Contact evasion and how to avoid it

Just like taxes, there’s contact avoidance and there’s contact evasion.  One is a perfectly sensible, reasonable response to high volumes of customer contact.  The other lands you in trouble.

Service experiences that make you go grrr…

This weekend, I landed in trouble with a service “experience” (I use the word loosely) provided by a well-known DVD rental company.  I wanted to cancel my subscription.

Despite being a web business, the only way of doing that was to phone.

After twenty minutes of muzak … click.  The phone went dead.  My emotional stance went from “this is a fine company, but just maybe not for me” to “I hate this bunch of time-wasting charlatans”.  Definitely unfair, but that’s customer emotions for you.

What is contact evasion?

Contact evasion is an easy response to high call volumes that makes customers angry.  In a service economy, customer anger is toxic.   From experience, here are the top five contact evasion strategies

  1. Being closed when the customer needs help, e.g. bank branches that are only open in working hours.
  2. Not providing channels that the customer wants to use, e.g. a website that doesn’t provide a phone channel.
  3. Hiding contact details deep in a website or behind a labyrinth multi-level options.
  4. Not empowering or training agents to be able to actually help callers as opposed to just taking messages for other departments.
  5. Glacially slow response times that don’t meet customers’ expectations.

How to avoid contact evasion

There’s no reason why any organisation needs evade customer contact.  What’s needed is an active service management framework that lets you be easily contactable without drinking from the fire hydrant of customer demand for service. The service management framework needs to:

  1. Makes the root causes and cost of contact visible.
  2. Makes expensive, avoidable and unwanted contact the clear responsibility of the team, function or department that actually causes it.  Usually, that’s not the service department!
  3. Builds helpful, highly usable self-service.
  4. Mitigates things that predictably cause peaks in service demand.


About Simon Kirby

Digital strategist, CX advisor and agile Product Owner. My core expertise is aligning the political, strategic and human factors that determine the success of digital, CX and innovation projects. Doing that helps organisations deliver better experiences, happier customers, distinctive propositions and improved commercial bottom-line

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