Small Business Advice

Long call queues ranked top gripe among UK consumers

Saeed Sheikh

Our Director of Account Management discusses the top customer service annoyance: waiting on hold.

It’s official: customers hate being stuck on hold. Hardly surprising, but a recent survey suggests that more than 15 million UK adults rank long call queues as their top customer service annoyance.

It’s an area that plenty of businesses still struggle with, but it’s so fundamental to building good customer relations that it really can’t be overlooked. Regardless of how catchy your hold music is, customers would prefer not to have to listen to it; they want to be talking to a customer service agent instead.

Businesses must meet the rising demands of consumers

The independent survey also found that along with lengthy call hold times, UK consumers rate multiple options before even getting through to an advisor as another irksome challenge in the mission to reach customer services – and all this in the midst of rising customer demands.

Why, then, are so many businesses still failing to meet the ever-increasing demands of their customers? A follow-up survey, commissioned on behalf of Lithium Technologies, put 250 UK customer care managers to the test to gauge consensus on the corporate side of the fence. The result? More than a quarter admitted to underinvesting in a consistent, multi-channel customer service experience.

This is, perhaps, not unexpected. With the exponential rise of all things digital, we’re seeing a steady and almost definite shift to an online or virtual customer care experience. But that doesn’t mean that we should neglect the more traditional methods of communication. With today’s consumer expecting nothing less than first-class customer service, companies simply can’t afford to not make it a priority.

Invest in the most important aspect of your business: the customers

Customer service may well be on the path to becoming a purely online experience, but as of yet the call centre certainly isn’t in decline. That’s why here at XLN, we’ve invested in making our customer service an example to others.

Rather than forcing our customers to wait on hold, we answer incoming calls on average in as little as 6.8 seconds because we understand that our customers have better things to do than wait on the phone.

On top of that, we’ve removed IVRs wherever possible. After all, when customers call in they’re doing so because they want to speak to a person, not a machine. It’s thanks to all this that our call abandon rate is less than 0.5%, which is unheard of at most companies out there.

The trick, then, is to nurture traditional methods of customer service whilst simultaneously fostering digital platforms too. It’s all well and good to channel all your energy and effort towards social media or online chat, but while customers still expect to be able to speak to an advisor over the phone then you shouldn’t put all your eggs in one basket. Not just yet, at least.