Top five ways businesses annoy their customers on the phone
Let’s face it, most of us don’t call retailers or service providers for a chat- we call because we need information or we have a problem. This means that we aren’t looking for lengthy calls, we just want to be in and out of that phonecall with the minimum amount of fuss. However, overseas call centres, endless choices and non-mobile friendly phone numbers mean that many people now turn to social media instead in the hope of getting a faster response than an email, but without the multiple annoyances a phonecall could bring. So what are the top irritants when trying to call a business? Recognise any of these bugbears?
1. Telephone numbers beginning with 08
Back when everyone had a BT landline, 08 numbers were not such a problem. Everyone knew where they stood and what the cost of a ‘local rate’ call would be. Freephone 0800 was always free. Nowadays, however, with more and more people eschewing landlines for mobiles, 08 numbers, even free ones*, can cost a pretty penny, and with all the landline telecoms providers around, the cost of other 08 numbers can vary wildly- and you need a degree to work out the cost.
Give us a standard 01 (or 02) number anyday, or one that is genuinely free/included in mobile minutes.
2. Never-ending options and recorded messages
Press 1 to bang your head repeatedly against the phone. While most people don’t mind pressing a couple of choice numbers (unless you are using a hands-free) some companies take the Mickey with the number of options you have to go through. There are even sites dedicated to the worst offenders- 2013’s winner was HM Revenue and Customs. Just answer the phone with a person, why don’t you?
3. Not speaking to anyone at all
The jury’s out on whether it’s preferable as a customer to get no answer at all or get stuck in an interminable queue of keypad options and irritating hold music, but businesses need to remember that customers normally ring for an actual reason. Not getting through to someone, owing to non-answering or the customer losing the will to live on hold, is going to hugely annoy customers, and lose future custom.
4. Speaking to someone
If #3 is not speaking to anyone, surely getting through to an operative means success, right? Not necessarily. We’ve all had the misfortune of speaking to a complete doughnut who struggles to remember their own name, let alone has the mental capacity to actually help you**, but this is not the worst thing. The worst is when you have been through an automated system, inputted your account number, date of birth and inside leg measurement on the keypad only to be put through to someone… who asks you for all the same details again.
5. When they call you
No one likes a cold caller, but even when you’re on the Telephone Preference Service, calls still make it through. Some people blow whistles down the phone at them, some engage them in conversation about Jesus. Most people just hang up on them. Some considerate souls actually feel sorry for these people who have to do this work to earn a living. But they are not the worst of the the worst.
No the worst ones of all, are when your bank (for example) ring you up, and then ask you to prove who you are…
* note that this should will change from June 2015
** of course, some call centre operatives are excellent at their jobs and truly lovely people. I spoke to one at Aviva the other day.