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A Hotline should help, not just answer!

Updated: Mar 31, 2023

Calling the super friendly New Zealand Visa hotline just to be told that the progress is pending and they cannot do anything, probably makes a hotline obsolete. Do you empower your hotline to solve or at least influence issues on the spot or are they just repeating what you can see on the online status? As described in our previous blogs about Customer Experience and Customer Service, it is all about taking actions and striving for solutions rather than just listening to the clients. Content

A Visa call center for online updates

After 2 months waiting, we have not received any status on our visa application for New Zealand and it was just 2 weeks to flight. They offered national hotlines in South East Asia or an international hotline in New Zealand. As we could not get through the national hotlines, we took the time and investment to call the international number and experienced every time a 30 - 40 min waiting period (though with a very nice pop music). Once we talked to the very friendly agent, the answer was that the visa was in progress and that they cannot do anything beside marking that we had this conversation. Numerous pleas from us to speed up the process and to check that we had very good documents just for travelling not immigrating, were ignored.

Main Customer Experience learnings:

  • Make sure all your hotlines and channels are accessible

  • Make sure that your hotline can take at least some kind of action or give some solution on very common issues (like the reason why a visa is not available on time)

  • Consider the time and financial investment of your clients to access your hotline

A Banking call center without business customer prio

Dealing with our house bank in Singapore while physically working and travelling in other countries can be challenging. The first difficulty we experience is that they do not distinguish their call center numbers in private or corporate customers. Second to be identified as a business customers with the right request, we have to endure a 5-6 level IVR (Interactive Voice Response) System with tiring listening and keying the right numbers. Once we had the agent on the phone he could take our request for a special business related document but could not inform us about the process or the costs. Above that he offered a call back on our international number which did not materialize within 5 days. No estimated call back time or written email confirmation was given.

Main Customer Experience learnings:

  • Prioritize your customer and offer special channels for the high value ones

  • Limit your IVR System to max. 3 Levels and avoid asking to type in lengthy customer numbers

  • Make sure your agents follows up on call back promises and state the maximum call back time and give a written summary or confirmation of the call by email.

  • Make sure that your agents have fast access to basic informations like processing and costs or can give at least an estimation.

Somebody to help please
Somebody to help please

How to build a Call Center where the customer feels you care?

Obviously most call centers invest heavily in the training and standard process of their inhouse and outsource call center staff. But as we have seen above, a great request management still often fails and is not enough, as the customer journey to the agent can be also very challenging for clients.

1. Analyze your clients and prioritize the ones which are 80% business critical versus the lower mass to build priority channels.

2. Give equal priority to email, chat channel and telephone IVR. The customer will decide which channel they prefer.

3. Make call back promises on the phone and in written, so the agent is responsible to make the call back.

4. Give sufficient first level agent authorisation to solve 80% of the customer issues and have an immediate second level support (e.g. SWAT) to take care of the difficult cases or to make timely call backs (ideally within 12 business hours)

5. Train your agent to show empathy to clients rather than hiding behind dysfunctional company processes or terms & conditions. As Customer Experience and Customer Service Specialist we recommend to start implementing a 'Culture of Care' as baseline for any activities with the customer. For more information how start e-commerce and build & implement a seamless omnichannel experience, please contact us here or on This blog was written by Carsten Ley, Entrepreneur, Enabler & Project Lead in Customer Experience, Project & Business Transformation leading large scale project implementations in Retail, E-commerce, Banking, Consulting & Experience Management for companies like Deloitte Germany, VW Mexico, Rolls-Royce UK, Lazada Vietnam and H&M South East Asia. He founded 2018 Asia PMO, a consulting firm focussing on getting clients fast and efficient into implementation of company objectives, customer & employee experience improvements to foster a result- and team-oriented environment.

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