Just cast my eye over the forum here, I can see a thread about hanging up on rude customers but not one about that special breed of 'chatty' customers.
We have a a problem with some of our customers, they like to talk. Sometimes this isn't a problem, 5-10 minutes listening to our customer builds the relationship, we may also be the only outside contact that customer has that day. However, we have an increasing number of customers who chat to our staff in excess of 20mins. The extreme end of this has been 2hours! In the extreme case the customer was obviously suffering some serious personal problems and trauma but our staff are not paid (nor trained!) to counsel or offer therapy. The staff member repeatedly tried to get off the call only for the customer to continue pouring out a tale of woe.
Whilst being as polite and empathic as possible, how would you end the call? Would you, if push came to shove, hang up on the customer? How do you think this would affect your customer service/company reputation? We have considered giving them help line phone numbers, do you think this is appropriate or are we going well over and above our remit?
I'd love some feedback on this issue, none of our staff want to spend hours on the phone listening to a life-story when they can see the phone lines lighting up with orders but they equally don't want to be completely heartless.