Monday, October 22, 2007

The call centre customer manifesto

I've just started a facebook group called: "No More Call Centre Monkeys!"

I urge you to join - and tell your friends. Maybe a bit of pressure will force the centralised management structures of these organisations to listen. Listening, incidentally, is exactly NOT what they are allowing their employees (those on the edge of their networks, those interfacing with their revenue streams, ie their customers) to do.

So, with apologies to Christopher Carfi at The Social Customer Manifesto (see recommended blogs, left)... here's my Call Centre Customer Manifesto. Feel free to add and adapt!

The Call Centre Customer Manifesto

  • I want to talk to someone who is listening to me - not reading a script from a computer screen.
  • I want to talk to someone with the power to do something about my problem.
  • I want to talk to someone who knows how to get round the moment when 'the computer says no'
  • I want to talk to someone for whom reason is allowed to mean something.
  • I don't want to input my account number on my phone - then have to tell three more people what it is during the same call.
  • I want a full response to my complaints.

When we call, we want to talk to a human empowered to actually do something about the thing we've called about: not someone reading off a screen.

We understand the drive for efficiency that call centres represent BUT we're fed up with your poorly-executed "customer relationship mechanisms" which present us - YOUR REVENUE STREAMS - with the shitty end of the stick.

We urge these companies to stop insulting the intelligence of both their customers AND their employees. Giving the poor saps on the end of the phone a script they must stick to effectively turns them into a computer. We don't want to talk to a computer.

We think it is grossly unfair on call centre staff - the very people charged with dealing direct with your customers - to leave them with no power to think or act for themselves. It leads to depression for them - frustration for the customer.

Senior managers - do something about it. Or start answering the phones yourselves.


  1. The problem is that there are business cases for every issue you list (ie. someone in a smart suit can show you that you will save/make more money by doing it that way) but not for the inverses.

    The reason for this two fold.

    Firstly customers are unable to assess the quality of service that they will receive up front when they buy something. This means that they buy on direct percived utility (the iPod is *shiney*) and on price (and cheap!). They aren't able to buy because company x will offer good service, because this is so variable and subject to change (whether intentional or not). So investing in customer service quality is difficult because it will not lead to new business.

    Secondly measuring the impact of improvements in customer service on cost is very hard. It is possible to have an initiative that is *correlated* with an improvement in call queues, number of contact center contacts or call resolution times, but is it a causal factor? This is much more difficult to prove, and the boys in the shiney suits simply say "it's a co-incidence" and move on.

    So, that's why we see these issues, it's not because senior managers don't know that doing things like providing outstanding online resources, great knowledge management in the contact center or empowered customer orientated staff that take an issue from first contact to resolution don't have an impact, it's just that they can't prove it to the accountants. That means no investment, and if you take a risk and something outside of your control goes wrong (like a strike, a bad product or in the case of telecoms, a rainy winter) happens... well it means no bonus (bye bye £50g's - you think about that for a sec) no pay raise and quite possibly no job.

    Two things need to change, we need to find a way to measure the impact of soft factors like contact centre staff performance... and customers need to value customer service and pay for it.

    How much per month on your BB contract would not having those things mean to you?



  2. Have you ever heard of Paul English? He formed a company here in the states called as a result of the total frustration he felt towards those call centre monkeys you speak of.

    I had the opportunity to hear his story recently. He talked about his father who who was at the early stages of Alzheimer’s. His father could no longer navigate automated phone systems and basically couldn't use the telephone anymore. Paul was so angered that he formed, a free online database that provides tips on getting past corporate America’s automated phone systems to reach an actual person.

    What took only a weekend to form has spiraled into a major consumer movement here in the U.S. that publishes best practices for quality phone service, and then rates companies’ adherence to those best practices.

    You can see Paul's video here. He's an inspiring guy.

  3. Christine, that's brilliant. Thanks for sharing.

  4. i agree with david... it is brilliant christine

  5. brilliant!!


The rate of change is so rapid it's difficult for one person to keep up to speed. Let's pool our thoughts, share our reactions and, who knows, even reach some shared conclusions worth arriving at?