call centre trainingHere’s a true story to help you understand my rationale for the title of the post:

I own two timeshares – one in Hawaii, and one in Orlando. We are using the timeshare in Hawaii this year (we’ll rent out the one in Orlando – and then next year flip-flop it and go to Orlando, renting out Hawaii); I called to make my reservation for our chosen vacation dates in August. I had already booked the airfare, which is more complicated to get the flights and prices we wanted; then called for what I [mistakenly] assumed was a straightforward booking.

I was told that the 11 days I wanted (August 2 through 13) wasn’t available; however, August 1 – 13 was. When I explained that I didn’t need 8/1, only 8/2 onward, I was told by the reservation agent that it was not available (they rent week-to-week, starting on a Fri, Sat, or Sun and she couldn’t cobble a full week and a half week together starting on a Saturday, only on a Friday). I had a choice – book an extra day and ‘burn’ that day to get the dates I wanted, or start all over again with the airlines (which had taken me about 3 hours to get set up JUST the way we wanted — no thank you!]

I booked an extra day just to get the villa reservation, then started calling back to [now] modify the reservation for one less day. I called a total of four times and was told that 8/2 week was booked, and they couldn’t adjust it for me; to add fuel to the fire, I couldn’t get on the WAITING LIST for that week because that was already full also! So, I’m thinking, I’m holding a confirmed reservation for these dates, which obviously are in demand because there’s already a waiting list; and I can’t give back one night so someone else can use it?

Finally, someone noticed that I own more than one property [which makes me elite, apparently] and I was transferred to the elite reservation / customer service line. Lo and behold! Kelly at the elite line can ‘shave off’ one day from the reservation, refunding me that day into my points bank, and providing me with exactly the dates I need. The villa now has an additional day to sell to make someone else happy (who now can extend their stay an extra night) and I am only ‘paying’ for the nights I am going to use.

My question: Why did I have to be transferred to the ‘elite’ line to get a [to me, at least] simple request granted? I already HAD 8/2 – 8/13 as part of my 8/1 – 8/13 reservation… I didn’t need a new reservation, or to go on a waiting list; I just needed one less day on an existing reservation… but only Kelly could understand this request and adjust the reservation accordingly [in about 10 mins, to boot!]

I can certainly see an opportunity here to make non-elite customers happy and to streamline their process (because I talked to four folks, that was three times that I ‘wasted’ their call center resources getting something resolved…)

Moral of the story for Customer Call Centers:

My tip to corporate call centers — train, train, train.

Gather requests like this from the files and walk the employees through the request – including how to hand the ‘non-usual’ requests – then provide written scripts that they can follow (in the form of FAQ’s, etc. that are searchable).

Spend a little more time on training, which will enable the employees to answer common questions, and then go the extra mile to throw in one or more ‘non-usual’ requests… the customers calling in will be happier, and the employees will get the satisfaction of knowing they’ve handled a ‘slightly left of center’ request.

Sounds like a win-win to me!