About Us

Karen Martin and Beverley Ireland-Symonds promote the value of having effective communication skills for individuals, teams and organisations.
Sunday, 4 July 2010

Customer Service Skills

In the last two weeks I have wondered why so many firms have adopted a standard script for their staff in call centres.  I'm sure I'm not alone in feeling irritated before I even get to talk to someone having listened to endless messages about how important it is that they 'connect you to the right area'.  Hmm.

When you eventually get to talk to a person rather than a machine - after asking for a number or your name.  Do you mind if I call you ...(first name) they ask?'  Well yes I do actually, because I don't know you. Old fashioned perhaps - but I don't like it.   Equally annoying is 'How are you today?'  I have to stop myself saying "Does it matter?"  I don't actually want to discuss it with a complete stranger.

Last week I was trying to get a dongle I had bought activated.  The nice young woman wanted to ask me all sorts of things such as 'Was I married?'  I'm sorry, but what does this have to do with activating a dongle that I had already paid for? Barely concealing my irritation she continued to speak to the standard script.  

When I was asked to confirm my address she repeated "fantastic!" after every line.  By the time I rang off she had said it at least 23 times - and yes I did mark it down on paper.  When I challenged anything she said - the line went silent and I had to keep asking if she was still there.  It was clear that she wasn't allowed to deviate from the standard script, and therefore was unable to answer my questions.  She did feel my pain by telling me that 'she understood how irritating it must be for you.'  By the time I rang off  I was nearly at screaming point and had a headache.  I also vowed that I would never deal with the firm again after my contract expires. 

My experience is hardly unique and although I have examples of excellent customer service, too many times it is mediocre at best.   I think firms should review their training for front line staff and how they choose to communicate with their customers and see how it can be improved. Yes money is tight and for some organisations, training won't be seen as a priority, but in these difficult economic times, it could make a considerable difference to your business.