A YouGov survey of over 2,000 adults in the UK found one in five consumers (22%) feel they receive poor customer service when speaking to call centres.
The YouGov survey, commissioned by business outsourcing company arvato, showed insurance companies were ranked worst at dealing with customer orders and enquiries, followed by utility providers, such as gas and electricity companies, and public sector organisations.
Internet-only retailers, such as ASOS.com and play.com, ranked highest in the survey, followed by banks.
Call centre staff with ‘strong regional or foreign accents’ topped the list of frustrations when dealing with customer service lines, followed by queuing and automated menus, while ‘friendly staff’ and ‘effective problem solving’ were said to be the most important features of good service.
Only 1% of respondents said they had never felt frustrated by call centres.
Those who were most dissatisfied with service standards were professional middle-aged men (35-44), while those least dissatisfied were the unemployed and full-time students. Respondents from London were found to be more likely to complain, with those from Scotland least likely to.
Mark Brown, Managing Director, Contact Centres & Loyalty, arvato UK & Ireland, says the research highlights how many organisations were struggling to improve customer service when faced with pressure to cut costs due to a challenging economy.
He said: “This is the dilemma which has been debated by Britain’s biggest brands since the onset of the recession – how can you reduce operating costs while still improving customer satisfaction and loyalty?
“The truth is the two things are not mutually exclusive. Cutting costs doesn’t have to mean off-shoring call centres or replacing real people with machines. By re-examining their customer contact operations, and getting the right people, processes and technologies in place for the right customer service, companies can reduce costs while enhancing the experience for their customers.
“What is certain is that, with a sluggish economy and weak consumer confidence ahead, customer satisfaction is the new battleground for Britain’s biggest brands who are fighting to retain their market share. Those organisations that overlook areas such as contact centres – which remain a key interface between brands and their customers – will see their customers vote with their feet.”
Over 1m people work in the UK’s 5,650 call centres (source: ContactBabel 2011).