What is contact debt?
Updated: Jul 7, 2020
If your customer can’t reach you within (for them) an acceptable timeframe, they will abandon their attempt to contact you for a short time. They will then either try through other channels (e-mail, chat, phone) or wait for a short while before trying again through the same channel. If you don’t respond to a query, you have a debt to that contact (mission incomplete). The sum of your contact debt is the number of contacts that have a need to reach you, but failed when trying to.
For most businesses/organizations, a repeated failure to meet the need means that you’ve lost the customer or their loyalty. That means that the negative debt cycle at least doesn’t increase in all perpetuity.
For other organizations (like banks, hospitals, taxi/transportation) their need can only be fulfilled by the original provider (if my flight is cancelled, I still need to talk to my airline if I’m ever going to leave the airport). This means that I will continuously try to contact my provider until my need is fulfilled. The contact debt hence grows and spirals out of control until you’ve met the entire need.
The real issue is that when you’re in a que, you will wait for some time (highly individual) and take up a place in that que. If I’m behind you and 100 others in that que, I will get demoralized not only because of the length of the que, but from the simple fact that they will handle your issue before mine. This increases the likelihood that I will leave the que. Because in a contact center, I can’t see how quickly the line is moving, and the message of expected waiting times is calculated by the number in the que in front of me (which is a lot). If people drop off, I won’t see it directly, which increases the likelihood of me dropping off and by that continuously increasing the contact debt and a negative, downwards spiral.
How about call backs?