Tuesday 04 October 2022

Please hold (for a very long time): customer services hard to reach

Photo: Depositphotos.com

Customer service waiting times have increased threefold compared to 2021 because of call centre staff shortages, a sector survey has shown.

‘Waiting times are long and the pressure on accessibility is great,’ Roel Masselink, whose umbrella organsation Klantenservice Federatie represents 230 call centres, told broadcaster NOS.

Complaints about long waiting times, the use of chatbots and too many options to choose from have been proliferating, a spokesman for consumer organisation Consumentenbond said.

‘People are cut off at peak times, even after having been kept waiting for a long time. And when they finally speak to someone they do not always get the right response,’ he said.

Much depends on the type of company, business economist Robert Duijvestijn told NOS. ‘Some value customer service and they offer good working conditions to staff. For others it is something that has to be done as cheaply as possible. They do their utmost to discourage contact, such as making phone numbers on websites hard to find or outsourcing customer service to low wage countries.’

The use of chatbots is also making exasperated customers hang up, he said.

There are currently 10,000 call centre vacancies which are difficult to fill, Masselink said. Pay and career perspective play a role and call centres also have a bad image, of ‘cowboys trying to sell you something’, he said.

According to Duijvestijn higher pay and better organisation are key. ‘The profession is undervalued. They people need to know what they are talking about, including laws and rules and regulations. If people ring with simple questions such as ‘my bill isn’t right’ then something is missing on the site or department. Fix that and there is room for more complicated questions.’

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