UK customers are hacked off with bad customer service. Oh and Queen Anne is dead, the Pope is Catholic and bears do defectate in arborial environments.
It is tempting to argue that the conclusions of RightNow's survey into UK attitudes to customer service are really a statement of the obvious. But there are some interesting implications from the findings.
For example, the listing of the top frustrations in dealing with call centres: being put on hold for a long time, automated voice response that does not include the option you need, inconsistent / inaccurate information, automated menus that seem to travel in circles, call centre representatives that cannot help you, having to repeat account information to representatives, too many touch tone menu choices to remember and the inevitable being transferred to someone else.
I've had similar experiences myself this week. AOL, which is taking two payments from me from a duplicate account which they admit is a mistake, passed me around 3 Indian call centre operatives before refusing to do anything about the problem this week. Morgan Stanley's call centre people have had a good time phoning me up about a credit card statement that didn't arrive until this morning - four days after they started pestering me about it. And on and on and on...
After so many years of writing about CRM and customer management, I am still flabbergasted by the sheer level of incompotence of organisations in their call centre strategies. At a roundtable organised by MIS magazine this week, attendees commented that one of the problems leading to this situation was that various components of CRM are tackled individually rather than as a complete business model challenge.
Personally, I think that while that is undoubtedly a valid argument there is a far simpler one. Most call centre strategies are based around cutting costs and coming up with the economical model for handling contact with those irritating creatures - the customers. They are not based around enabling better customer interaction, but cheaper customer interaction.
This is clearly a false economy. Slashing costs means slashing service to my mind. Winning back business is costly exercise. Once I'm finally free of AOL taking money off me that they're not entitled to, I'll be washing my hands of them forever and a day. It'd cost them a lot of marketing effort to get me interested again.
UK consumers can vote with their business to tackle the problem of poor customer service - it's just that we sort of generally don't. Have we really become so browbeaten that we just accept poor service as a fact of life? Americans wouldn't, why do we? I expect to be treated appallingly when I call a call centre. I am rarely disappointed. In its own right, that's incredibly disappointing...
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