Boss Lady

Hate call centres? You’re not alone


When was the last time you used a call centre? And was it a great experience? I’d safely bet not. In fact, new research has revealed that a huge 64% of Australians* say that they hate call centres following a bad experience with them. On top of that, 43% admit they wish they never had to use them again. That’s nearly half of Australians.

These statistics are hard to hear, having built my career around leading contact centres, which is why I’ve decided to talk out about the ways companies can make sure their contact centres are really working for them, not against them. Here are my top tips for companies wanting to get ahead in this space:

Know your product:

The feedback that I hear time and time again is that contact centre staff don’t know their product well enough to be able to assist customers. It’s clear that really knowing your product is key when dealing with customer complaints, so make sure any staff members know your product inside out before dealing with customers. Customers simply want the quickest resolution, which requires teams to be crystal clear about the company they work for and its offerings. There’s nothing more frustrating than dealing with someone who simply doesn’t know what they’re talking about.

Don’t pass people around:

42% of 18-25 year olds we surveyed said that being passed around was the main reason for their negative sentiment towards contact centres. Customers need contact centre staff to be able to handle their enquiry quickly and efficiently so that it produces the least amount of pain possible. Let’s face it, being on a call for hours and speaking to five different people, none of whom seem able to help you, isn’t going to make you a fan of a company.

Courtesy is king:

We found that 30% of 50-57 year olds would actively tell others not to use a company’s call centre if they were mistreated. In a hyper competitive world where there is endless choice at the click of a button, courtesy towards and gratitude for the customer choosing your product needs to be exercised and authentically delivered. Or, they will simply go elsewhere.

Regular updates:

If the matter cannot be resolved immediately by the call centre member, customers need to receive regular updates that negate any additional frustration. Going this extra mile will be much appreciated and will surprise and delight them into potentially becoming an advocate for the brand.

Interestingly, many of the common complaints were attributed to internationally based contact centres, over locally based ones. However, it wasn’t all bad news. In fact, 36% of people surveyed had had positive experiences with call centres. The reasons they gave were their issues being resolved quickly (33%), staff members clearly comprehending what the issue was instantly (31%), staff members really knowing their stuff (25%), and staff members who showed empathy towards the situation (9%) and other reasons (2%).

This research has clearly provided valuable insights for us and other companies that use contact centres, to not only improve their offering but educate their staff members.

A need that we hear time and time again from our clients is the importance of empathy in their staff members, both when dealing with customers and when resolving their issues. Empathy is therefore the first quality we test for to ensure potential staff are able to deliver the best possible customer service for our clients, their brands and ultimately the most important stakeholder – the customer.

With years of damage caused by questionable call centre practices, there is still much work to be done by the industry. To avoid the backlash we are still seeing from Australian consumers who have unfortunately had negative experiences, we look for people who not only have the emotional intelligence, but the overall understanding of the bigger picture and how every customer touch point can make or break brand reputation.

*Research was conducted and analysed by The Digital Edge Research Company. The data is based on analysis of over 1,000 Australians responses in September 2018. The ages used for this study were 18 – 57+ years old, and consisted of a mix of both male and female respondents.

About Gordana Smith

Citrus Group Co-Founder, Gordana Smith co-pioneered Australia’s first ever specialised call centre recruitment agency in 1996. Citrus prides itself on spearheading the transformation that the industry is undergoing currently with many clients transitioning from off shore to locally based contact centres. The company offers efficient and effective talent sourcing, facilitate flexible workplace arrangements, and ensure strong staff retention.

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