Research reveals brands’ alarming reliance on informal untrained service staffby
A new investigation into customer service in the UK has revealed that there is a “secret army” of untrained customer service workers that are taking up the slack from the official service staff.
According to research conducted by 8x8, for every ‘formal’ contact centre worker in the UK, there are a further six that have responsibility for dealing with enquiries but have received no formal training.
A study last year by ContactBabel estimates that there are 766,000 people working in contact centres in the UK. But 8x8’s research suggests that a further 4.6 million additional staff deal with customer service enquiries, that lack the support or training as those who work in service full-time.
This is despite the demands on service staff becoming more complex.
As part of the report, Censuswide polled 500 of these “unofficial” service staff - employees who deal with customer service enquiries in businesses but do not work in a customer service department or contact centre.
And many voiced concerns related to the complexity of the role, particularly in light of the volume of channels that customers use to contact the business.
More than four in ten (46%) say they haven’t had enough training – or any at all – on how to deal with clients over the phone. But in addition to this, over half (51%) reported an increase in customers getting in touch via social media, email and webchat in recent months – and only a third (34%) reported they were very confident handling multiple service enquiries across different channels.
Staff said they were most perplexed by the world of social media, with 60% saying they would like more training in this area.
“When people think of customer service, they instantly think about aircraft hanger sized contact centres full of headset-wearing agents. This research confirms this is a complete misconception: there are more than six times as many people working in ‘informal contact centres’ than there are in official ones,” says Kevin Scott-Cowell, UK MD of 8x8. “This secret army is still having to communicate professionally with customers across multiple channels, but in most instances they haven’t been trained and don’t feel confident doing so.”
For more stats from this report, watch the following video infographic:
Neil Davey is the managing editor of MyCustomer. An experienced business journalist and editor, Neil has worked on a variety of newspapers, magazines and websites over the past 20 years, including Internet Works, CXO magazine and Business Management. He joined MyCustomer in 2007.