Friday, November 21, 2008

Facts, Figures and Trends

A few more or less random observations on the call and contact center space that has come across my desk in the past few days;
-According to Accenture 68% of respondents to a recent survey reported that they had moved their business to new companies as a result of poor service received at the incumbent firm. This is up from 59% last year. This is even a higher percentage than moved due to price (68% to 53%), in the US in particular this trend was even more pronounced with 73% switching providers due to poor service, compared with 47% who switched based on price!
There is a cost to these defections with half of the respondents reporting moving $4,000 worth of business to new providers.
-33% of consumers said their service expectations were higher this year than they were 12 months earlier, 50% said their expectations were higher than they were 5 years.
-20% said they would leave a company immediately over poor service versus 13% in last years survey.
- Embarq the telecommunications company spun off from Sprint/Nextel has announced that they have replaced their IVR with live agents, due to customer dissatisfaction with automated service. In addition these call are answered domestically.

It looks like it is finally beginning to dawn on companies that superior service can be not only a differentiator, but also one of, if not the primary driver of customer loyalty.


Thursday, November 20, 2008

Piss off the Call Center Agent at Your Peril

The following article was published recently the UK Press and I found it to be very chilling.
Whenever any organization outsources work to a third party organization, in tranferring the business they also transfer a great deal of power. Power to mimprove or erode customer relationships and as this news story indicates power that can be used in a punitive manner. Let this story be a wake up call for all of those firms that outsource to ensure that they have appropriate controls and audit trails on changes made to their customer records.


Indian call centre worker 'froze customer's account and changed his identity' as revenge for having service criticized
By Luke Salkeld
Telephoning a bank's call centre can be a frustrating experience. And after he was finally put through to a 'rude' and 'arrogant' operator, George Bates felt justified in making a complaint. Taking part in a follow-up survey to monitor customer satisfaction, the 23-year-old made clear his opinion of the call centre employee - who took revenge by putting all of Mr. Bates' finances on hold. When he contacted the bank later that day, the self-employed carpenter was unable to access his account for 'security reasons'. He then visited his local branch and was horrified to discover his identity had been swapped to that of a Ugandan divorcee ten years his senior. Mr. Bates also discovered his overdraft facility had been withdrawn and several direct debits had been cancelled - landing him with £60 in charges. He said: 'This arrogant phone operator has obviously seen that I've given him bad feedback and decided to change all my details in revenge. 'I rang up and I couldn't understand a word of what he was saying. He was rude, arrogant, and very pushy. 'He was really unhelpful but he had the cheek to pester me to give him a good rating after the call.' He continued: 'When I heard my details had been changed to Ugandan I was errified that my account had been emptied by somebody else and I'd never have my money ack. 'His spiteful actions have caused me a massive inconvenience and I've changed banks now because I'm scared he could still access my account.' Mr. Bates' rang Abbey's telephone banking service last month to extend his overdraft by £200 to cover direct debits which were due to come out of his account. The operator, who spoke with an Asian accent, extended it from £1,500 to £1,700, but refused to extend it a second time in one day. Mr. Bates claims the worker then pestered him to give maximum scores of seven in an eight-question automated survey which customers take following a call. The frustrated bachelor answered the questions with ones and twos, the lowest scores, because the phone operator had been so unhelpful. But when he rang up the following day to try and extend his overdraft again, he failed to access his account using his correct name, date of birth and account number. He was advised to visit his local branch but was unable to get there during the working week - and then had his cash card swallowed by a hole-in-the-wall dispenser.
The next week he visited the Abbey branch in Broadmead, Bristol, where a manager informed him he was listed on his account as a 33-year-old Ugandan divorcee born in July 1975. The bank manager corrected his details but over the next few days George discovered his overdraft and six direct debits totaling £750 had been cancelled - incurring 4 different charges totaling £60. Mr. Bates, who is single and lives in Bristol, then went back to his bank to demand his overdraft and direct debits were reinstated. All the changes have now been rectified, and Mr. Bates offered £200 in compensation. But he is still not a satisfied customer. He said: 'I am not happy with the service and the fact that the call centre Abbey uses is in India. They offered me £200 compensation but that's not a good apology to me. 'I've been forced to take lots of time off work which has costs me several day's wages and the stress of it all is really frustrating. 'Even though they did eventually sort everything out I'm still unhappy and I'll be switching back to a bank with call centres in Britain.' Abbey, who have five call centres in Britain and two in India - one in Bangalore and one in Pune, say they have 'fully investigated' the incident but refused to confirm whether any disciplinary action has been taken against the worker involved. A spokesperson said: 'An error occurred on Mr. Bates' overdraft. We have since returned his account to the correct position and refunded any charges relating to this error.
'In relation to Mr. Bates' other claims, we can confirm that we have fully investigated these complaints but we do not comment on individual employees.' In 2004, the bank came under fire after announcing plans to close three UK offices, which affected 1,300 jobs and
saw the majority of call centre work transferred to India. The following year following a barrage of complaints from customers, the former building society pledged to bring the jobs back to
Originally published on MailOnline