Consumers still in the dark about role of contact centres
Contact centres need to do more to improve the public’s view of them. Despite the industry’s ongoing efforts, a YouGov survey on behalf of Aquarium Software revealed the first thought of almost nine in ten Brits when answering the phone to a contact centre is the expectation they are going to be sold something. Aquarium says contact centres need to meet the challenges of customer service issues and technology is the key to turning negative consumer perceptions around.
“For the four per cent of contact centres exclusively sales based, the findings may not cause concern, but for the vast majority, these results are worrying,” said Ed Shropshire, Managing Director of Aquarium Software. The split between sales and service currently sits at 75/25 in favour of service, so more needs to be done to make the facts known and address the underlying concerns of the public exposed by these findings.”
It is not just sales tactics contact centres have problems with and Ed argues the best way to challenge negative perceptions is to communicate with customers, inbound and outbound, by whichever channel they demand. Some consumers prefer an email or a text and contact centres need to be flexible enough to address fluctuating consumer preferences.
“The successful contact centres of the future will be those that meet new challenges and technology is the linchpin to improving the customer journey,” explained Ed. “Modern omnichannel systems synchronise everything and allow businesses to communicate with customers by their preferred method. If a customer is asking you a question via Twitter, a reply via phone call is unlikely to be appreciated. Only the right software can allow contact centres to interact with customers in a way they find acceptable.”
Poor customer service can lead to reputational damage. A satisfaction survey, for Which Magazine, based on factors including staff knowledge, phone menu system, politeness, helpfulness and waiting times, named BT, TalkTalk and Scottish Power as some of UK’s the worst offenders. In the same survey, 95 per cent of people said they thought calls should be answered within five minutes.
“To change public opinion, the best place to start is with institutional culture,” added Ed. “There are always going to be a small minority who do engage in unsolicited selling, but for the bona fide, technology can deliver the improved customer journey and standard of service everyone wants. This will show the public that contact centres are a valuable and worthwhile resource.”