Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Customer services scare customers away

12.02.2007
Rather than providing customers with better care, customer service centres (call centres) may actually be putting them off, as BI researcher Tor W. Andreassen demonstrates in a study of the experiences customers have of call centres.

An increasing number of companies are contracting out their customer services (outsourcing) to firms that specialise in dealing with customer enquiries. When you, the customer, ring up a Norwegian company, the telephone may just as likely be answered from Denmark, Ireland or Bangladesh as from the company’s Norwegian address.

The motives for this may be both to save money and to improve customer service by enabling calls to be answered more quickly and increasing customer support agents’ productivity.

On the phone to the call centre

As consumers we are constantly encountering call centres which ask us to choose between option 1, option 2 etc before we can speak to a customer support agent. Unless you are a very important customer you may sometimes have to wait quite a long time, and the reply may not be very helpful either. This is because the call centre often measures its results according to efficiency (i.e. the number of calls per employee per day), which means that not too much time can be spent on any one call.

What happens then when you, the customer, are not satisfied with the reply or do not receive a reply at all and try to ring the call centre again, now fuelled by a large dose of irritation and frustration?

In this case, it is not enough for the call centre to be efficient and have short waiting times and high service capacity: you want your problem to be solved and to receive a satisfactory answer to your questions.

Putting customers off

Tor Wallin Andreassen, senior lecturer at Norwegian School of Management BI, together with Timothy L. Keiningham, Lerzan Aksoy, Bruce Cooil and Barry J. Wahren, performed a comprehensive study of an American non-profit organisation that contracted out its customer services to another company. In particular, they studied enquiries from customers who failed to receive a satisfactory reply on their first encounter with customer services.

The results of the study were reproduced in the scientific publication Managing Service Quality (2006 Vol. 1, No. 3 (May)).

“Instead of looking after customers, we found that the call centre might put them off the company entirely,” says Andreassen, who is an expert in marketing and finance.

“The research study shows that customer satisfaction on the first enquiry is driven by efficiency. We want the problem to be solved quickly and efficiently.”

“However customer satisfaction on the second enquiry (when we did not receive a satisfactory answer on our first attempt), is driven by two completely different factors: empathy, and the assurance that our problem will be solved.”

How to make call centres better

Based on the results of the research, Tor W. Andreassen makes four specific suggestions:

1. The customer centre must be able to differentiate between ordinary enquiries, which are answered quickly and efficiently, and more difficult enquiries, which require sensitivity to the customer’s situation (empathy) and being oriented towards a solution. This presupposes that the customer support agent can recognise repeat calls from the same telephone (technological solution) and has the ability to listen to what the customer wants from their enquiry (personal qualities).

2. Because the success criteria for the two types of call are different, the call centre could consider establishing two different teams of customer support agents, one for handling ordinary enquiries and another for dealing with more difficult ones.

3. If there is only one type of customer support team, staff must be trained to pick up signals from customers, and on the basis of that, to change their behaviour from being fast and efficient to showing empathy and being oriented towards a solution.

4. The call centre must establish incentives which make it possible for customer support agents to move between the two roles without losing money by doing so. Customer enquiries which are more problematic take a longer time to deal with than ordinary ones.

Reference:

Keiningheim, T.L., L. Aksoy, T.W. Andreassen, B. Coile, B. Wahren (2006): “Call Center Satisfaction and Customer Retention in a Co-Branded Service Context”, Managing Service Quality, Vol. 1, No. 3 (May).

Audun Farbrot | alfa
Further information:
http://www.bi.no/templates/NyhetsArtikkel____43096.aspx

More articles from Business and Finance:

nachricht The RWI/ISL-Container Throughput Index started off well in 2018
22.02.2018 | RWI – Leibniz-Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung

nachricht RWI/ISL-Container Throughput Index ending 2017 on a positive note
24.01.2018 | RWI – Leibniz-Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung

All articles from Business and Finance >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Attoseconds break into atomic interior

A newly developed laser technology has enabled physicists in the Laboratory for Attosecond Physics (jointly run by LMU Munich and the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics) to generate attosecond bursts of high-energy photons of unprecedented intensity. This has made it possible to observe the interaction of multiple photons in a single such pulse with electrons in the inner orbital shell of an atom.

In order to observe the ultrafast electron motion in the inner shells of atoms with short light pulses, the pulses must not only be ultrashort, but very...

Im Focus: Good vibrations feel the force

A group of researchers led by Andrea Cavalleri at the Max Planck Institute for Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) in Hamburg has demonstrated a new method enabling precise measurements of the interatomic forces that hold crystalline solids together. The paper Probing the Interatomic Potential of Solids by Strong-Field Nonlinear Phononics, published online in Nature, explains how a terahertz-frequency laser pulse can drive very large deformations of the crystal.

By measuring the highly unusual atomic trajectories under extreme electromagnetic transients, the MPSD group could reconstruct how rigid the atomic bonds are...

Im Focus: Developing reliable quantum computers

International research team makes important step on the path to solving certification problems

Quantum computers may one day solve algorithmic problems which even the biggest supercomputers today can’t manage. But how do you test a quantum computer to...

Im Focus: In best circles: First integrated circuit from self-assembled polymer

For the first time, a team of researchers at the Max-Planck Institute (MPI) for Polymer Research in Mainz, Germany, has succeeded in making an integrated circuit (IC) from just a monolayer of a semiconducting polymer via a bottom-up, self-assembly approach.

In the self-assembly process, the semiconducting polymer arranges itself into an ordered monolayer in a transistor. The transistors are binary switches used...

Im Focus: Demonstration of a single molecule piezoelectric effect

Breakthrough provides a new concept of the design of molecular motors, sensors and electricity generators at nanoscale

Researchers from the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry of the CAS (IOCB Prague), Institute of Physics of the CAS (IP CAS) and Palacký University...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

2nd International Conference on High Temperature Shape Memory Alloys (HTSMAs)

15.02.2018 | Event News

Aachen DC Grid Summit 2018

13.02.2018 | Event News

How Global Climate Policy Can Learn from the Energy Transition

12.02.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Basque researchers turn light upside down

23.02.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Finnish research group discovers a new immune system regulator

23.02.2018 | Health and Medicine

Attoseconds break into atomic interior

23.02.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>