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Blast Those Call Centres!

Two of my customers happened to meet in my office a few days ago. And, just by chance, they got talking about the problems that they experience when trying to phone their bank.

Now I do not want to shame the bank by naming them. The complaints have already been made known so let’s give them a chance to fix the problem. However, the experiences of these people does make interesting reading. Especially if you are considering introducing a call centre system.

One of these customers, Brian, wanted to speak to his bank manager urgently. The bank is located about one mile from Brian’s office but Brian was put off visiting the bank because of problems with traffic and parking in that part of town. So Brain decides to telephone his bank manager.

It’s probably also worth mentioning that Brian is a very successful businessman and is considered to be a premier customer by his bank – not that it should really make any difference.

Brian makes the call and gets through to a call centre in a completely different part of the country. Here’s how the call was handled:-

Call centre: “Good morning. ABC Bank, customer services this is Suzie speaking. How may I help you?”

Brian: “Good morning. Can I speak to John Smith, please?”

The call centre, then asks Brian for his name, his company name and his account number.

Call centre: “I’m sorry. That line is engaged.”

Brian: “That’s okay, I’ll hold on.”

Call centre: “I’m sorry but I’m not allowed to put you on hold.”

Brian: “Well can you put me through to someone else in that branch?”

Call centre: “I’m sorry. All lines to that branch are engaged.”

Brian decided to leave a message for his manager to call him back.

Two days later, Brian has still not heard from his bank manager so he calls again. Once again the call centre answers, takes all Brian's details but cannot connect his call or put him on hold.

In desperation, Brian asks for the fax number of his branch. He then types out a fax asking for his manager, or anyone from the bank to call him. When he tries to send the fax, the number is unobtainable.

Brian jumps into his car, does battle with the traffic, manages to park and eventually gets to the counter of his bank.

Brian: “I’ve been trying to phone you and when I couldn’t get through I tried to send you a fax.”

Bank receptionist: “Oh. We disconnected that fax number a few weeks ago.”

All of this seemed quite amusing until I tried to call my bank this week. I spent just over 3 hours trying to speak to someone that could help me complete a simple payment transaction.

So what do we learn from all this?

  1. The customer’s perception of his bank is a branch. It’s a building with a number of people in it. The customer expects to be able to phone the number for that branch and get through to someone at that branch – not a call centre in a remote part of the country.

  • The customer expects that everyone within that branch will work together as a Team. That if a problem needs to be transferred it will do so seamlessly.

  • That the bank will make sure that everyone knows its phone and fax numbers in the system.

  • Where I think that the call centre system has gone wrong is that it makes certain assumptions. It assumes that:-

    1. Telephone calls can be handled more efficiently by one purpose built centre.

  • That the customer can still dial his local branch number. That it doesn’t matter where that centre is geographically. Despite the fact that variations of accent will immediately tell the customer that he’s not through to the local branch.

  • That efficient telephone technique is simply a matter of operating a system and that understanding the psychology of the call is not important.

  • That having got all the calls being handled centrally, it’s possible to reduce the number of people providing service at the branch.

  • I remember a little business joke about a printer who had a sign that read, “You can have it cheap. You can have it quick. You can have great quality. Pick any one of these three options.”

    I think that the banks have decided that we’d all like to have it cheap.

    Hmmm. Something to think about!

    Derek Williams is creator of The WOW! Awards™ and Chief Executive for the Society of Consumer Affairs Professionals in Europe.

    For more information about Derek Williams visit http://www.MrWow.co.uk For The WOW! Awards (including access to a FREE customer service newsletter) visit http://www.TheWowAwards.com

    Source: www.articletrader.com