When Human Errors Cost Call Centers More Work

By Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD

Author Peter Lyle DeHaan

I have a love/hate attitude toward downloading monthly statements and invoices. I love receiving the information faster and storing it electronically. I hate the problems that come up, such as down websites, login frustrations, redesigned pages that seem to hide my information, and unavailable statements. And this doesn’t just apply to healthcare; all industries seem equally guilty.

Once I received an email to download my monthly statement. I logged in but couldn’t find the document. I searched and I clicked and I logged in again. Nothing helped. At the bottom of the page was a link to email them with questions. I concisely shared my frustration and clicked “send.”

To my surprise, I received a response within minutes. The agent explained that someone sent the email notice prematurely. “The problem has been corrected and your statement is now available for download.”

Excited I logged in again, but the document was still not available. This time I spotted a toll-free number and called customer support.

The recording said to expect an eighteen-minute wait. I opted to receive a call back when it was my turn. Eleven minutes later, my phone rang, but instead of talking to a rep I heard a recording followed by music on hold. When the agent eventually answered, I explained the situation, making little effort to hide my frustration.

After doing some checking and consulting with someone else, the agent confirmed the initial email went out in error, the rep who handled my follow-up email gave me incorrect information, and my statement still wasn’t online.

“When will it be available?”

“I don’t know, but legally we have six more days before it has to be posted. Just keep checking.”

The next day, on my fourth try, my statement was available, I downloaded it, having invested about an hour in total to accomplish this simple task.

The company sent me a brief customer service survey. My snarky comment was, “Don’t email me to download my statement before it’s actually available.” I never received a response.

So, this company sent an email in error, which resulted in me contacting their customer support center and causing them one needless activity. To compound the problem, the rep provided me with wrong information. This caused the company a second needless activity. And assuming someone actually looked at my customer service survey, this caused a third needless activity.

Thousands of others received this errant email message, too. If only a small percentage contacted the company, how many more needless activities took place?

I’m sure the contact center agents had a difficult, busy day – all courtesy of one person who prematurely sent a mass email message. Sometimes we cause our own problems. And the contact center often pays for it.

Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is the publisher and editor-in-chief of AnswerStat. He’s a passionate wordsmith whose goal is to change the world one word at a time.