Web sites and call centres can make or break customer satisfaction. They are expensive to set up and expensive to maintain but when organisational efficiency is allowed to trump customer satisfaction, the customer experience suffers – and poor customer satisfaction eventually hits the bottom line.
In my last blog, I discussed web sites; this time I’m going to consider call centres.
It’s becoming harder and harder to speak to a real person in large organisations. Call centres seem to be designed with the fortifications of medieval castles – with stealthy messages urging you to the website, dire warnings about the queue length and endless, often meaningless instructions to press buttons. All that’s missing is burning pitch and boiling water.
For many callers, ringing the call centre is a last resort when the website has failed to provide a solution – in which case, being told to go back to the website is less than helpful. Once the call centre fortifications have been breached, it frequently feels as if operators are under pressure to answer more calls in ever shorter time periods.
The impact of all this on customer satisfaction and the customer experience is corrosive.
But these are difficult economic times and balancing organisational efficiency with customer satisfaction is a tough call. Moving call centres off-shore has provided significant savings for many organisations, but were these worthwhile savings, given the unpopularity of off-shore call centres with customers?
A number of organisations, such as BT, Powergen and Santander, are now bringing call centres back to the UK. This begs the question “why were their call centres off-shored in the first place?” Or to put it another way, “why was organisational efficiency allowed to trump customer satisfaction and the customer experience?” These questions go to the heart of organisational culture.
For these organisations, improving customer satisfaction will be much more complex than simply on-shoring their call centres. The fact that they were prepared to send their call centres overseas suggests to me that they either knew little about the customer experience or placed insufficient importance on it in the first place.