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Telecom rage hits Britain

26th March 2012 Print

The UK’s patience with call centres is finally beginning to snap, as more and more of us hang up on long queues, unskilled operators and data security worries.

The UK’s confidence in call centres is at an all time low. Research carried out by SIM-only mobile network giffgaff has found that Brits have a six minute threshold while waiting in a call centre queue before losing their tempers and then hanging up. And research from our European cousins show that the French are even more impatient with Auchan Telecom claiming the average Gaul will lose his/her temper with call centres after only five minutes.

Recent revelations in the UK press about Indian call centres allegedly selling email addresses have caused the British public to have even less confidence in overseas call centres. In fact, a recent YouGov survey shows that 55% of people do not trust call centres in the UK to keep personal data safe, while a whopping 83% of people said that they did not trust overseas call centres to keep personal data safe.

Overseas call centres are particularly prominent in the telecoms industry. All the big players continue to outsource their technical support overseas: BT’s technical support is answered in India, Talk Talk uses India, the Philippines and South Africa, Sky is again in India although has UK trouble shooters and overflow and Virgin has both Indian and UK based support. The reason for this is simple - by outsourcing your customer care, telcos can save 65p on an average call.

Recent stats show that 70% of complaints are still made over the phone, even though the amount of email, web and social media complaints are on the increase. YouGov has reported that only 4.1% of people have a good experience when dealing with a call centre. In fact, four out of five people say they have lost their patience and hung up when faced with a long call centre queue, while 69% have had their opinion of a company or service permanently damaged after poor customer service. Furthermore 50% have advised family and friends against a company or service that they’ve had a bad experience with, and a quarter have terminated a contract with a company or service that has kept them waiting too long.

Stavros Tsolakis, CEO of independent telecom provider Direct Save Telecom who are proud of their 24/7, skilled, UK-based customer support team, says it’s about time organisations start to put the needs of the customer before the bottom line.

He explains: “Yes, it is a lot cheaper to outsource your call centre needs overseas, but cheaper certainly does not mean better. We are living in a fast paced world, where people are constantly on the move. They want quick, effective answers to their questions and certainly do not want to be stuck in a telephone queue, only to be greeted by an operator with a limited English vocabulary who cannot answer your query if you go off script. It does not take a genius to work out why Brits are catching telecom rage.”

Tsolakis adds: “People have lost trust in overseas call centres, and this makes it even more important that there is a shift back to UK call centres ... this is the only way we will get the public’s faith back. We guarantee that we will never divulge any personal data about any customer. Direct Save Telecom made a conscious decision to pay more money to have a UK based call centre, and others should follow suit. Not only this, but it is important to ensure that operators are trained with the appropriate skills to be able to answer questions people are phoning up about in a timely and efficient manner. Time is at a premium these days, so it is important to try and make a customer’s telecom life as easy and straight forward as possible. People want instant gratification, so we as providers have to give them this.”

Over the last six months Direct Save’s UK based customer support team has received 59 complaints from 21, 267 calls received. The average waiting time in a queue was 20 seconds.

According to Ofcom’s latest complaints data, reviewing telecoms providers with a market share of 4 per cent or more, Talk Talk receives the greatest number of complaints, mainly about billing and customer support. Virgin, who has both Indian and UK based technical support, receives the fewest complaints.