What’s the most annoying sound you can think of? A crying baby on a plane? A neighbour with a drill? A car alarm at 3am? For me, it’s bubbly pop music while on hold to call centres.
It seems that many of you agree with me judging by our latest research into the best and worst call centres.
We asked people to rate how long they waited to get through, how complex the phone menu system was and whether the staff’s knowledge was good.
BT, Scottish Power and TalkTalk were the ones you most dreaded ringing. More than one in five of you who phoned Scottish Power waited more than 20 minutes to get through (enough time to listen to half of ABBA’s greatest hits album).
Broadband call centres
Broadband firms attracted the most rancour, with comments for financial institutions positively glowing by comparison.
I wasn’t surprised. Calls to my own broadband supplier are an extreme test of patience – and I don’t mind admitting it’s one I rarely pass.
You know what it’s like. Your internet’s down at home, so you try turning the router off and on several times – delaying ringing the call centre for as long as possible.
Have you tried turning it on and off?
When you do finally pick up the phone, the first thing they suggest you try is… turn the router off and on again.
If you tell them you’ve done that, they won’t believe you. They wait as you try to fill the awkward silence with second-by-second updates on what’s happening to your router.
The lights on the box splutter into life, and the call centre tells you there should be three green lights. You can only see two. They’ll seem surprised, and say, ‘sounds like there’s a problem’. At this point, you stifle a sarcastic response.
They’ll try a few mysterious things at their end (I always imagine they’re checking a cleaner hasn’t ‘unplugged the internet’ to hoover). Only then is an engineer booked. The call takes ages and the call handlers stick rigidly to a script.
How can call centres improve?
If they could pick up the phone quickly that would be a good place to start. If your call could be answered by someone who knows what they’re talking about, that would be a bonus. And if we say we’ve turned the router off and on, trust us. Also, ditch the hold music. Please.
What are your biggest bugbear with call centres? How long have you waited to get through?