Have you ever gotten the handoff? Everyone has at some point. You know, when you are talking to a customer service representative and he or she transfers you to someone else to resolve your issue. It can happen on the phone or in person. Sometimes they say, “It’s not my department.” (I hate that one!) Or, “You should have asked to speak to someone in… ” You get the idea.
When you call a company to speak to a customer service representative, there are typically several steps you have to go through. More often than not, you will be greeted by a recorded message and voice prompts to direct you how to access the correct department. You may get lucky and not have to wait – there are some companies that have made this a priority. Usually, though, you will be put on hold, hopefully for a short time, and may hear a message like, “Your call is very important to us. Your call will be answered by the next available representative.” How many times have you thought while waiting, “It doesn’t seem as if my call is important?”
When your call is answered by a customer care representative, he or she typically asks for basic information such as address, account number, etc., before getting to the actual reason for the call. Hopefully, the agent will be able to solve the issue or fix the problem, resulting in a great customer service experience. Sometimes, however, this is not the case. You have to be transferred to someone in another department, which can mean another wait and another question and answer session.
There are several reasons that these types of calls are frustrating, not the least of which is the wasted time.
It is possible, however, for a customer service agent to ensure a smooth transition. Done right, a handoff can make a customer feel appreciated throughout the call and leave a positive impression.
I was working with an agent at a call support center. Another agent found it necessary to transfer a call to us, and when I took the call the other agent was on the line and gave me the necessary information to familiarize me with the caller and her situation.
This helped to ease the transition for the customer. It was a warm handoff. Instead of being frustrated, the customer was very appreciative of the first agent, and even more so for those of us who helped resolve the issue.
Whether it is at a call center or in person – and at any type of business – try to perfect the art of the handoff. Here are a few things to consider:
1. Don’t let customers feel as if they are just being shuffled around. If you must transfer a call, make an introduction to the next representative.
2. Don’t make the customer have to tell his or her story (or give identifying information) more than once – make that part of your introduction to the next agent.
3. Do not subject a customer to a series of handoffs. If a handoff is necessary, make sure to direct the customer to the right person. For example, if it is on the phone, transfer only once. In person, get the customer to the right person the first time.
4. You may want to consider giving the customer your direct contact information in case they are disconnected, or unsatisfied with the handling of their issue, or if they have other problems in the future.