.