I was driving down the Massachusetts Turnpike the other afternoon on my way out of Boston when I noticed a billboard. It said something to the affect of “send a text to this number if you want to know how long ER wait times are.” Essentially, don’t get stuck waiting at the ER, call ahead!
OK, so what’s wrong with this picture? The abbreviation ER stands for Emergency Room. If it is an “emergency” then it can’t wait, and you should be at the ER. If it is NOT an emergency, why are you going to the ER?
Now, before you jump all over me for this comment, I realize that the medical industry has done a great disservice by only being available for normal office hours between 9am and 5pm (or even fewer hours) for a large majority of the population, but this billboard attempting to make a bad situation better is not the answer.
Imagine you did the same thing you your customers. “Please text this number before you call support to see how long your wait will be.” Would your customers be happy with this kind of service? I think not.
Your customers should be able to get help when they want it. Ideally, they should never have to call you for support because your quality is so good, but if they do, then you need to be there with the right part or service, at the right time in the amount the customer wants… not some convenient 9-to-5 window. The world isn’t running on 9-to-5 anymore, so that means you can’t either.
Getting back to the medical industry, our own health care provider (and I’m sure many others) now offers “urgent care” which allows us to visit a doctor off-hours for the same copay as a regular office visit. I don’t pay to go to the ER, and I don’t sit around taking up the services of people with bigger problems than me. It’s a win-win. Sometimes you have to rethink how you deliver services to your customers rather than just making a bad situation a bit more bearable.