Being Modern: Call centres
Sunday 24 July 2011
"Hello. I wonder whether you could explain something on my bill..."
"Good afternoon, Mrs Barch..."
"My name's not..."
"How are you today, Mrs Barch? How may I be of assistance?"
"I'm in a bit of a rush actually. You don't need to keep repeating..."
"Yes, Mrs Barch. May I just put you on hold please, Mrs Barch?"
"My name's not – oh, never mind..."
"Mrs Barch? Hello, Mrs Barch. I'm sorry but we do not have that information. Is there anything else I can help you with today, Mrs Barch?"
Those of a delicate constitution could be driven to the point of aneurysm engaging with a call centre. Particularly one on the other side of the world, where the mind-bending circularity of the typical exchange is heightened by mutually limited comprehension.
And the staff? With calls monitored, script adherence enforced and incongruous banter about the British climate encouraged, what hope do they have of telling us what we want to hear? Especially when the caller has already been in automated purgatory for 20 minutes, battling with options they don't want, hateful muzak and a voice telling them how important they are. (It's no wonder a 2007 survey found moving house was the only thing Brits rated more stressful than calling a contact centre.)
So how did they ever come to be? According to Call Centre Magazine, British Gas was an early adopter of the new telephonic technology in the 1970s, and by the mid-1980s, Direct Line had launched – with no branches. This cost-cutting trend developed into the form of the offshore call centre. Paying tiny salaries to staff in India made perfect business sense... just not to us frustrated punters. And so came the backlash – in the past few years, having a UK call centre has become a selling point.
But it's not just call centres abroad that jangle the nerves: one big UK business – in an attempt to boost morale and customer service at its call centres – has reportedly appointed a "minister of fun". Out of the frying pan?
- 1 Keira Knightley topless: Usually conservative actress does own take on #Freethenipple campaign for Interview Magazine
- 2 Joan Rivers: 'Palestinians deserve to be dead'
- 3 Lady al-Qa’ida: On the trail of Dr Aafia Siddiqui, the world’s most wanted prisoner
- 4 A teacher speaks out: 'I'm effectively being forced out of a career that I wanted to love'
- 5 It's not just the savagery of Isis that is shocking – its weaponry is too
YouTube video posted by Isis militants shows 'execution of 250 Syrian soldiers'
Keira Knightley topless: Usually conservative actress does own take on #Freethenipple campaign for Interview Magazine
Joan Rivers: 'Palestinians deserve to be dead'
Sir Paul McCartney makes his stance on Scottish independence known
PM sets out tough new anti-terror measures in response to heightened threat
Robin Williams Emmys tribute led by Billy Crystal criticised for including 'racist' joke about Muslim woman
The Rotherham child abuse scandal is a tale of apologists, misogyny and double standards
What do immigrants really think of Britain? Polish immigrant's Reddit post goes viral
Scottish independence TV debate: Pumped-up Alex Salmond bounces back in bruising second round against Alistair Darling
Do you realise just how foolish the UK looks?
With Douglas Carswell joining Ukip, my party has taken another giant step forward
- < Previous
- Next >
£60000 - £70000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Senior Data Sc...
Highly Attractive Salary: Austen Lloyd: BRISTOL - This is a very unusual law c...
£28000 - £30000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Junior VB.NET ...
£40000 - £50000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# .NET Web De...