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"In A Meeting"

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aroethler
Member
#1   Posted: 29 Aug 2007 15:06
 


Good afternoon. I have a quick question related to customer perception. At our company, we have a customer support group that handles standard inquiries (pricing, tracking, etc) and a technical support group that handles specific usage questions for the product. Each rep has some general training on both, but has an expertise in one or the other. Anyway, once a week each group has a staff meeting and calls roll over to the other group. There are times when a customer support rep may get a call that really requires someone from the technical support group, so we take a message and a tech rep calls them after the meeting.

My question: what is the best thing to tell the customer in terms of why Tech Support is unavailable? We've gotten nasty feedback from customers when we say that Tech Support is "in a meeting" because they perceive that Tech Support "is always in a meeting". Is it better to say that Tech Support is "currently assisting other customers" or something to that affect? What do you think?

patilint
Member
#2   Posted: 30 Aug 2007 09:14
 


We have a similar set up- when we (customer service) is in a meeting we have a message that clearly says- "customer service will be unavailable between the hours of 2 and 3 PM on Wed 8-29. Please leave a detail messageand we will get back to you as soon as possible".

I don't think anyone particularly likes to do that or that the customers appreciate it - but there are times (once a week) that we need to meet as a group. We do not even refer our calls to the tech group as that seems to cause more churn and uncertainty for the customer.

I can understand the customer being more upset with a technical service group off the phone as they are in a situation where a machine may not work and it is money to the customer. This can be worked out but not understanding your company set up - I really can't say. Our tech group refers to our traveling technicians or to a company authorized service partner in the field.

Good luck

mcastuera
Member
#3   Posted: 30 Aug 2007 14:51
 


I would dive more into the problem, the customer complaint is really based on the fact that technicians are not there when needed. Maybe your company needs to schedule meetings after hours, of leave a backup on the phone to make sure customers are being assisted. If you truly need to leave the phone un-attended, make sure return calls are being performed on a timely and consistent basis, this will reduce the complaints. In the message I will add something like "we are sorry we missed your call, we are working to improve our service..." at least customer will know you're doing something about it. Hope this helps.

kevinl3125
Member
#4   Posted: 5 Sep 2007 07:57
 


Letting customers know that you are not available for a certain period of time can be a "bummer" to the customer. If your customer service department needs to meet once a week, make it before the workday or after the work day. Never during the workday. This is the most important time that should be spent with our customers. Customers who need assistance right away and cannot get will often find an alternative source. Most likely your competition. If your tech support dpet, or customer service dept absolutely have to be away from the phones, never should it be everyone. Stagger time away from the phones. This way, there is always somebody there. They my be on the phone, but they will never be in a meeting.

patilint
Member
#5   Posted: 5 Sep 2007 12:53
 


Unfortunately some companies will not pay the overtime necessary to have a meeting before or after the work day. Also, it makes more sense to have the entire group in the meeting when training, or issues arise. This way everyone hears the same thing at the same time in the same way and everyone gets the benefits of the questions asked and answered.

In our business, as long as the disruption is only once every week or two, lasts only an hour, is done early in the AM and the reps contact back the customers who called immediately upon their return- I see no problem with this and it seems to work well.

The majority of our contacts are faxed or emailed....phone is a distant third and has been for about the last 2-3 years. Now if the companies business is all phone based then alternatives would have to be found.

Right Hat
Member
#6   Posted: 15 Sep 2007 05:36
 


Does a customer really care about weather or not your people are "in a meeting?" Nope, not one bit. They don't care if the person they need is in a meeting, down the hall, in the hospital, lounging on the beach, or currently being crushed to death in a freak water cooler accident! All they care about is that their problem is not being handled, and worse, some other distraction is keeping their problem from being solved!

It's kind of like when a lady friend asks "does this dress make me look fat?" She really doesn't want "the whole truth." That's not to say that she wants a lie, she just doesn't want you to say "well honey, the real problem is that your butt is as big as a locomotive." Brutal honesty can be just as destructive as a lie. Instead, I suggest my favorite pet phrase for this little problem, "I apoligze, Mr. X is currently with another customer. I will have him call you as soon as he is free so we can: a) get you back up and running again b) get this issue resolved for you c) help you with a solution etc.

After all, who is ever more important than a customer? Maybe, just maybe, the customer your key guy or gal is currently helping!

Oh, by the way, I'm Bill!

