Recent research by branding agency, Smith and Milton has made me rather worried about the damage poor call centre service can do to a business. The research found that nearly nine out of ten consumers are likely to switch financial service providers following a poor phone experience. Furthermore, 71% also said that this really affects their impression of a brand. Concerning, to say the least.
Poor service aside, the offshore call centre phenomenon of the last decade has really impacted the trust many businesses have with the public. Consumers don’t like being lied to and knowing an agent is giving you a false name in the misguided attempt to connect with the person on the other end of the line has left a sour taste in the mouths of many. Similarly, the agent pretending the weather is the same where they are as where you are, to indicate they’re in the same place when they’re not, is an equally transparent falsity. It’s just not genuine and from the get-go, callers are put on edge.
Despite the poor reputation of offshore call centres, and even the increasing competition from social media as a communications channel for customer services and sales, the public still love to pick up the phone. There’s just nothing quite like speaking to a real person. When people have a complicated and long-winded complaint, or a question they would like to address with a company, they need a human voice to convey empathy. The Smith and Milton research clearly indicates the continued importance of the call centre. Further supporting this view, Stockport Council in Greater Manchester, UK, recently revealed that it received 485,000 phone calls in the last year, compared with just 42,000 emails. It’s likely to be a similar story for other councils and businesses.
But let’s put things into perspective; being the most popular option doesn’t equate to success. In many cases ringing a call centre is a necessity, especially if communications over social media, email or snail mail go unanswered or the responses are unsatisfactory. Call centres were designed to help large organisations streamline customer interaction, but the value of them to a business boils down to the quality of service they provide.
If you can’t get customer service right, it devalues the role the call centre has to play in business. Like many things in life, a back to the basics approach can be the best way to mitigate some of the biggest problems in call centres today. It might seem like common sense, but sometimes we all need reminding about the basics.
In my series of blogs, I’m going to take a closer look at some of these basics and the repercussions of not following them. From putting the right numbers in place for customers to contact you to making sure employees have appropriate training, I’ll look at where organisations are getting it right, where they’re getting it horribly wrong, and how support levels are monitored to ensure standards are kept consistently high.
Publish Date: October 6, 2014 4:00 PM