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Why do we hate call centres?

26th Jul 2006
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They have a dreadful reputation and almost no-one looks forward to using one. Millions of calls are abandoned each year losing businesses big money. So how have things got so bad at call centres?

Business and public service call centres are losing money every second because they are managed so poorly. In the UK last year alone, nearly 18% of new agents left within six months of joining their company.

Yet this is a growth area. It’s estimated that 1 million people will work in a call or contact centre by 2007. There are currently around 4500 contact centres in Britain with that number expected to rise to 6,000 by

But there’s no doubt customers are fed up. Research has shown that people simply want to speak to knowledgeable, friendly and clearly spoken staff. They don’t want to be read scripts. They hate queues, the recorded
message saying their call is important (even after 20 minutes of waiting), and having to repeat their details when passed between departments. Is there any way round these problems?

Yes, say Ian Munro and Judith Pokora who with over 30 years collective industry experience created They are among only a handful of people in the UK trying to tackle the problems. They are consumer champions and can help anyone get the best from a call centre.

They are "highly suspicious of the recent (2005) DTI report which the then DTI Secretary of State, Patricia Hewitt, said 'shows that we have a vibrant call centre industry in the UK.' Our independent evidence suggests the contrary. Currently the industry is unregulated with no independent body to represent the views of consumers."

The pair believe that work done at public service contact centres is wildly inefficient, claiming almost double the workload could be handled by up to 50% less resource. This would have a dramatic impact on the amount of money available to the Government to spend where it is most needed.

They plan to set up a “Centre of Excellence” to show companies from board level down how it should be done. Having already worked with the likes of AXA, Hutchinson 3G and HBOS where they have made swift, dramatic and profitable changes, they believe they can have a major impact on the way we do business in this country.

They know call centres are not going to go away – that’s something consumers are going to have to face.

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By julianbuck
05th Sep 2006 16:56

or at least I don't hate one of them.

First Direct (and I can hear us all sighing because they are all too frequently quoted) have designed their call centres perfectly.

For me - this is all about the people. Their technology, processes and procedures, standard and quality are all essential to them. But their success is in the personality/character of the people they employ together with the freedom and decision making authority management obviously provide them.

They are the model. May all call centres of the future use them as their case study.

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