Survey names most common frustrations with call centers

Call center frustrations

Call center frustrations can leave you in knots. Do they really need to happ

Aurix recently released a survey naming the biggest frustrations that callers have with call centers. There are some interesting points in there, and while the survey does not necessarily represent the general population, given the small size of 105 respondents and the online format, it does point out some concerns that many people are likely to find very familiar.

The survey named the following as the biggest frustrations that respondents have with call centers:

73.3% Poor communication, either in terms of language or tone

52.4% Robot-like agents (inability of agents to deviate from script)

45.7% Trying to sell you something when you call to make a complaint

41.9% Failing to fulfill promises (e.g., not getting back to you)

30.5% Poor listening

21.9% Rude or unpleasant manner

11.4% Insensitivity when you have a personal request

Those complaints probably sound all too familiar to anyone who had ever picked up a phone. However, there is one more result from the survey that is also well worth noting… only 1.9% of the respondents said that they had no frustrations with call center agents.

What gives? Companies have been dealing with clients since the first wheels were sold by cave-to-cave salesmen. Given the importance of customer support to virtually any company, and the millions that get spent on maintaining call centers and training staff, you would think that companies would have this down to a science by now.

In fact, many do in terms of understanding what needs to be done and even how to do it. Their customer-service strategies and protocols are often well researched and carefully documented. However, few companies manage to ever translate that into meaningful and effective customer care. Uncaring agents are still populating the Earth in record numbers, while caring agents seem to perennially be on some protected-species list. And as we mentioned in our last post on social media and customer service, even companies that make great efforts to innovate in their client care will still often fail miserably when it comes to giving basic support day after day.

As so often happens, the solution is really not that complex or surprising. The steps are simple enough to name:

  1. Develop and implement a customer-service strategy and protocols.
  2. Hire and train a caring team of professionals.
  3. Keep them employed so that you are not continually caught in a replace-and-retrain treadmill.
  4. Monitor the performance of your strategy, protocols and agents, and improve as needed.

See? Simple to state. Yet seemingly impossible for most companies to execute.

If you’re operating a call center and have an uncomfortable feeling that some of those survey respondents may have had you in mind as they answered those questions, you’ll find good value in assessing which of those four points are the ones causing your call center to fall short, and what you can do about it. And if you feel the solution is beyond your grasp at this point, we’d love to chat to see if our call center might be the solution you need. We have to admit though, that while there’s always room to get even better (and we aggressively pursue it), at Tacamor we’ve successfully implemented that formula for quite some time now. Our agents are exceptionally nice people who win the hearts of our clients and their customers by responding to concerns with genuine care for each caller. And whereas other call centers often need to replace their agents within months, weeks, or even days of being hired, we prefer to work with ours for years… or even keep them!

What are your call center frustrations? As a manager, owner, agent, or caller, what leaves you in knots? And have you found solutions you’d like to share? Let us know. Maybe together we can find a solution for your frustrations!

Are your call center and your customer service holding hands?

Are your call center and customer service in sync?

Are your call center and customer service in sync?

Bruce Temkin of The Temkin Group has just written a very interesting blog post where he notes Comcast’s widely known and very commendable activity on social media such as Twitter. Comcast has become the stuff of legends for the way their team — and even their CEO — are always monitoring mentions of their name and responding personally to discuss how they can address the clients’ complaints. Impressive.

But as Temkin puts it, Comcast suffers from schizophrenia. Despite its exemplary interactions, the company still has a seriously troubled customer service record, ranking 125th and 126th out of 133 companies in Forrester’s 2010 Customer Experience Index. They did manage to climb all the way to third place on one important list, but it was unfortunately MSN Money’s 2010 Customer Service Hall Of Shame.

What gives? How can a company get hugs and kudos for its proactive attention to its customers at the same time that so many of those customers give them a thumbs down? The answer comes down to that immutable business principle that we all learn way too early in life:

Talk is cheap.

It’s relatively easy to listen and respond with a caring voice. Companies around the world employ call centers like ours to do that. The good news at Tacamor and other quality call centers is that we genuinely do care. We’re happy to listen, and find it rewarding when we can indeed help. In fact, we are proud to have played a role when one of our clients, Thumbplay, won very prestigious customer service awards based upon their level of care and responsiveness.

However, it’s not enough to just have nice people answering your phones or emails or chatting with clients on Twitter or Facebook. A few things need to happen before having a great call center can really transform or even improve a company’s customer service:

  • The call center agents and processes need to be good, able to accurately capture customers’ concerns and let those customers know that their cares have been heard and will be addressed.
  • The call center should ideally be empowered to address client issues by having direct access to and the ability to update callers’ accounts.
  • The call center and the head of customer service should have an ongoing dialogue, so that comments coming in from customers are being heard and responded to at the highest levels, rather than simply being addressed for each caller.
  • The addressing and even prevention of customer concerns should be seen as one of the most important roles the company plays, day in and day out.
  • New trends such as Twitter, Facebook and other social media should certainly be employed, but as a means to improve your core focus of customer care, rather than just a new marketing tactic.

Perhaps the most fascinating aspect of all of this is that there is nothing in there that will be completely new to most companies. Virtually any manager anywhere would say that it’s all stuff they already knew. Yet, as Comcast shows us all too well, knowing doesn’t necessarily translate into doing. Companies need to make sure their call center and other points of contact with customers are part of a seamless and continuous two-way flow of information, or else they may themselves be feeling some of the effects of customer service schizophrenia.

Take a look at your own organization’s call center, and your customer service and social media activities. Run through those points one by one, and ask how well you measure up. Now ask your call center team and your customers the same question. If the answers are not all what you want to hear, it’s time to start making some changes. Let us know if Tacamor can help. The good news is, that with modern business medicine and the right team, schizophrenia can be beaten.

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