Call centres hated by 90% of customers

Most people who use call centres are exasperated at being left hanging on the telephone, research published today shows.

Ninety per cent of all call centre users interviewed by the market analysts Mintel spoke of their anger and frustration with the system. Particular annoyances included long waiting times, irritating music and a seemingly endless array of menu options.

Researchers questioned 2,020 callers about the service they received from Britain's 4,500 call centres, a third of which handle financial services.

The most common complaint was the amount of time spent on hold, with 60 per cent mentioning the frustration experienced over delays in speaking to an operator. Analysts found that in busy call centres it was not uncommon for customers to be put on hold for more than 15 minutes before being connected to an operator in the right department.

A third of callers ended up abandoning their calls because of the wait, especially those aged between 25 and 34.

Brett Afshar, who compiled the report, said that a third of those questioned hated the synthetic voice which answered their calls."One solution would be to have a live operator quickly directing calls to appropriate queues," he said. "While this would add extra staff costs, it would be well received by customers who felt they were receiving a more personal service," he said.

Only 5 per cent of those interviewed said they were completely satisfied with their experience of call centres.

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