Do you remember the days when it was normal and expected for a package ordered online to take 5 to 7 days to arrive? Or when leaving a message for a company and waiting for a response for 24 to 48 hours was not a cause for concern and rather an accepted waiting period? Fortunately for customers, and often unfortunately for many companies, these days are now in the rearview mirror. The fact that you can find almost anything you need or want online, from products to information, and that those things can be accessed almost instantly in many cases have made customers much more impatient and in search of instant results or gratification in all aspects of their lives—including in their interactions with call centers.

Today, when a disgruntled customer reaches out to a call center, they don’t want to hear that your team is going to look into your inquiry and get back to them in a few days. Instead, they want a solution before they hang up the phone—and they will likely be unsatisfied if this is not the case. The modern customer tends to treat every situation with a degree of urgency, even if that urgency is unwarranted. And if your agent is the one to tell them that the urgency is unwarranted, that agent will likely be seen as combative or not prioritizing the customer’s needs. At the same time, the types of issues for which customers are contacting call centers have not really changed. The only thing that has changed is the customer’s expectation of immediate gratification—if they are getting it elsewhere, why can’t they get it from you, too?

This puts call center agents in a really tough spot, especially when faced with issues or inquiries that they simply cannot solve over the span of a phone call or a chat conversation. What do they do if the only solution is to open an investigation into the customer’s issue, the timeline for which they have no control over? Or what do they do if they realize that the issue is actually one that needs to be addressed with a third party, such as a shipper or an installer, and that the agent has no way of initiating that contact for the customer?

The answer, like the problem, is multifaceted. First, companies must set clear expectations for customers when it comes to customer service and the capabilities of their agents. Next, knowing that this is a potential issue that could negatively impact the customer experience, customers should always be looking for things they can do to improve the customer experience in other ways. This way, even if the customer is forced to hang up the phone without a solution, the hope is that they still had a positive experience overall. Steps should be taken to streamline the contact process on the customer’s side so that you aren’t adding frustration to an already difficult situation. What’s more, agents need to be incredibly skilled and well-trained in dealing with these sorts of customers. What are those skills? Agents should be able to recognize when to stick to the script and when to make tweaks or veer off slightly in ways that will appease the customer or get them one step closer to a resolution, even if it is a temporary one. Agents should be active, empathetic listeners who never talk down to the customer because of their frustration or short temper. And agents should be empowered to solve as many problems on their own as possible so that customers don’t need to speak to multiple people across different channels or different departments in order to reach a solution.  All these elements combined can help call centers meet these changing customer expectations.

Another factor that will help agents deal with these sorts of customers: An easy-to-use call center platform like CallShaper that doesn’t get in their way. To learn more request a demo today