Record numbers of consumers believe “they have to wait longer than ever to get their calls answered”, according to a new report commissioned by BT. The research, published by the Henley Centre, shows that more than three quarters feel the UK suffers from a poor teleculture. Additionally, slow responses to phone calls are not tolerated by consumers either — when faced with an engaged tone, nearly a third will try another company and nearly a quarter give up altogether.
The report highlighted growing demand for 24/7 services, with 67 per cent of consumers seeing round-the-clock supermarket opening as a positive trend. However, despite the varied ways that consumers now interact with organisations, call centres will continue to be the hub of the relationship between customers and businesses. Other ‘on-demand’ services, such as Internet banking and shopping, have seen significant growth. Online shoppers have grown from 20 per cent in 2000 to 53 per cent last year. The Internet is not always enough though, with 45 per cent of consumers wanting a phone agent available to talk to them whilst they complete a transaction on a company website. Commenting on the findings, Gary Bullard, managing director, UK, BT Global Services, said: “The rate at which consumer expectations continue to grow is staggering.
A big challenge for businesses is to replicate a quality of service and innovation across all channels, including the web and the phone. Unfortunately, not all companies have developed this level of sophistication and as a result we are seeing the emergence of this ‘Demand Delta’ between consumer expectation and the actual level of service. Unless companies address this, their customers will become isolated, resulting in reduced revenues and internal staff frustrations.”