Customers Say “That’s Stupid” to Call Center Methods

Call Center customers are not happyAn online survey of consumers reveals that they don’t get good service from call centres.

àreté business services decided to undertake an online survey of UK consumers in order to understand their opinions of the calls centres with which they deal and the high level findings of this survey, to which over 60 people responded, are examined here.

Consumers say they don’t get good service from call centres, with a staggering majority finding they need to make repeat calls to get things done. The issues highlighted that most annoyed people were around inordinate queuing and holding, unnecessary and unhelpful IVR and call routing mechanisms, and standardisation/ scripting of calls.

People are generally against the idea of off shoring, either in principle or because of service, language or staff treatment issues, with half of respondents saying they might or definitely would take their business away from a company if it sent its call centre operations to a cheaper offshore location.

Consumers believe that the target-driven approach to call centre management is stupid and they would prefer staff to take as long as it takes to deal with their call and do everything right first time.

“It’s madness that call centres have become so internally focussed they’ve forgotten the customers they exist to serve,” says Alison J Widdup, Managing Director of àreté business services ltd. “Companies need to learn to look at themselves from the customer’s perspective and design their services against customer needs and wants– it’s not just excellent customer service, it’s cost-effective too!”

Mark Bradley, author of ‘Inconvenience Stores: One Year in UK Customer Service’ and lead assessor for the Unisys/ Management Today Service Excellence Awards agrees. “Contact centre employees, in my experience, are constrained by a way of thinking that would be more in tune with the industrial revolution than in the service industries of the UK today. Organisations must recognise that their processes must be driven by both customers and employees if they want to differentiate. Very few come up to scratch.”

Here are the main findings of the survey:

1. No-one said they received “Excellent” service from call centres.
Indeed only 7% said they rated the service they get from the call centres they deal with as “Good”. 34% said the service they got was “Satisfactory”. This means that some 56% of the respondents replying adversely, saying that the service was either “not very good” (31%) or “very poor” (25%).

2. 19% of comments describing what made call centre service good said “They can help you”, which included responses such as “when they can help you straight away/ 1st time”, “empowered to act/ can make decisions/ use their initiative” “they do what I ask” and “accuracy”. Next, with 16%, was “Prompt response”, which included answers including “prompt response”, “speed”, “get to right person quickly”, and “no queues/ less waiting or holding”. The next two priorities were staff having “the right attitude” (for example “the right attitude”, “friendly, helpful or polite / courtesy”, “personality” and “wanting to help”) and “no rushing” (“take the time to understand my query”, “no rushing or hurrying” and “listening”), being 12% and 8% of comments respectively.

3. Only 2 respondents to the survey said they never have to make repeat calls to make sure things get done right. One person did not respond. This means that some 95% of consumers in the survey said they had to make repeat calls to make sure things were done. More worryingly for the industry, however, some 46% of respondents found they had to make such repeat calls either quite often (23%) or regularly (23%)

4. When asked what made service poor, by far the most popular responses (13.5% of categorised responses) were in relation to connection issues (e.g. queues, holding and getting cut off, not being able to get through), closely followed by issues in relation to IVRs and automated responses (12.8% of categorised responses). The next key area identified (10.9% of categorised responses) was not doing or able to do what’s asked (e.g. not doing what’s asked, failure to follow up, not authorised or able to deal or give right answer).

5. When asked whether they would take their business away from a company if it sent its call centre operations abroad, the responses to the survey were divided. 5% did not respond, and the remaining respondents were split, with a slight majority responding positively to the question. Some 13% of respondents said they would take their business away from a company if it sent its call centre offshore, and 37% said that they might. 20% said they probably would not take their business away if a company off shored its call centre, and only a quarter of respondents said they would not take their business away in this circumstance.

6. The survey offered a number of choices to the question “What is most important to you when you contact a call centre?” Just over a third of consumers want to speak to staff that know what they are talking about, and a sixth want call centres to do what they ask right first time. The next two priorities (both with 12% of responses) were that respondents didn’t want to queue for too long and wanted to be able to speak to a person when they did get through.

7. Call centre staff have targets to make sure they don’t spend too long dealing with any one customer’s query. The survey asked which of the following applies most to consumers’ opinion of this statement:

(a) That’s stupid – I want staff to take as long as it takes to deal with my call and do everything right
(b) I don’t have an opinion about this
(c) That’s sensible – managers need staff to work quickly

5 people had no opinion/ did not respond, and only 2 people chose option c, meaning that a staggering 89% of respondents to the survey said that such an approach is stupid and that they want staff to take as long as it takes to deal with their call and do everything right.

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Better for Everyone offers call centre service that are intelligent, full of integrity and initiative, and totally focused on achieving outstanding results.

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