Letter: Call-centre stress

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The Independent Culture
Sir: It's not only the staff at BT's call centres that are having a hard time. The customers are as well.

In BT's misguided attempts at speeding up conversations and inquiries, they have contrived to eliminate the tiresome and time-wasting discussion of the customer's point of view.

With directory enquiries, operators seem to want to handle nothing but the easiest and quickest of inquiries. If they cannot identify a number - and sometimes it seems any number will do - they are keen to insist that you have the wrong name, or that the person or company does not exist, and move on quickly to the next call.

On one famous occasion of mine, the operator insisted that Red Rose Motors did not exist because, as I discovered afterwards, he had keyed in Redrose. BT can afford the operators to be stressed and have this attitude since, with BT, the customer pays even for an unsuccessful enquiry.

BT's attitude towards its customers is typified by charging them a second time if, as an afterthought, they dial 192 to speak to a supervisor about the service they did not receive.