Sometimes, getting technical support from a company requires making an actual phone call. Like the audio / voice kind that people used to do in old movies!
Typically, one ends up in an “on hold” scenario in which soothing music is intermittently interrupted by the message “representatives are busy, your call will be answered in the order in which it was received.”
Since this is a very non-interactive process, it is easy for users to feel bored, un-engaged, and unvalued. It’s very likely that a caller will be on hold for half an hour or more, and the hold music loses some of its charm after it repeats five times. (If you want to re-live the experience, try searching for Cisco CallManager Hold Music).
Instead of just having the calls answered in the same order they are received, a company could reward the most attentive callers with faster service—in other words make the customers prove their dedication and loyalty!
Here are three proposals that will accomplish this:
Proposal #1 of 3: “Arbitrary Questions”
This is the simplest to implement (Figure 1): while on hold, a caller will need to occasionally answer simple questions (e.g. “What is two plus two?”). If the user pays attention and answers the question correctly, they remain in their position in the customer support queue. But if they make a mistake or fail to answer, they move down in the queue. Thus, attentive callers get faster service.
Proposal #2 of 3: “Text Adventure”
This proposal is inspired by text adventure video games (e.g. Zork) or the famous series of “Choose Your Own Adventure” books. In this system, instead of being presented with simple math questions, the user is asked to survive in a fantasy adventure.
An example text-adventure-themed question might be:
“Your party of adventurers encounters a horrifying army of mummies in the crypt. Do you:
- 1) Attack them with your mace
- 2) Throw a lit torch onto their ragged forms
- 3) Try to retreat
- 4) Try to convince them that your quest is noble”
This system has the disadvantage of requiring more effort to write, but it has the advantage of potentially being more engaging to the audience*. ([*] This requires that the questions are tailored to the audience correctly: users of a municipal railway line might not as enthused about the mummy-crypt example above as customers for an online board game store would be.)
Proposal #3 of 3: “Battle Royale / Thunderdome Tournament Brackets”
In this system, a tournament bracket is generated to include all callers in a specific interval of time (say, 5 minutes). These users are then pitted against each other in one-on-one trivia battle: whoever answer the most questions correctly advances in the technical support queue, while the loser is moved down in the queue.
This could reward the most loyal fans of a company, since the trivia questions could be themed around that specific company (e.g. an Apple technical support call might ask “Which of these individuals was a co-creator of the original Apple Macintosh?” and then have a list of names).
All of these systems allow the “on hold” process to be more engaging, thus (presumably) increasing brand loyalty and customer satisfaction.
PROS: Adds a sense of danger and adventure to even the most trivial technical support question.
CONS: If you call for customer support, but you don’t know that much about the product, you might ALWAYS have to wait for hours while the true fans destroy you in (say) Samsung-themed trivia questions.