Wear the right Hat!
Bill

mwachirake
Member
#7   Posted: 24 Sep 2007 07:32
 


Aroethler,
I know nasty feedback can be bad for the company. How long does the meeting take? In my company there are certain departments like marketing who meet on a daily basis but the management have made sure that it doesnt interfere with the normal schedule. Initially they used to meet from 8.30 am but there were complaints from customers which was bad for the business. The management changed the time.Nowdays they meet early in the morning before normal working hours.
I agree with mcastuera that after hours can be considered. I know most companies dont pay for overtime but i think that we should really look at the goals of the company. At the end of the day the company wants to make profits. Lots of complain from the customers may lead to customers withdrawal thus the company making losing.When the company makes loses, the employees may look like they are not working. This could lead to people losing their jobs.
I think sacrificing and working overtime is not so bad especially if you want to retain your customers. If this does not work out then you should explain to customers in a polite way that between a certain time and a certain time you go for meeting.Am sure they will understand and will get used to it.
By the way telling the customers that the group is currently assisting other customers is not a good idea.The customer may feel like the company considers him/her/them less important to the company.
The truth is always the best.

Right Hat
Member
#8   Posted: 24 Sep 2007 11:21   Edited by: Right Hat
 


"By the way telling the customers that the group is currently assisting other customers is not a good idea.The customer may feel like the company considers him/her/them less important to the company.
The truth is always the best"

Gee honey, that dress sure makes your butt look huge, might be because you need to loose 30 pounds!

Somehow I just don't see this working for anyone, but maybe you've had better luck.

First, lets look at weather or not it's a lie. Is the meeting about helping customers, working with customers, customer's desires, products the customers might buy, or procedures that might help the customer? If so, it seems to me the person IS helping other customers!

I do agree that sometimes, many times overtime is needed. I also agree that, if the meeting is always on the same day/time, that the customer should be informed that Mr X and Mrs H will not be available during that time. It should be Mr X and Mrs H who do the informing ahead of time however.

Wear the Right Hat!
Bill

mwachirake
Member
#9   Posted: 25 Sep 2007 01:34
 


Bill,
Thanks. I think in situation where meeting are held on a daily basis or more often is because the company either wants to improve our services/products to attract more customers, maybe introduce a new product/service etc.
I still think that telling clients that the group is assisting other clients is a bad idea.I cant imagine calling a company several times and every time or most of the time am told that the group is assisting other customers.
I have heard of a case where a company lost one of its biggest client simply because they were told the person handling their account was attending to another client. After calling several times they were being told the same thing. The team was in a meeting and didnt want to be interupted. The person handling the account of this company got the message after the meeting and returned the call and the first thing he did was apologize and said that he was held up in a staff meeting.
The client felt like somebody was lying to him.First of all the secretary tells the client that he assisting another client then later he is told that he was in a staff meeting. The client finally gave the business to another company.I think some of these small things we ignore can cost us a lot. Dont forget that the competitors are always watching and will do anyting to grab clients.

Right Hat
Member
#10   Posted: 25 Sep 2007 04:12   Edited by: Right Hat
 


I'll definitely agree that, when it is a regular meeting, you have to tell the client/customer what is going on. After all, they may start to notice that you're with another customer every Monday, at 9:30am! I was speaking more of those random, uncommon meetings.

As for the meeting, I think it is important that the saleperson/customer service person let the client know that there is a regularly scheduled meeting, but that in an emergency you will be happy to step out of the meeting to assist them. Of course, just like the "he's with another customer" idea, everyone has to be in on this. If you tell your client you'll be happy to step out in an emergency, and a secretary, thinking he/she is helping, won't get you from said meeting, you look even more like the south end of a north bound horse than before!

In the end, the single most important person in your company is your customer.

"There is only one boss, the customer. And he can fire everybody in the company from the chairman on down, simply by spending his money somewhere else" -Sam Walton

"The person handling the account of this company got the message after the meeting and returned the call and the first thing he did was apologize and said that he was held up in a staff meeting.
The client felt like somebody was lying to him.First of all the secretary tells the client that he assisting another client then later he is told that he was in a staff meeting. The client finally gave the business to another company.I think some of these small things we ignore can cost us a lot. " -mwachirake

Absolutely! This is why eveyone in your company, from the CEO to the janitor MUST be focused on customer loyalty. If your clients don't believe that you are looking out for them, they will spend thier money somewhere else in a heart beat! I will also say, if your client left over a miscomunication concerning a "staff meeting," there were other problems. According to Jeffrey Gitomer, a loyal customer WANTS to do business with you, and will fight your compitition to do so.

In my mind, I can't help but wonder if your staff meetings and your companies interest in keeping them uninterupted at all costs, aren't a symptom of a deeper misunderstanding of your customer's needs. I am not trying to bash anyone here, but when a customer defects, I take it to be an "F" on my report card. It's not the end of the world, and it can be brought up next semester, but I'd better look into whatever I need to do to correct the situation!

Have you spoken to a select group of your most loyal customers to see what suggestions they might have?

Wear the Right Hat!
Bill

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