Why Wait? Call Centre Queues Shouldn’t be So Long

By Chris Cole, Strategic Accounts Manager, OpenMarket for MyCustomer

Recently, consumer champion Which? released research into the industries with the worst call centre waiting times. The findings highlighted one of the greatest customer bugbears when dealing with call centres – waiting too long. 95% of consumers feel that five minutes is the longest you should wait to speak with someone, but too often that isn’t happening. Broadband providers are the worst offenders, leaving 42% of their callers waiting longer than that and 6% waiting over 20 minutes. What makes this all the more frustrating is that businesses could remedy this problem quite easily.

The first reaction to oversubscribed customer care lines might be to just throw more staff at it – more people on the phones will mean calls are answered quicker. While that might work, it would prove expensive. Brands need to be smarter and more proactive. Through the use of a messaging platform, for instance, service providers can pre-emptively inform customers of service outages. This both demonstrates that the company is aware of the problem, and shows that they have the matter in hand. A simple text message can prevent a deluge of calls. Not only will this cut the waiting times for those who need to speak with a customer service operative, but it lets customers know their providers are on the case.

SMS can act as a tool for customer self-service too, relieving strain on overworked call centres. Certain call types – password account resets for instance – can be entirely removed from contact centres through an effective mobile strategy. Consumers will often take the path of least resistance, so offering a text in service will save them having to call in, while avoiding having complaints aired in public on social media. Through a two-way SMS survey, customers can register a complaint, as well as the nature of their inquiry. Advice and information can be shared via text message or the inquiry acknowledged so that a call centre operative can call them back. This can save the customer waiting on hold, growing more and more frustrated as the clock ticks on. The same applies to online account login details or resending statements to the customer’s address.

When a customer has a complaint, inquiry or service issue, they want these dealt with or at least acknowledged as quickly as possible. Should a company fail to do this in a timely fashion, they run the risk of alienating the customer when the relationship is at its most fragile. Companies who are proactive in their communication and allow consumers to help themselves will be at a distinct advantage. Managing the customer relationship is fundamental for any service provider and those who do it well will jump to the front of the queue the next time someone’s listening to hold music, thinking about switching provider.