Meg Whitman commented that in the early days Paypal customer support staff didn’t answer the phone – they were avoiding speaking to customers.
I don’t understand why more customer service lines don’t follow Trade Me’s example. At Trade Me you pay$1.99 per minute when you call (a 900 or o900 number) customer service – but in return there is no waiting on hold, excellent service and, and I like this, a real effort by callers as well as CS staff to resolve the issue quickly. The average call time is low, and the issues dealt with are the material ones, and the less material problems are coped with via email.
Sadly for an otherwise great service Telecom takes a huge chunk of the income – 50 cents per minute, and a bunch of monthly fees, so businesses don’t have the ability to charge at a lower rate. This extortionate rate is a legacy (that’s a good article by the way) of expensive long distance calls and these days it clearly isn’t market pricing.
If the price were a fixed fee, or 10 cents per minute, then it opens up a world of possibilities. Businesses could vary the price they charge dependent upon demand, and even credit customers who have a genuine issue, who buy on the call or who are valuable. Telecom NZ could make a lot more money by lowering their prices for this service. But then again Telcos could make a lot more money by doing a lot of things.
Telcos could start with their own terrible CS experiences – offering an 0800/800 service to everybody, but a premium 0900/900 service to those with more money than patience (pretty much everybody it seems), promising in return instant contact with an operator. The nice thing about this is that it pays for itself – more operators are easily justified when they actually bring in more revenue than they cost.