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The future of customer service is one without (long) wait times

What do you consider the most annoying thing about customer service?
A whopping 57% of consumers reports long wait times as the most annoying thing about customer service.
Wait times are still seen as a neccesary evil in customer service.
And there are certainly some good bots around these days to get rid of wait times,

But you know what the second most annoying thing is about customer service?
‘Speaking to a bot’ – which annoys 21% of respondents.
Sometimes you just need to speek to a human, and waiting sucks.

Remove what is annoying

All great innovations from recent years were not about adding something.
They were achieved by getting rid of the annoying stuff within a certain industry.
Let me give you some examples:

Tony’s Chocolonely (cl)aims to remove slave labour from producing chocolate bars:

T-mobile removed the limit on data and minutes from their mobile phone plan:

Bitcoin removed the need for a central authority to verify the transfer of ownership:

Now imagine customer service without the annoying wait times…

Let’s face it, very few people really enjoy calling customer service.
First there’s always the uncertainty how long you’ll need to wait.
Then there’s all your previous experience with script-following humanoids that want to help you but often can’t, because procedures.
The way forward is surely faster and better customer service.

Customer service in general still has not reached the image of being customer friendly.
Luckily, some companies are already stepping up their game.


The most succesful companies are the ones that put their customers first, and I mean really, really first!
Coolblue is Dutch company that sells consumer electronics and it’s a great example of putting customers first.
Their motto is ‘anything for a smile’. I buy most of my electronics there even when they’re not the cheapest option.
Why? Because I know if  I need to return something it will be effortless and they will not make me feel bad about it.
Also they pick up the phone fast and their service reps are allowed to make decisions on their own – within certain constraints of course.
In short: they do not waste my time or my mood. By doing this they utilize customer service to gain a competitive advantage in the market.

Company’s like Coolblue raise the bar for the whole industry.
These guys understood that customer service is one of the main differentiation opportunities for retail online.
You will either match their standards in customer service or join the battle for the lowest prices with Amazon and the likes.
Good luck with that…

Raising the bar

The average american is projected to spend 43 days of his life waiting for customer service.
And somehow this is accepted by everyone as a fact that cannot be escaped.
I am not saying eliminating wait times entirely is a feasible idea but the current standard is obviously disapointing.
Companies that aim to eliminate wait times in customer service will raise the bar for everyone.

So why is this not happening everywhere already?
In next week’s article I will lay out some wrongs that are still at the heart of customer service and also what challenges we need to overcome.

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