Research commissioned by contact centre recruitment agency Citrus Group has revealed that 64 per cent of Australians have had a bad experience when dealing with call centres, with 43 per cent admitting they wish they never had to use them again.
The data also revealed that 18-25 year olds have a particularly low tolerance for call centres, with 72 per cent having had negative experiences, followed by 65 per cent of 26-33 year olds, and 67 per cent of 57-plus year olds.
In terms of what caused these negative experiences, the leading reason was being passed around between staff members (28 per cent), staff members not being able to resolve their issue (24 per cent), and rudeness (15 per cent).
Interestingly, many of the common complaints were also attributed to internationally based contact centres, over locally based ones.
Of the 36 per cent of people who had positive experiences with call centres, the reasons cited were issues being resolved quickly (33 per cent), staff members clearly comprehending what the issue was instantly (31 per cent), staff members really knowing their stuff (25 per cent), and staff members who showed empathy towards the situation (nine per cent) and other reasons (two per cent).
Joint managing director of Citrus Group, Paul Smith said, “This research provides valuable insight into the good and the bad of the call centre sector. Our mission is to focus on sourcing exceptional talent for the Australian call centre industry to help negate the stereotypical negative perception. 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.”
Smith’s tips to call centre success include:
- Knowing your product – along with empathy to their individual situation, 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 per cent of 18-25 year olds we surveyed said that being passed around was main reason for their negative sentiment towards contact centres. Customers need contact centre staff to be able to handle their enquiry so that it produces the least amount of pain possible.
- Courtesy is king – we found that 30 per cent 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.
Smith added: “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.”