Customer Experience News & Trends

Why you get so many repeat calls – and how to hit more ‘one and done’

Why do so many customers contact you a second, third, fourth or more times? New research uncovered what’s behind the repeats and how you can curb them. 

About one-third of all customer issues need live help from a customer service pro, according to a recent study by Gartner. So every third call, chat or social media exchange service pros handle is likely an unnecessary extension of a previous contact.

Why the surge?

About 55% of those repeats are an exact repeat from the first contact. What went wrong? Perhaps customers weren’t clear on what they needed the first time, or the answer they got wasn’t clear.

The other 45% of repeat contacts are implicit – they’re underlying questions, concerns or clarifications that should’ve been addressed the first time but went unnoticed.

What to do

Customer service leaders and frontline professionals want to “reduce downstream callbacks not just by resolving what customers call in about, but proactively resolving related implicit issues associated with which the customers may not be aware,” said the authors of Gartner’s study Unleashing Rep Productivity in the New Work Environment.

Gartner researchers suggest you can cut the cost to serve customers by putting a “Next Issue Avoidance Plan” in place.

Try these tactics:

  • Pick your top 10 to 20 primary issues. Work with reps at least quarterly – because the top issues will change throughout the year – to identify the biggest issues.
  • Determine the related secondary issues and kinds of questions that follow reps’ answers to the primary issues. Also determine the common timing of those second contacts. Is it hours, days, a week after the initial contact?
  • Create a guideline or script for offering that information after answering the primary issue questions.
  • Put the next issue answers in sequence across your communication channels. If customers must switch from one to another (say, chat to website FAQ or email to phone call), the avoidance plan won’t likely be successful.
  • For a longer-term solution, create an automated sequence of follow-up messages for the primary issues and their secondary issues. For instance, if customers frequently contact you a day after the initial contact on a primary issue with a secondary issue, automate an email send within 24 hours that addresses both issues.

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