I presume no-one’s going to be surprised at the revelations from Mintel this week that we don’t like using call centres. According to research carried out by the company, 90 per cent of us find our call centre experiences annoying and frustrating. It seems that being forced to listen to Gareth Gates murder Suspicious Minds while waiting to argue with an operator who’s probably not going to help you anyway is not everyone’s idea of fun.
Tell me about it! I’ve just had to change all my address and contact details with banks, utilities and so forth. It’s been a startling experience, exposing how appalling and inept some companies are at doing something as simple as changing your post code on their records.
Some firms do it very well of course. The Mintel survey picked out financial services companies as being among the better call centre operators and on the whole I’d have to agree. First Direct have long prided themselves on their customer service levels, while MBNA were sweet as a nut about taking down the new details. Full marks also to Virgin Mobile for making it a painless experience.
But then there’s Barclays which has so far had four completed bank forms, two letters and 5 phone calls and still hasn’t managed to change my address details on their records four weeks after I initially contacted them. Or London Electricity whose operators are apparently incapable of explaining their own documentation once you’ve penetrated the muzak – Kylie this time I think - to find someone to answer the phone,
It does beggar belief that in our increasingly call centre-centric culture, so many companies are seemingly incapable of managing their operations in a customer friendly way. If you choose to make your call centre the front line in your contact with your customers and then make that front line impossible or aggravating to negotiate, then why are you surprised when your customer churn rates soar?
My Barclays experience has been positive – for First Direct who are about to get all my business from now on. No doubt this will send the Barclays customer services people into a frenzy of sending me letters urging me to change my mind. Still , that won’t matter – after all, they’ll be sending them to the wrong address!