"Thank you for calling XYZ Company. Your call is important to us but not important enough for us to answer it. Please hold for eternity or leave a message and a representative will contact you as soon as it is convenient for us."
If you've ever used the telephone to contact a business you can relate to the frustration that can result from voice mail or automated answering services. Undoubtedly, when they first became "the way to do business" it was extremely annoying; however, times are changing, folks are automating and imprudent business practices such as this are gaining acceptance (or at least tolerance).
Of course the ole' time principles of customer services - such as answering the phone before the third ring, avoiding putting a customer on hold if at all possible, and providing personal service - are still superb solutions to customer satisfaction. But, in our automated world, it is vital to recognize the importance of responding to customers quickly and appropriately, especially if they have been forced to listen to a long recording and traipse through a jungle of push buttons in order to leave a message for you instead of being afforded the luxury of speaking to a warm-blooded human.
Whether a customer makes contact in person, via telephone or through email, businesses should strive to provide a timely, if not an immediate response. Customer satisfaction is reliant on responsiveness.
So, you may ask, "What is a timely response?"
Honestly, the definition of a timely response really depends on the customer's perception. The urgency of their need may play into the mix or their idea of a timely response may be linked to their expectations.
For some reason there is a perception amongst business people that a 24 hour response to a customer inquiry is sufficient. From the customer's perspective; however, having to wait 24 hours for a quick answer to a simple question or a viable solution to a serious problem is ridiculously aggravating and neglectful on the part of the business.
When customers have a bad experience, from the customers' perspective, they are sure to seek other options for fulfilling their needs. Plain and simple - poor customer service results in lost business.
Regardless of the type of business you are in and whether you receive customer inquiries via telephone, email or a website contact form, it is absolutely critical that you get back to your customers right away. Placing responsiveness at the top of your customer service objectives is the simplest solution to gaining a competitive advantage, producing satisfied customers, maintaining your customers through repeat business, and building your market share through client referrals. Responsiveness is the single most important factor to enhancing customer satisfaction.