Will abolishment of premium-rate helplines lead to spike in contact centre calls?by
The new Directive on Consumer Rights came into effect last month, putting an end to the premium rates that customers are often charged when calling helplines. The guidelines state: “Where the trader operates a telephone line for the purpose of contacting him by telephone in relation to the contract concluded, the consumer, when contacting the trader is not bound to pay more than the basic rate.”
This means that consumers who need to call expensive 087 and 084 numbers may now do so without the fear of a subsequent hefty phone bill. So it's good news for customers, but what does this mean for businesses?
As well as making money for their organisations, it’s likely these premium-rate lines have also been putting budget-conscious customers off picking up the phone. This may well have been resulting in far lower call volumes than what helplines would see if they only charged a basic rate.
This theory is about to be put to the test as traders, as of last Friday, have been barred from charging callers premium rates. As a result, many contact centre and customer service executives may be beginning to panic as they anticipate the floodgates opening and call volumes rising to well above capacity. This could mean poorer service and less-satisfied customers.
However, businesses may be getting flustered over nothing. Dave Ogden, account executive at Aspect Software, thinks that this shift should be seen as positive and that it presents an opportunity for organisations, rather than a threat.
“With no premium rates, there is the possibility that companies will receive more calls, and it’s understandable why they might be worried,” he said. “It’s always difficult to appease a customer if something goes wrong – typically, you’ll have to offer them something in the way of compensation such as a discount to a monthly subscription, or a refund. However, by addressing them in a customer-focused way, you will undoubtedly retain a greater percentage of your consumer base as, had they not called, they are most likely to have gone to a competitor.
“Most customer interaction also provides you with a better view of the products and services you offer. If there is a recurring theme within the complaints, it makes you aware of this – you can resolve it and prevent future escalations. This creates a happier customer base with much more loyalty.
“If companies are worried that an increase of calls could result in a lower quality of customer service, then it’s important they look at their customer service strategies – are these capable of handling extra contact? If they’re not, it might be time to see what other strategies are available and find a solution that offers 100% customer experience.”
Ogden argues that developing contact centre strategies beyond telephone is already a necessary measure to take in order to please the modern customer – regardless of the new directive. “It’s important customer service strategies are aligned to the modern customer as, in today’s world, customers expect 24/7 support and contact through different channels and devices – including smartphones, tablets and social media – as well as fast and immediate feedback. If a company has a multi-channel contact centre environment, then abolishing premium rate numbers shouldn’t cause any issues as customers have already been using other preferred contact channels to solve their problems.”
He concludes: “Change is always difficult, but I think this creates a great opportunity to deepen the relationship you have with your customers, clearly differentiate yourselves from the competition and thus increase business strategy and revenues.”
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