Monday, 11 February 2013

The right questions at the wrong time make customers cross

The radiator in my home office isn't working.  (Which means it's perishing cold in here.)  So I rang British Gas Homecare to book an appointment for an engineer to come and have a look at it.

Monday is my favoured day, but they couldn't book me in for Monday 18th because the engineers are fully booked.  "You could always ring up nearer the time and see if anyone has cancelled," said the friendly guy in the call centre.

Mmm, black mark.  I want YOU to offer to call ME if a slot comes free on Monday 18th.  As a customer I want YOU to go the extra mile.  I don't want to have to.

I booked the appointment for Monday 25th.

Then he started trying to sell me gas and electricity through British Gas as well.

Another black mark.  I want to book an engineer for my cold office, not be sold at.  I fairly quickly choked him off with the (true) comment that we're looking to move house and so a change of energy provider is not on the horizon.

And then he went on to ask me to go through an automated phone survey at the end of the call.

Now I know collecting feedback from customers is crucially important.  Heavens above, I just wrote about it.  But I'm not convinced that it's a good time to ask when you know a customer is feeling a bit cheesed off.  There's the risk that you will make them feel even more cheesed off.

I'm not blaming the poor guy in the call centre.  He's probably been told by his bosses that he HAS to try and upsell to every customer he talks to and that he HAS to put everyone through the survey.

But if I were in the boss's shoes I'd allow staff to use their own initiative and ask for the upsale and the feedback only when they think it's what the customer actually wants.  Otherwise the customers are going to go away feeling cross rather than feeling happy, and that's never good news.

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