Cleaning a Toilet vs. Calling Customer Support: 3 Factors Impacting the Customer Experience

Shep Hyken, a well-known customer service consultant, recently shared that 42% of people would rather clean a toilet than call customer support. This statistic actually didn’t surprise me given how often support experiences leave much to be desired. 

This got me thinking: Why is that the case when none of us would claim to enjoy cleaning a toilet!? And I decided that the reluctance to call customer support came down to three factors: 

  • Control 
  • Time to task completion 
  • And likelihood things are done right the first time

Let’s take a closer look at each of these factors—and how organizations can address them in their customer support initiatives!

3 Factors Impacting the Customer Support Experience

Factor #1: Control

Since I am the one cleaning the toilet, I have control over when and how the job is done and how well it is done. That is not often the case in the support experience. 

Yes, more companies and brands are trying to shift the customer service experience to a self-serve one, where the person needing support can find their own answers via the company’s internet site, user forums, or at worst a chat session. But let’s be honest, these moves are not being done to put the customer in control of the experience; they are being done to save the company money by shifting the experience to lower cost channels and reducing the labor costs in the call center. 

Unfortunately, because these self-serve support initiatives are motivated by a cost-savings lens and not a customer experience one, they are often not executed very well. People can’t find the answer they need online, or the answer doesn’t make sense or completely solve their problem. And chatbots are often effective at solving very simple queries, but not complex ones.

The other reality is that consumers want to interact with a live person. According to, 64% of consumers say access to live people would significantly improve customer experience. So while shifting the support burden to the consumer or low-cost (non-human) channels may save the company money, it is not engendering customer loyalty when that is not how the consumer wants to interact with your company.

Factor #2: Time to Completion

As mentioned, no one enjoys cleaning a toilet, but if we are honest, it takes no more than a couple minutes, less than 10 for even the dirtiest of them. But how many customer-support experiences take only a few minutes? 

It often takes you at least a few minutes to get through the automated phone tree, only to be told your hold time is much longer than a few minutes! While some brands are now using automated callbacks  that adds some convenience in that you don’t have to actually wait on hold (ironically being told how important your call is over and over and over again), how likely is it that you get a call back when it is convenient for you? It’s more likely that you have moved on to other tasks only to be interrupted by that call.

Factor #3: Getting Things Done Right the First Time

Finally, we arrive at the last factor: first-call resolution (as call center leaders call it). I want you to think back to your last few call center interactions: What percentage of the time is your issue really resolved on the first call, with no transfers and no additional hold time? 

Too often the first agent you speak with is either brand new and not trained properly, or the company’s knowledge base does not provide them quick access to the answer to your issue, or they are not empowered to resolve your issue without “supervisor approval” or a transfer to a manager.

There are several problems with how most companies measure first call resolution:

  1. It is not measuring total effort to resolution. Most likely, you have already searched the website or FAQs or user forums and possibly tried the chatbot before getting to a live agent. So it is measuring the call, but not measuring customer time and effort.
  2. If it is measured based on agent data entry, it is not measuring consumer confidence that the issue was resolved and it is making that judgment likely well before the customer has experienced the solution and feels confident it is resolved.
  3. If it is measured based on survey responses, it is not representative of the total customer base, but only those customers who completed the follow-up survey, a small percentage of the customers who contacted customer support.

My colleagues at InMoment often hear me say “every call to the call center is a broken customer experience somewhere upstream.” Given that, your call center is your safety net and last chance to “save” the customer and ensure a continued relationship and extended lifetime value. 

Yet, too many companies see their call center as only a cost and something that can be managed or minimized by reducing headcount and shifting to lower cost channels. This is a financially driven, inside-out view of customer support and not an outside-in, customer-centric approach. 

If companies truly want to reduce the cost associated with customer support, learn from these calls and fix the upstream issues that are creating the need for the calls in the first place. 

Fewer issues, fewer calls, happier customers, better financial outcomes.

How to Improve Contact Center Experiences in 5 Easy Steps

A lot of customer experiences hinge on your contact center’s effectiveness, which is why it’s important to ensure it’s a resource your customers find helpful, professional, and expedient. We’ve learned a lot about how to create and maintain a highly effective contact center over the 17 years we’ve been in the customer experience (CX) biz, and we’ve distilled those learnings into five simple steps you can follow to make sure your own contact center experiences are up to scratch:

  1. Utilize Automation
  2. Explore Customer Issues to Create Self-Serve Content
  3. Engage and Enable Employees
  4. Data Is a Gold Mine
  5. Closing the Loop

Step #1: Utilize Automation

The term ‘automation’ gets a bad rep because a lot of folks associate it with navigating phone trees and having to repeat yourself to a robot listener, but the truth is that automation is incredibly useful when contact centers leverage it correctly. Using automation within online chats or survey feedback, for example, allows your brand to direct customers to solutions for smaller problems. This frees your call center agents up to deal with more complicated problems while also reducing call volumes, saving your brand both time and money.

Step #2: Explore Customer Issues to Create Self-Serve Content

Using feedback to direct customers to solutions is one thing; analyzing that feedback is another, especially if you can leverage a data platform that turns unstructured feedback into actionable intel. This method is extremely helpful for finding recurring problems that your customers might be having, forwarding those issues to a dev team, and creating appropriate self-serve resources that can empower customers to look after themselves. This approach is also helpful for future-proofing your experience before customers may even have an issue.

Step #3: Engage and Enable Employees

This is a big one. It’s not uncommon for brands to “merely” train their employees to handle customers, but organizations can accomplish much more by encouraging employees to share their perspectives on customer problems. In this way, brands can become aware of problems that customers may not have been reporting, while also empowering employees to take Experience Improvement (XI) into their own hands. This is also a great way to demonstrate to your contact center employees that you care about them and the customer experience, turning detractors into promoters.

Step #4: Data Is a Gold Mine

Your brand probably generates mountains of data every day. Having a lot of information is great, but in this day and age, having so much of it can make figuring out where to start difficult. We’ve found that contact center improvement hinges on three kinds of data: customer feedback, social media data, and web analytics. You can complete the puzzle of Experience Improvement by using this information as a backdrop for your organization’s view of your customer. Having all of this data in one place gives your brand a united, holistic perception of the customer, which is vital to knowing how you might make some fixes and refinements to your contact center.

Step #5: Closing the Loop

This step is crucial to making your customers feel cared about. It’s not actually enough to stop at solving the problem; following up with your customers afterward goes a long way toward making them feel cared about as people. In other words, a follow-up lets customers know you’re as interested in the relationship they have with your brand as the transaction. Follow up with employees, too! Gathering intel and opinions from all these folks will give you chances to improve both your contact center and your overall customer experience, strengthening human connections and your bottom line.

Click here to learn even more about these processes in our full-length contact center eBook. We take a deep dive into additional methods and best practices you can leverage to begin improving your contact center, customer experience, and employee experiences today!

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