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Online or Bust: How Customers Are Turning Away from Archaic Call Centres

7th Oct 2014
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Consumer opinions regarding customer service are changing. With the world around us now working on a new time scheme, one based on the immediacy we all enjoy via our online excursions, customers do not expect to be treated in the same monotonous way they had become used to.

Common Complaints

When a customer calls a company wishing to ask a question or make a complaint, there is a pillar-to-post culture which seems prevalent and is constantly scrutinised by customers whose patience is wearing thin. Call centres based overseas, sickly on-hold music and being passed around various members of staff in order to have your query answered are among the top complaints people have regarding customer service, in a list compiled by consumer watchdog Which?.

It may seem like an old-fashioned notion now but one of the top peeves from customers are automated call systems. These have been complained about for years, with the lack of personalised attention being the main cause of displeasure. So if they are so regularly complained about, why has the entire system not been updated and why are companies still expecting customers to deal with archaic methods of communication?

Online Customer Service

It is true that many businesses have realised the effect the Internet has had on consumerism and have changed the way they communicate with customers. With the popularity of social networking, it is now possible for businesses to have their brand online and available at all times, however this must be backed up by a readily communicable team. If this is something do-able, adding it to your existing customer service is advisable in order to capture more customers and communicate in real time. Some top tips for online customer service by Internet resource Mashable include:

Honesty: Being honest with your customers is the best way to inspire confidence and repeat custom. Perhaps there has been a mistake with the product or a customer’s order, but being honest about the mistake and offering a proper solution is better than misleading the customer as to the nature of the mistake.

Ease: The whole point of changing the way you work with customers is to make it easier for them to get what they want and for you as a business to better understand their needs to reach maximum profitability. Therefore, having a straightforward and uncluttered website or social media page helps customers better see themselves communicating with your team.

Knowledge: Being able to answer a query with ease is imperative so staff must be trained to adequately answer whatever the customer may throw at them. With Facebook and Twitter now a massive part of brand marketing, it is important these avenues be properly looked after. Customers may comment on posts and require an answer and because these social sites are so popular, they must be maintained and “manned” so to speak.

SME’s vs. Big Business

It appears as though small to medium enterprises are beating the larger companies as far as innovative customer service goes, often using Facebook, Twitter and similar sites to grow their brand and market their product to a huge audience. Some newer companies even rely entirely on online customer service and are trumping the larger companies who have yet to catch up with the demand for a more regulated digital presence for customers. This MyCustomer post talks also about the demand for online customer service coming up to Christmas.

More Stats

The Which? Report also showed that Npower, Ryanair and Scottish Power were the bottom three when it came to call centre based customer service, with Npower receiving the lowest rating due to their constant telephone sales.

Again with online, rather than calling customers at home and pestering them for business, marketing new ideas and products online allows the consumer to have power over when and if they view such advertisements, however the product is always there ready to be seen.

Vacuum distributor has been in business for decades and has seen the changing face of consumerism. They believe the answer is honesty in communication as per above – be this online or offline:

“Looking after your customers inspires them to come back. Being understanding, accessible and allowing customers to choose how and when they can contact you is so important. has multiple online contact channels and their sister company has readily available social media channels for customers, offering them choice and making sure that even a classic brand like Henry Hoover can still make it in to the hearts of customers every day for years to come.”

New businesses are more and more likely to be working primarily online and many are run without a call centre budget, meaning customer queries are often answered digitally; a feature the modern consumer seems to favour.

If the larger companies continue to operate via telephone for the majority of their queries, they may find themselves alienating not only the younger consumers who spend a large majority of the day online, but also older generations who are now coming to expect something new and different from their service providers.


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