Why Most Call Center Customer Service is So Bad? – Part 1

Your call is important us, Please hold…

We have all had the experience, we phone our cable company, wireless provider or our utility and Bang! The pain and suffering begins: “Your call is important us, Please hold”. Well if my call was really important I would have thought you would have answered it. Of course some hold messages can be even more frightening: “We are experiencing higher call volumes and you should expect a longer than average hold time”. No I don’t make it a habit to phone my wireless provider often enough to know what their average hold time is, but I am scared nonetheless. Perhaps the standard greeting announcement should be replaced by “Abandon All Hope Yea Who Enter”, a little dramatic, but perhaps more accurate.

Then when I finally reach an agent can they help me? Am I able to get done what I want to get done? The answers to these questions often depend upon the organization and the complexity of the question I asked. In some cases the center is quite helpful and able to provide me with the information I seek quickly, effectively, completely and professionally, with other centers it is more like phoning the call center in those old Capital One ads that featured David Spade.

None the less research has repeatedly shown that while the quality of mercy is not strained the quality of customer service call center often is strained. The expectation of poor service has become engrained in our society. Comedians quip, television ads for Capital One and CarMax entertain us with bad service experiences and the twitterverse is alive with hundreds of thousands of people complaining about their call center or customer service experiences- hashtags #custserv, #callcenter and #cctr. Why do so many organizations deliver poor service?

Research Proves Service is Bad

I would like to propose some highly intelligent and provocative explanation, but unfortunately I feel the truth is much simpler. Companies and organizations don’t care. It’s not that they necessarily want to not care it is just that they don’t. There are too many other priorities and ‘more important fish to fry’. The research on this topic backs me up: 86% of consumers quit doing business with a company because of a bad customer experience, according to Harris Interactive. That figure is closer to 73% said Gartner. American Express found that Customer Service Experiences generally….’

•Exceed Expectations – 2%
•Meet Expectations – 62%
•Miss Expectations – 32%
•4% weren’t sure!

In fact 90% of executives see Customer Service as crucial to their future business success. In the same study more than 70% of senior call center executives revealed that their companies fail to meet their customers’ expectations, according to Bain.

So we have a strange dichotomy. Organizations know that good customer service is essential to their future success; they understand that there is a real tangible cost and risk of dissatisfied customers defecting and yet these same organizations seem incapable of affecting change.

They say that the first step to dealing with a problem is to first to admit you have a problem. Well we as the customers of these organizations we may see the problem, as call center and customer professionals we may recognize the problem, but the organizations in question do not seem to recognize this. Why is that, businesses are full of bright, knowledgeable and skilled professionals.

Is it as Dave Farrell suggests in his recent article Why Do Companies Give Bad Customer Service? “We have a Contrary Point of view. A point of view is simply how you view, judge or appraise things. How you see things determines how you act. How you act determines your results. In the world of Customer Service it would look something like this; a customer calls in and has an issue. Let’s say that I see customers as people who will lie through their teeth to get what they want. My point of view of the customer will determine how I act toward them. I am much more likely to be defensive and argumentative. The customer then will deal with me however they deal with defensive argumentative people. The result won’t be pretty.”

Or perhaps as Grant Nieddu pointed out in a Linked In post “Companies give bad customer service because they see that it is far cheaper to pay for a corporate rally and “mission review” teams than to over-haul their tactical processes. Rewording personnel reviews, restructuring the training process, and, gasp, revisiting incentive programs is far more costly and takes more time. You can learn, execute and train a culture of quality customer relationships, as long as you are willing to invest the time and money to do so. Companies that give bad customer service simply do not believe in the investment.”