• Written by Rachel Stevenson

New research commissioned by Citrus Group, the leaders in contact centre recruitment, has revealed that 64% of Australians have had a bad experience when dealing with call centres, with 43% admitting they wish they never had to use them again.

The data also revealed that 18-25 year olds have a particularly low tolerance for call centres, with 72% having had negative experiences, followed by 65% of 26-33 year olds, and 67% of 57+ year olds. In terms of what caused these negative experiences, the leading reason was being passed around between staff members (28%), staff members not being able to resolve their issue (24%), and rudeness (15%).

Interestingly, many of the common complaints were also attributed to internationally based contact centres, over locally based ones.

Of the 36% of people who had positive experiences with call centres, the reasons cited were issues being resolved quickly (33%), staff members clearly comprehending what the issue was instantly (31%), staff members really knowing their stuff (25%), and staff members who showed empathy towards the situation (9%) and other reasons (2%).

Joint Managing Director of Citrus Group, Paul Smith said, “This research provides valuable insight into the good and the bad of the call centre sector. Our mission is to focus on sourcing exceptional talent for the Australian call centre industry to help negate the stereotypical negative perception. A need that we hear time and time again from our clients is the importance of empathy in their staff members, both when dealing with customers and when resolving their issues. Empathy is therefore the first quality we test for to ensure potential staff are able to deliver the best possible customer service for our clients, their brands and ultimately the most important stakeholder – the customer.”

With over 30 years of collective experience in the industry, Paul and his team offer their insights into the key things customers are looking for when they deal with call centres, and ultimately how they work with their clients to ensure this happens on the ground:

  1. Knowing your product - along with empathy to their individual situation, customers simply want the quickest resolution, which requires teams to be crystal clear about the company they work for and its offerings. There’s nothing more frustrating than dealing with someone who simply doesn’t know what they’re talking about.
  2. Don’t pass people around - 42% of 18-25 year olds we surveyed said that being passed around was main reason for their negative sentiment towards contact centres. Customers need contact centre staff to be able to handle their enquiry so that it produces the least amount of pain possible.
  3. Courtesy is king - we found that 30% of 50-57 year olds would actively tell others not to use a company’s call centre if they were mistreated. In a hyper competitive world where there is endless choice at the click of a button, courtesy towards and gratitude for the customer choosing your product needs to be exercised and authentically delivered. Or, they will simply go elsewhere.
  4. Regular updates – if the matter cannot be resolved immediately by the call centre member, customers need to receive regular updates that negate any additional frustration. Going this extra mile will be much appreciated and will surprise and delight them into potentially becoming an advocate for the brand.

Paul explains further, “With years of damage caused by questionable call centre practices, there is still much work to be done by the industry. To avoid the backlash we are still seeing from Australian consumers who have unfortunately had negative experiences, we look for people who not only have the emotional intelligence, but the overall understanding of the bigger picture and how every customer touch point can make or break brand reputation.”

Citrus Group founders, Paul and Gordana Smith, pioneered Australia’s first ever specialised call centre recruitment agency in 1996. Citrus prides itself on spearheading the transformation that the industry is undergoing currently with many clients transitioning from off shore to locally based contact centres.  The company offers efficient and effective talent sourcing, facilitate flexible workplace arrangements, and ensure strong staff retention.

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