I've got call centres on my mind. This is a not particularly pleasant position to be in, but events have rather conspired against me this week so it's perhaps inevitable.
I've been pretty lucky on the old cold calling front of late, but this week they all ganged up on me and decided that I really didn't want to watch Eastenders and I'd much rather talk to someone about insurance and mobile phones and stairlifts.
That last one was really the final straw! I mean cold calling is bad enough but ineptly targeted cold calling is the worst. "At this time of year, have you considered the need for a stairlift, something to help you up that long and winding road to bed?" intoned some muppet reading from her script.
I was so struck dumb that she clearly took it as encouragement and ploughed on with added enthusiasm, almost ramping up to indifferent in her delivery. "As the years creep by those steps upstairs can become a mountain to climb," she droned.
At this point I began to gather my wits a bit more. Realising that the computer had somehow confused me with the late Dame Thora Hird and decided that I needed the domestic equivalent of an Alton Towers theme ride in my house, I put the phone down.
She rang back!
Toughened by this experience I was ready for the next one. Morgan Stanley. Was now a good time to talk? No, I said. When would be a good time? The tenth of never, I replied. Morning or afternoon, said the caller... No, seriously - his auto pilot was set to maximum and wasn't about to risk interference from listening to what was being said to him.
It still astonishes me that call centres persist in this scattergun approach to customer contact and outreach. I don't know why, I should be used to it by now I suppose.
But somehow things still manage to disappoint me. But maybe I shouldn't be that surprised. This week I've sent three emails to an organisation using their "contact us" facility on their web site.
I have had no response to any of my emails.
I have had no acknowledgement of receipt of the emails.
I haven't even had an 'Out of the office' message.
The organisation? The Customer Contact Association. Mission: "the continuous professional development of contact centres, and the people employed within them" and the promotion of professional standards in customer contact management.
Best practice in action? I think not...
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