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 Preferential trade agreements enhance global trade at the expense of its resilience
17.02.2017 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)

nachricht How Strong Brands Translate into Money
15.11.2016 | Kühne Logistics University - Wissenschaftliche Hochschule für Logistik und Unternehmensführung

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: Breakthrough with a chain of gold atoms

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

Im Focus: DNA repair: a new letter in the cell alphabet

Results reveal how discoveries may be hidden in scientific “blind spots”

Cells need to repair damaged DNA in our genes to prevent the development of cancer and other diseases. Our cells therefore activate and send “repair-proteins”...

Im Focus: Dresdner scientists print tomorrow’s world

The Fraunhofer IWS Dresden and Technische Universität Dresden inaugurated their jointly operated Center for Additive Manufacturing Dresden (AMCD) with a festive ceremony on February 7, 2017. Scientists from various disciplines perform research on materials, additive manufacturing processes and innovative technologies, which build up components in a layer by layer process. This technology opens up new horizons for component design and combinations of functions. For example during fabrication, electrical conductors and sensors are already able to be additively manufactured into components. They provide information about stress conditions of a product during operation.

The 3D-printing technology, or additive manufacturing as it is often called, has long made the step out of scientific research laboratories into industrial...

Im Focus: Mimicking nature's cellular architectures via 3-D printing

Research offers new level of control over the structure of 3-D printed materials

Nature does amazing things with limited design materials. Grass, for example, can support its own weight, resist strong wind loads, and recover after being...

Im Focus: Three Magnetic States for Each Hole

Nanometer-scale magnetic perforated grids could create new possibilities for computing. Together with international colleagues, scientists from the Helmholtz Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) have shown how a cobalt grid can be reliably programmed at room temperature. In addition they discovered that for every hole ("antidot") three magnetic states can be configured. The results have been published in the journal "Scientific Reports".

Physicist Dr. Rantej Bali from the HZDR, together with scientists from Singapore and Australia, designed a special grid structure in a thin layer of cobalt in...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Booth and panel discussion – The Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings at the AAAS 2017 Annual Meeting

13.02.2017 | Event News

Complex Loading versus Hidden Reserves

10.02.2017 | Event News

International Conference on Crystal Growth in Freiburg

09.02.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

From rocks in Colorado, evidence of a 'chaotic solar system'

23.02.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

'Quartz' crystals at the Earth's core power its magnetic field

23.02.2017 | Earth Sciences

Antimicrobial substances identified in Komodo dragon blood

23.02.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>