Call center fails
Top 10 call center fails
Real people on Twitter share stories for the customer service Hall of Shame
Butt of the joke? Yes.
Pain in the butt? Double yes.
Just ask the real—and really honest—people who took to Twitter to lament their most recent call center experience.
In this piece, we’ll count the ten most cringe-worthy ways call centers ruin the customer experience, revealing what’s going wrong and how companies can and must fix these issues before alienating more customers.
Trust us. The hater on Twitter is not coming back. Research by Harris Interactive found that 86% of consumers quit doing business with a company because of a bad customer experience.
So why are call centers, which are theoretically created for the purpose of customer service, so often failing their customers? Read on.
#10 “Please continue to hold…”
Call centers aren’t built to handle spikes in customer demand, whether during the day or seasonally. With fixed employees who work fixed shifts, call centers are perpetually either under-staffed—leading to cranky customers waiting on hold—or over-staffed, resulting in wasted time and money.
Some call centers have tried to fix this by offering to call customers back. That might be good in theory, but in practice…
Maybe customers could just leave a message? We hear the sounds of hundreds of customers banging their heads on desks on frustration … then choosing a different brand.
#9 “I’ll transfer you now…”
When call center employees send customers to another agent, they’re often just passing the buck. This woman’s tweet is unfortunately not an isolated case…
Passing the buck doesn’t stop at transferring calls. Agents also tell callers they’ll assign issues for follow up—but when agents aren’t accountable, this strategy backfires.
Even brands known for good customer service can fumble phone service.
#8 “Hello? Are you still there?”
Call centers implement policies designed to extract maximum productivity from employees. But pushing agents to handle calls quickly can lead to unnecessary or incorrect transfers.
Service level agreements (SLAs) require call centers to handle a certain percentage of calls in a specific timeframe, such as 80% of calls handled in 20 seconds or less. However, since call centers are inflexibly staffed, either customers are stuck on hold or the company wastes money on idle time.
The dirty truth is that hang-ups are sometimes a substitute for handling calls correctly the first time.
Even IVR (interactive voice response) systems aren’t immune from the hangup problem.
#7 “I’m sorry to hear that. Let me see what I can do…”
How do you fix a customer’s problem? It’s not just about creating better policies—it’s about having better agents. You need agents with experience, maturity, empathy and poise who can talk a cranky customer through their issue and create a solution.
Unfortunately, call center employees are typically younger, less experienced and less educated than virtual flexible agents, according to research by Frost & Sullivan and the 2017 Liveops Agent Survey.
While flex agents are independent contractors who make call-taking their business, call center employees often see work as just a transitional job, and are far less invested in the results.
It only takes one bad employee to alienate a long-term customer. Flex agents have calls routed based on performance, so the best agents get the most calls. But call centers can’t do this—even under-performing employees must continue to take calls.
Fill out this form to unlock six more insights from call center failures—including the No. 1 complaint on Twitter. You’ll also get a free report on 10 business strategies to leverage the gig economy for customer service.
#6 “I’m just telling you what my monitor says…”
The revolving door at a call center spins shockingly fast, with annual attrition 53% for outsourced call centers, according to the 2016 US Contact Center Decision Makers’ Guide.
The struggle to hire and train new employees is real, and customers are often left with a less-than-savory experience due to the employee’s lack of knowledge or lack of investment in their work.
And then there’s the poor agent who gets it wrong, either through inattention or the wrong script:
#5 “I’m sorry, could you repeat that please?”
When brands select offshore call centers, customer service suffers. Next to hold times, not being able to understand an agent (or the agent not understanding the customer) was the chief complaint about call centers.
According to the CFI Group in a call center satisfaction study of 1500 adults, customers who reach foreign agents were 52% more likely to have to speak to one representative, 10% less likely to resolve an inquiry, and 25% less likely to resolve the inquiry on the first call.
The language gap can also multiply frustration when there is a perceived lack of empathy.
Bottom line? People want agents who understand and relate to their problems, because that speeds resolution and increases accuracy, and they believe domestic agents deliver better.
#4 “Please repeat your account number…”
When call center systems aren’t properly integrated with CRM (customer relationship management), customers perceive poor call quality by being forced to repeat information.
Anything that creates friction or slows the transaction tends to raise customers’ hackles.
#3 “I need to transfer you to a different department…”
Great training is essential to a great customer experience, but call centers are incentivized to push employees through training programs as quickly as possible to get them answering the phones productively.
This can be especially challenging if employees are distributed geographically across many locations. Unfortunately, that causes some very unproductive results.
#2 “I’m sorry, our system is down right now…”
Even real call center employees couldn’t resist tweeting their problems. Two agents piped up when their phones went down.
Sadly, they don’t have much help for customers when that happens.
#1 “Your estimated wait time is…”
According to Forrester Research, 71% of consumers say that “valuing their time” is the most important thing a company can do in customer service. So it’s no surprise customers’ No. 1 complaint is long hold times.
This reveals the most essential failing of call centers—they are too inflexible to meet changing customer needs, whether influenced by time of day, sales promotions, seasonal and holiday spikes, or even natural disasters.
Companies that are serious about customer service owe it to their customers to adopt a more flexible model that eliminates these complaints.
Some customers go to extremes to document the painful hold time process…
And all of this wait time prompted one customer to muse that the call center is probably a very lonely place…
BONUS: “Have a nice day…”
We’re serious about customer service, but we don’t take ourselves too seriously. The world would be a gray place indeed without the warmth and good humor of our fantastic community of agents.
That’s why, before we wrap up, we wanted to leave you with a few gems that made us laugh:
One customer thinks there’s an ulterior motive for poor service. (But we’re not convinced that all publicity is good publicity.)
And to this customer’s own customer service survey, we answer an enthusiastic, “Yes!”
What can brands do to be different?
OK, you’re convinced. Call center customer service is about as popular as ketchup on ice cream. But you also know that getting calls right is hard, and finding the right partner in a world of on-shore, off-shore, brick-and-mortar and virtual agents can be confusing.
Here are a few questions to ask before choosing your customer service front lines:
- How flexible is my call center volume? Do I have enough capacity to prevent excessive hold times?
- How much volatility do I see in customer service demand, and can my call center provider flex to match that demand immediately?
- Am I wasting money on brick-and-mortar call center overhead or idle time when employees aren’t taking calls?
- How much attrition do I see in my customer service agent workforce? How much does the hiring and training cost me?
- How fast do my customer service reps ramp up in training?
- Are my agents domestic, with excellent language skills and cultural knowledge?
- Are my agents experienced, with substantial maturity and soft skills to handle problem resolution?
- Do my agents have access to live chat and support to ensure they can handle a customer’s issue with minimal transfers?
You probably have many more questions than these, and we’re here to chat. We’re about changing the way companies think about customer service, by offering an on-demand, pay-per-use flexible domestic workforce of virtual agents.
We’re Liveops, and we’d love to answer your call.