BBC News
Launch consoleBBC NEWS CHANNEL
Page last updated at 16:08 GMT, Thursday, 5 March 2009

Have Your Say: Call centres

Call Centre telephone headset

Many of us may feel that at some time or another we have not received good service when we have rung a big financial institution's call centre.

But the problems that Money Box listener Gordon Love from Stirling has been experiencing do seem a pretty extreme case.

They first began when he got a text message from Barclaycard about his account - which surprised him as he does not have a Barclaycard.

And that was the just the start of his problems.

Have you had problems putting things right when ringing financial organisations' call centres?

Perhaps you have worked in a call centre and seen the other side.

Tell us your experiences.

We asked for your comments, a selection of which are below. The debate is now closed.

MOST RECENT COMMENTS:

Customers who have a grievance can come on the telephone emotional and angry with an issue
Peter Smythe, Comber, Co Down

I work in a bank call centre servicing customer's instructions and queries. What I would advise people that phone any centre is to have a piece of paper at hand. Before lifting the phone, note down the company name and the number being called. On the next line note the times the call is dialled and answered and also the name of the person who answered. They are not obliged to give their full name for personal security reasons. Then note any relevant information such as reference numbers or account numbers so as to identify the "correct" business, important for the customer's own security of information! Below this I would divide the piece of paper, vertically, into two sections for question and answers. Get what question is being asked clear in your mind and write it down do the same with any further questions. The answers can then be logged accordingly. Should the customer feel it necessary then any agreement come to can be confirmed to the company or branch in writing. From personal experience, customers who have a grievance can come on the telephone emotional and angry with an issue. It does take time to listen and understand what is being said and to give an appropriate answer or to arrange a branch appointment. Customers are the same as ourselves, people, and are treated as such as we would expect in their position.
Peter Smythe, Comber, Co Down

I recently tried to contact my internet bank to establish what I should do to stop my debit card being blocked when I went abroad. It took me over an hour. I could not find a way to talk to a human being. I rang the bank's local branch who refused to talk to me. When I finally got to talk to a call centre, they refused to talk to me unless I gave them an inordinate amount of information - saying that it was to prevent fraudulent activity on my account. I pointed out that the information I required was non account specific but I was fobbed off and told to complain via an equally complex system designed to discourage me from doing so. Sadly, these banksters are still in business.
Bruce Parkin, Holywell

Fairness and sympathy when things go wrong and times are hard are the key to success
Paul Lawrence, Liverpool

As a customer advisor myself I can honestly say there have been times when I haven't perhaps been spot on with the level of service I have offered. If anything I strive to improve my performance day-in day-out and look for better ways of doing things. One thing I can't stand is people trying to make me out as though I don't know what am doing... yes people you know who you are; but the fact of the matter is you've gone away better off than before you called. Fairness and sympathy when things go wrong and times are hard are the key to success.
Paul Lawrence, Liverpool

Call centres can be quite an educational experience. I couldn't make my Sky TV work and started out with a call centre in Scotland where the weather was cold and damp, then to India where it was very hot and dry, on then to Northern Ireland where it was dry but cold and grey. My Sky still didn't work and so I nipped next door and asked a friend for an opinion. Sky now works and I'm using National Geographic to make a virtual tour of those call centre locations. What a joy!
Frank Sobey, Paignton, Devon

All that had happened was someone in a data entry role had messed up entering my data
Andrew , Stoke on Trent

Try to access the HMRC call centre when they've managed to make you an employee of a company you've never had any contact with, and then, following a visit to the local tax office, they mistype your new postcode into their system. Impossible to pass the security checks so you can speak to someone. Better than that they won't tell you where you've failed the security check so there is no way of knowing the problem with your account! There was me panicking that someone had stolen my identity and could be claiming benefits in my name, as happened to a friend of mine, and all that had happened was someone in a data entry role had messed up entering my data. Security is all well and good but it cost me two visits to the local tax office and the exorbitant parking costs of city centre parking.
Andrew , Stoke on Trent

I find that when you phone a call centre, say tax credits, sometimes - more than not - you don't get through to them at all or they keep you hanging on at the other end of the line.
Amanda Cerasale, Watford, Herts

All call centres need to take more customer-centric approach
Alison J Widdup, West Yorkshire

A fundamental part of the problem lies with the targets by which the call centre manages its staff. Unfortunately, targets in call centres aren't related to what customers want - instead they focus on productivity - measures like call length, sales made or average abandoned rates. All call centres need to take more customer-centric approach to people management and work with their staff to understand what customers are saying when they contact them, what customers need and how to deliver it, and assessing what is important to their customers. If they do this, a call centre can really make a difference and deliver world class service!
Alison J Widdup, West Yorkshire

I have been a customer of First Direct for many years. Their Call Centre staff are fantastic. And no - no one has paid me to write this.
Ian Brown, London

One company has paid me twice in compensation
Ian Parsons, Gainsborough

Some are excellent - but the dire ones leave you with a bad taste and complaints that go unresolved. I tried writing to the registered office (address it to the managing director - they always respond because their home details are on public record at companies house). That gets results as they then have to deal with it instead of the call centre. Also try "say no to 0870" website, you will find other numbers there to use especially those that deny there are alternative (often free) numbers. One company has paid me twice in compensation for failing to resolve disputes within their time limits.
Ian Parsons, Gainsborough

I phoned a technical helpline and a foreign gentlemen answered who was difficult to understand. "What is your name?" he said. "Hilliard" I replied. "How do you spell that?" he asked. "T..H..A..T" I said. "T..H..A..T" he typed in. I gave up shortly after that.
Brian Hilliard, Corsham

I find that when you phone a call centre, say tax credits, sometimes - more than not - you don't get through to them at all or they keep you hanging on at the other end of the line.
Amanda Cerasale, Watford, Herts

They replied asking me to contact the stranger whose statements I was receiving
Andrew, Durham

For a while I received someone else's credit card statements because my postcode had somehow been used on the address of a similarly named street in a nearby town. Returning them to the sender didn't stop them and I couldn't be bothered to spend time trying to get through on the phone so I contacted them by e-mail and gave them the correct postcode that they should have been using. They replied asking me to contact the stranger whose statements I was receiving, to ask them to contact the card company to sort out the problem.
Andrew, Durham

I telephoned my credit card company and advised that the standard interest rate on their new product was 2% p.a. lower than the rate on my old card. They offered to reduce my interest rate to the lower level and made the change in time for my next statement. Not everyone is this good, but most call centres are at least satisfactory and customers should remember that it must be a difficult job to do consistently well.
Chris Grey, Guildford


The comments we publish are not necessarily the views of the BBC but will reflect the balance of views we have received. It is helpful if contributors state if they work for any organisation relevant to an issue discussed. Readers should form their own views on whether messages published represent undeclared interests, or views prompted by a common source.





Money Box


SEARCH MONEY BOX:
 

Podcast

Download or subscribe to this programme's podcast

Podcast Help



SEE ALSO
External links and helplines
28 Feb 09 |  Moneybox
Consumers turning to debit cards
20 Feb 09 |  Business
Silent calls fine for Barclaycard
26 Sep 08 |  Business
Barclaycard cuts 'low-risk' rates
05 Feb 09 |  Business


FEATURES, VIEWS, ANALYSIS
Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit

banner watch listen bbc sport Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific