It was the best of times
Poor systems let down contact centres
FINWEEK has, since late last year, been calling local contact centres and rating them on their performance. There are essentially two types of contact centres: sales-orientated and customer-service orientated contact centres. On the whole, sales-orientated organisations fared much better than customer-service organisations driven mainly by the ability of the sales organisations to keep their systems focused on getting the customer in touch with the agent as quickly as possible. In this area it was companies such as McCarthy Call a Car, Dial Direct, 1Life Direct and DHL coming out tops. One of the key issues is the ability to keep the interactive voice response system (IVR) as simple as possible.
Typically, in customer-service organisations there are two key issues faced by customers. First there’s a daunting set of menu options, often with current promotions being pushed to the front of the queue, leaving clients to wait longer before getting the help they need.
The second issue is typically the long time it takes for calls to be answered. While it’s reasonable for calls to be answered in less than a minute, some of the calls Finweek made were answered after more than four minutes and another went totally unanswered.
What’s clear from interactions with the vast majority of these organisations is that the agents are helpful and competent, but they’re badly let down by insufficient staff numbers and sloppy systems design. Big losers in this space were Vodacom, which has menu options that go unanswered and too many options in the IVR, and MultiChoice, which a number of Finweek readers have suggested fails to cater for customer needs in a number of areas. The bottom of the pile of call centres that Finweek surveyed are both government departments – Joburg Connect
Sales-orientated organisations fared much better than customerservice organisations.
and the SA Revenue Service, for different reasons. Revenue couldn’t translate efficiency in the contact centre to progress in real world issues, and Joburg Connect couldn’t answer a simple query, preferring to fob off the query to another department that isn’t set up to cope with public enquiries.
With contact centres increasingly becoming the preferred method of providing customer service, the option for customers to speak to an agent when necessary is paramount, and success in this regard will be the benchmark against which companies are measured.