Call centres still putting users off

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Eight out of 10 service providers believe that they provide a 'superior customer experience' through their call centres, but fewer than one in 10 customers agree..

The stark anomaly was revealed during research conducted by marketing firm Benchmark Research, and reflects a significant gap in the perceived performance of call centres.

The study found that the vast majority of consumers base their judgement of a company's image through their interaction with the contact centre.

Well over half, in fact, would stop using a company's goods or services if they had a bad call centre experience.

Telecoms hardware manufacturer Nortel believes that the problem stems largely from poor metrics used by companies to measure their performance.

Charlie Wade, vice president of enterprise product marketing at Nortel, explained that many call centre managers measure only statistics such as number of calls answered or missed and average waiting times.

However, there is seldom any indication of whether the customer was put through to the correct person or whether the query was dealt with successfully.

"Getting a call answered quickly is less important than getting through to the right person," said Wade.

Another bone of contention for many customers is the reliance on the phone as a way of interacting with a company.

As internet access becomes increasingly prevalent, Nortel has seen a rise in the number of customers demanding alternative methods of dealing with queries.

Wade reckons that companies need to incorporate email and instant messaging into the contact centre as a way of allowing customers to deal with problems or get answers to questions quickly.

"There is a marked increase in those seeking to move to a multi-channel service, but companies need to ensure that every avenue is as robust as the traditional route, including web interaction."

Wade also believes that companies need to bring the "island of specialist technology that is the contact centre" into a more integrated and flexible environment which is embedded in business development.

He explained that, although computer-telephone integration been around for years, the technology can now be integrated more tightly into other systems such as CRM, workflow, fleet management, databases and back-office applications.

This would allow staff to provide up-to-date and highly relevant information to callers as quickly as possible.
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