Contact centres must be improved to placate angry customers - report

Businesses must improve their contact centre operations to deal with angry post-recession customers, according to a report.

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Businesses must improve their contact centre operations to deal with angry post-recession customers, according to a report.

They will have to consider voice biometrics and ensure consistent service across social media to make sure customer demands are met, said the report by Contact Centre Babel, the customer service research group.

The "5 Steps to Serving the Post-Recession Customer" report, commissioned by contact centre solutions providers Datapoint and Genesys, said the recession has caused customers to become even more demanding.

With disposable income increasingly tight, customers are becoming more intolerant of brands that do not measure up on the customer service front, said the report. Firms running or outsourcing service centre operations needed tp consider making a range of technology available to improve customer service.

Voice biometrics of customers can be stored to enable customers to verify who they are, meaning they don't have to repeat memorable dates or other information, and helping contact centres to deal with customers quicker, it said. In addition, multimedia blending can enable call centre agents to handle both email and telephony together, instead of dealing with the two in isolation, again enabling quicker response times.

Contact centres can also be more proactive, using SMS and call back platforms, it said, to help reduce inbound call centre traffic. Virtual contact centres - that rely on agent homeworking - remove fixed boundaries, reduce costs and can extend opening hours. Finally, intelligent software assistants and self-service platforms can help with a large chunk of inbound traffic.

Paul Brewer, director of technology solutions at Datapoint, said: "Any action taken must offer distinct benefits to the customer as well as to the business if it is to work.

"Although the contact centre industry has a traditional way of doing things, companies need to take advantage of recent advances in technology. These can open up new opportunities for those businesses which are not afraid to be leaders."

The Home Retail Group, which owns leading brands Argos and Homebase, recently said it would be increasing the roll-out of automated contact centre technology.