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Patrick Speijers
Patrick Speijers
CEO
Dec 4, 2012

Customer Service Triage. Who gets the fastest reply?


Triage is the process of determining the priority of patients' treatments based on the severity of their condition. This rations patient treatment efficiently when resources are insufficient for all to be treated immediately. The term comes from the French verb trier, meaning to separate, sift or select”
Source: Wikipedia

Triage, as explained above, is the process of determining priority when you have limited resources – not enough supplies, or time, or hands on deck. When your business provides customer service, you’re just as likely to need triage – sorting out the customer requests based on their priority, and understand what needs to be dealt with right away, and what can wait a little bit longer.

How do you decide what’s more important? Well, it is a matter of works best for you, but from our experience, here are some common customer requests, rated by importance.

1. ‘I want to buy these shoes’
The goal of a business – any business – is to make money. That’s why you are there. So if a customer contacts you, and wants to give you some of his hard-earned cash in return for your merchandise, then you answer them first.

2. ‘I bought these shoes’

This is very closely related to the customer above, but it is different. People still view the Internet as a whole and online services in particular, as some sort of magic. When they give you some of that aforementioned hard earned cash, customers are understandably nervous until they get either what they bought or an answer to their most pressing questions (‘why hasn’t it arrived yet?’, ‘Will I be charged twice for clicking the ‘Buy’ two times, really, really quickly?’). People who have given you money and are waiting for an answer are also the ones who have the quickest ‘share’ trigger finger – they will let their Facebook friends and Twitter followers know exactly why they are so nervous. These you answer right after the people who want to give you money, but still need convincing.

3. ‘I’m right here!’

We’re dealing with the online world, and as we’ve said before, customers expect a fast response anyway, a faster response when they can fill out an online form and an immediate reply when they can see that the store support team is online. If a customer is banging on your door, even if you have someone who is waiting in line at the cash register, you’ll usually step over to at least calm them down and ask them to wait until you are free (or tell them to leave the door alone NOW, and then wait until you are free). Customers today, who feel entitled to get immediate support, should get it – that way they will go away singing your praises (like I still hear about Sprout Social and their amazing support), not swearing under their breath and on their Facebook pages (like certain cable companies who shall remain nameless).
After people who have already paid, or want to pay, these people are the most likely to buy from your site, as they are already expressing immediate interest.

4. ‘I am FURIOUS!’ (when the customer is angry)
There are, unfortunately, a number of reasons for a customer to be cross with your business, and, even more unfortunately, not all of them are under your control. For example, a friend of mine bought a new video card for his computer from New York a month ago, and STILL hasn’t received it, even though they promised to ship it within three days. For some reason the ports of New Jersey were closed, and nothing went in or out. Naturally, he phoned up and complained, loudly.
Was there something the business could do? Well, yes, if they were really inventive, they could invest in sending the package by air mail, but the hurricane was hardly their fault. Still, you need to respond quickly to customers with legitimate reasons to be angry, and defuse the situation.

5. ‘I am REALLY furious’ (when the customer is looking for a discount)
Customers and clients, even the angry ones, aren’t always angry. Sometimes they are just looking for you to sweeten the deal, and are using the angry card as a negotiation tactic. Not that I’m suggesting you ignore these customers, as ‘negotiation tactics’ is just another way of saying ‘we want to buy’, but we are talking about how to prioritize the customer calls or emails as they come in, which is why they only come at number five.

6. ‘Err…. Excuse me?’

Yes, these things can happen. Emails fall through the cracks, or you put the email on one side, and just forgot about it. These customers HAVE to be answered, even if you only pick up on the gaffe and see the email a week later. If they haven’t become number 4 customers in the meantime, that is. Send an apology; explain what happened – in nine times out of ten, the customer won’t mind, as long as you are sincere. Mistakes happen to everyone. Now, although this type of customer request is in last place, we personally recommend that as soon as you spot an email that has been left lying there with no reply, you deal with it immediately.
Now you know why Robin notifies the right man for the job and monitors your response time. Try Robin yourself without any hassle and start delivering the best possible customer service. If you want to learn more, you can do the Robin product tour.

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