What’s my line?

Contact centres are in the spotlight again as the Employment Minister, Chris Grayling, used his speech to the Policy Exchange yesterday to argue for the repatriation of overseas call centres to the UK as a valuable means of job creation. Mr Grayling blamed offshoring for poor customer service, stating: “We all know how frustrating it can be speaking to a call centre operator overseas who works from a set script but doesn’t get what your problem is.” Perhaps a somewhat misguided view, claims Jim Close, UK Managing Director at Datapoint, when in fact we should be looking less at geography and more at what causes poor customer service:

“After wading through seemingly endless automated options, customers are often left frustrated when the person they speak to doesn’t understand their problem – either because of the language barrier or, even worse, because their query doesn’t neatly fit into the operator’s pre-prepared script,” he comments.

“Scripted customer service is dated, inefficient, and generally pretty unsatisfying for the customer. By showing this lack of understanding of what a customer needs, it can give the distinct impression that the company simply doesn’t care about the service it delivers.

“This is less of a geographical issue and more about creating knowledgeable, expert advisors, not ‘script jockeys’. Well trained, and with language problems reduced, operators get better at resolving issues on first contact when a customer goes ‘off-piste’,” continues Close.

He says: “In turn, this of course alleviates other customer grievances with dealing with contact centres including call queuing times. By not dragging callers through an inflexible troubleshooting flowchart, it lets them know that the company values customer service – and, by extension, its customers.”

Close concludes: “No matter its location, the contact centre experience should be as effortless and stress-free as possible for the customer, and there is a raft of new technologies helping to make this a reality. From voice recognition for performing accurate and secure identification, to contact optimisation tools that enable contact centre managers to accurately plan for peaks and troughs in call volumes, technology is changing customer service for the better.”