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How rising levels of rude language are harming your call centre

Call centre agents are being subjected to an increasing number of foul-mouthed tirades from frustrated customers - with damaging consequences.

22nd Oct 2019
Contributor MyCustomer
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Call centre agents are being subjected to an increasing number of foul-mouthed tirades by frustrated customers, according to new research, with damaging consequences for staff engagement. 

A review of more than 82 million calls undertaken by speech analytics software provider CallMiner indicated that consumers are becoming increasingly frustrated with issue resolution and are expressing their displeasure with a range of choice language.

But Jeff Gallino, CallMiner’s founder and chief technology officer, warned that the use of offensive language was not simply rude. It was also a “strong indicator that some part of your operation is failing”.

“Offensive language use in the contact centre should be a KPI [key performance indicator] for every company as it negatively impacts customer engagement as well as the working environment for your agents,” he said. “Any way you slice it, when swearing becomes prevalent, you are losing money.”

In a huge 87% of the interactions in which customers used swear words, such language was employed for the duration of the call, with the most common profanities being f**k and (bull)s**t. These were employed in 23% and 22% instances respectively.

Such calls lasted an average of 497 seconds (8.3 minutes) longer than those not peppered with bad language, with swear-free dialogue taking 300 seconds.

The top reasons behind consumer anger, meanwhile, were long wait times (42%), people having to repeat themselves when moving from one contact channel to another (35%) and a failure to have their issue resolved on the first call (27%). Other no-nos were long messages before customers were routed to the right person (22%) and misrouted calls after they had talked to a contact centre agent (21%).

While on the one hand, it was vital in business performance terms to solve such problems, on the other, said Frank Sherlock, CallMiner’s vice president of international, it was important to provide contact centre agents with the necessary training to diffuse difficult scenarios. This is because offensive language not only makes it harder for staff to resolve customer queries but it is also “very likely to impact their mental wellbeing”.

“Swearing and anger must be tracked so that steps can be taken to support agents in how to respond so that they can take the heat out of the situation,” he said.

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By LinkedInUser
23rd Oct 2019 09:46

This comment posted in the MyCustomer LinkedIn group by member Danielle Grisko:

I love that this ties employee health to consumer health, AND highlights the trending problem areas. Strong data here!

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By siluri
24th Oct 2019 10:13

"...the use of offensive language was not simply rude. It was also a “strong indicator that some part of your operation is failing”."

Am reminded of Basil Fawlty's reference to Sybil's specialist subject: "the Bleeding obvious"...

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