Tuesday, 11 March 2008

Cutting Edge – Phone Rage (Channel Four, 6th March 2008)

So Channel Four has uncovered deep customer dissatisfaction with call or contact centres; with outsourcing overseas; on-hold music; voice managers – press one for; and the like…

How did the programme inform – is it representative of the call centre industry or just of EVERY company that has a telephone help desk, enquiry line, complaints’ department, etc., etc.?

What the programme failed to address is why many of these ‘departments’ have to exist in the first place. If companies took advantage of the vast amount of information being provided by their customers, when they bother to call, they could easily overcome many of the issues raised. A highly experienced colleague once continuously asserted in training, "that a complaint is a positive buying signal" – and whilst at the time it always seemed bizarre – over the years it is clear she was absolutely right.

Why do companies fail to engage with their customer facing staff – whether in-house or outsourced - and use the information that is provided daily to enhance and improve their product and service offering?

What became clear is that people are principally calling because of a process failure – they were less concerned with where the call was answered but more with how quickly their problem was resolved. Was it resolved without multiple call transfers, did they have to re-explain the issue, were staff empowered to make decisions?

For many businesses the focuses of their call centre – in-house or outsourced – are call length and cost; they are still rarely about customer and service insight; about relationship development and sales opportunities (even when things go wrong!) and that, for me, is where the programme missed its Cutting Edge opportunity.

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