Hints and Tips | | Published December 18, 2014

Shorten the path to You

Imagine this: you’re on the phone with a company trying to get a real, live human being. When the machine picks up, you press 1 for English. Ok, that’s normal. Then there's an extended message about recent events the company wants to share. Eventually they let you choose an option – except there’s still no option for a human being.

You desperately hit a few buttons (0, #, come on, we’ve all done it). All you want is to have your simple question answered! Finally there it is – press 0 for a representative. You excitedly hit 0, but now they want you to tell them exactly which rep would best help you.

At this point you’re already irritated, if not outright mad. Not only that, you just KNOW that when that person answers you’ll be transferred. It always happens. So you get even madder just thinking about it. This is not a state you want your customers in when they already have a problem with your product.

Now liken this to your email support. Many popular interfaces require customers to answer a series of questions before even allowing them to send an email to support. This can end up frustrating your customers to no end.


Driving Them Crazy

You may not even realize it, but having a long path for your customers to get to you can make it seem like you don’t want to help them! While your situation may not be quite as bad as the examples above, any extra time people spend just trying to get to a human being to help solve a problem actually worsens the problem. Worse, an irritated customer can have a very negative impact on the support rep who is unfortunate enough to answer the issues once they finally get through.

As mentioned above, putting people in the right state of mind is a big deal – if they finally get you on the line and are super mad, that doesn’t help anybody. They’re ready for a fight, not a solution.

On top of that, it sets the tone of the conversation to one of frustration. If there are a thousand website options to go through before a customer can email or talk to you, including getting bounced around from agent to agent, you’re starting the conversation off on the wrong foot.

So while it seems like you’re giving these options to help, you could actually be doing the opposite. What should you do?


Shorten the Path

Naturally you’re going to think we’re suggesting to get rid of those sub-options. However, that’s not necessarily the case. If you feel it does truly help your customers to break down issue types so they get the right person the first time, go for it! There is a possibility it’s cutting down on clutter and confusion.

What you should consider, though, is giving an option for customers to reach a live person right away. Many will appreciate this as they’re expecting to hear a thousand options before they can actually connect with someone. If they suddenly hear “if you want, press 0 to speak to a human being” right at the beginning, they will be pleasantly surprised (which will transfer to the subsequent conversation).

For phone support, it’s kind of a well-known secret that hitting 0 will get you a live person most of the time. For email support, support@yourURL.com usually does the trick. Don’t assume people know this, though. Be as up-front with everything as you can be – after all, you’re trying to make your customers’ lives easier. If you put unnecessary walls and obstacles in their way, you’re doing the opposite, even if you think you’re helping.