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Call centres v In store customer care

I thought that this might spark some opinion especially with the way our country and big nationals seem to be moving everything to call centres.

The main question i would like to ask you and debate is,

Are call centres damaging business and reputation long and short term?

I am sure we have all dealt with companies good and bad, both in store and using call centres for both business and domestic products, however we are seeing more and more companies using or outsourcing to call centres. Having spent some time working both supervisor and customer service roles in my early working career in call centres. I can only speak for my time in a call centre but the atmosphere was poor, the staff were pushed on call targets rather than quality and the training and recruitment was very poor.

Now we work in industries which are involved in manufacturing and all i see is the country moving away from  this work and making us a nation of call centres, to go one step further some national suppliers are now using call centres in countries such as asia and africa who not through fault of their own have problems with broken English and script reading.

I know of no other country that would stand for a company providing them a service for the customer service team to not even be able to understand a problem because they are using scripts.

Lately i have received both fantastic and very poor support from in store companies but on the whole i think in store because you are face to face my general feeling is in store you are treated with respect and service most of the time. Call centres however seem to have provided me with nothing but poor and condescending response to even minor issues.

Now i am not naive enough to know that call centres have a mix of both young people who probably do not care as it is not a career  and people who are part time, the outsourced ones do not have any company affiliation as they are not working for them direct, now this can create a surrounding of “well i do not care it is not my company” kind of response and atmosphere, now again i acknowledge you get the same problems of young staff in store and part time but it is much harder when face to face to show you do not care, i.e./ looking bad with others around.

Looking at the economic climate and how much Business is struggling you would think that basic common sense would apply and companies would invest in retaining customers with better training and staffing etc, or just the plain old treat customers well, what is the old saying about retaining customers is so much easier than finding new ones?


That however does not seem to be the case and even the warning signs from Nov/Dec that saw some of the biggest known brands in UK fall do not seem to have woken the companies to stopping this poor customer care cycle.

I posted both on twitter and facebook roughly two years ago regarding poor in store service from Comet in West Yorkshire, i said at the time both in store and online that if this is the care you get i do not know how you carry on trading (it was a minor tech issue with a brand new one day old laptop which they would not sort) and guess what!…….now the collapse of Comet came as no surprise to me because you can only treat customers with contempt for so long and after i came away and started reading reviews i saw that my case was not isolated.

However although the in store experience was horrible i walked next door to CurrysPCworld and was met by a great team, one where i had not purchased the laptop from and within 10 minutes my problem was fixed, did they have to do that? no they did not but i did repay them by going back the next week and ordering £3,500 worth of computers!

Now i still remember that service and the helpful staff and i have since purchased all of my business software and hardware from that store but then 7 days ago i sent emails to them and rentsmart one of the suppliers they use regarding a problem today was the first contact from the department (based in a call centre) after sending this email 3 times, RENTSMART by the way still have not replied or contacted me.

I have stated clearly that we are about to launch a new part of our business, one that needs service from a supplier like them, would the customer care team be even slightly interested in the revenue loss from me now using another company? probably not what do they care? well until they lose the job and blame every one else!

The point i am trying to make is all the hard work of winning my custom for both domestic and business use is now undone by a slow, not bothered mentality at a call centre. Can i choose to ignore this when choosing a company to work with? no i can not because if there is a problem at any point i will not have the time to spend 7 days repeating  myself to even muster a response.

This is one of many problems i have had dealing with call centres over the past 2/3 years and i am sure i will not be in the minority with this view.

Please let us know what your experience was like with both call centres and in store both for  business and domestics purchases, which do you think works best and what would you prefer, tweet us your comments 

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